Svalbard Trip Report

You can now read about our expedition on Svalbard by clicking the link:

SVALBARD 2016

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The trip was organized by Ankarat Avotunturit. If you are interested in arctic expeditions I recommend you to check out their courses, programs and expeditons: Ankarat Avotunturit.

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Soon it’s off to Svalbard!

The final preparations for the Svalbard expedition are in full swing! We are flying early in the morning, but everything is finally packed ready. It looks as if my final weight of the sled will be below 70 kg, which is nice! The last thing I have done is to update the playlist on my iPod, but I realized that I had not so much music on my computer, so it will be for me to listen again and again the same songs

I’m glad I’ve packed my warmest sleeping bag combination, because the forecast is on the cold mode in the beginning of the week… Luckily the weather gets warmer by the end of the week.

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Screen shot from yr.no

Expedition Food for 3 Weeks

When I’m planning the food for longer trips, I try to make the food as easy and lightweight as possible. It can be fun to sometimes luxury something up, but I like simple meals that are easy and quick to cook. I’m not really choosy when it comes to food, but some may think that my menus looks a bit too monotonous. The most important thing is that you really like what you eat, so that you easily  can take in energy.

Winter expedition food are little easier to plan, and here’s the reasons:

  1. Weight: You’re pulling your stuff in a sled, which is for volume much larger than a backpack and you can pull a lot more weight than you can carry, so you can take some weighty gourmet food with you.
  1. Durability: You can take fresh food with you without fear of rancidity, eg cheese, ham and butter, as the temperature remains low.
  1. Water Sources: You get water anywhere, just as you can melt the snow. So the only water you need to pull in the sled is what you need during the day for drinking and lunch.

Menu for the Svalbard expedition (19 days):

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Food for 3 weeks: potato mash, porridge, blueberry soup, chocolate drinks, sports drinks, minced meat of moose (dried), freeze dried lunches (add water), coffee and coffee creamer, beef jerky, multivitamins, cookies and chocolate with nuts. Still missing from the picture: Bread, butter, cheese, ham, 10 x freeze dried lunches and some more chocolate and nuts.

BREAKFAST

  • Porridge (Elovena Plus Whole Grain Oat & Wildberry Milk, portion instant porridge)
  • Bread (with butter, ham and cheese)
  • Coffee (Moccona and creamer)
  • Multivitamins (effervescent tablet)

SNACKS AND DRINKS

  • Sports Drink (HartSport and Fast, powder)
  • Chocolate with nuts (200 g per day)
  • Beef Jerky

LUNCH

  • Freeze Dried Meal (LYO foods or REAL Turmat)
  • Coffee (3in1) or Chocolate Drink (Oboy)

DINNER

  • Mashed potatoes (Rainbow and various tastes of Mummon Muusi)
  • Minced meat of moose (fried and dried)
  • Chocolate Drink (Van Houten)

MISCELLANEOUS

  • Blueberry soup (Ekströms, powder)
  • Cookies (Ballerina milk chocolate)
  • Potato chips (Pringles)

Winter Adventure in Koli

For the winter holiday we planned a few days adventure in Koli National Park. We had enough of the little snow here in Southern Finland, so we thought Koli would be a good choice for a little winter adventure. We drove off to Koli from Helsinki in the afternoon and arrived at midnight. We planned to put up our camp at Rykiniemi camp site, because the site was just a few hundred meters from the nearest parking lot. That way we would not have to walk long distances arriving to camp late at night.

Arriving at the campsite in Rykiniemi

What surprised us was that no one had visited the camp site for several days or maybe weeks. The official parking lot was completely unplowed. We plopped into the untouched snow in 0°C temperature to the camp with our stuff. After a quick reconnaissance of the camp site we pitched our tents and prepared ourselves for the night.

In the early morning we woke to some loud thumps and the whole tent shaking! We already believed in our tent that the neighbor tent had awakened to challenge us with a snow war, as that would have been totally expected… But after a moment we figured out that the noise was caused by heavy snow falling down from the trees above us.

Ski touring on Lake Pielinen

The next day we skied out on the lake Pielinen for a day trip. We took the direction north toward the elongated island Laitosaari. There were a lot snow on the ice, so we skied / plopped in the heavy snow that stuck to the bottom of our skis… After 5 km skiing we reached the fireplace at the lagoon of Laitosaari. There, we held a lunch break in the heat of the fire.

When we started to ski back the weather changed, so we felt like polar skiers in the strong head wind and snow. It was difficult to follow our old ski tracks because they begun to disappear. It was already dark when we arrived back to the campsite in Rykiniemi. The temperature started to drop. We enjoyed the evening in the heat of the fire, but in the end we decided to organize a Yatzy evening in one of the tents.

Snowshoeing the Summit Trail

The following morning we packed the camp and drove towards Koli Centre Ukko. The weather had turned into a brilliant – 8°C winter weather. We put the snowshoes on our feet and wandered off along the Summit Trail or the Koli Peaks Snowshoeing Trail, which is a 1.6 km circular trail that takes you round Koli’s best-known scenic points. It starts from the Visitor Centre Ukko from where the journey goes on to Paha-Koli, Akka-Koli and Ukko-Koli.

Koli is worth visiting, especially when the snow situation is much better there than in Southern Finland. I will certainly be visiting Koli again and maybe next time it will be a summer or autumn adventure. After the trip I also updated the review of the Bergans Trollhetta 3 tent.

 

Layers For The Cold

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Here are some tips on how to dress for cold weather. It is the layer on layer method that I have applied. I take into account clothes that I have experience of and that I think has worked well in cold weather. I have divided the subject into four main topics:

1) base layer,
2) mid layer,
3) outer shell layer (including accessories)
and
4) the outer insulation layer.

Below you’ll find detailed explanations and photos about the different layers.

1) Base layer

The idea of the base layer is to keep you warm and dry. Therefore I use merino wool underwear. The merino wool absorbs moisture without feeling wet on you. Merino has also antibacterial properties, resulting in reduced body odor, so you can wear the garments for multiple days in a row. For winter conditions I use a relatively thick base layer: The Devold Expedition two-layer wool underwear. I like the zip neck model so you can ventilate more easily if it gets too hot. I also use merino on my feet. In the picture I have Lorpen’s Merino Liners as base layer.

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2) Mid layer

The mid layer is usually made from fleece or wool. The layer works like an insulation layer. The idea is to keep the warm air close to your body. It’s good if the clothes have a tight fit, because it prevents the air from escaping from your body. I use a Tierra jacket and trousers made from Polartec® fleece material which are great for this purpose. On my feet I have Bridgedale Summit socks, that are designed for cold environments and they are mostly made of wool.

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Continue reading “Layers For The Cold”

Svalbard Training Weekend

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The route: Laivaranta – Kelvenne – Laivaranta

This weekend we had a meeting for our Svalbard expedition. The program included skiing and an overnight stay in tents at Päijänne in Padasjoki. I had an important family event on Saturday, so I took myself to the meeting late in the evening. It was a thoroughly “find the rest of the expedition on the lake of Päijänne” -mission for me. After a two hour drive up to Padasjoki I packed my sled at the Laivaranta harbour. I noticed it already had gone well past eight in the evening, so I had to make my way with the help of my headlamp. I took the course towards the elongated island Kelvenne, which was about 8 km from the harbour.

The weather could have been more Svalbard-like with lots of snow and temperatures well below zero … Instead I skied through slush and water up to my ankles, varying to hard ice surface were you only could go forward with double poling technique (finnish: tasatyöntö). After a two-hour ice skiing I found the camp! They had set up the tents on, what I believe, was the only snow patch of the entire Päijänne. My tent mates had our tent heated, so it was just for me to take off my skis and start to enjoy the evening. The idea of ​​the whole exercise was that we would be able test the equipment we will be using in Svalbard, the most important perhaps the tent, and to meet our tent mates. We’ll stay three persons in a Helsport Svea 4 tent, and it seemed perfectly fine in terms of space. The rest of the expedtion members will share tents in pairs.

During the night, the big snow patch which was the base of our camp, had melted more, and there was now a proper swimming pool in our tent’s vestibule. In the morning it was getting colder, so after we took down our camp we skied off on a hard and icy surface. We tried, where possible, to take us to the shores where there was little snow, but the joy was not as long as we would cross a larger ice area and more slippery and hard ice surfaces. So double poling was the big thing again… We skied a litter longer route back to the harbour, and had a short after ski meeting at the nearby service station. The whole exercise was good training for the Svalbard expedition, and it was great to meet some of the other expedition members, and especially my tent mates! I think we are going to have an awesome expedition in March!

Svalbard in March 2016!

You can truly call this an extempore trip! I had no plans to travel abroad during the spring. Instead I was planning to spend the spring quietly at home with a few ski trips. For about a week ago those plans changed completely: I’m going to Svalbard for a ski expedition in the end of March for three weeks! Svalbard is a group of islands located about midway between continental Norway and the North Pole, and yes – there are polar bears walking around.

During these three weeks our plan is to ski about 300 km. We will start the expedition from the town Longyearbyen. If the weather is on our side the plan is to summit the highest mountain peaks Newtontoppen (1713 m) and Perriertoppen (1712 m). We will also visit Pyramiden, which is an abandoned Soviet mining town.

On a typical day we are going to ski about 7-8 hours and the night we are spending in our tents. The sledges will weight about 70-80 kg, but the sledges will get more lighter when the trip progresses.

The expedition is organized by Ankarat Avotunturit, the same company that organized the Vatnajökull expedition last year.

I will write about the training and planning for the Svalbard expedition during the spring, so stay tuned!

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Topographic Map of Svalbard – By Oona Räisänen (Mysid) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

DIY Pack Pouch

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Voilà! Here’s the final product: A box shaped pouch (medium size), so you can keep better track on your stuff in your backpack.

To pack things right when you are hiking or tour skiing, is completely a science of it own. Especially when you are going on a tour with a backpack on your back, it is good to think about how and in what you pack your stuff. You should have good order in your backpack to avoid going crazy trying to find something you do not know right where you’ve packed it. Waterproof pack bags with roll closures are good, but it’s hard to keep track of things in the bags, especially when the bags often tend to have small openings. It often happens that you have to empty the entire bag to find something, for example a headlamp. To keep a little better track of the smaller things I have come up to the following solution: Smaller things can be packed in box shaped pouches, that are sewn from a thin, lightweight fabric and has a long zipper, so you can see what you have in the bags without emptying them. I’m not a pro at sewing, so you can try this project safely!

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The box shape will keep your stuff in place, and you can easily access all the stuff without emptying the whole pouch. This is the large version.

I purchased the fabric from Eurokangas in Tapiola. They had a big box full of different kinds of outdoor fabrics, so I had lots of options. I chose the fabric that seemed lightest but yet strong. From the same shop I got also the zippers.

Note: Depending on the fabric it can become more or less difficult or easy to do this project. I tested first with a fabric that had a plastic layer on one side, but it caused problems because the sewing machine did not pick up the lower thread, and therefore sewed empty. I tested with many different settings, needles and threads, but I did not get it to work. I do not know if the reason for this was the sewing machine or the fabric, or perhaps the  sewer’s lack of experience…. With an other fabric, without the plastic layer, it worked just fine. You can use which measurements for the pouches that you want, but here’s the measurements I have used for the fabric:

Small:  32 cm x 19 cm    Medium: 42 cm x 26 cm    Large: 60 cm x 40 cm
The zipper has to be at least as long as the shorter side of the fabric.

Here are the steps and pictures for the project:

Continue reading “DIY Pack Pouch”

Turn a trangia into an oven

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When I’m out on longer tours, the food can become rather one-sided. I often prepare the food on some sort of kitchen with burners, pots and frying pans. This is the equipment the cooking is limited to. Sometimes during the trip, it is still fun to spice up the ordinary and make the food more luxurious. Nothing for example beats a fresh baked chocolate cake far away from civilization! The problem is that you don’t usually carry an oven with you, but fortunately there are several tricks to that. I tested one of these tricks, and for that you need the following:

• Trangia, pots and frying pan (lid). I recommend a Trangia with a gas burner.
• Disposable aluminium foil pan
• Chocolate cake dough

Say that you would like to bake a chocolate cake in the wild. Well, good news for you then! Grocery stores sells “ready to bake” flour mixtures of different sugar cakes. The only thing you need to add is oil and water. Then you just have to follow the instructions below:

Continue reading “Turn a trangia into an oven”