Kingdom of Ice
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Lake Baikal is known as the oldest and deepest lake on Earth, containing 20 percent of all fresh water reserves. The water in the lake is so transparent that individual stones and various objects can be seen at a depth of up to 40 meters. In winter, this place turns into a kingdom of ice of various textures and shades from milk-white to emerald.

The journey began with a 6 hour flight from Moscow. At landing in Irkutsk the commander of the crew delighted the passengers with the good weather forecast – sunshine and only -31С degrees. The end point of the trip – the Olkhon island, it was still more than 300 km. On the way, the thermometer readings varied between -30C to -45C degrees. For the end of January is a perfectly normal temperature. During the year there are more than 300 sunny days. Olkhon is the largest island on the lake, on which there are several villages with a total population of slightly less than 2 thousand people. Communication with the mainland in the summer only by ferry, in winter with the onset of severe frosts the road is open across ice. In the offseason, the only transport is the hovercraft. The island is part of the Pribaikalsky National park, so industrial fishing is prohibited here. In the summer there is many tourists not only from Russia but also from other countries. Recent years, more and more tourists are coming in winter.
The Small Sea Strait. In the right part of the frame – Shamanka rock (Cape Burkhan) is one of the most famous places of lake Baikal and one of the nine holy places of Asia.
Old fishing boats on the coast of Olkhon island protect the shore during the autumn storms.
Often there are chunks of ice like huge diamonds.
The picture shows the southern cape of Ogoy island, which is characteristic of a rock resembling a dragon.
Lake Baikal is one of the most turbulent on Earth. Sometimes in windless weather there can be waves up to 6 meters high. The storm in good weather, when nothing boded, is explained by the tectonic nature of the appearance of the disturbance. Lake Baikal is unusual, almost everything is unique with non-freezing zones, mobile cracks, colossal overthrusts and bizarre ice splashes. All this is largely due to the strongest storms in the fall and early winter. With an ice thickness of more than 50 cm, it is relatively safe to travel by car, but there is a problem with ice hummocks, which can reach 2-3 meters in height. The cracks stretching for dozens of kilometers represent a serious danger (their width is from 50 cm to 2 meters), since they do not freeze throughout the winter and periodically narrow or expand. There are also new cracks often, which is accompanied by the sound of an artillery salvo.

The most difficult thing in photographing is to stand the whole day at a temperature of minus 25-30 degrees, at night the frosts were even stronger. In the ice caves had to literally crawl to avoid damaging icicles. The first time on the ice was even scary to walk. It was a feeling that you are walking along a thin glass, under which a black abyss with an unknown depth. On the ice, oddly enough, you could walk in ordinary shoes, it was relatively non-slip. Despite the considerable thickness of the ice, small cracks constantly appeared, even under the feet. The sounds that have arisen in this case could be used for the scoring of the "Star Wars".
The picture was taken near the coast of Olkhon, on the north-eastern side of the island, near the village Uzury, where the weather station is located. The village is surrounded by hills that are visible in the background in the photo and this is one of the few places on the coast where you can easily go down to the lake without any problems. Despite strong thirty degrees below zero, Baikal began to become covered with ice in these placesonly in the second half of January. Thanks to the clear sky and almost complete absence of powerful light sources, there was an opportunity to see a huge number of stars, unimaginable in the conditions of city illumination, especially the Milky Way. The ice in the foreground was highlighted with a flashlight. The backlight allowed to show well the beautiful structure of transparent ice with cracks and its characteristic emerald color. It was lucky that because of strong winds, the ice was practically not covered with snow. On all the experiments in the process of shooting it took almost three hours, more to withstand in the severe frost without active movement is very difficult. In addition, because of large temperature changes on Lake Baikal, cracks on ice are actively formed at this time of day, so it was rather risky to go far from the shore.
The first ice on Lake Baikal, seen from Olkhon Island. The area shown is the deepest part of the lake at more than 1600 meters. The shore in the background is more than 50 km from Olkhon.