ExWeb interview with Vasek Sura, Its a great feeling to depend only on what I pull behind me in the sled

Posted: Feb 22, 2010 12:31 pm EST

The two Czechs, Vasek Sura and Pavel Blazek, left for Siberia to ski across Lake Baikal. Before they left Vasek spoke to ExWeb about his Russian connections and his worries about leaving his family and company behind.

He spoke to ExWebs Correne Coetzer from his hometown, Jirny, in the Czech Republic.

ExplorersWeb: Why are you attracted to the ice fields?

Vasek: In places like Baikal, remote and barren, I always clear my head from civilization and all stresses. I have been camping out since I was a child, I love being outdoors either on my own or with a friend and the nature in the Arctic regions is especially untouched and beautiful.

Its a great feeling to depend only on what I pull behind me in the sled.

ExplorersWeb: It is not easy to get permission to do an expedition in Russia and to get through all the paperwork. You knew some people that made your job easier. How did it help and who were some of your connections? Do you speak Russian?

Vasek: In 2005 I started together with a group of friends a Club of the Travelers Across Russia which had been taken under the patronage by the Russian ambassador in Prague.

Tatiana Sizova who is a coordinator and manager of my expeditions is also a head of the Club. She comes from Russia but has lived in the Czech Republic for more than 20 years.

Being a very experienced traveler herself, she knows quite a lot of people and has a number of valuable connections. She is able to arrange all the paperwork, visas, airplane tickets and so on for us.

She helped me with my previous expeditions and she can organize for me almost everything I need - from the permissions to equipment.

I am also friends with Victor Boyarski who is a well-known Russian polar explorer and who also helped us with the Baikal expedition by taking it under his patronage.

He has also given several lectures in the Club and I went to visit him in Saint Petersburg to see his Russian State Museum of Arctic and Antarctic.

I speak Russian because it was compulsory to study when I was at school; I even had to pass the final exam in Russian... I have to say that it comes in useful now.

ExplorersWeb: What permissions and paperwork is required?

Vasek: Tatiana was in charge of all paperwork so I do not know exactly about every single paper. I know we had to report the expedition in Irkutsk and of course we need visas to Russia. There were no problems with either of these things.

ExplorersWeb: When you arrive in Russia do you have to report to certain authorities?

Vasek: I do not know exactly what steps we have to take to report the expedition, as I said above, Tatiana is in charge of this. But I expect nothing really complicated. We will definitely have to pay a registration fee - 25 EUR per person (about 34 USD).

ExplorersWeb: Before you get on the lake do you have to be inspected by police or somebody? Like on Greenland?

Vasek: I do not think so. I had to go through this during my last expedition in Svalbard but I do not expect Baikal to belike that. We will be taken by the people from the agency in Irkutsk straight to the southernmost side of the lake from which we will set on our way. That should be all.

ExplorersWeb: Will you do any preparations in Russia?

Vasek: Not much, we will only repack our sleds, add gas supplies and some food. Everything will be waiting there for us so it will take almost no time to do it. We plan to set for the expedition the day after we flew in Irkutsk.

ExplorersWeb: What do you still have to prepare at home?

Vasek: As we are leaving in a few days, it is a bit crazy right now. We have all the equipment and supplies ready but we are packing and checking again and again to make sure that we didnt forget anything.

I think that what worries me most is the fact that I am leaving my family and company here, I have to be sure that they will be all right while I am gone.

ExplorersWeb: How well do you know the Lake Baikal area or do you only know it on paper?

Vasek: I have never been there before but I attended number of lectures about Baikal, read almost everything ever written about it and talked to number of people who had traveled there. I talked to guys who skated across a part of the lake and Tatiana was also very helpful. She knows the area quite well even though only in summer.

ExplorersWeb: What keep you going on the ice?

Vasek: Strong will - we even put in the slogan of the expedition Powered by Will -Equipped by Bergans.

I am really enjoying myself being out there. I am also looking forward to communication with the people on our web. It is going to be a great motivation for us - I can see myself wondering during the day about what I will write in the evening to the people who follow our web.

ExplorersWeb: Why did you ask Pavel to join you?

Vasek: Well, I had been following his travels and expeditions for some time and I think that he is quite experienced for his age - I believe he will do a carrier in expeditions.

He is very well informed about what is going on in the world of expeditions and he is a good sportsmen. We had been talking about doing something together for some time and Baikal is what we agreed on.

ExplorersWeb: What do you think will be your biggest challenge on Lake Baikal?

The most challenging I think is the length of it - I spent hours counting how many kilometers we can do in a day and how many days it will take us.

Two Czechs, Vasek Sura and Pavel Blazek will attempt an unassisted, unsupported expedition across Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia. If all goes well they will start February 23. They will start from the small village of Kultuk on the southern side of Lake Baikal and will finish at the northernmost side of the lake, near to the village of Nizhneangarsk.

Vasek Sura (born 1965) lives in Jirny, near Prague, Czech Republic. He is an owner of a small PR company, is married and has two daughters.

Vaseks hobbies are traveling, hiking, winter sports (snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing). He has led numerous expeditions to the Arctic, Greenland, Svalbard and many other places. Vasek has also made two successful documentaries about his adventures.

When it comes to food he says he is not picky; he eats almost everything. When he reads he loves reading travelogues and books on the history of polar expeditions, I often search for these in secondhand bookstores to find the long lost treasures and original editions.

Home team: Tatjana SizovĂĄ, Zuzka PĂ­novĂĄ, Jakub JurĂĄsek and Matej JurĂĄsek.

#Polar #interview

Vasek Sura: I speak Russian because it was compulsory to study when I was at school; I have to say that it comes in useful now (click to enlarge)
courtesy Vasek Sura
Vasek skiing on Svalbard (click to enlarge)
courtesy Vasek Sura
[In Russia] we will only repack our sleds, add gas supplies and some food. Image: Vasek and Pavels daily rations for Lake Baikal (click to enlarge)
Pavel Blazek and Vasek Sura leaving Prague, Czech Republic, on February 21 (click to enlarge)