Wish You Were Here: Lake Ladoga, Russia

by Owen James Burke

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“Surfing Contest Lake Ladoga.” Yes, they hold contests here (video below). Photo: Ekaterina Abasheeva

Sochi and Kamchatka are quickly becoming popular travel considerations for surfing adventures through Russia, but if you happen to be driving through eastern Europe and in need of a surf, you may consider a pit stop along Lake Ladoga.

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Photo: Tania Elisarieva/Surf Holidays

They may be cold and crumbly ripples more often than not, but the waves of Europe’s largest lake, like the Great Lakes of North America, hold potential. Sort of. Mostly, it just looks cold.

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Above: Lake Ladoga, or the “Road of Life” melting as trucks scramble to deliver supplies to besieged Leningrad before the ice melts. Photo: WW2Today

Considering this great lake’s gruesome history, it certainly looks a little more inviting than it might have during the Siege of Leningrad, when it was called the Road of Life and lorry drivers were forced to navigate not only holes in the ice but bomb and shell fire from above on their way to supply the city.

Journalist Vera Inber, who survived the first few months of the siege, described the scene (Quote via WWII Today):

The labour of the Ladoga lorry drivers is a sacred labour. It is enough to cast an eye on the road. This worn-out, bombed, tormented road which knows no peace, day or night. Its snow is turned to sand. Wrecked machines and spare parts are lying everywhere-in ruts, pot-holes, ditches, in bomb craters, there are wrecked vehicles.

To read further on the lake’s role during World War II, Chris Bellamy’s book, Absolute War, which contains this chilling passage:

A bizarre war on the ice developed. The Germans sent out ski patrols to cut the Soviet supply columns traversing the frozen lake, but the Russians built pillboxes from blocks of ice, cemented rock hard by pouring water over them. On a perfectly flat and exposed surface, the German ski patrols were picked off like surfers assailing icy battleships. 

— OJB

 

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