March 30, 2017 10:23 am
Updated: June 23, 2017 9:03 am

Cochrane doctor completes 720 km solo expedition across frozen Siberian lake

Dr. Bill Hanlon at Lake Baikal in Siberia.

(Supplied by Dr. Bill Hanlon)
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An Alberta doctor is back home after a grueling 720 kilometre trek across a frozen lake in Siberia.

Dr. Bill Hanlon told News Talk 770’s Rob Breakenridge he returned on Sunday after “five flights and a 36 hour-train ride.”

Hanlon was in Russia for nearly a month on a 30-day visa for a solo expedition on the frozen Lake Baikal, north of the Mongolian border, which is said to be the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake.

Dr. Bill Hanlon is back home after a grueling 720 kilometre trek across a frozen lake in Siberia.

Supplied by Dr. Bill Hanlon

“It’s at a confluence of three tectonic plates, so you get this large amount of geothermal activity with these mini earthquakes going on under the ice all the time,” Hanlon said. “It’s a very dynamic, active, busy, noisy place.”

Hanlon said he spent three hours getting ready each morning and 10 hours walking. At the end of the night he clocked another three hours setting up camp before his head could hit the pillow.

“That’s typical of these long expeditions. They’re not really fancy they’re much more functional,” he said.

Dr. Bill Hanlon is back home after a grueling 720 kilometre trek across a frozen lake in Siberia.

Supplied by Dr. Bill Hanlon

Hanlon brought a 160-70 pound sled along for the trip to carry his supplies, which included a small stove, freeze-dried food and clothing.

“I was limited time-wise and [it] being a solo expedition, it’s more of an extreme situation because you have to do everything yourself.”

Hanlon said the trip took him from the southernmost point of the lake to the northern tip, crossing through a number of small communities along the way.

“I did get to see some people and I visited people to the north, in small communities [of] 20 to 30 people … at the north end of the island is a bigger town [where] I spent a short time,” he added.

Dr. Bill Hanlon is back home after a grueling 720 kilometre trek across a frozen lake in Siberia.

Supplied by Dr. Bill Hanlon

Hanlon has been involved in similarly grueling expeditions in the past, including a 1200 kilometer ski-trip, with two other people, from the edge of the Antarctic to the South Pole.

“I certainly like doing adventurous stuff. Over the last 30 years or so I’ve been doing stuff in high mountains and remote parts of the world,” he said. “But my big focus really is on the health of people living in remote parts of the world.”

He told News Talk 770 this most recent trip was about shining a spotlight on remote communities like the ones on Lake Baikal.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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