Friday, November 25, 2011
visibility < 100 ft
wind > 55 kts
windchill < -100F
During these conditions travel is prohibited, even between buildings.
This last Thursday and Friday I had the privilege of attending Snow Survival School [AKA Happy Camper]. It is a field course designed to give those going into the field the opportunity to learn how to camp and survive in the snow. For most of the participants, it was their first time using a camping stove or setting up a tent. For me, it was going to be a nice couple of days out of town.
On Thursday, while we were attempting to build a snow wall and kitchen, the weather deteriorated. Just after the tents were put up, we noticed that the visibility was all but gone. Our instructor had us gather in the 'kitchen' [hole in the snow] to discuss our situation.
We had stumbled into CON1 weather for our Happy Camper. She mentioned that this was something they tried to avoid, but now we 'were going to get a unique experience.' And indeed we did.
For the rest of the evening I got to listen to the other campers' stories; our guide just spent last summer as a mountain ranger on Denali. Two of the campers were veteran contractor pilots that have flown the twin otters and DC-3s all over this continent and the rest of the world. The researchers from Denmark, Germany and Sweden were happy to talk about their projects.
Eventually I wandered over to my 'survival trench' and tucked into the -40' sleeping bag for a blissful nights sleep.