Kingdom of Ice: Mesmerizing Freshwater Lake in Winter

Lake Baikal, the world’s oldest (25 million years) and deepest (1,700 m) freshwater lake in the world, curves for nearly 400 miles through south-eastern Siberia, north of the Mongolian border. It contains 20% of the world's total unfrozen freshwater reserve. Known as the 'Galapagos of Russia', its age and isolation have produced one of the world's richest and most unusual freshwater faunas, which is of exceptional value to evolutionary science.

Last winter, Russian photographer Sergey Pesterev began his journey with a 6 hour flight from Moscow to the Lake, capturing its other side --- kingdom of ice of various textures and shades from milk-white to emerald. “The water in the lake is so transparent that individual stones and various objects can be seen at a depth of up to 40 meters. ”

At landing in Irkutsk the commander of the crew delighted the passengers with the good weather forecast - sunshine and only -31°C degrees. The end point of the trip - the Olkhon island, it was still more than 300 km. On the way, the thermometer readings varied between -30°C to -45°C. For the end of January, it is a perfectly normal temperature.

During the year there are more than 300 sunny days. Olkhon is the largest island on the lake, on which there are several villages with a total population of slightly less than 2 thousand people. Communication with the mainland in the summer only by ferry, in winter with the onset of severe frosts the road is open across ice. In the offseason, the only transport is the hovercraft. The island is part of the Pribaikalsky National park, so industrial fishing is prohibited here. In the summer there is many tourists not only from Russia but also from other countries. Recent years, more and more tourists are coming in winter.

As one of the most turbulent on Earth, Lake Baikal can be sometimes waves up to 6 meters high in windless weather. The storm in good weather, when nothing boded, is explained by the tectonic nature of the appearance of the disturbance. Besides, Lake Baikal is unusual, almost everything is unique with non-freezing zones, mobile cracks, colossal overthrusts and bizarre ice splashes. All this is largely due to the strongest storms in the fall and early winter.

With an ice thickness of more than 50 cm, it is relatively safe to travel by car, but there is a problem with ice hummocks, which can reach 2-3 meters in height. The cracks stretching for dozens of kilometers represent a serious danger (their width is from 50 cm to 2 meters), since they do not freeze throughout the winter and periodically narrow or expand. There are also new cracks often, which is accompanied by the sound of an artillery salvo.

For Sergey Pesterev, the most difficult thing in photographing is to stand the whole day at a temperature of minus 25-30 °C, at night the frosts were even stronger. In the ice caves had to literally crawl to avoid damaging icicles. The first time on the ice was even scary to walk. It was a feeling that you are walking along a thin glass, under which a black abyss with an unknown depth. On the ice, oddly enough, you could walk in ordinary shoes, it was relatively non-slip. Despite the considerable thickness of the ice, small cracks constantly appeared, even under the feet. The sounds that have arisen in this case could be used for the scoring of the "Star Wars".

(All photos copyrighted Sergey Pesterev)

> Gallery:

"Kingdom of Ice"

> Source:

1. Photographger Sergey Pesterev's Website;

2. Lake Baikal by UNESCO;

3. Lake Baikal's Website.

All the photos are from the web and the copyright retains with the original author. If there is any problem, please contact us.
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