Bering Strait

First crossing of the treacherous Bering Strait by amphibious vehicle.

Veteran adventurer Steve Burgess set out to become the first person to swim an amphibious vehicle from Russia to Alaska, across the treacherous Bering Strait.

Before reaching the shores of the Strait at the remote settlement of Uelen, Russia’s most easterly town, his trusty Land Rover Defender had already carried him across Europe and the full width of Russia during the depths of a Siberian winter. Even though he had successfully negotiated 10,000 miles of treacherous driving in temperatures down to -60C, the final 55 miles across the shallow strait separating Asia from North America would be the most challenging.

Along with his team mate Dan Evans, they fitted the amphibious components and set out across the choppy waters. With fast flowing currents ever present and the wind whipping up vicious waves, progress was slow and at times life threatening. Eventually though, conditions got so bad that the pair had to make an unscheduled beach onto the rocky outcrop of Little Diomede. They had crossed the International Date Line and made the Alaska, but were still 25 miles away from the mainland. Steve’s quest to complete the first ever crossing was looking in jeopardy and with a well-funded team supported by Jeep and Goodyear hot on their heels, they had to move fast.

It was at this point that Steve called on the help of Max Adventure. Having operated in Wales, Alaska, the other side of the Strait and Steve’s finish point, Mac knew the area well, along with local contacts who would be able to help. Steve and Dan returned to the UK to regroup and flew out a few weeks later with Mac and Dan’s brother Adam.

The revised team of 4 soon reached Wales, Alaska where they boarded a 15 foot fishing boat and made the 25 mile crossing of the Strait to Little Diomede. With no Coast Guard support for hundreds of miles, life expectancy if you fell into the water was measured in just minutes, so life jackets were not worn, considered to just prolong the agony! With extra hands available the amphibious Land Rover was soon reassembled and inched its way back into the water. The rest was up to Mother Nature.

Fortunately the weather stayed fine and 18 hours later the rugged Defender rolled its wheel onto the shores of mainland Alaska and a place in the record books.