For any adventurous snowkiters out there, a trip to Iceland’s famous glaciers or the American Rockies may not be quite enough. For the real ‘off-the-beaten-track’ experience let your gaze travel east, and head of on an untouched wilderness adventure snowkiting in Russia. Snowkiting’s growing popularity makes sense in this country where lakes tend to remain frozen for eight months of the year, and with facilities like the Mogoochi snowkite park opening up, there’s never been a better time to go.
One thing that you might expect of snowkiting in Russia (and you’d be right) is that most of the year there’s snow everywhere – and with only 143 million Russians you might even find a bit of space all to yourself. As you would expect from a snow-covered country 70 times larger than the UK, there are a whole lot of potential snowkiting spots, and most of them are unexplored. There is one, though, that stands out from the crowd.
There’s a large stretch of frozen lake lying on the stumpy Kola Peninsula near Murmansk and a ‘few’ miles east of Finland that is hailed as the best spot for snowkiting in Russia. The flat frozen lake spends most of the year under several feet of powder snow, and is such a fine snowkiting destination that an enterprising Russian snowkiter, called Nicholas Rakhmatov, decided to open a snowkiting park there in 2011.
The Mogoochi snowkite park is a collection of ramps, boxes and rails spread out overt the tundra, and it makes for something of a bizarre sight. As you approach the spot, gradually a hive of activity begins to come into focus from amidst the dense fog. Here, in the middle of a frozen lake, 35 km from the nearest semblance of civilization, lie a handful of big brightly painted metal ramps surrounded by numerous kites signing eerily in the mist. Without even strapping a board to your feet you’ll realise the sheer spectacle of this park is well worth the journey.
A budding community is rising up around this novel park. The standard of snowkiting on the Kola Peninsula is remarkable for a rural area where salmon fishing is more or less the only other pastime of note. Snowkiting in this instance is a fantastic example of how people can make the most of what they have. Nicholas Rakhmatov’s back garden happened to be a flat, windswept, frozen wasteland – so he put up a few ramps and made something positive out of it.
Russia can be a bizarre and alien place to Westerners and it’s this very point that makes it such a fantastic place to begin a snowkiting adventure. While Mogoochi is a great park and loads of fun, this frozen lake is an inherently flat spot, so if you grow tired of this and long for a few lofty hills and even the odd mountain or two, then venturing out into the lofty heart of Mother Russia is probably the right thing to do.
As Mogoochi sSnowkite Park is found just over the border from Finland and from there there’s roughly 17 million more square kilometers of Russia to be discovered, you can always put on your most convincing adventurer’s face, put your best foot forward and set off to find another great spot for snowkiting in Russia. Just remember to send us a postcard.