Epic tales, vicarious thrills on offer at Polish festival

Fri Mar 20, 2015 10:00am EDT
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By Pawel Goraj

GDYNIA, Poland (Reuters) - Cycling 3,700 km (2,300 miles) across the frozen Siberian tundra in temperatures as low as minus 50 Celsius (-58 Fahrenheit) is not for everyone. If you're intrigued by the idea but put off by the thought of all that pedaling through the cold, then Poland's Kolosy festival could be the next best thing.

The annual event in the Baltic port of Gdynia provides an opportunity for thousands of spectators to hear hair-raising yarns from sailors, mountaineers and other intrepid explorers.

This jamboree of real and armchair adventurers takes its name from the Polish word for the Colossi statues on Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, and is held every March.

This year participants were able, through speakers’ eyes, to experience the thrill of climbing K2 in the Himalayas, winter climbing on Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, efforts to circumnavigate the North Pole, and descents into deep caves in Austria and China.

Among those with a story to tell was Krzysztof Suchowierski, 30, of Poland, who, with no previous exposure to extreme cold, joined Ioann Chechnev and Igor Kovalchuk of Russia to cycle from Neryungri to Chersky in Siberia.

“We cycled 76 days in winter through severely cold Yakutia to commemorate the victims of Soviet repression,” Suchowierski told Reuters in an interview, referring to the millions who endured hard labor and prison camps under Stalin's Gulag.

Here's what else he had to say:

Q: What was the goal of your journey?    Continued...