Who Goes to Siberia in the Winter?

Photographers do.  Well, maybe crazy photographers do.  They go, as I will next week, to experience the frozen environs of Lake Baikal near the city of Irkutsk in southern Siberia.

Lake Baikal, Irkutsk and Surrounding Area (image credit: Google Earth)

Lake Baikal, Irkutsk and Surrounding Area (image credit: Google Earth)

 

Lake Baikal is the largest fresh water lake (by volume) in the world.  It contains 20% of the unfrozen, fresh water in the world thanks to its size, 390 miles in length, 50 miles in width, and depth, an average of 2500 feet and 5400 feet at its maximum (Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Baikal).

Due to the cold winters in Siberia, Lake Baikal's usually freezes at a depth sufficient for vehicles to traverse its frozen surface.  This creates one of the draws for photographers since we can travel onto the lake and find interesting ice patterns.

Lake Baikal (photo credit: http://iliketowastemytime.com)

Lake Baikal (photo credit: http://iliketowastemytime.com)

In addition to the fissures in the ice, I believe there are also ice caves and interesting rock formations around the shores. There is also the local culture and surrounding geography.  Should be an interesting, and for sure, different photographic experience.

Getting to Irkutsk/Lake Baikal is a bit of a challenge in the winter since the limited connections from Asia seem to not fly during the winter months.  From the San Francisco area where I live, it is shorter to fly west through Asia to Irkutsk (about 5600 miles) than it is to fly east (~8400 miles).  Without the winter service, however, the only route is through Europe and then Moscow.  The good thing about traveling the longer distance via Moscow is that the work shop organizer, Tim Vollmer Photography (http://www.timvollmer.de), has added a three-day front end extension in Moscow. 

So, double win if you don't mind the cold!