Andrey Podkorytov, a candidate for master of sports in tourism, a prize-winner and finalist of All-Russian and international photo contests of wildlife, winner of the Crystal Peak prize, made the first single ski crossing of the Putorana plateau this spring. He walked over 300 kilometers in the snow.
Andrey has been hiking for 14 years. He visited Altai, Northern Tien Shan, Western and Eastern Sayans, Caucasus, Subpolar Urals, Kamchatka, Kuznetsk Alatau, polar Sweden, Finland. Before the skiing trip across the Putorana plateau, the athlete had been there in a solo format seven times.
“In recent years, the plateau has been actively advertised, it is called one of the most inaccessible places on the planet, the land of ten thousand lakes and a thousand waterfalls. The plateau is indeed an inaccessible place, but… don’t exaggerate. It is much more difficult and more expensive to get to the center of the Taimyr Peninsula or to some tricky point of the mainland Arctic. And there are no regular tours for tourists there, but there are many of them on the Putorana plateau”, says Andrey.
The traveler notes that the most interesting waterfalls of the plateau are located deep inside the reserve and are accessible to comfort lovers only by helicopter. The protected area of the Putoransky reserve is open for visiting, but the trip must be coordinated.
“There is no infrastructure for tourists in the central part of the plateau and it is not expected. All programs and development plans concern only the buffer zone of the reserve in the western part of the plateau, accessible by rivers and lakes from Norilsk. I’m not gloating at all, it’s just the sad experience shows that mass tourism, alas, is destructive for nature”, the sports photographer regrets.
The plateau impressed the tourist in his first hike, and in 2015 the athlete was lucky to film a group of young male Putorana rams against the stunning backdrop of Lake Kutaramakan. The photographs turned out to be rather rare.
And in the summer of 2017, a photo of a bighorn sheep against the backdrop of Lake Duluk won the Golden Turtle photo competition and got into the finals of the Most Beautiful Country photo competition of the Russian Geographical Society.
This year, Andrey managed to cross the Putorana plateau on skis alone in 26 days, the route length was 336 kilometers.
“The route was planned and developed during a very long period of time – about one and a half years. I selected and tested equipment in the Northern Urals, Altai and other places. The weather did not work out very well – some of the plans had to be canceled, but in general the route was complete. I successfully managed to get on the route before the start of quarantine – self-isolation turned out to be wonderful. While in Russia they were striving for the plateau, I was right on it. Through the satellite phone, I received amazing news from my contact – about the closure of air traffic, about quarantine, digital passes, and so on”, Andrey shared.
The athlete said that he was shooting with professional photographic equipment during the trip, and it was heavy – he had to invent all sorts of tricks in order to take the necessary equipment and food for the autonomous route almost a month long.
The trip turned out to be very costly. I had to pay all expenses myself: plane, helicopter, food, tourist equipment, photographic equipment, snowmobile drop-in and drop-out, satellite communications, insurance.
When asked what sense is in the solo trips, the traveler answered: “Solitary trips are no longer about sense, they are about need. In the book Freedom of a Shaman by Serkin there is a very correct recommendation: not to let anyone on your so-called treasure shore. In two words – this is something at meditation, development and rest. I don’t want get into details. And from the point of view of photography I feel a kind of selfishness in solo trips. No one will ever see or take pictures of what I see. Even in the same place the next time it will be somewhat different. You become the only spectator and you take all the uniqueness to yourself, alone”.
A solitary hike, according to Andrey Podkorytov, is a separate small and unique life, which remains a whole and vivid piece of memories. Isn’t it tempting to live multiple lives instead of just one?
Text: Angelica Stepanova, Photo: Andrey Podkorytov