A bikepacking blogger from Spain who was cycling across Siberia was rescued by locals who found him camping on a mountain pass in temperatures of -50 degrees Celsius.
Andres Abian Pajares, from Zaragoza, had pitched his tent – suitable for summer camping but not the depths of a Siberian winter – in Russia’s Kolyma region, reports The Moscow Times.
The 47-year-old was suffering from frostbitten hands when he was found by three people, with officials in the town of Susuman telling the RIA News Agency that he “could have died” had he not been discovered.
The Spaniard, who blogs about his bikepacking adventures on his website ciclochao.es, had set out from Magadan, around 400 kilometres to the south, earlier this month.
The cyclist, who has previously blogged about his travels in Iceland, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Pakistan and Syria, had been planning to ride more than 4,500 kilometres to Lake Baikal.
In a video posted to Instagram, his rescuers saw his tent by the roadside in the snow with his bike next to it, and when one laughed, he poked his head out.
After being treated in hospital he now has to stay in the area until January since there are no flights out of the area until then.
An official from Magadan said: “We have no plane tickets to Moscow. We won't be able to buy them until January, probably.”
With no small degree of understatement, he added: “It looks like the guy didn't have a good understanding of what the frosts in Kolyma are like.”
The region, in Russia’s Far East, is notorious for the forced labour camps where tens of thousands died that were documented in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's book, The Gulag Archipelago, published in 1973 and translated into English the following year.
In the work, completed in 1968 and smuggled out of Russia on microfilm, the Nobel Prize for Literature laureate described Kolyma as the "pole of cold and cruelty" in Stalin’s labour camp system.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.