From January to March 1996, an ice-based drilling platform (Figure 1) was positioned in 321 m of water above a submerged topographic high known as the Academician Ridge of Lake Baikal, south-central Siberia (Figure 2). The Russian Nedra drilling team expertly used this system to recover the first sediment cores from this region to span the last 5 m.y. before present (Ma). This operation was complicated and dangerous: there were constantly shifting blocks of ice nearly 1 m thick, the location was surrounded by wilderness areas nearly 400 km from the nearest population center (Irkutsk), and supplies and personnel had to travel 90 km over the ice pressure ridges in 4-wheel motorcycles and small vehicles.