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DEFENDER JOURNEYS IN THE
DEFENDER JOURNEYS IN THE GRIP OF WINTER A trip to the end of the world to understand everyday life in some of the coldest places of all The Pole of Cold expedition brought together adventurer Felicity Aston, photographer and filmmaker Manu Palomeque, and mechanical expert Gisli Jonsson. The expedition was the sixth project to receive the Land Rover bursary, which came with ,000 and the loan of a Land Rover Defender. To learn more about Felicity’s adventures, please visit felicityaston.co.uk The temperature was -60F as the Pole of Cold expedition arrived at Oymyakon, a remote outpost in north-eastern Siberia and officially the coldest inhabited village on Earth. It had taken almost two months to get there, driving more than 12,500 miles from the UK in the expedition’s trusty red Land Rover Defender. To withstand the low temperatures, the car had been fitted with special heaters for its engine and cabin, an enlarged gas tank to avoid unwanted stops, and special lubricants that freeze at a lower temperature than normal. All to equip a very special vehicle for a very special destination. “Everything seemed to be backwards in Oymyakon,” says Felicity Aston, British adventurer and the leader of the three-man expedition. “Freeze-dried clothing could be folded like paper, boiling water evaporated instantly, gas turned to glue and ice cream was sold on tables in the open, while fruit and vegetables were warmed in blankets.” Made possible by a grant from Land Rover and the Royal Geographical Society, the expedition’s purpose was to explore the social, cultural and physical implications of the winter season on local communities and discover stories of daily life in the cold. Winter, the team learned through conversations with locals and academics on their way to Oymyakon, is often tied to thorough preparation and a high degree of creative thinking. In north-eastern Siberia, for example, cows wear special ‘bras’ to keep their udders warm. And in Yakutsk, drivers offered ingenious advice on how to prepare a car for the extreme cold by adding a second sheet of glass to the side windows. The extra glass was attached directly to the Defender vehicle’s windows using tape and foam spacers, but proved to be ‘extremely effective.’ To others, winter had far more symbolic meanings. “In the very north of Norway and within the Arctic Circle winter did not mean darkness, but color; the arrival of the low sun skimming the horizon and skies striped with the green, red and purple of the northern lights,” Felicity says. “And to the Skolt Sami in northern Finland, winter simply meant reindeer. To seek out new grazing grounds, the Skolt herd thousands of animals each year from the surrounding forests. The herding is a silent spectacle, only interrupted by the clicking of the reindeers’ feet as they move across the snow.” Despite these many different stories, it was still winter’s ability to turn even the smallest things in life upside-down that left the biggest impression, Felicity says. “As a physicist and meteorologist it was astonishing to me just how radically the extreme cold changed the behavior of what is familiar. Arriving in Oymyakon was like arriving on a different planet. In these conditions, it is the details of life that become fascinating.” 78
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Land Rover stands for not only the most capable premium vehicles, but a state of mind where a sense of curiosity, exploration and wonder informs all of life’s adventures. Encounter this throughout the latest issue of Land Rover Magazine, from meeting a herd of Ice Age survivors on the Dutch coast with the Land Rover Discovery, to the most innovative sustainable architecture on a Californian journey with the Range Rover Evoque