Can You Walk From Alaska To Russia? (It’s Complicated)

The stretch of water between the two closest points from Alaska to Russia is about 2.5 miles. So, one can technically walk from Alaska to Russia during the seasonal sea ice. However, it would be extremely difficult to do so because of the harsh geographical and environmental conditions.

There are two reported cases of humans walking from Alaska to Russia in modern history. In 2006, two people were last recorded to cross the Bering Strait in around 14 days.

But is it still possible to walk from Alaska to Russia on foot? If so, what are the chances that you could be apprehended by the military?

This is what we will be covering in this article. We will also go over how far the closest points of Alaska and Russia are, and how long would it take to cross the strait.

We will not be discussing the history of who crossed this strait but will discuss if the Bering Strait still freezes over to cross them. Let’s dive deeper into this topic to know more.

How Close Is Alaska To Russia?

Alaska to Russia walk

The narrowest distance between the mainlands of Russia and Alaska is a little less than 55 miles.

Bering Strait, also known as the gateway to the Artic, is a marine gateway located between Alaska and Russia. It separates North America from Asia at its narrowest point.

In Bering Strait, lies two small islands known as Big Diomede and Little Diomede. Interestingly, Big Diomede is owned by Russia and Little Diomede is owned by Alaska. 

The distance between these islands is about 2.5 miles. The stretch of water generally begins freezing over in the fall and by March, each year, it is covered in a thick sheet of ice.

The ice is quite treacherous but crossing it over foot has been reportedly done twice.

Natives of Big Diomede in Siberia and Little Diomede Island in Alaska cross over to the other island by boat occasionally. But they have never crossed over by foot on the ice.

How Long Would It Take To Walk From Alaska To Russia?

The distance between the closest points from Alaska to Russia is about 2.5 miles. But due to the treacherous surface, it usually takes over two weeks to cross the frozen Bering Strait.

In recent modern history, there have been three recorded instances of humans successfully walking over the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska.

In 1998, Russian Arctic explorer Dmitry Shparo and his son Matvey became the first recorded humans to successfully cross the Bering Strait from Uelen in Russia to Cape Thompson, Alaska.

They took 21 days to ski across the Bering Strait and complete this expedition. 

In 2006, Karl Bushby and his French American companion, Dimitri Kieffer, walked over the frozen Bering Strait in about 15 days.

In 2012, a four-member South Korean expedition team reached the U.S. state of Alaska from Russia’s Chukotka Peninsula and crossed the Bering Strait on foot in six days.

Does Bering Strait Freeze In Winter?

Bering Strait starts freezing over in the fall, and by March every year, it is covered in a thick sheet of ice.

Bering Strait freezes because of the atmospheric interaction direction and speed of the wind and the air temperature over the water.

The frigid winds that come out of the north originate from the Chukchi Sea. It is the marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean that is responsible for Bering Strait freezing over and forming a thick sheet of ice.

However, since 2018, due to the ongoing melt of the Chukchi Sea, Bering Strait has gradually been passing its tipping point.

The ice in the Bering Sea forms when the cold winds over the Chukchi Sea come blasting down from the north. Since there has been a gradual decrease in atmospheric interaction, the Bering Strait is almost completely ice-free.

Chuckchi Sea is not freezing over up until December. 

This means no cold winds flow over the Bering Strait during the fall and early winter months. Thus, even less time for Bering strait to have the chance to freeze over and be covered in a thick sheet of ice.

The ice extent on the Bering Strait is at its lowest point in the last forty years it has been observed. The satellite images from the 2021 winter indicate that the warming Arctic temperature is to blame.

Can You Cross Bering Strait When Frozen?

There have been a few recorded instances of humans crossing the Bering Strait. However, due to the gradual ongoing melt of the Chukchi Sea, it is nearly impossible to walk on the fragile sheet of ice.

It is a common misconception that the Bering Sea is completely frozen each year. However, in the past decade, the wind from the north has only been able to freeze some large chunks of ice, leaving some large channels of open water.

So technically, you can jump from one ice chunk to another, but it is still as dangerous.

Even if the water was completely frozen, due to being directly under the arctic circle, the climate in the region is intense.

One can only try to walk over during the polar night so the ice does not melt.

However, geographical and environmental conditions are harsh and unpredictable. The icy winds from the north can drop the temperature to -56C at night and the daytime temperature is maintained somewhere from -23C to -29C.

Apart from this, crossing Russia to Alaska without special permission is illegal. Detainment and deportation because of undocumented immigration are inevitable.

Final Remarks

In this article, we discussed how close Alaska is to Russia and how long it would take to walk between the two. We also tried to understand why Bering Strait no longer freezes over, making it impossible to walk on it.

Here’s a quick recap.

Can you walk from Alaska to Russia? The stretch of water between the two closest points from Alaska to Russia is about 2.5 miles. However, it is impossible to walk over it because of the geographical and environmental conditions.