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THE BARING STRAITS front      help

snowbird in action
Ice Challenger expedition leader Steve Brooks and co-driver Graham Stratford have announced that they are preparing to re-attempt last year's bid to be the first to successfully drive across the Bering Strait between Alaska and Siberia. The extraordinary vehicle that will carry the two Britons across the treacherous 56 mile ice bridge separating Wales, Alaska, from the Siberian coastline is Snowbird 6.
The crossing will be attempted in early March. Snowbird 6 is a strange looking tractor-like machine which could be straight out of the next James Bond film, Beyond the Ice. It is propelled by two giant aluminium Archimedes screws designed to bore through, and climb over the sea of ice ridges.
In March 2001, Brooks and Stratford attempted the crossing with Snowbird 5 but the floatation tanks were damaged while climbing back on to an ice ridge and the expedition had to be aborted to make design improvements. The result is a machine with even larger aluminium Archimedes screws which also double as floatation tanks, a major design breakthrough.

'We believe the design improvements we have made to Snowbird will dramatically improve our chance of success', said Steve Brooks from his Cadogan Pier office.

If successful, Brooks and Stratford will have achieved a feat which many others have attempted but failed. These include large car manufacturers such as Ford, Land Rover, and Fiat, as well as a host of small privateers, often in bizarre contraptions.

'If we succeed, our next quest is to drive overland from New York to London, which of course is only possible if you can crack the Bering Strait', added Graham Stratford.

Steve continued, ‘We hope our efforts will highlight the British spirit of exploration in the year of our Queen’ s Golden Jubilee and help to further connections between the two worlds of America and Russia by fostering a greater understanding of the two remote regions that separate them.’

The Ice Challenger team will depart from the United Kingdom in early March for Alaska. Snowbird 6 will be waiting for them, having travelled by sea to Seattle, on to Anchorage, and then flown by aircraft to Nome, Alaska. Steve Brooks and Graham Stratford will drive Snowbird to the most westerly point of Alaska, the small Inuit town of Wales. Across the Bering Strait, only a tantalising 56 miles away, lies the Russian coastline of the Siberian province of Chukotka (land of the reindeer) and a small town called Lavrentiya. In the middle are the Diomedes islands and countless hazards such as polar bears, sub-zero emperatures, snow storms, and a morass of moving ice.

Copyright and Permission: Karen Starr 2002

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