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Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure
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Kittilä 2022

Preparations.

Wayland on a previous expedition. - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

The planning for this trip began in 2020 targeted at February 2021. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic that date had to be postponed and the new target is now February 2022.

The plan is to take a group with varying levels of experience into the Boreal Forest, west of Kittilä in Northern Finland. The trip will focus on sub zero camping skills with relatively short distances travelled between camps.

We will be flying in to the local airport, picking up food and fuel supplies locally.

My equipment should remain largely the same as previous trips but there have been a few minor modifications and I’m sure more refinements may follow.

I will be experimenting with a new shelter, the Wayland Snow Shed, and a new Ventile cover for my sleeping system. I have also made a lighter weight toboggan and changed the saw I will be taking with me. Apart from the addition of a solar charger and an iPhone to my photographic kit, most of the other changes made to my gear so far are cosmetic really.

The Ice Raven / Sub Zero Crew flag. - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

Well, barring government/pandemic interference, the trip is now definitely on. Tickets have been booked and preparations are now gaining a pace.

We are Flying via Helsinki on 11th February and most of us will return on the 22nd, giving us nine days in the snow. Final numbers have not been decided yet but the party currently stands at seven, which seems a nice size.

The plan as it stands at the moment will be to depart the airport with the gear loaded on toboggans and head to the nearest supermarket for supplies. From there we head west into state owned forestry land for our first camp where we can settle in and acclimatise for a day or so.

This will also give us a chance to bring the less experienced members of the team up to speed and set up a few things for our return journey.

From there, we break camp and move a few miles further from the town and the airport. Our second camp puts us in an area with a wider range of terrain, perfect for some skills training.

On the return leg, we drop back into our first camp area where there should be a cache of firewood already collected on the outbound trip and some areas of compacted snow set up for some snow building projects.

From that camp, it is just a short trip back to the airport where we can repack for the flights home.

Of course, these things very often change on the ground but plans like this are at least a good starting point.

Snow block cutter - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

This is a Mad Idea that has taken form...

The snow block cutter / mould / kitchen / windbreak.

It is one of those crazy ideas I wake up with occasionally but I thought this one might have wings.

It’s primary purpose is to push into wind compacted snow to cut blocks for building an igloo. If good snow conditions are not available, loose snow can be shovelled into it and compacted to serve the purpose instead.

It’s secondary purpose when not being used for that is to act as a kitchen base to stop the stoves melting into the snow.

It will fit in the big duffel bags with kit packed inside it, taking little space for itself.

Tipping the scales at 1.33 kg it is not insignificant but, as an experiment, I hope it will prove worth it’s weight.

Snow block cutter - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

It never does any harm to consider different opinions.

So many people have said I should have put handles on this that I changed  my mind and added some. For the very few grams they weigh they cannot do  any harm.

I’m also showing here another way it could be used. As a wind break with a handy shelf over the cooking area.

That would mean using my fire grill to stop the stoves melting down into the snow but no harm there.

Returning to my sleep system, I knocked up a home made a pump bag for the Down Mattress as well to make things easier when setting up camp.

Sadly when checking the sleeping bags, about a year after last seeing them I discovered that the synthetic insulation in my old Nanok bag had completely collapsed which means I need to order another one before the trip. Given that I have used it for about 12 years or so I should not be surprised but the suddenness was a bit of a wake up call.

I store my bags loosely packed into large boxes. Un-compressed but generally out of the way. I am very glad I checked them long before needing to pack them. ( The down bag is stored the same way and is fine.)

Glove Harness - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

Another item that I decided to tweak was my glove / mitten harness. I made it originally with a simple strap across the chest but decided along the way that I would prefer a release system for safety.

I replaced the braided strap with one that had a plastic quick release buckle but never liked the look and feel of the thing so I decided to replace it again with a Sam Brown stud system to release it if needed. A bit more “old school” which will sit well with the rest of my gear.

 

Sub Zero Crew - Bushcraft UK

Unless noted otherwise, all photography, artwork and content on this site is copyrighted. © Gary Waidson 2022 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.