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Skiing on Lake Ilmen (Novgorod)

The real Adventure starts on the ice. I got engaged in the scouting club of the lycey in Novgorod named “Utka”, the little duck. Every winter they planned a skiing-trip on the very beautiful lake Ilmen which could be reached by the river Volkhov, which passed by our lycey The Ilmen is surrounded by a dozen beautiful monasteries and is one of the prettiest hotspots I have seen so far.

The real Adventure starts on the ice. I got engaged in the scouting club of the lycey in Novgorod named “Utka”, the little duck. Every winter they planned a skiing-trip on the very beautiful lake Ilmen which could be reached by the river Volkhov, which passed by our lycey The Ilmen is surrounded by a dozen beautiful monasteries and is one of the prettiest hotspots I have seen so far.

The plan was, to take about 16 students and teachers along, who are skiing to the middle of the lake, sleep over and return the next day. Sounds easy, but it’s not. Certainly not, for a skiing-an alphabet like me.

The year before a French assistant had a nervous breakdown on the ice and did not stop to cry. It is cold and windy there. And we are talking cold: Minus 25 degrees Celsius. You better wear long underwear or you will risk your fertility. So I thought: “Let’s get it on."

The first day was amazing. We passed by the Kremlin, the fishermen in their valenkiji (warm winter-boots made from felt) in front of an ice-hole with the fishing rod in action. The skiing went surprisingly well and soon we found ourselves in an area, which was completely surrounded by snow. No trees, no houses and no coast in sight. That is how I imagine Antarctica. Once in a while we met more fishermen with more holes, but not only with fish but also with horses, who carried them there. In the evening it was still slightly bright, because the snow is reflecting the remaining light as long as possible. We build a little igloo for some of the equipment and erected large tents for the night. We put the camping-cooker on, had hot tea and kascha (this is the general term for porridge with different kind of grains and in every condition of aggregation). I remember the moment of eating and how the warm mush went down my throat. Reminded me of some lines in “One day in the life of Ivan Dennissowitch” by Alexander Solschenizyn.

Anyway, then we went to sleep in three-men-or-women-sleeping-bags. The trick was to leave your clothes on and to jump into your own sleeping bag. Then you place yourself to sleep into a bag with two other fellows. This is quite cosy I must say. The next morning was terribly cold. I put on another jumper, which I learned was awfully stupid. The thing with skiing is: While doing the race you only need a jacket and an additional windbreaker. Don’t forget, this is exercise. If you have too much clothes on you will sweat like a Siberian polarbear in a Russian sauna. And I did. The next problem in line is, that you don’t want to do any breaks no more, because you will freeze to ice. So after not resting for quite some hours I slipped and I only saw black for some moments. I failed.

The first measures to reactivate my body was changing my clothes, putting on some Valenkiji and drinking spirit. This is a beverage with 80% alcohol. You can only drink small amounts, otherwise you will turn warm but also blind. The rest of the trip I was placed on a snow-car. Morally critical, because all the others had to ski. But photographically better, because I could take some shots. The experience was unique and I will not forget the sight of the Russian Antarctica, the fishermen and the snow. It took me to the limit and I am grateful for it.

Novgorod is a hit in the summer and certainly in the winter. To get such a special trip to the frozen lake you have to contact the scouting club “utka”, but they will take you on the ride of your life. (I might be passing the contact ,+) Maybe there are also tourist trips like this offered, I could imagine it, hence there are more and more tourists now. You reach Novgorod with large Bus-Liners from many places in Europe. From St.Petersburg are buses running for about three hours. You could also take regional trains from St.Petersburg called elektritschka. Quite cheap and with Russian charms, which means: No comfort! How great.

Links: http://eng.visitnovgorod.ru/index.php??

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Ilmen

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Day_in_the_Life_of_Ivan_Denisovich

written by wil6ka

1 comment

  1. vicuna

    vicuna

    Woaw, what a story, what a trip!! Amazing!!

    over 5 years ago · report as spam

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