We’ve met all kinds of adventurers in our time, but it’s fair to say we’ve not met anyone quite like ‘The Bandits on Ice’ before. Originally from Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory, Dave, Pete, Travis and Ellie have just embarked on their biggest adventure yet – The Ice Run. They’re definitely an adventurous bunch and with the help of the even crazier ‘Adventurists’, they’re in for one wild trip. At least they’ll be decked out in I/O Merino to stay warm, comfortable and protected from the extreme Siberian winter along the way.
The Adventurists are located in England and as they like to say are “fighting to make the world less boring”. According to the team, they “live to find ways to make the world a bit more difficult. To bring chaos into our over-sanitized lives. To create adventures where you don’t know what will happen tomorrow or if you’ll even make it”. And as if they weren’t already cool enough, they’ve so far raised an incredible £5 million for charity through their global adventures.
They’re also the masterminds behind the annual Ice Run where teams, also known as ‘pioneers’, from all over the world travel some thousands of kilometers across frozen water on vintage Ural motorcycles. it’s all in the name of charity and, of course, there’s a whole lot of adventure thrown in for good measure. This year, The Ice Run will see a brand new route – the infamous Lake Baikal in Irkutsk, Siberia. It’s known to be the world’s largest, deepest and oldest (25 million years) freshwater lake. Even the local Russians think they’re slightly mad. And by ‘slightly’, we mean ‘very’!
In true Adventurists spirit, each team competing in The Ice Run has to raise a minimum of £1,000, where at least £500 goes to the official charity – Cool Earth. Over the last 40 years, half of the world’s rainforests have been destroyed so Cool Earth have made it their mission to halt rainforest destruction by helping indigenous communities gain control. They’re now working with 113 rainforest villages throughout the world and protecting over 500,000 acres of forest that otherwise lies directly in the path of chainsaws and bulldozers.
Katy Willings, from the Department of Done at The Adventurists, made her way to Irkutsk a few days earlier than the rest of The Ice Run teams to scope out Lake Baikal and the intended route. It’s been an exceptionally mild winter in Siberia this year, (by their standards!), with temperatures in the -5 to -12 degree range, which is a full 15 degrees milder than would be considered normal. You’ll run into a bit of a problem if you try to tell an Aussie that -12 degrees is mild, and more to the point the guys from Darwin where temperatures sit around 30 degrees this time of year, but it’s certainly a shock for the locals. In fact, apparently this hasn’t occurred since 1959.
But for The Ice Run, things just got more adventurous. Katy says, “The ice sighs and creaks, and – all too frequently for those with a nervous disposition – makes great booming gunshot sounds as new cracks form. The lake is a living thing, unstable and absolutely treacherous for the uninitiated, ignorant or complacent. Which, let’s face it, are the very hallmarks of your average Adventurist team.
“Several cars have been lost under the ice, and several more have had to be rescued off ‘rafts’ of ice, as chunks the size of your sitting room have broken off the main ice sheet and effectively floated away. Because of all this we’ll be starting the teams on forest tracks running parallel to the lake, and hitting the ice roughly half way up, where the ice is generally better”.
During past Ice Runs, Katy has tried and tested lots of adventure gear and not surprizingly, she’s a big fan of I/O Merino. She plans to stay warm and comfortable in her beloved Pilot Suit. According to her, “the Pilot Suit with its lovely hood and thumbholes is everything I hoped for and more”.
She was impressed enough to speak highly of us to The Bandits on Ice and now they’ll too stay warm and comfortable in Pilot Suits, Vital Long Sleeve Base Layers, Chaser Mid Weight Leggings, AzTech Beanies, Limitless Bandannas and Peak Headbands. We can’t wait to hear how they went and naturally we’ll be telling you all about it as soon as they make it back to civilization.
Here’s a little taste of what The Ice Run’s really like…