Not many people willingly go to the frozen forests of Siberia. In Discovery channel’s newest unscripted series, Siberian Cut, a group of American loggers will journey into the far reaches of Russia’s landscape to claim their stake in the country’s timber industry.
Here’s what you need to know about the American lumberjacks struggling with subzero temperatures, a Russian-English language barrier (as shown in the video above) and the dangerous occupation of cutting down trees.
1. Sean Vann Dreams of His Own Russian Logging Company
Sean Vann has spent the last 17 years running logging operations in Siberia for his Russian bosses, but now he wants to be in charge. Vann returned home to Montana to recruit a group of American loggers struggling to find work in the American timber industry, and offer them the opportunity to come help him in Siberia.
“I invited a bunch of guys down to a local watering hole in a timber community and gave a speech about the opportunity over there,” Vann said in an exclusive interview with Heavy. “I wanted guys looking for an adventure.”
Vann has learned to speak Russian and established a working relationship with the Russian loggers during his time in Siberia. He’s starting his own company that could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars within three months.
2. Americans Emigrate to Russia
The logging industry in America has slowed significantly due to the recession, high fuel prices and strict government restrictions. Vann convinces at least four Americans to move away from their families and work for him in the Russian Forest Industry. They will help their boss complete his contract in the limited time provided and with limited resources.
Although the Americans struggled with their new surroundings at first (as seen in the video below), Vann said the group was “amazing to work with and a lot of fun.”
“They were hardworking and knew how to handle conflict. We all got along and respected each other.”
The new guys managed to pick up enough Russian phrases to get by, and some of the Russians on the crew knew English or were learning just like the Americans, according to Vann.
3. Cold War Tensions Slow to Thaw in Siberia
The loggers and their families in Krasnoyarsk still hold deep suspicions of Americans. The town banned anyone from the United States entrance up until 30 years ago. Vann described the towns in the area as living in a post-depression era, with the villages not developing and shrinking due to the youth moving to the cities to find jobs.
4. 8 People Per Square Mile Inhabit Siberia
The geography of Siberia doesn’t accommodate human habitation well, but 30 million people still live within the 5.1 million square mile area. A majority of the Siberian landscape is a boreal forest, or taiga, that consists of spruce, pine and larch trees.
The loggers will face extremely cold temperatures in the Krasnoyarsk Krai forest, with an average of -33 degrees Farenheit in January. Vann describes this as the optimal temperature for logging in Siberia, because of the area’s poor infrastructure.
There’s oceans of timber, but they’re not accessible due to the lack of infrastructure. We move out 200 kilometers from the rail stops and we have to stop because there’s no good roads. It’s too costly to try and haul the logs back to the rails from further out.
When it’s cold, the snow and ice packs on top of the tundra to create sturdy roadways. The locals call it “Siberian Asphalt,” according to Vann.
Siberian Cut Premieres on June 3
Siberian Cut will cover the entire three-month span that Vann tries to obtain a contract to cut millions of dollars worth of timber in the world’s largest forest. If it all works out, Vann hopes his American team will come back.
“They did well and performed well. There was a great dynamic between them and the Russians.”
The docuseries premieres tonight at 10 p.m on the Discovery Channel after the popular Deadliest Catch.