BEAM ME DOWN, SCOTTY
Sunday 23 November 1997
67 16' N 38 37' E
C-c-cold? So g-g-giddy up D-d-dasher, D-d-dancer, D-d-donna and B-b-blitzen, let's f-f-find ourselves a w-w-warming w-w-wodka.
COUNTRY AND REGION
This is the permafrosted interior of the Kola Peninsula. This north-western corner of Russia is perhaps better known as part of Lapland - a region sprawling across north Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.
NATURE OF THE TERRAIN
This mineral-rich area is largely a treeless plain covered with low shrubs, dwarf trees and moss. Oh, and lots of snow.
About 500 feet.
You are just inside the Arctic Circle, so your first concern will be to keep hypothermia at bay. Otherwise, the howls of wolverines will have you shaking in your boots and you also run the risk of a bone-crushing hug from any brown bears.
The reindeer-herding Sami, otherwise known as Lapps, speak a language related to Finnish. Many Lapps have now been relocated to the major towns, so Russian is replacing their mother tongue.
TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER
Boris Yeltsin - stolid unless he's had a few Stolis.
LIKELY WEATHER CONDITIONS
There is a seven- or eight-month winter, during which time the sun barely appears and temperatures rarely rise above -20 C.
REASONS FOR HANGING AROUND
With the world's largest deposits of phosphor-rich minerals, there's plenty to dig for. Alternatively, hunt down traditional Lapp dancers.
GETTING THE HELL OUT OF THERE
You'll have to hope you hear those sleigh bells ringing pretty soon as you're in the bleakest of wildernesses. The nearest major road, to the Arctic port of Murmansk, is about 150kms north-west at Lovozero.
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