Originally Posted by Alcan Rider
There are places where the ice is relatively smooth - where the pack stays in one cohesive chunk many square miles in area. But anytime the ice is close to a landmass it is subject to strong currents that tend to break it apart then push it back together.
If you've ever been along some of the northern rivers, the ones that will have ice forming 3 or 4 feet thick during a normal winter, and seen how it looks as the ice begins to break up and flow downstream in the spring, piling up occasionally into huge jams - that will give you some idea of what sea ice in that area would be like. The weather, however, would be much, much worse, as springtime brings strong winds due to the temperature changing rather rapidly. The calmest time would be some of the most difficult - early winter, when the sun would not rise above the horizon. It gets light, but only briefly.
The goal would be to go before the breakup happens. As it appears, the sea will thaw before the inland Siberian rivers and marsh (due to colder temps and freshwater) so the heading-west works in that regard. Once anything begins to thaw, we have discontinuous ice which will represent enough of a hazard on it's own. The real question is, can the kraggy parts be either circumnavigated, or be dealt with in another reasonable way?
I think it will only be answer by a preliminary trip to AK to experiment with the ice. If the crags are as "small" as Going South's images imply, then it's doable. I think they will be bigger, though, as many of his pictures were not fully frozen areas, which will compact the ice flows more and exacerbate the problem.