Winter 2012, my wife knowing my attraction for the Nordic countries, offers me a week of discovery of the Arctic environment in Finnish Lapland.
Program: Fishing on the frozen lake, snowshoes treks, forest skis trips, snowmobile, dog sledding, night swimming in the frozen river, northern lights …
It was during this first crossing of the Arctic Circle that I caught the Arctic virus. Surely contracted with Philippe, this Canadian I met in Finland who became my friend and teammate.
2013, back to Lapland where we set off at 3 for 1700 km by snowmobile between Finland and Mehamn in the north of Norway. An unforgettable 15-day adventure, the virus seems to have become incurable! I got a good experience to advise my customers in my store Le Bivouac where I distribute the type of equipment I used there.
Then Philippe leaves to work in Greenland, promising to “do something” as soon as he is installed. A year and a half of preparations, study maps, weather, equipment. The idea is to leave with pulkas, these sledges that are pulled behind for 15 days in total autonomy in a desert part. But the snow is not at the rendezvous. The 70kg of material per pulka and 10kg of backpack must be reduced to 42kg in each backpack.
We therefore exchanged the Scorpion 3 for the Scorpion 2, Antarctica Duvets, a first prototype of ground mat developed in collaboration with Snugpak, stove, first aid kit, GPS, solar panels, 17 days of food each, 20 days of fuel to melt ice to have water, spare socks, tent boots and bivouac parka, lamp, knife. The 100 liters of the backpacks are barely sufficient, we took only the vital.
The first few days, the progression is painful: we must put our organism to the rhythm, adapt it to the climate, the load, get used to the terrain. In the evening, we appreciate the Scorpion 2. The bags stay outside, but it warms up faster than the 3, as it is bigger. The Antarcticas are wonderful in this icy world (-15 to -25 ° C) and where winds of 100 km/h are not uncommon.
The experience, as wonderful as it was, leaves a bitter taste: we wanted the snow.
I have to go back! I must!
On 27 February 2017, I landed in Kangerlussuaq. The snow is here! The winds also for that matter. This year, we are changing our method: a comfortable base camp and light trips around. The Cave tent, the Antarctica, the second prototype of Snugpak ground mats are loaded with the rest of the material in the pulkas. This time, I will test some Snugpak equipment that tempts me: the SJ9 Jacket, their fleece hat, their merino socks and the Rocket Pack. We put on the magnesium snowshoes of the Canadian Army and we are off.
The landscapes are wonderful, enchanting northern lights, temperatures drop despite bright sunshine: -26°C day, 35°C at night.
Our equipment is perfect. We do not suffer from the cold, we spend pleasant nights in a tent mounted on a snow still at -30°C following a week when temperatures had dropped to -42°C. The floor mats are up to our expectations, we will be able to launch them in production.
The SJ9 Jacket, coupled with a first Arcteryx skin and a second layer Aclima or Bergans (depending on the day) is perfect: freedom of movement, breathability, ergonomics, insulation. With harness of the pulka and the backpack, one feels no discomfort..
The Rocket Pack backpack has also lived up to its task. Its removable side pockets allow a modularity appreciated. It has been “cabin” in the plane with only one pocket, it fits perfectly into the pulka, pockets apart, and with its two pockets for our 2 days trip with the Scorpion 2. Its system of compression strap has been useful and convenient to carry a rifle.
Or the flat stone that served us as hot stone (on the menu: a musk ox tenderloin with its small frozen vegetables topped with lots of butter).
Its internal and external zippered pockets are perfect for small material to keep at hand and the side mesh pockets very useful for storing gloves the time to take a photo or the weather station Kestrel which records what we endure.
It’s decided: I’m going back next year. Other equipment to test, and tent The Cave to inspect as it will stay a year mounted in the mountains. It has already resisted a gunshot of wind up to 103 km/h measured, which nearly put me down when I was taking a picture of The Cave.