Ah, Russia, with its polar bears, liberal Vodka consumption, the near indestructible Lada Niva, freezing temperatures and some of the toughest and craftiest people in the world. It is a vast country with some astonishingly beautiful landscapes that look as though they were designed specifically for off-road enthusiasts. However, a lot can go wrong when you’re driving through treacherous terrain and dealing with extremely low temperatures, so it pays to be prepared. The Russians are no strangers to traffic accidents and off-road mishaps, and they seem unfazed by minor setbacks, like having your car fall through the ice of a frozen lake.
For the rest of us mere tourists, it’s best to pay close attention to the locals and pick up some of the tricks that can save you and your car when things take turn for the worst in the frozen lakes and tundra. We’ll go on to cover the popular YouTube video in some detail, but first, we need a bit of context.
What Type of Terrain and Weather Conditions Can Drivers Expect In Russia
To give all you eager gearheads an idea of just how outlandishly inhospitable the environment gets during the notorious Russian winter, perhaps a quick history lesson will help put this into perspective; Both Napoleon Bonaparte and Hitler famously tried to waltz into Russia with their technologically advanced and well-equipped armies, and failed miserably – the German trucks, tanks and other assorted military vehicles would often freeze up or get stuck in the snow and ice rendering them inoperable.
In the icy tundra there is a permanently frozen layer of soil that does not thaw regardless of the season, and the temperatures regularly go well below freezing during the warmer summer months, and the winters have that distinct arctic feel about them. They are home to some of the longest and most amazing off-road tracks in the world, even available tours where you are personally chauffeured around Russia in four-wheel drive army trucks. Things can get squirrelly pretty quick on the polar trails, and this is why It is important for both driver and vehicle to be properly prepared.
What In The Heck Were They Doing On A Frozen Lake?
Well, it turns out that the incident occurred during the Baikal Lake Ice Yachting Cup. Let’s just take a second to admire that sentence before we address a couple of key points. Yes, some people like to race 132-pound iceboats across frozen lakes. It is, in fact, such a popular sport that people from different countries come to join the fun. One such eager ice yachting crew had brought along their trusty Honda SUV, which suffered an unfortunate accident – the ice beneath it cracked and the heavy 4×4 just started sinking. It’s one of those “as bad as it can get” situations, and unless you get creative and manage to come up with a quick solution you’ll be a car short, and in all sorts of trouble if there’s not an Uber around to give you a lift.
How A Little Bit of Russian Ingenuity Saved The Day
OK, so luckily for these guys there were a bunch of Russians hanging around and enjoying some ice yachting nearby. Although the video quality isn’t the greatest, we can say with a good deal of certainty that the SUV in question was a Honda CR-V LX, likely a model from the early 2000s. What this means is that these guys had over 3000 pounds of soon to be scrap metal sinking fast. When you add the weight of all that cold Baikal water seeping into the Honda, you’ve got yourself a very heavy object that needs to be pulled out of the ice in a hurry. Now, the CR-V’s 2.4 L 4-cylinder engine can normally manage to put out a decent 160 horsepower, which may help you get out of trouble elsewhere, but it wasn’t going to do anyone any good here.
Luckily, the Russians, accustomed as they were to this sort of thing, started flocking to the car, bringing all the tools that they needed for the rescue, which didn’t seem like much at first. It took the coordinated effort of more than ten people to set the plan into motion. You see, when you’re stranded out there on the ice, which is prone to cracking, you don’t want to try and get even more heavy vehicles to try to remedy the situation – In the video, the Russians used a few boards and some rope to make an improvised sled that would serve as a platform on which to pull the SUV out.
The brilliance of the maneuver can be seen in the use of an impressively long board that served as a sort of torsion wrench handle. They stuck a shorter piece of wood in the ice to serve as an anchor point, where they could keep rotating the rope around and slowly pulling the sled that they had attached to the Honda. The extra-long handle allowed for a massive amount of torque, which enabled just three brave and strong Russians to wrench the SUV out of the icy water.
A Lesson Learned
As you can see, one cannot always predict everything that can go wrong and have the perfect countermeasure ready, but you can always use some basic knowledge of physics, a few basic items from your surroundings and good old-fashioned teamwork to get out of a jam. And of course, let’s not forget our common sense folks. If your or one of your ill advised friends do decide to set out with hopes of conquering the tundra in their four-wheel drive, it’s always important to have at least one more four-wheel drive vehicle with you while off-roading. And if you’re lucky, it certainly helps to have a Mcgyver-like individual with you like these ingenious Russians.