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Old 04-29-2019, 10:13 AM
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Could I drive to Russia? (North America to Russia)


Iím currently in Wisconsin and in search of a good road trip.

Letís say I bought a 4x4 with the beefiest tires I could find and an infinite fuel supply.

Could I drive straight up through Canada, Nunavut, across the tundra into Siberia?

Guess I have never been to the hyperborean regions, but I assume its very solid packed snow, and relatively flat.

Is it possible?
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Old 04-29-2019, 10:24 AM
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Given the infinite fuel supply, you would drive north on the ice until there was solid ice coming back south to Siberia. However, the suggestion is that there's a lot less reliable ice up there nowadays thanks t global warming, so maybe not.

I recall someone once suggested a pair of 25-mile tunnels could allow a connection between Alaska and Siberia through the Island(s) in between.
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Old 04-29-2019, 10:51 AM
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It would depend on the time of year. In the summer there is not enough ice to get from Canada to the sea ice and from the ice to Russia. It varies by year, but only during the winter is the ice large enough.
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Old 04-29-2019, 11:09 AM
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Not, yet..but maybe later if this bridge is built.
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Old 04-29-2019, 11:13 AM
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What makes you think it's very solid packed snow, and relatively flat? In fact, it is humps, cliffs and crevasses you can lose your 4WD down.
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Old 04-29-2019, 12:10 PM
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I've heard about this idea for several years. Is there a demand? Are there any regularly scheduled ferries (or cargo ships) that go back-an-forth between AK & RU, even if they only operate in the summer?
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Old 04-29-2019, 12:39 PM
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I've heard about this idea for several years. Is there a demand? Are there any regularly scheduled ferries (or cargo ships) that go back-an-forth between AK & RU, even if they only operate in the summer?
Another issue is that such bridge wouldn't really connect to anywhere. If you built a bridge (or tunnel) from Wales, Alaska to Naukan, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug you'd be able to drive from Wales to Naukan.

But you wouldn't be able to drive to New York or Moscow. There is a road, of sorts, that connects Wales to Tin City about five miles away. But the road stops there. And apparently there are no roads which connect to Naukan.

So connecting North America to Russia isn't just a matter of building a bridge or tunnel. It also involves building hundreds of miles of roads on both sides of the bridge or tunnel.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 04-29-2019 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 04-29-2019, 12:44 PM
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What makes you think it's very solid packed snow, and relatively flat? In fact, it is humps, cliffs and crevasses you can lose your 4WD down.
Relax Bob,

All good 4x4s have a winch
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Old 04-29-2019, 12:52 PM
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Relax Bob,

All good 4x4s have a winch
This sounds like what we'd hear Jeremy Clarkson say, five minutes before his passing.
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Old 04-29-2019, 01:15 PM
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Ice Road Truckers on History shows temporary Canadian roads accessible in winter that cross frozen lakes and rivers. Driving can be extremely challenging but it is possible to drive on improvised roads in the far north.

Recent seasons have focused on Manitoba.

Last edited by aceplace57; 04-29-2019 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 04-29-2019, 01:38 PM
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I saw this documentary which showed that it's possible, with the right car.
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Old 04-29-2019, 01:46 PM
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Another issue is that such bridge wouldn't really connect to anywhere. If you built a bridge (or tunnel) from Wales, Alaska to Naukan, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug you'd be able to drive from Wales to Naukan.

But you wouldn't be able to drive to New York or Moscow. There is a road, of sorts, that connects Wales to Tin City about five miles away. But the road stops there. And apparently there are no roads which connect to Naukan.

So connecting North America to Russia isn't just a matter of building a bridge or tunnel. It also involves building hundreds of miles of roads on both sides of the bridge or tunnel.
Any such bridge would of course be part of a larger corridor connecting, say, the trans-Siberian railway with a railroad from somewhere down in British Columbia, or equivalent road transport. When you consider how much easier it is to ship by boat, and gets you to larger ports directly on the Asian coast or American west coast, there is obviously no benefit to such a construction.

Where it might be advantageous is if someone develops extreme high speed transport (along the lines of hyperloop in a vacuum tube) so a trip from North America to somewhere in Eurasia would be competitive in time and cost with airline flights. I still don't see that happening in the next 50 years.

As for driving yourself - yes, pack ice (which is what you get on the Arctic ocean) would be tricky and prone to crevices. Since it's pack ice the worst issue would be pressure ridges - two currents pile up the ice against each other. The other risk is thin ice, where you break through. Plus, the ice is reliable only in winter, in the dark, at minus 50 and below. Plus, the distance, means you will use a huge amount of that unlimited fuel... I have read somewhere that the currents in the Bering strait make ice in that area unreliable, so you would have to head quite a ways north to swing around the bad ice, all far form civilization. That makes the drive to and from Wales instead (or Naukan) look short by comparison. When you reach "solid" land you will still have a huge distance to travel to get anywhere meaningful. Plus, driving over land will make the ocean ice travel look like the easy bit.
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Old 04-29-2019, 01:52 PM
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Wasn't there a plan to build bridges & roads to reach Russia?

IIRC concerns about National security were raised? A natural barrier between US/Canada & Russia is mutually beneficial? Otherwise we would need more robust defenses in the North?

The Japanese invaded the Aleutian islands in WWII. We still have several major bases in Alaska.

Last edited by aceplace57; 04-29-2019 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 04-29-2019, 01:53 PM
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The cost of the entire project is estimated at 65 billion dollars, and actual costs are always higher. For something like this, I thing they might be significantly higher.

To even get to the tunnel crossing, you'd have to drive a large distance over terrain that is totally treacherous 5 months of the year. You'd have to drive through 55 miles of undersea tunnel and, to get to anything resembling civilization in Russia (like Moscow), you'd have to traverse 2/3 of the nation to get there. It seems to me that flying west to east would continue to be much faster and safer.

I can't see justifying the cost.
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Old 04-29-2019, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Mrdeals View Post
Iím currently in Wisconsin and in search of a good road trip.

Letís say I bought a 4x4 with the beefiest tires I could find and an infinite fuel supply.

Could I drive straight up through Canada, Nunavut, across the tundra into Siberia?

Guess I have never been to the hyperborean regions, but I assume its very solid packed snow, and relatively flat.

Is it possible?
Of course it's not possible to drive "on tundra" because there's a big water gap at the Bering Strait. You would have do drive over sea ice when the water is frozen in winter. If the ice isn't suitable over the Strait itself you would need to drive farther north.

I didn't think that such a trip would be possible using a normal 4x4 vehicle, but this expedition showed it would be possible at least in principle. In 2007 two highly modified Toyota Hiluxes and a Land Cruiser made it over sea ice to within a short distance of the North Magnetic Pole. It would be difficult and time consuming, but considering they traveled 300 miles on their expedition and the distance across Bering Strait is only 55 miles it should be feasible.

As other posters have mentioned however, there are no roads that go to the parts of Alaska and Siberia that border the Bering Strait. Getting to the Strait might be much more difficult than crossing the Strait itself.
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Old 04-29-2019, 02:06 PM
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You could actually walk to Russia certain times of the year. I think the Diomede islands (one Russian, one American), are sometimes linked by an ice bridge. Not quite what you're talking about, and I suspect there might be a bit of red tape in trying to do it.
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Old 04-29-2019, 02:27 PM
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I'd go in the summer, with the top down. Seriously, that might be a better option.
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Old 04-29-2019, 03:06 PM
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Could I drive to Russia? (North America to Russia)


I don't think the OP is talking about the Bering Strait. He wants to leave from Nunavut, which is far from Alaska (two territories over).

I took him to mean going right over the top, to the North Pole and then south to Russia.
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Old 04-29-2019, 04:31 PM
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I don't think the OP is talking about the Bering Strait. He wants to leave from Nunavut, which is far from Alaska (two territories over).

I took him to mean going right over the top, to the North Pole and then south to Russia.
It's the same issues there, only much longer. That'd be three or four thousand Km of sea ice, vs a couple hundred for the Bering Strait.

But apparently, such a trip has been done. But not with just a single SUV.
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Old 04-29-2019, 04:45 PM
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I don't think the OP is talking about the Bering Strait. He wants to leave from Nunavut, which is far from Alaska (two territories over).
Given that he thinks there is tundra between North America and Siberia, I don't think I would make any assumptions about his geographical knowledge.
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Old 04-29-2019, 04:58 PM
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IIRC concerns about National security were raised? A natural barrier between US/Canada & Russia is mutually beneficial?
Thats more for Russia's benefit since I doubt they could afford that many fuel trucks to bring gas down with them. Once you get into Canada, there is a huge gap till the next reliable fuel station. Russia would be horrified about having a land bridge connecting , the American corp of engineers would have a four lane super highway built and connected to Moscow.
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Old 04-29-2019, 07:54 PM
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One option would be the Dobbertin Surface Orbiter (Official Site). It surfaced in the early 1990s with an outrageous plan to circumnavigate the globe. It made a splash in the custom car world for a while but never seemed to do very much. Still, you might be able to drive and float your way there although I doubt this design would be very good at dealing with rough, snowy terrain.
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Old 04-29-2019, 08:35 PM
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There was a road race in 1908 that went from NYC to Paris going west. The organizers intended for the cars to drive across a frozen Bering Strait, but gave up the idea and just shipped the cars to Japan and then to Vladivostok. Three of the six cars starting finished the race.
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Old 04-29-2019, 09:15 PM
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Wasn't there a plan to build bridges & roads to reach Russia?

IIRC concerns about National security were raised? A natural barrier between US/Canada & Russia is mutually beneficial? Otherwise we would need more robust defenses in the North?
I doubt there were any concerns from anybody with military experience. Some people might have whipped up hysteria about the Soviets driving to America but it would have been a ridiculous idea. Any Red Army troops would have been so far along a razor-thin supply line that we would hardly have needed to fight them to eliminate them.

If the Soviets had ever wanted to invade America, they would have done it the traditional way; invade by sea and seize a major port to secure a supply line.
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Old 04-29-2019, 09:55 PM
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If you considered a ferry to be acceptable component of the trip..... nope. I've actually looked from time to time, and there aren't any automotive ferries that cross the Atlantic If you started in Iceland, I think you could get your car to mainland Europe, from which you could drive that way to Russia.

There aren't any ferries across the Pacific, either.

Beyond that, I leave the discussion up to everyone who points out that you'd have a lot of difficulty trying a trans-polar route.
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Old 04-29-2019, 10:14 PM
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If you considered a ferry to be acceptable component of the trip..... nope. I've actually looked from time to time, and there aren't any automotive ferries that cross the Atlantic If you started in Iceland, I think you could get your car to mainland Europe, from which you could drive that way to Russia.

There aren't any ferries across the Pacific, either.
I met someone who rode a Honda Gold Wing from Japan, across Russia, into Scandinavia, so all that part is "no problem". For the around-the-world tour you would most likely need to book passage on an actual freighter rather than a "ferry", though.
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Old 04-29-2019, 10:26 PM
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You could actually walk to Russia certain times of the year. I think the Diomede islands (one Russian, one American), are sometimes linked by an ice bridge. Not quite what you're talking about, and I suspect there might be a bit of red tape in trying to do it.
If you're Lynne Cox, you could swim it.
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Old 04-30-2019, 03:32 AM
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I can't see justifying the cost.
China.

It would immediately become a major trade route between China and Canada and the US. Remember that the Earth is an oblate sphere and great circle routes apply.
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Old 04-30-2019, 06:17 AM
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To even get to the tunnel crossing, you'd have to drive a large distance over terrain that is totally treacherous 5 months of the year. You'd have to drive through 55 miles of undersea tunnel and, to get to anything resembling civilization in Russia (like Moscow), you'd have to traverse 2/3 of the nation to get there.
You're vastly underestimating the population of Siberia and the Russian Far East. As someone who's recently visited there myself, I can confirm that it has plenty of quite sizeable, modern cities (say, between half a million and a million inhabitants each). The tunnel would also link major population centres in China and Korea (also much closer than Moscow).

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I can't see justifying the cost.
Maybe not for most passenger transportation, but a freight railway might be more economical or more environmentally friendly than air or sea transport.
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Old 04-30-2019, 07:27 AM
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Maybe not for most passenger transportation, but a freight railway might be more economical or more environmentally friendly than air or sea transport.
I also seam to recall that part of the justification of a connection across the Bering sea is that it could also support a natural gas pipeline transporting Russian fuel to North American consumers. I have no clue if this is viable, only that the thought was being floated about.
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Old 04-30-2019, 08:13 AM
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Maybe not for most passenger transportation, but a freight railway might be more economical or more environmentally friendly than air or sea transport.
A freight railway to where? The closest railheads to the strait appear to be in Nizhny Bestyakh and Fort Nelson, which are more than 3000 miles apart, across terrain that is less than ideal for heavy construction.

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Old 04-30-2019, 08:43 AM
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A freight railway to where? The closest railheads to the strait appear to be in Nizhny Bestyakh and Fort Nelson, which are more than 3000 miles apart, across terrain that is less than ideal for heavy construction.
Sure, for a rail line you have the same problem as with a road as described above.
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Old 04-30-2019, 08:57 AM
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A freight railway to where?
China. Imagine a line going from Harbin to Vancouver and onward into the US. You'd have manufactured goods going one way and food the other.
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Old 04-30-2019, 01:14 PM
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China. Imagine a line going from Harbin to Vancouver and onward into the US. You'd have manufactured goods going one way and food the other.
A co-worker once decided to travel the Alaska highway. This was many years ago, (my parents even did a stretch in the late 1950's) but the highway is still legendary for sharp gravel which eats tires. plus, there's not a lot of amenities along the way. Plus, it goes to one part of Alaska, but Google maps shows 500 miles from the nearest roadway to the narrow part of the strait; and construction over northern terrain is not trivial. It's 2000 miles from Edmonton, the nearest decent city in driving distance. (Since Anchorage is a dead end) On the other side, the nearest road on Google maps is Seymchan, over 1100 miles from the strait. then, another 1300 miles to the Chinese border, even further to Vladivostok.

OTOH, there is a proposal recently floated to build a pair of bridges, 5 miles and 39 miles, that would connect Russia via one of its islands to Japan. So if someone could devise a feasible and reasonably cheap extreme speed transport the connections are there. But driving 4500 miles to get from Edmonton to Harbin or Vladivostok is probably better classified as an adventure, not a road trip, even if a drivable road is constructed. 4500mi at 60mph is 75 hours. Most existing northern roads don't easily allow for 60mph.

If there were a 500mph ground transport available (maglev or hyperloop, say), that would be a 9-hour drive, not much worse than a flight; and if it was a point-to-point transport, you could beat time taken with flights and changing planes and go from city center to city center.

With decent, reliable speed, such a link might provide the same or better service than air freight - being less constricted by load weight or weather, and offering far more timely delivery than ships.
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Old 04-30-2019, 04:32 PM
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A co-worker once decided to travel the Alaska highway.

I'm sorry but that's not really relevant for a rail line.
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Old 04-30-2019, 05:30 PM
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This analysis of shipping costs by rail or sea for a continental-US route, came back with the response that the sea route was cheaper, even though it was more than twice as long.

If that's got even vague generalisability, I find it hard to see how a new rail route over some of the most difficult terrain in the world could ever be competitive with existing shipping methods
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Old 04-30-2019, 09:53 PM
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I had a lot of fun on IMDB when Revolution was on the air arguing a British character was a quitter for not walking from the East coast to England to see her family.
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Old 05-01-2019, 12:06 AM
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IIRC now deceased American political outlier Lyndon Larouche used to push a bridge over the Bering Strait as part of a "new Silk Road" that would spark the world economy, and in many ways he was right. But there are so many logistical problems here:

1. The Bering Straight is one of the most dangerous and unknown and remote bodies of water on the planet. What guarantee is there we can just place piles in it and build a bridge and everything will be safe? And who is in charge of the land bridge? How is security handled?

2. I don't know about Alaska but just go on YouTube and you'll see how unpassable Russian roads are in Siberian summer. Where will the money and promises come from to pave these thousands of miles of highways to hell appropriately to accommodate American and Canadian trucks? And will we come through with a 1000 mile to Fairbanks?

As I said, there's no reason we can't put our heads together and come up with a reason two countries 2 miles apart cannot build a link. The problem is the link is located in HELL.
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Old 05-01-2019, 04:22 AM
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This analysis of shipping costs by rail or sea for a continental-US route, came back with the response that the sea route was cheaper, even though it was more than twice as long.
That's rather a biased source, don't you think?
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Old 05-01-2019, 04:25 AM
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1. The Bering Straight is one of the most dangerous and unknown and remote bodies of water on the planet. What guarantee is there we can just place piles in it and build a bridge and everything will be safe? And who is in charge of the land bridge? How is security handled?
A bridge is a non-starter; a tunnel is the way to go. And security is a solved problem: look at the Channel Tunnel.

Quote:
2. I don't know about Alaska but just go on YouTube and you'll see how unpassable Russian roads are in Siberian summer
Again, a road link is a non-starter. It would be a rail link.
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Old 05-01-2019, 09:05 AM
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Just checking in to say that as a kid, when I heard about the Bering land bridge during the last Ice Age and how it allowed humans to populate the western hemisphere, I imagined a flat roadway about forty feet wide with Mongol parents trudging along, holding their kids' hands as they walked.
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Old 05-01-2019, 09:22 AM
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I'd rather my 4x4 had a wench.
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Old 05-01-2019, 11:29 AM
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I'm sorry but that's not really relevant for a rail line.
Have you seen what building a rail line over northern lands is like? it's worse than a road. The recently in the news rail link to Churchill on Hudson's Bay is apparently limited to a 30mph speed at best thanks to permafrost. I went to a talk on mineral resources in Siberia where it was mentioned that one town (the location of the Gulag in One Day in the Life of Ivan Dennysovich, I think) every spring they move the dock equipment half a mile back from the river for the spring thaw.

But yes, I don't see an open road as an option specifically because even if properly constructed, it requires a week of driving to get somewhere, through basically deserted terrain. Even conventional trains wouldn't be terribly relevant, given the maintenance costs and the fact that there is not a significant speed advantage over Pacific shipping. High-speed rail (say 100mph minimum) would mean a shipping time of 3 days give or take, from China to USA. However, until the transiberian is upgraded to the same level, no improvement for European connections.

More likely is - watch for full upgrade of rail links from China via south Silk Road routes to Europe first.

it will be a long time coming...

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I'd rather my 4x4 had a wench.
Obligatory mention of The Gods Must Be Crazy where both winch and wench figure in the plot.
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Old 05-01-2019, 03:48 PM
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IIRC now deceased American political outlier Lyndon Larouche used to push a bridge over the Bering Strait as part of a "new Silk Road" that would spark the world economy, and in many ways he was right. But there are so many logistical problems here:
The big problem is that we already have a link that supports an enormous amount of cargo already. Container shipping across the pacific is already cheaper per ton mile than rail shipping across the US.
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:43 AM
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To answer the OP directly, no.

The first problem is... you can't drive to Nunavut. Even the Top Gear expedition, cited by Colibri started at Resolute, NU and they didn't drive there.

You'd be headed the wrong direction anyway.

That said, you COULD drive up through Alaska to Deadhorse,AK then up to Prudhoe Bay and follow the shore towards a point near Barrow (Utqiagvik), AK. Then you would need to head out over the sea ice, skirting the Chukchi Sea landing in Siberia somewhere near/past Wrangel Island.

After that, you're on your own though, as there are only isolated and abandoned settlements that are only accessed by water or air. There are no roads, rail lines, etc.. for thousands of miles.
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Old 05-02-2019, 11:10 AM
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If the basic idea of the OP is to attempt a land based mode of travel over polar ice in the winter to cross from North America to Russia (ignoring the specific route suggested, and the assumption that the ice could consistently bear the weight of a 4x4 truck, or that the snow cover would be "packed and relatively flat", all of which are dubious assumptions)...

And leaving aside the fact that, with the accelerating global warming of the past 50 years or so leaving us with less and less polar ice, such that a Northwest Passage through the Arctic may not only finally be possible but persist year-round...

It has, in fact, been done by skiers in 1988, albeit in the reverse direction of travel, in The SovietĖCanadian 1988 Polar Bridge Expedition, which took about 3 months to do, as it "began on March 3, 1988, when a group of thirteen Russian and Canadian skiers set out from Siberia, in an attempt to ski to Canada over the North Pole. The nine Russians and four Canadians reached the pole on 25 April and concluded their trek on Wednesday, June 1, 1988, when they reached Ward Hunt Island, Ellesmere, Northern Canada."

Last edited by robardin; 05-02-2019 at 11:11 AM.
  #47  
Old 05-02-2019, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by robardin View Post
It has, in fact, been done by skiers in 1988, albeit in the reverse direction of travel, in The SovietĖCanadian 1988 Polar Bridge Expedition, which took about 3 months to do, as it "began on March 3, 1988, when a group of thirteen Russian and Canadian skiers set out from Siberia, in an attempt to ski to Canada over the North Pole. The nine Russians and four Canadians reached the pole on 25 April and concluded their trek on Wednesday, June 1, 1988, when they reached Ward Hunt Island, Ellesmere, Northern Canada."
It's apparently also been done by vehicle, as I posted somewhere upthread (and which everyone has seemingly ignored):
Quote:
Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
But apparently, such a trip has been done. But not with just a single SUV.
Here's another cite, with pictures:

Quote:
the 4,000-kilometre drive over the North Pole from Russia to Canada was a precarious journey requiring specialized equipment and a great deal of forward preparation. The expedition, seven-man strong and lead by Vassili Ielaguine, used specially built busses with oversized tires, taking two and a half months to accomplish the feat.
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:52 PM
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Yes, it can be done, but if I had to try, I would start in Florida, take a modern version of this, and head for Murmansk with the help of the Gulf Stream and pray for the best.
BTW: Last time I was in Irkutsk by the Baikal Sea (that was in 2001) most cars had the steering on the right, because they were half-illegally imported from Japan via Vladivostok, or so I was told by the locals. There was no road to the West (Moscow, also known as the "main land"), so there was also no need to adhere to the road regulations there. OTH I saw a shrine to some poor dead Siberian every couple of hundred meters on the way to the Baikal Sea on a perfectly straight road. I don't know if people crashed in winter, when the conditions would be horrible or simply did not know on which side of the road to drive. Many, no doubt, were also very drunk.
  #49  
Old 05-02-2019, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
It's apparently also been done by vehicle, as I posted somewhere upthread (and which everyone has seemingly ignored):





Here's another cite, with pictures:

That's insane!! They brought three months worth of diesel fuel for what was essentially a floating bus?

And also benefited from Divine Intervention!

Quote:
...coming upon a wide chasm that appeared too dangerous to cross and almost forced them to take a long detour, risking that they might run out of fuel.

Suddenly the ice floes shifted beneath their feet and closed over the open waters ahead of them. They kicked the vans in gear and drove, but barely two minutes after crossing to the other side the gap opened up again.
  #50  
Old 05-02-2019, 06:48 PM
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This sounds like what we'd hear Jeremy Clarkson say, five minutes before his passing.
Passing on the bumper hitch mounted crapper from his first movement to the magnetic pole?
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