School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


10 Apr 2018

Academic becomes youngest Brit to walk across world’s largest frozen lake

Loughborough University’s Dr Ash Routen has successfully completed a 634km expedition across the world’s largest frozen lake – Lake Baikal – making him the youngest Briton to have walked it entirely on foot.

Dr Routen and friend Phil Sturgeon, in partnership with Sub Zero and SIGG, completed the walk – which is equivalent to walking from London to Edinburgh or doing 15 back-to-back marathons – in just 19 days.

Departing from the southern shores of Lake Baikal at Listvyanka, the pair walked along the western coast of the lake, before negotiating Olkhon Island, and finishing in Severobaikalsk at the top of the lake.

Dr Routen and Phil walked for eight to 12 hours-per-day and experienced temperatures as low as -35C.

They walked across large areas of uncovered ice (no snow cover) and negotiated small sections of open water, as well as ice rubble formed by colliding sheets of ice.

They consumed around 5,000 calories-per-day to maintain the necessary strength to pull the two sledges each, which contained around 80kg of supplies to complete the journey.

And if the expedition wasn’t exhilarating enough, the pair also saw a bear during their stay in a remote hut and a local ranger had to scare it off with gunfire.

Pictured is Dr Ash Routen at Lake Baikal.

After completing the challenge, Dr Routen (pictured above) said: “We had a truly amazing experience. The scale, extremes of weather, and creaking and groaning of the ice on Lake Baikal were mind-blowing.

“It's an extremely beautiful place, and the Siberian people were so welcoming and supportive. It was difficult and humbling, and we now know a lot more about ourselves and our own capabilities.

“We’re extremely grateful for the support of Sub Zero and SIGG to help equip us for the trip, and we're now very excited to share our story through writing and talks".

Expedition facts: 
Distance covered: 634km or 393 miles
Duration: 19 days
Temperature's experienced: 0 to -35C
Sledge weight: 70-80kg at the start of the expedition
Max depth of lake: 1.6km or 1.0 mile
Thickness of lake ice: 0.4 to 1.5 metres
Calories consumed: 5,000-per-day
Changes of underwear: two