How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer

“How we transported 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic” - the story of a New Zealand photographer

April 17, 2017

Amos Chapple is a New Zealand freelance photographer and journalist who has visited 67 countries. His works are published by such publications as The Guardian, The Atlantic and the Italian Vanity Fair. The photojournalist is not afraid of extreme working conditions, judging by his reports. For example, his photographs of the village of Oymyakon, the coldest village, had spread all over the world.

“Even a year after the most terrible task in my life, I have nightmares about the crushing ice under the wheels of a truck. 10 days and nights I spent side by side with Ruslan and his assistant. With a wild crash we made our way along the Indigirka River to deliver cargo to the town of Belaya Gora, which is located in the Arctic Circle in Yakutia. ”

Meet this is Ruslan, the truck driver.

Actually, his truck.

Half the way from Yakutsk, one of the largest cities in the region, to Belaya Gora passed along the Kolyma highway, or the Kolyma highway, which the prisoners built.The second half of the way lay on the frozen river Indigirka.

The beginning of the journey was good. We made our way through the mountains along the Kolyma highway, and the land was quite stable.

The three of us in the cabin were hot and cramped. Siberians love not just warmth, but heat. They are always enough.

Food was cooked on a small gas stove.

The landscape was gorgeous. We were also lucky with the weather.

Friend Ruslana Andrew turned badly, and his car skidded and overturned. So Ruslan offered to give him a lift to the White Mountain.

Andrei is holding a semi-automatic rifle at one of our sites. He injured his arm when his car overturned. By the way, he was not fastened.

Now in the cabin, designed for two, there were four of us. When we tried to sleep in such conditions, it was like Tetris.

We waved off half the route, and then the ice began.

We were slowly moving forward when Ruslan pulled the brakes sharply. In front of us was a polynya just the size of a truck.

With the arrival of spring, everything began to melt. I do not know what happened to those who fell into this hole, but the local guide then told me that every winter about five people die in the region, falling through the ice.

As we drove along the river, I wondered: what it was like to be there, under the ice, and fight against the current and the scorching cold.

Ruslan shows a photo of the truck of his friend, stuck in the last raid. He said that if the car starts to sink from the front, then there is no hope of escape.

For a while we rode calmly, going around dangerous places.

And then I heard the ice crack under the wheels of our truck. I opened the door and jumped out. I tried to get out as far as possible, so as not to be buried under him.

But the truck did not fail completely. So one could try to pull it out.

With the arrival of the night it only got worse. Pull the truck did not work. I had to spend the night there.

At three o'clock in the morning, while everyone was asleep, huddled together, I saw a flashing green on the horizon. For the first time in my life, I saw the northern lights.

The next morning we were met by good weather. We were able to get out.

Church in Zashiversk.

As we approached the destination, everyone’s mood improved.

Finally, after five days without a shower and a change of clothes, we arrived at White Mountain, where Ruslan had a small apartment.

Products were delivered, and the guys continued on their way up the river. I stayed to shoot the locals.

The girl bought the products in the store, the very ones that Ruslan delivered.

When I started to worry that there were no guys for so long, Ruslan arrived, and we set off again.

Before a dangerous road along the river Ruslan makes an offering to the spirits.

Meeting with other truckers on the road. Their truck broke down.

And we took them in tow.

And again this terrible road, which has almost melted.

I was ready to jump out of the cabin again, if we fail.

Drivers take drinking water directly from the river.

On the Kolyma highway, safety is a relative thing. In the photo on the left the truck fell off a cliff, the driver died.

The terrible icy road is left behind. The sun rose, the music played loudly, and I was on my way home. But Ruslan had a few more flights this season. He will spend several days in Yakutsk and then go back to White Mountain, where he will remain for the whole summer. He asked if I wanted to go with him, but I refused. I was glad to be back on solid ground again. The sound of cracking ice under the wheels, I will never forget.

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  • How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer

    How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer

    How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer

    How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer

    How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer

    How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer

    How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer

    How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer

    How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer

    How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer

    How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer How we carried 12 tons of food to the Russian Arctic - the story of a New Zealand photographer