Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Partner site of Ravenlore Bushcraft and Wilderness Skills and Waylandscape. Arctic Exploration, Travel and Photography.
Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Partner site of Ravenlore Bushcraft and Wilderness Skills and Waylandscape. Arctic Exploration, Travel and Photography.
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2012 Expedition - Arctic Norway Report: Part Three.

Reindeer crossing the lake - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.
Norwegian Sunset  - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

My original plan for the days after the course was to return to the area around the airport and find a quiet spot to camp for the last two nights before flying home. But here we were, in a stunning location just a 40 minute bus ride away.

Bob, Lennart, Pete, Shane and myself all decided to head back to the lake for the last few nights.

There was a public fishing shelter there that we could use as a communal area and lots of places for pitching tarps, tents or even hammocks. We had left the night lines in place so that we could check them one last time. The only issue I had was getting to the airport in time for a potentially difficult check in before a three leg journey home.

The Norwegians have a good transport system that is well integrated. The bus timetable in this area is designed around the check in times at the airport.  

View from my Sleeping Bag - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

This meant that I could be reasonably confident that, if I was at the bus stop in time, then I would be able to catch my plane. What a good idea...

Of course in the UK I would be a fool to trust such a system and that is perhaps why my original plan had been so cautious.

So it was that our merry little band found ourselves on Saturday evening watching reindeer crossing the ice under a watery sunset while concocting interesting recipes that would use up the last remains of our food supplies.

The sky was overcast and filled with the gentle but steady fall of snow.

Hokkaido Norway - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

The other lads were intent upon an energetic plan to walk up to a mountain hut somewhere on the other side of the lake.

Maybe I’m getting a little old these days but I fancied a nice quite day by the lake, chilling out and taking pictures.

I lent Bob my snowshoes so he would not be at a disadvantage to the rest that had their own and watched the intrepid quartet as they tramped off into the wilderness.

Setting out across the ice - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

The Northern lights flickered away in the sky brightly enough to occasionally illuminate the cloud base which suggested that there must have been a significant storm going on up there.

We finished the last of our “duty free” and discussed plans and dreams for the future.

When I looked out from my sleeping bag in the morning the scene, with snow resting on the pine branches, reminded me not of Norway but of some of the beautiful Japanese Ukiyo-e woodprints that I have seen.

Preparing to Travel - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

I was left with the time they expected to return and the camp all to myself.

I wanted a couple of posed shots for my web site and I am often asked how I get such shots when I am obviously on my own.

Herein lies one of the great advantages of digital photography. With no expensive film to waste then there is nothing but battery power and the size of your memory cards to stop you from taking dozens of shots and just sorting them out on the computer at home.

I have already mentioned that I packed a tripod.

For me a decent tripod is an essential piece of photographic equipment. I’m not talking about one of those flimsy little gadgets that looks like a good idea in a catalogue but has no place under a proper camera. My smallest tripod weighs in at two and a quarter kilos and I consider that too lightweight for serious work.

The other thing I find room for in my pack is a cable switch but mine also functions as an interval timer. I can set it to fire the camera shutter at regular intervals of any delay I like. I can set it to take a specific number of shots or just carry on until I stop it.

This allows me to set up a complicated shot if I need to or just get on with things and see if there are any shots that are usable later.

Time once again to look at the gear I took and how it performed.

Clothing first: I relied mostly upon wool.

Arctic Trip 2012 - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.
Norway March 2012 - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

A light base layer with a slightly thicker mid layer top under a Bison shirt, and a Norwegian Army jumper with loop-stitched heavy base layer long johns under heavy wool trousers.

This was topped off with Ventile leggings and a Ventile and canvas parka when necessary.

For back up I had a down jacket which was used once and served the rest of the time as a pillow.

I also had a thin synthetic windproof top which was worn when digging snow holes and also to shed falling snow or even light rain.

Boots were either Canadian Army Mukluks or pac boots which shared the same thick wool felt liners with one pair of wool socks inside.

Norwegian Wood - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

The gloves I used most were cheap thin fleece gloves that just removed the chill but I also had leather gloves with wool liners which were used a few times and mittens with wool liners which were not.

 On my head I had a Nepalese woollen hat with a fleece liner which served throughout and a merino head-over which was used occasionally.

Temperatures ranged between -16C to about +3C, activity between travelling in heavy snow or cutting wood to sitting about being idle.

I was comfortable throughout except when I failed to adjust my layers properly.

I carried spare liners, gloves and base layers which were largely unused.

I found a good way to dry the boot liners was to hang them up with a bottle of hot water in the foot section overnight, which drove moisture towards the outer surface. In the morning this could be brushed off as frost and the water in the bottles was usually still liquid inside the liner.

Vorthas, similar to thin puttees were invaluable as was a stiff brush for removal of snow from outer clothing.

Apart from nights spent in Quinzhees I used a poly cotton tarp for shelter the rest of the time with an additional plastic tarp as a weather sheet.

On future trips I will give serious thought to just using decent plastic tarps for their ease of shedding snow.

A combination of down inner bag, synthetic middle bag with a moisture permeable bivi bag worked well but I also had a micro fibre towel that was sewn into a “snood” which absorbed a great deal of condensation from my breath instead of letting it get into the sleeping system. This was then easily dried inside my clothing during the day.

Northern Lights over Shelter - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.
Northern lights over Shelter and Fire - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

The pulk worked well but suffered on gritty roads. I would certainly use the method again but carry more duct tape for repairs.

Having the pulk I did not have to rely upon light weight foods and in future I would take less porridge and more real food that can be fried for breakfast.

Norwegian fishcakes were really useful, they are pre cooked which means they are quick to heat and work on their own or with a variety of different sauces for variety. The Thai green Norwegian  fish cake curry was a particular highlight.

For me the non freezing properties of the Solbaer syrup was great help but they also make a powdered version which is good as well.

A decent thermos flask is very useful if for no other reason than ensuring you have water to start a snowball soup.

I also had a less well insulated cup with a flip top lid which I kept in a sheep skin carrier which was really useful to make sure I always had a ready drink on me.

Last Look Back - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

Everyone has their favourite fire lighting equipment but for every day use I carried waterproof matches in ziplock bags in a variety of pockets. They worked well and were much more reliable than the one gas lighter I had with me.

I think I had one of the largest pans for melting snow but it would have been useful to have two that could be hung over the fire. Only one of mine had a bail wire, a situation which will soon be changed and I will also make some kind of heat spreader for the Trangia.

Well, our last night also gave us one of the best displays of the Aurora and following a pack up in the morning we set our toes in the direction of the bus stop and on to the airport.

This is when things started to go pear shaped.

Leaving Norway March 2012 - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

Add to that the NA flight arrived late I had to abandon my bags at Oslo and run from one end of the terminal to the other and back again to transfer to my SAS flight to Copenhagen which was just closing it’s gates as I arrived.

Fortunately they let me on and I sat for most of the flight coughing, sweating and trying to get my breath back while most people around me must have thought I was a plague victim.

Fortunately the rest of the flight was uneventful.

An SAS operative had assured me that I would be able to check my bags in for all three flights from Bardufoss to Manchester but the Norwegian Air operative at the check in desk said this was not possible.

That meant I had to check my bags in at Oslo five minutes before my plane landed. A neat trick if you can manage it.

Flying Home - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

I reported my missing luggage at Manchester and as I stepped into the arrivals lounge, Mike, a good friend, caught my attention and chauffeured me home.      My luggage arrived home two days later.

A truly memorable trip, full of fine friends and characters. As I type these final words the last of my unpacking remains to be done downstairs. I suspect the gentle smell of woodsmoke will take longer to disperse but I’m already drawing my thoughts together to plan the next trip.

 

Part One         Part Two

Sub Zero Crew - Bushcraft UK
Arctic Expeditions, Equipment and Reviews Extreme Weather, Equipment and Reviews

Unless noted otherwise, all photography, artwork and content on this site is copyrighted. © Gary Waidson 2014 All rights reserved.

The Ice Raven Project promotes sustainable and low impact bushcraft and wilderness skills in Arctic and winter conditions. This includes the use of  tents, tarps  and snow shelters where possible. Fires are only used where safe and where use and collection of firewood will not damage the natural environment. We often travel to locations by public transport and then use snowshoes, sleds, toboggans and pulks to transport our equipment into the wilderness.

Ice Raven is a partner site of Ravenlore Bushcraft and Wilderness Skills