Saturday, April 28, 2007

Ob Sea

On April 1st we crammed on a bus with about 50 other eager skiers to be dropped off at the far end of the Ob Sea (a large, narrow lake near Akademgorodok.) I never thought I’d find myself waking up at 6:00am so that I wouldn’t miss the bus that was going to drop me off in the middle of no-where Siberia, from whence my only hope of returning to safety was by my own skiing. As it’s been said before though, there’s a first time for everything, so Anthony and I scrambled out the door to walk 45 minutes to where this bus was filling up. We were lucky—I thought—and arrived in time to get a seat. Within 10 minutes after our arrival, the bus (which was significantly smaller than a standard yellow school bus) was teaming with spandex clad skiers, skis, poles, and BO.

Yes, it seemed that we were all wearing that long-underwear shirt that could go just one more workout before it ‘needed’ to be washed, and the merciless bus driver had the heat on full blast. This heat was blowing out from under our seat, and as the bus lurched its way into the Siberia wasteland, (fish-tailing on drifts of snow), I tried to stay desperately still because any movement meant my skin had to adjust again to the hot air and sweat in which it was surrounded. Some of this sweat seemed to be coming from the poor guy without a seat who’s only hope for stability was to lean over Anthony and me to grab at the side of the bus above our seat—the vehicle was so crowded that all those packed in the isle had run out of hand space on the subway-like bars above the isle.

We finally arrived though and, after everyone else had evacuated we were able to slide our way out of the seat and into breathable air. The weather was great though—sunny, warm, but cool enough to be refreshing and provide a tiny bit of a crust for skiing. We were assured over and over again that the ice was still over a meter thick, and I believed it because of the numerous little ice-fishing conventions set up on the lake.

The pilgrimage wound its way through some woods and abandoned buildings and vehicles until it reached the lake, about 2k from being dropped off. Anthony and I joined up with some of the skiers from the University, many of whom are grad students. We’ve been really lucky to find this group of wonderful young folks who are just as in love with the sport as we are. However—for them, just skiing the 35 kilometers back to town was not enough, we had to go island hopping to several chunks of frozen taiga in the middle of this huge lake. It was a blast though, and we were glad to be out on a sunny 4-hour ski.

Anthony and Peter. How's the weight-shift?

Carolyn, Sonya, and some shirt-less skiers. Anthony's taking the picture.


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