When doing certain types of trips, you need to be surrounded by compotent people. People who know what they are doing and can take of themselves. More importantly though, is that when the going gets a bit difficult, no one loses their cool and the job just gets done. The further you push your skills, the more comfortable you are in different and difficult environments. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve spent some time in the snow and cold. So I wanted others to see what it was like also. Where else could you go but into Northern Sweden and into the Arctic Circle.
The region we picked is close to where the Swedes do their Arctic warfare training. The month was March and the conditions were perfect. The aim was to spent 6/7 days in sub zero temperatures and learn the routine of taking care of yourself in these conditions for that period along with learning some more difficult Winter skills.
Hot tenting is system by which you use your tent as a warm living system so that you can function normally in warm temperatures despite the cold conditions outside. For those new to the conditions, it was the perfect environment to learn and be reasonably comfortable. Not too cold or punishing on people or equipment yet a good introduction to proper cold.
In these conditions, every little detail counts and personal administration is huge. You can’t battle the elements, you have to flow with them and adapt. Some things like hydration, sun glare, even walking become things you are acutely aware of as you need to change how you work. Attention to detail prevents loss of equipment and reduction in your own capabilities. Things like having your kit ‘Mitten proof’. So everything you do or need access to can be done with gloves or mittens on. It’s challenging but highly rewarding. Carrying a water bottle on you pretty much all the time too. You lose so much moisture in dry cold conditions just from condensing breath, it’s critical you stay hydrated
Above are toboggans we made while in Ireland and transported to Sweden. A good experience in itself making these. They worked a charm
For me, the personal challenge was to live outside the tent for 5 days and only use the shelters we build in the process. Shelters like the Quinzee Snow Grave and Arctic Lean-to were all built and we rotate around with different people experiencing the shelters on different nights. I think everyone was in agreement that the quinzee was the most effective with the Arctic lean-to being the least effective and most effort. Temperatures ranged between -10 during the day to -21 at night. So not the coldest for the region but still challenging for a series of days
Temperatures dropping to -20
One of the coolest looking shelters but probably my least favorite due to its destructive nature to build. Thankfully we raided fallen trees
Although challenging, camping in these conditions is very rewarding. The silence and peace found in the snow is like no other place on the planet.