Day 1 Domestic flight to the expedition area
Arrival to Irkutsk by morning flight from Moscow. Breakfast at the café and short excursion around historical center of Irkutsk city by car. Transfer back to the airport and boarding on a domestic flight to Bodaibo town located at the north of Irkutskaya region a bit more northern then BAM rail line. Arrival time about 3-4 PM. Transfer by private car southwards to the Taksimo town, located on a main rail line of BAM. Spectacular drive over multiple mountain passes and endless spaces of wintry taiga forest will bring you late evening to the little Taksimo town at the very heart of BAM rail line. Dinner at the café and check in to the local hotel.
Overnight: In a local hotel.
Day 2 BAM rail line
Breakfast at the local café and boarding on a train heading eastwards on a BAM rail line. This train ride goes over most picturesque places of legendary Baikal-Amur Railroad: steep rocky mountain ridges, frozen rivers and lakes, opened spaces of wintry tundra. On the way we will cross the biggest river of that area – Vitim and take a look on a source of Chara River – beautiful group of the Leprindo lakes. Shortly soon after that you will see a yellow hills of the natural phenomenon – Charskaya Desert – among the snowy white spaces of Tundra.
This afternoon we will arrive to Novaya Chara station and get accommodation in local hotel right in front of the station. This evening we will spend some time preparing ski equipment and checking camping gear as tomorrow we will start our ski-tour expedition. Dinner at the local café.
Overnight: In a local hotel.
Day 3 Drop off to the start point of expedition
Today we will have a transfer by Russian 6WD truck from Novaya Chara settlement on Bam Rail line to the starting point of the ski tour. On the way we will pass Old Chara village, one of the located near by the slopes of Kodar Mountains.
After that we will proceed towards the mountains on a old broken road, which was constructed by the prisoners of Stalin’s Gulag back in 1930-xx . This drive will go partly along the road line, partly over ice shield of frozen Sakukan River. In the afternoon we will set up a tent camp at a picturesque place at the very bottom of the Kodar Mountains, at the mouth of the Middle Sakukan River valley.
Later on, once we will finish camp preparation we will have a short training ski-tour along the mountain slopes towards to the group of forest lakes. (Whole circle is about 12 km). During this trip you will get actuated to the ski bindings and gain some experience of skiing up and down hill. This evening we will get back to our camp and have a dinner next to the evening campfire.
Overnight: Tent camp. Ski track distance 5-12 km.
Day 4 Beginning of the ski-tour
Today we will fold a camping gear and load all our staff into the sleds (pulkas) and start to move on skies up the valley of Middle Sakukan River. On our way we will see old moss-covered log bridges, tumbledown barracks, rusty iron mechanisms and even remnants of barbed wire fence, made by the GULAG prisoners. Ski track will go over frozen ice shield of the river meeting road time to time. In some places we will change skies to the crampons for walking on a opened blue-ice overflow of Sakukan River. You will see a lot of huge spectacular ice falls on the both sides of the valley proving the fact the Kodar Mountains are famous for amazing ice climbing possibilities.
In the evening we will reach mouth of Exa River valley (biggest right side stream of Middle Sakukan River), where the we will set up our tent camp in the surroundings of magnificent mountain landscapes.
Overnight: Tent camp (Total trek distance 23 km)
Day 5 Exploration of old abandoned GULAG prison.
After breakfast at the campsite we will have one-day walking excursion up to the high mountain circus were located abandoned GULAG prison “Mramornoe Uzchelye”. Part of the way we will cover on skies, and partly hiking. You will have a unique chance to take a look at the old prison barracks, surrounded by barbed wire fences, remnants of prisoner’s clothes and tools and other things of camp life can be seen at this dark and cold mountain circus. This afternoon we retrace to our tent camp. In the evening your guide-interpreter will tell you several amazing and scaring stories about prisoner’s life at this GULAG.
Overnight: Same Tent camp. (Total trek distance about 16 km)
Day 6 Ice climbing day.
This we will have an unforgettable experience of ice climbing. There are two big icefalls nearby our camp site. First we will go to the icefall on the Exa River which is located in a 500m away from our base camp. Your guide will make a first ascend lead rope and set up a top rope belay for the rest of the team. All the members of the trip one-by-one will try give a try to climb an icefall following instructions of the experienced guide.
By midday we will get back to our camp and have lunch. After lunch we will trek from about 3.5 km to get to another icefall, which is much higher and steeper than the one on Exa River. Here you will have good chance to use a skills gained this morning and make a further step into your ice climbing experience. In the evening we will get back to our base camp.
Overnight: Tent camp. Total trek distance is about 8 km.
Day 7 Ascending peak “Sakukan” 2962 m
Today we’ve got wake up very early morning as we will spend next day for mountaineering trip to the closest heist summit of Kodar Mountain Ridge – peak Sakukan. This is a gorgeous rocky peak located at the top of Shango creek which is falling into the Middle Sakukan River not far from our campsite.
First we will hike in crampons over the frozen overflow of Shango creek until its first left side steam. From here we will start to go uphill along the creek line until we will get to the circus.
From the mountain circus we will see this beautiful two headed Sakukan peak for the first time. This summit is only a few meters lower than peak BAM (3072, heist peak of Kodar) and do have a leading position in a closest mountain surrounding. On the way to the peak first we will ascend a mountain range settle – pass Arhar and then continue our climb route along the spectacular rocky mountain ridge. On the summit we will have short stop for the rest, enjoying breathtaking views and taking memorable photos of never-ending mountain ridges and peaks of Kodar Mountains on 360 degrees!
This afternoon we will head back to the campsite. Dinner and overnight in a tent camp.
Overnight: Tent camp. Trek distance is about 18 km
Day 8 Heading back to Chara Valley.
Today morning we will fold all camping gear; pack our sleds and head down the Middle Sakukan River valley. First we will travel along our old ski track, but in the end of the mountain canyon we will cross the big meadow and ski down frozen Sakukan River. This evening we will set up our tent camp at the beautiful campsite on a river bank.
Overnight: Tent camp. Total trek distance is about 27 km
Day 9 Ski trip to Chara Desert.
After breakfast we will continue skiing towards to the Chara Desert hidden in tundra nearby Middle Sakukan River. In the while we will leave the ice shield of the river and start skiing across tundra and forest stretches to the first sandy hills rising over the snowy tundra.
By the lunch time we will reach small sandy desert surrounded by swampy tundra. Here you could see multiple waves of fine yellow sandy dunes clear out of snow rising on a 10-20 m over a tundra level. This is a real natural wonder and crazy contrast with a snowy Kodar Mountain at the behind!
Tonight we will set up out camp at the shores of the little frozen lake hidden between high dunes at the eastern part of Chara Desert.
Overnight: Tent camp. Total trek distance is about 23 km
Day 10 Back to civilization
Today we will have last day outdoors on skiing. We’ve got to cover rest of the distance to the Chara village. We will walk from the edge of the desert to the frozen Sakukan River, cross it and then trek on a road to the settlement. Here we will pack all our gear in a car and have a short transfer (26 km) to the BAM rail line. This evening we will board on the train Novaya Chara – Severobaikalsk. (about 5 PM) Departure to Severobaikalsk town by evening train.
Overnight: In a sleeping train.
Arrival to Severobaikalsk town early morning. Guided excursion around city center including visiting BAM history museum. After that we will visit hot mineral springs of Goudjekit located out of the town (Car excursion, about 35 km one way.) Bathing in a hot water (up to +56C) will be very pleasant after long and cold ski trip. Returning back Severobaikalsk town and boarding on a evening train to Irkutsk
Overnight: In a sleeping train.
Day in a train on the way to Irkutsk. Passing by Bratsk city with a biggest hydropower station on Angara River. Switching from a BAM railroad into the main Trans-Sib Line.
Overnight: In a train, 3rd class.