Leo Holding: Camping System Tips

Daily Dispatch in Focus: Polar specific but also general winter camping tricks

Leo and Bruce Corrie are currently on a kite-ski mission on Greenland. They entered the Ice Cap near Kangerlussuaq and are heading towards Qaanaaq, about a 1000-mile route. Leo, an accomplished climber, has many years of experience of expedition tent-living behind him. In the Pythom Dispatch Stream, on Day 17 he reported from Greenland “a few polar specific but also general winter camping tricks” they’ve picked up thus far.

Here go:

• a long pulk bag for the tent meaning you can leave the poles in place and pop it up really quickly

• Zipped begging bags resembling mattresses strapped to the top of our pulks contain sleeping bags, therm-a-rest’s and carry mats that can be very quickly thrown in and outbid the tent. • don’t skimp on comfort, sleep is important and being tent bound for days is much worse if cold / uncomfortable. An overly warm sleeping bag is better than an underly one! A liner is also good. Use a quality sleeping mat AND inflatable mattress. Finally a 3mm foam floor fitted to the tent is a winner on snow.

• a light, large hold all containing all personal clothes etc inside pulk for quick and expedient transfer into / out of tent. Subdivide items into stuff colour coded sacks / net backs for easy organisation

• Have a strict routine for making and breaking camp – things go wrong very quickly in high winds and low temperatures.

• In fresh snow (>=10cm) stamp out the tent platform with skis – don’t subsequently walk on it before putting the tent up.

• Check wear on the tent fabric if leaving the poles in the tent when travelling. A few days of being bounced around in the pulks could cause a lot of damage

• Concentrate on TENT and STOVE as these are showstoppers. Take a spare tent and spare stove unless you are very experienced or feel lucky.

• Be careful of carbon monoxide poisoning from the stove – easily forgotten on calm days, keep the tent well ventilated when cooking.

• if fuel quality is questionable consider a fuel filter when putting the fuel in the bottles – Fuel that has been contaminated with small particles of dirt can be hard to spot but will repeatedly clog the small burner jet on the stove as will crystals of ice /water.

• Dig out a pit near the door area in the tent – It is great for the older team members to sit next to and put their boots and socks on as they find it more difficult to bend. It also collects harmful carbon monoxide, if present, as it is heavier than air.

• a 30L plastic box (10 gallon rubber maid rough neck tote specifically) works a treat as a cook box

• a stove board is essential for cooking on snow. We have two, a 60 cm x 30 cm and 20cm x 30cm made out of 0.7mm titanium backed with insulative foam mat although plywood works almost as well

• Keep your pee bottle in your sleeping bag to prevent it freezing. If it does freeze before you have a chance of disposing of it outside then the only remedy is to place the bottle in your hot water for your morning cuppa to thaw it out!

• damp socks, gloves, boot liners and anything else can be hung in drying line in tent and then put inside sleeping bag whilst sleeping for effective drying. Also any electrical devices / batteries can be stored inside the bag too to keep warm and hold charge

• Have a knife ready in the back of the tent, then, if there is a fire you can quickly cut an escape route.

The team’s blog on Berghaus

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