If not us, then who?
Translated from Russian by Igor' Lebedev  

KVARKUSH plateau,
or testing Yemelya 5 and 6 off-roaders

The Inspector General is coming to us! And not just one, but three of them. They will go with us to the Kvarkush plateau, maybe further, but it will be seen later on; the war will show the plan. Already tomorrow theyll be at our site, at Uralmash, while the amount of shortcomings in the vehicles is ... to start and finish. We ask them to appear at our place by the evening of the 24th, in order not to interfere with our preparations. But the bosses have their own plans, they demanded to arrange the interviews and filming of our "atelier", according to the expression of one of the commission members, in the middle of the day. They flatly refused to postpone it for the evening; apparently, a drinking party was planned somewhere. We did our best to get prepared, and by the evening the good news arrived: one of the commission members is not going with us, everything is quite clear to him, and besides, he needs to go to Foggy Albion urgently due to force majeure circumstances.

We departed on the 24th in the middle of the day instead of early morning, but we did depart! We were in Severouralsk by 6 p.m., replaced the wheels for the marching ones and dashed along the earth road to the Kvarkush campsite, which is at a distance of about 70 km. We spent the night there; I slept in the vehicle, as the more experienced did, too; it was very hot and stuffy in the building, and in the morning it turned out that it was expensive also. We set off not early, at 11 a.m., waded across the river, slightly floating in the process (the rare case when low weight is a disadvantage), and found ourselves on a wavy road. This road is popular with snowmobilers, and they form these waves. The waves are high, and the wavelength is such that when the wheels of the middle axle get to the top point of the wave, the rear wheels appear exactly at the bottom, i.e. the articulation of the suspension is at a maximum. Driving must be slow, otherwise the shock absorbers fold up to the limit and hit the stop. We are driving slowly, the commission is still silent.

And besides, the nerves are tormented by the thought about Maxim arriving from Severouralsk. Maxim is a wonderful guy full of energy, we invited him to the plateau ride as a guide and simply a cheerful person who knows the area and the local nature. He is expected to drive his ATV, a Predator 4x4, he says the vehicle is good. That would be not too bad, but Maxim invited a friend on a Predator of the latest generation with monstrous wheels 1750x750. According to Maxim, this snow-marsh vehicle rides excellently anywhere, and easily gets out of water on the ice. We resisted this fellow traveler as much as we could; what if this ATV really is so good, will be better than our creation, how will we then look in the eyes of the high-ranking inspectors? We drove along the waves up to the beginning of the ascent, I am in the yellow vehicle in front, pass along a gentle section about 150-200 meters, and the vehicle stops. Only the front wheels are rotating, the drive shaft of the middle axle is torn off at the welding point. The welding has been made with electric rivets, and they did not withstand the tension. Luckily, forward-looking Nikolaevich took a welding device as well as a grinder with an inverter. Three hours of repair, we are grinding, welding, assembling. Then off we go. The shaft holds the load and will hold wonderfully till the end of the adventure, but I don't know it yet, so only Valokordin helps. It is spring in Yekaterinburg, Easter and ticks are coming soon, while here is a lot of snow and ticks, all the same. It seems that enemies of the motherland have bred the frost-resistant species, so that Orthodox believers could not be saved even in the taiga. Meanwhile, the ascent becomes steeper, there is more and more snow. The route is along the bed of a stream. Water washed a path in the bed, while huge snowdrifts with steep walls are along the edges. This snow canyon is narrow, the vehicle has to ride with the wheels exactly over these snowdrifts. I am waiting with grief for a loud snap announcing the death of the repaired shaft. But so far, we are moving on. In a couple of places I am getting ready to start unwinding the winch cable, so impassable the terrain seems. I switch on the inter-wheel locks, and Yemelya crawls forward quite confidently, even without serious slippage. The wheel pressure is 0.05 atm, there are large folds on the tires; this is good, later we'll check, how they withstand such taunting. The commission members have quieted down, they seem to be impressed. After a while we get to the plateau; the vehicles behaved well, unlike their creators. We forgot the GPS receiver, Maxim has given us his device, it is small, unusual, but it has a stored track to the hut named after Andrew Ivanov where we plan to spend the night. The way to the hut runs through the thicket of stone birch, and if you don't know the route, you might get solidly stuck in this ikebana forest, especially if it snows heavily, twilight is coming soon, so the "full range of pleasures" is possible. All in all, everything goes according to the rule, as the Germans say - "Generaleffekt": everything, including plans, gets broken in the presence of high-ranking chiefs. On the plateau I missed the fork of the track in the navigator, and led the caravan in the wrong direction. Maxim with the monstrous Predator suspiciously lingered on the rise and could not guide us correctly to the target. After a while, sensing that something was wrong, I put on my spectacles, examined the device screen more attentively, finally took the right direction and, having made a large detour, having lost an hour or more of daylight, we drive up to the forest. There are no trails visible, it is not always possible to drive along the GPS track following it with one-meter precision. You might drive between two wrong trees, and there is no way further, and no petrol-powered saw at hand, but there is still some enthusiasm and a small hatchet with a jig saw. Snow thickness is up to the chest or, depending on the height of the measurer, up to the nostrils. Near the tree trunks the snow has melted more, it does not hold even our light-weight vehicles, so to drive between trees standing closely for the vehicle is like a man walking on a rope and not falling off. The snow is damp, spongy, you jump out of the vehicle and the snow is up to the waist. It is dark, it snows, high beam is useless, we want to eat, even the presence of inspectors does not keep the spirits up. In the darkness we finally get to the hut, the people are experienced and hungry, start working immediately: the stove, the gas kitchen, everything started spinning. The Predators arrived late at night, not without adventures, apparently, in some places they were dragged by winches. The most enthusiastic team members happened to bring a guitar and a liter of cognac, but my spirit was broken by anxiety during the day, and I did not participate in this holiday of life, inter alia, because of Mr. Akunin, who produced yet another volume of the History of the Russian state, and it was extremely interesting to find out: starting from what times the inescapable troubles of our Superpower are dragging on, and whether they will ever end at all.

The morning greeted us with fine weather, the toilers cheered up after coffee. We decided to go to the rock - the memorial of Andrew Ivanov, from where a splendid view of the MUR (this is how it is now customary to shorten the Main Ural Ridge) opens. Boris Pavlov is driving the yellow vehicle, we are following Maxim on his Predator. It is not easy for him, the vehicle is digging snow with the wheels because of the 4x4 scheme, our do-it-yourself vehicle goes much smoother on its six wheels due to significantly smaller pressure on the ground. We are driving in parallel, along our own trail, so the comparison is fair. The larger second Predator did not overcome the narrow valley with a stream on the way to the rock and remained near the hut, despite the huge wheels, it is digging, it is too heavy. We made a lot of photos on the rock; I recalled Ivanov, it is a sad story, Andrey was a mighty guy, I would have invited him to the expedition for sure.

We returned to the hut, here is the Russian bath, unrestrained devouring of meat masterfully fried by Alexey Dubinin, we get relaxed. The inspectors also turned out to be quite friendly people. At some point, I relaxed so much that confessed to them that the yellow vehicle had no service brake, and the only hope was for the handbrake and the driver's skill, so the descent would be more than interesting. Thereby I violated the imperishable covenant of the great Churchill: "a real diplomat will think twice before saying nothing." The return was also not easy, Maxim and his comrades departed earlier than we did, taking the navigator; the trail in the meantime was covered with snow, and the search for the beginning of the descent from the plateau added a spice to the sensations, but this time again we scraped through. Apparently, despite all our slovenliness, the Most High did not finally set a cross on us.

The water in the river below was noticeably higher; therefore, before crossing, I put on board of my vehicle all the participants except two operators, and despite this the vehicle was set afloat, but just before the bank the wheels grabbed the pebbles, and we drove ashore. Back on the base there was meat with blood again, Maria Sergeyevna unpacked more supplies, and on this lofty-gastric note it may be finished. In general, this time the things were settled again.

Thats how the matters are. MUR, 28.04.2021 Yours V. Elagin.

  Link to the video about the trip to the plateau Kvarkush.