Shielding the world with snow and ice, winter is carte blanche for adventure. Cold days are actually the hot season for those who love speed and adrenaline. Lake skating and speed sledding, reindeer safaris and snowshoeing, ice climbing, and snowkiting are all exciting activities just now available. Hurry up to try it before everything melts! Here are 7 active winter activities.
Where: Krasnaya Polyana, Krasnodar Territory
The only Olympic bobsleigh track in Russia turns bends along the northern slope of the Aibga ridge – it is on its dizzying loops that professional athletes train and domestic and international bobsleigh competitions are held. And on those days when the pros are resting, tourists are also allowed to rush along the ice chute – if they are over five years old, above 150 cm, have enough courage, and have no medical contraindications.
Down they go down on a special softshell, which is called a fan bob or vuchka: a trolley with soft walls and seat belts accommodates four brave ones and develops a speed of up to 95 km / h. This is just enough to cover a distance of 1,800 m and a vertical drop of 132 m in about one and a half unforgettable minutes. And the most decisive is waiting for a real two-piece bob with a professional pilot: acceleration to 130 km / h and the feeling of flying a fighter.
Where: Lake Baikal
On Nordic skates – long wedge-shaped blades that are attached to the toes of ordinary boots – you cannot spin a pirouette. But on them, you can travel long distances, like on skis. The quality of the ice is not so important as long as it is clean. The best training ground for this kind of entertainment is Baikal, which in winter turns into the world’s largest skating rink.
Towards February, Siberian winds blow snow off the ice, revealing a smooth surface with patterns of bubbles and cracks. For skating on it, they came up with special skates – baits: they are wider and more stable than ordinary skates. Ice skating trips are organized by many local travel companies. Usually, routes revolve around Olkhon Island, travelers spend the night at campsites on the shore, and things are carried on a sled, whose weight on the ice is imperceptible. You can take part in a skating trip even without experience: normal physical form is quite enough to walk 20-30 km a day, with stops for tea and photos at the ice grottoes.
Where: White Sea
It is worth diving into the wormwood not only after the bath – scuba diving in winter also brings a lot of impressions. In a dry suit, the cold is not felt, and the play of sunlight and air bubbles under the ice looks no less impressive than coral gardens. For independent ice diving, special equipment and high qualifications are required, but for beginners, trial ones are arranged – with insurance and in tandem with an instructor.
In Russia, such a dive can be made in the North Karelian town of Nilmogub, where an ice diving school operates. Incredibly, in the White Sea divers can admire not only the ice – the underwater world is diverse, in the cold depths are found all sorts of fish, crabs, starfish, sea anemones, and corals, and water can be seen in the 30-40 m. Great entertainment and also waiting on dry land excursion program with dog sledding and spa treatments.
Where: Gorny Altai
Climbing up the icicles is not easy, but exciting: there is little that compares in photogenicity with a vertical ice mass sparkling in the sun. It takes years of training to become a master at this. But an easy route is within the power of any person in good shape, so even programs for beginners in ice climbing are interesting adventures and not boring fuss with an ice ax on an artificial icicle.
One of the most popular places for learning ice skills in Russia is the picturesque valley of the Chulyshman River in Gorny Altai. In the vicinity of the village of Aktash, many waterfalls fall off the rocks, in winter they turn into beautiful ice walls with a height of 10 to 200 m. They are easy to reach by car, so the lessons are not preceded by exhausting tracking, as in other locations. And a bonus to training is the opportunity to drive along the legendary Chuisky tract, see the piercing blue Katun in a white frosty haze, and other beauties of winter Altai.
Where: Gulf of Finland
A kite is a large kite with towing lines. In the summer it is used by surfers, and in winter the kite makes it possible to ski and snowboard even where there are no mountains. The slippery surface of ice and snow allows even with a minimum wind to accelerate to 40 km / h, overcome long distances, climb hills and rise into the air – an experienced skier or snowboarder will be able to master the control of the projectile in just a couple of lessons. It is best to practice snowkiting on frozen lakes, where there are definitely no bumps, stones, or bushes under the edges.
The main Russian snow kite range is the Gulf of Finland, on the ice on which the largest domestic competitions are held. Almost every resort town on the coast has schools and rentals, the best spots for beginners are the Park of the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg, Kurortny District, Bolshaya Izhora, and Kotlin Island in Kronstadt: there is strong ice, perfectly flat snow cover, and stable winds. They also learn to ride on Lake Ladoga and Lake Sestroretsky Razliv.
Where: Kola Peninsula
It is a myth that snowshoeing is boring entertainment for retirees. It all depends on the route. Snow bast shoes-cats allow you to climb into the most inaccessible and picturesque corners without unnecessary effort and lengthy training, which makes them an ideal device for traveling to a beautiful wilderness like the Kola Peninsula. Winter hikes are even easier than summer ones – the swamps freeze, snowfalls asleep in the grass and crooked woods, you don’t have to drag your luggage on your back, but carry it in a drag sled.
An excellent place for an expedition on snowshoes is the Lovozero tundra, unusual and sacred for the Sami places with lakes and ancient forests surrounded by the Khibiny mountains with flat peaks, where images of gods and shamans are carved on the stones. Local tourist clubs organize trips for up to five days with overnight stays in a large warm tent with a stove – along the popular well-trodden paths for beginners and sybarites, or through untouched thickets for more experienced hikers.
Where: Yakutia, Polar Ural
To learn how to handle reindeer no worse than Santa Claus and to find out whether this exotic vehicle is really better than others, a simple excursion to a farm or even a real camp is not enough, you need practice. Those who wish are given such an opportunity during winter ethnographic tours around the Arctic Circle in the Oymyakon region of Yakutia and in the Polar Urals in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug.
During a safari lasting two or three days, everything will be for real: deer, sleds, parkas, fur boots, and an experienced musher with a long wooden pole, which replaces the steering wheel, gas, and brake on the sleds. During the expedition, they spend the night right in the tundra – in real tents, huts, or warm tents with a stove. And they warm themselves up with tea with northern berries cooked over the fire. While traveling in the Polar Urals, safari participants will have the opportunity to see the Pymvashor hot springs and the Samoyed temple of Khamyat-Penzi, and the Yakut routes include the Pole of Cold, the Gulag History Museum, and waterfalls near the Eastern Khandyga River.