ZIMNIK – Ice Roads in Russia

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25 Ice Roads [and other Cool Roads] in Russia

1: Archangelsk Zimnik
2: Nenetsia Zimnik
3: Northern Ob Zimnik
4: Transpolarnaya Zimnik “Stalin’s Dead Road”
5: Southern Ob Zimnik
6: Tura Circle Zimnik
7: Evenkia Zimnik (to Essei)
8: [Tuva Track]
9: [Khakassia Track]
10: Verkhnemarkovo Zimnik
11: [Vilyuy Trakt]
12. [BAM Road]
13: Anabar Road
14: Tiksi Zimnik
15: Deputatsky Zimnik
16: Chokurdakh Zimnik
17: [Lena “Highway to Hell”]
18: [Kolyma Highway “Road of Bones”]
19: Arktika Zimnik
20: Mys Shmidta Zimnik
21: Egvekinot Zimnik
22: Markovo Zimnik
23: Kamchatka Zimnik
24: Baikal 110 Zimnik
25: Igarka Zimnik


“Zimnik” is the Russian term for temporary “winter roads”, constructed every year, roughly between the end of December and the beginning of April, on snow and rivers, purposely to serve remote polar regions of Siberia.

The term “ice road” has become more popular following the “Ice Road Truckers” TV series in the US and Canada, where winter roads are mostly built on the ice surface of lakes.

Russia’s most famous ice road, the Road of Life, was built over Lake Ladoga for three consecutive winters in World War II.

In preparation for my own future trips on several Siberian zimniks, and given the lack of information on the internet, I have started to compile a “List of Russian ice roads”.

Additional information is welcome. Please mail to luxuryrogue-1 at yahoo.de. Many thanks.
(… developing story … no guarantee for accuracy.)

The Zimnik Song 1

Moskva – Magadan by Bumer

The Zimnik Song 2

Zimnik by T. Kardapolov

1: Archangelsk Zimnik

Archangelsk – Mezen – Kamenka – Dolgoshchelye
550 km
border permit required

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2: Nenetsia Zimnik

Naryan-Mar – Charuta – Ussinsk – Pechora
550 km

Nenets newspaper reg. “Nenetsia – Komi Road of Life”

Fantastic Trip Report by Lonely Traveller

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Foto above: Richard Löwenherz, the Lonely Traveller, bicycling at -50 °C at the Polar Circle and sleeping outside

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Naryan-Mar

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3: Northern Ob Zimnik

Salekhard – Priobye / Nyagan – Ivdel – (possible detour via Vizhai – Dyatlov Pass of mystery, murder & movie fame) – Severouralsk – Serov – Irbit
1.600 km
The famous Ice Run in 2-seater URAL motorbikes:
Trip Report by Red Thread Adventures.
And a really nice one by Tsardines in a Can.
And another amazing winter bicycle report by Lonely Traveller .

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4: Transpolarnaya Zimnik “Stalin’s Dead Road”

Labytnangi – Salekhard – Nadym – Pangody – Novy-Urengoy
propusk required for some hotels
500 km

with onward asphalt road 300 km north to Yamburg – border permit required,
or 750 km asphalt south to Surgut,
or 850km zimnik east via Korotchaevo to Vankor / Igarka, according to Chandler or Dead Road ,
or by car-train from/to Sosnogorsk, according to this report.

Connects the Pechora railway end in Labytnangi / Salekhard with Stalin’s “Dead Railway Trassa” end in Nadym, and then onwards to Novy-Urengoy where today’s Yamal Railway leads south to Surgut.

Here is a nice Russian foto report. And my own trip report:
On Stalin’s “Dead Road” above the Polar Circle

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5: Southern Ob Zimnik

Strezhevoy – Tomsk
500km

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The only person I found who drove this stretch of winter road is Daniel Sprague: Flickr.

6 & 7: Tura Circle Zimnik, Evenkia Zimnik (to Essei)

Krasnoyarsk – Yeniseysk – Severo-Yeniseysky – Kuyumba – Baikit – Surinda – Tura – Ekonda – Chirinda – Lake Essei (Arctic Circle) – Chirinda – Ekonda – Tura – Kislokan – Strelka Chunya – Vanavara – Kezhma – Tagara – Khrebtovy – Aban – Kansk – Krasnoyarsk
4.500 km
a very remote round-trip through Evenkia Country

a small part of it (one-way from Krasnoyarsk towards Yeniseysk, and then by helicopter via Tura and Lake Dyupkun to Yevey at the Putorana Plateau) described here by Žilvinas Vasiliauskas, Berta Tilmantaite and Giedrius Dagys on Dikiy


a drive from Krasnoyarsk to Vanavara described by US missionary James Dean


the long road to Essei described in this article: Cold Carriage

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8: [Tuva Track]

The Tuva Track (by Sibirsky Extreme)
permit required (borderzone)

The best map I could find on the web is from Richard Löwenherz, the Lonely Traveller:

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9: [Khakassia Track]

Altai – Khakassia Track – Tuva (my own)
possibly permit required (drive through an open air prison)

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10 & 11: Verkhnemarkovo Zimnik, [Vilyuy Trakt]

Lake Baikal – Bratsk – Ust-Kut – Verkhnemarkovo ice road – Lensk (Vilyuy Trakt) – Mirny – Yakutsk
3.500 km
The new federal highway from Bratsk to Yakutsk is still under construction, but passable in winter (Source: Wikipedia.RU). It is heavily used by trucks servicing the Talokan oilfields near Vitim. Here is a map of the extended zimnik system between Verkhnemarkovo and Mirny:

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Alternatively there have always been ice roads on Lake Baikal, and on the Lena River, however they are very tough to drive, according to Daniel Sprague of www.eurasiaoverland.com in his foto report.

The road from Lensk / Mirny to Yakutsk (Vilyuy Trakt) is maintained all-season (with several river crossings by ferry in summer). Here is a map:

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This is a UK Landrover expedition from London via the frozen Lena to the Pole of Cold: Zimnik


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12: [BAM Road]

BAM Road (by Sibirsky Extreme)

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13: Anabar Road

Mirny – Udachny – Olenyok – Saskylah – Yuryung-Khaya
1.600 km
The northern-most point reachable by car on any continent

The Anabar road leads from Mirny via Udachny and Saskylah to Yuryung-Khaya.
Our trip report here: Road to Anabar. World’s Northernmost Dead-End

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Great fotos and info from pioneer adventurer Walter Colebatch on his Sibirsky Extreme website. Or on askyakutia.com or eyakutia.com or Irkutsk 4×4 or here or YakutiaToday.com.

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(Map: Irkutsk 4×4 )


You can turn left to Khatanga or right to Tiksi – offroad. Or watch the most extreme Frederick Taer expedition from Yakutsk to Saskylakh and then completely offroad via Khatanga to Taimyr Peninsula (or vice versa here):

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A combination of Zimnik 13 & 14
(Anabar & Tiksi: crossing along the 73° parallel)

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Trip Report: 73° in a UAZ

and another one

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here

and this very courageous

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High Arctic Circle

14: Tiksi Zimnik

Yakutsk – Verkhoyansk – Tiksi
1.700 km
border permit required
Trip Report on askyakutia.com
Romanian Offroad Club Sibiu
Lena Travel Expedition to Tiksi
Holod Expedition (great fotos)
Lonely Traveller (The Zimnik King !)

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15: Deputatsky Zimnik

Khandyga – Teply Klyuch – Topolinoe – Batagai / Verkhoyansk – Ust-Kuiga – Deputatsky
1.500 km
Description on askyakutia.com
Verkhoyansk Zimnik

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(Google-maps-locations not correct at the top end – as frequently happens in Siberia)

16: Chokurdakh Zimnik

Ust-Nera – Druzhina – Belaya-Gora – Chokurdakh (on the Indigirka River)
2.150km
border permit required
Report by Sergey Orlow

Short video by Yakutian truckers:

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17 & 18: [Lena “Highway to Hell”], [Kolyma Highway “Road of Bones”]

Skovorodino – Yakutsk – Ust-Nera – Magadan
3.200 km
Not really a zimnik, as the M56 is maintained all year, but only gravel at best and with two major river crossings (Lena and Aldan) on ice roads in winter.
Yakutian guide Bolot Bochkarev on CBC.
My own trip report: Roadtrip Russia (5) “Road of Bones” -50° to -62 °C.

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19 & 20 & 21 & 22: Arktika Zimnik,
Mys Shmidta-, Egvekinot-, Markovo Zimnik

Ust-Nera – Burustah – Sasyr – Zyrianka – Chersky – Bilibino – Pevek – Mys Shmidta (then either to Uelen or to) – Iultin – Egvekinot – Anadyr – Markovo
(2.800 km -) 4.000 km
border permit required
Less than a dozen foreign expeditions have mastered those roads. The locals use them regularly of course, especially for truck transports.
Excellent Russian fotos from 2008: Arktika Report


Part 1 (Neryungri – Oymyakon), Part 2 (Oymyakon – Chersky)

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Yellow markers show start and finish of the winter roads

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Sign off the M56 Kolyma Highway in Burustah, Yakutia: Auto Zimnik “Arktika”

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Polar Circle crossing near Egvekinot, Chukotka

Fotos: The fantastic Amarok Polar Expedition by Rainer Zietlow to Kamchatka (click)

Another epic report to be found here by the Overland Challenge – from 1994 !

Two Estonian couples in 2016: expedition

And this crazy Polish motorbike expedition even fought their way to Anadyr in summer: MotoSyberia.

Yakutia Zimnik Map:

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Fantastic compilation by Richard Löwenherz of lonelytraveller.de

Chukotka Zimnik Map:

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Continue by dog sled … Beringiakam or Racing Beringia or even cross the Bering Strait to Alaska in the (defunct) Hope Race

23: Kamchatka Zimnik

Kamchatka
650 km from Esso to Palana

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24: Baikal 110 Zimnik

110 Zimnik was built in a mild 1975 winter in Soviet times, when Lake Baikal didn’t freeze, and supplies needed to be transported to the BAM railroad construction nevertheless. Today, the 110 “Zimnik” is rather a very rough summer road that leads 150 km from Novy Uoyan (on the BAM) to Ust Barguzin on the Eastern side of Lake Baikal.

Excellent Report on motorbikes by The Rolling Hobo

German bicycle expedition (fotos only)

Russian bicycle expedition

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Here is an Estonian expedition that made it in summer: 4x4reisid.ee
(Great video of BAM, Road of Bones, 110)

And a solo Polish car that made it in summer:

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Map around Lake Baikal: screenshot from above video.

25: Igarka Zimnik

This area is probably off-limits to foreigners and a difficult “road”. Nevertheless, here is the story and map of the fascinating Russky Reys expedition, all the way to Novaya Zemlya.

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Another overview:

Here is a pretty comprehensive and incredibly tough (!) ice road list by Andrey Finochenko Winter Cyclist (!).

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And another transsiberian crossing on a bicycle by Hiromasa Andow: click

Specialist tour guide

Roadtrips Across Russia by former North Pole paratrooper Mikhail Rybochkin

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With Mikhail Rybochkin (center) and the world’s most traveled man, Charles Veley, at Lake Kezenoy on the mountain border between Dagestan and Chechnya. (Foto: Michael Runkel)

Equipment

Russian extreme cold weather system suppliers:

Bask Company

Arctic Explorer

Rus Clothing

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Valenki Felt Boots

Temperatures:

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Hotels in Russia:

All Russia Hotels

Bronevik Hotels

Baikal Nature

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Foto: Mammoth in lobby of Hotel Polar Star in Yakutsk

Kilometer Zero

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Stone Marker at the Kremlin in Moscow

Europe-Asia crossing

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One of several such monuments in the Urals

Overview of highways in Russia:

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Source: Wikipedia

Overview of railways in Russia:

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Source: Wikipedia

Overview of Russia, including major rivers

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Foto of wall map at Sokol Airport Magadan

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