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Ice Camping

Now that I've been back in Finland for a couple of weeks I thought I'd liven up my weekend by going camping on one of the islands out in the frozen Baltic. It was only about -7c when I left the flat and I reckoned it wouldn't be much colder than winter camping in Scotland so I packed my gear and walked down to the beach.

The sky was clear and the moon was just rising above the horizon, shining bright red over the ice as I made it down to the frozen sea and began walking out to the islands. It's quite normal to go walking on the ice during the Finnish winter - the Finns even drive their cars out there when the ice is very thick. As it was quite dark, however, I couldn't see any thin patches until I was right on top of them. There was nobody around for miles and I listened to the creaking and groaning of the ice beneath my footsteps as I made my way further and further from land.

I began to have thoughts of falling through the ice with my backpack dragging me down to the bottom, freezing to death before I could have time to drown. Although, according to the Finns, it's allegedly not a bad way to go, I decided to unfasten my backpack and carry it over one shoulder just in case I took a dip.

Soon, however, I reached the island, which strangely in a country where you're normally allowed to camp anywhere, had 'no camping' signs on it. Obviously, I was going to ignore these. Trying to follow a path through the woods, I kept losing it and straying off into knee-deep snow in the darkness of the forest. The best place to camp seemed to be on the south side of the island, with a view across the ice, and I began putting up the tent. Illogically, I'd left my snow stakes on the boat in Spain, and it took some practice to get the pegs to stay in the solid ice, but soon enough I had the tent up and I jumped inside.

Needless to say I slept with all my clothes on and hoped that the tent would warm up like a snow-hole. Instead, I woke in the middle of the night to find that the temperature inside and outside had plummeted by another five or ten degrees. It was very cold. I reached for a drink of water but my water bottle had turned to solid ice. Maybe a 3-season sleeping bag wasn't quite enough for these conditions so I put on my down jacket and slept inside that in the sleeping bag.

I woke in the morning, which in itself was a pleasant surprise, to find people passing right by the tent on skis, and snowmobiles shattering the peacefulness. I had breakfast inside the tent, and apart from the end of my thumb turning black, I was happy to have survived the bitterly cold night without any injuries.

Comments

There is a fine line between fun and masachism and good times and death ....is this foray saying anything in more general terms ?
The world is so very short of interesting,
unconventional people in my opinion for the very little it is worth is
don't die for the want of a
nice sleeping bag ....u tight git !! my asda £4.99
one is five years old and I
would be happy to buy you
a similar one ;)

CU
CD

It's officially summertime now though!

To sleep in a sleeping bag with your clothes on is a common mistake. It will only make you sweat and freeze. I'd recommend you to sleep only with your underpants on - the heat of your body will stay in the sleeping bag and keep you warm. Thats the key point here.

In the army, while camping in the forest, we naturally slept in tents. Often the temperature inside a tent was below 0 C, but it didn't matter; all you need is a good sleeping bag and yourself butt naked inside it :)

A good reference is
OA Guide to Winter Camping

"Strip off your layers of clothing to what will be appropriate in your sleeping bag. The more layers you wear the better insulated and the warmer you will be (contrary to the myth that says sleep in your underwear). However, too much clothing can compress dead air space in the bag and reduce its effectiveness."

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