OUTDOOR ACTIVITY. Members from Nest 5 recently gathered for a weekend of winter survival training in the Swedish wilderness.
Departure and skiing
Early on the morning of Saturday 16 February, members from Nest 5 gathered together to travel to the starting point of the weekend’s activities. Upon arriving, they unpacked all their equipment and were given a short briefing of the schedule.
First up was a few kilometres of skiing, which would lead the participants to a spot designated for breakfast and coffee. As with all the objectives of the day, it was to be reached by navigating solely with the aid of an analogue watch, a map and the sun.
A few mishaps occurred with the equipment, as well as a few spills on the skis, all of which resulted in a time delay reaching the first meeting point. Because of this, the group missed out on their breakfast and coffee.
The skiing continued through the rough terrain. More trouble arose when one of the participant’s ski bindings came loose from its screw grooves a couple of times, and new holes had to be made using makeshift tools. Despite all the trouble and lack of food, the spirit of the group remained high.
Soon everyone arrived at a lake, where they had to cross a few hundred metres of ice. The ice was unusually thin for this time of year due to a prolonged period of thawing, so the group leaders went ahead and checked the thickness of the ice before fetching the others. Everyone was then able to cross and reach an island, where more exercises were to take place before staying there for the night.
On the island
Upon arrival, the participants were sectioned into two groups. One group was sent to gather firewood, while the other group was instructed to bore a hole in the ice. When these tasks had been completed, a short but interesting lecture was given on the topic of frostbite and hypothermia, followed by various questions and discussions.
Next it was time for the frozen lake survival training. The comrades walked onto the ice, where instructions were given, as well as information on what happens when someone falls through the ice, the importance of controlling one’s body in the water, and what to consider when climbing out of the ice hole.
One by one the participants jumped fully clothed into the ice-cold water, gaining control of their breathing and answering four questions each, after which they had to ask for permission to climb out of the ice hole. When they were done, everyone ran speedily to the sauna to quickly regain warmth.
After all the participants had completed the ice bath and sauna activities, the food everyone had been waiting for was finally served. Filled and content and drowsy from a “food coma”, the group sat and stared peacefully into the flaming camp fire for a long while.
The activities were not over yet, however: one objective remained before it was time to go to bed. The organisers had created a task to test everyone’s fire-building skills. Ropes had been suspended 60cm off the ground, and everyone, including the organisers, had to create a fire using a fire striker and get the flames high enough to ignite the rope.
As it was difficult to find dry wood in the snowy forest, the task took longer to complete for some people than others. A few were on the verge of giving up, but they were given support and advice from their comrades on how to proceed and eventually completed the task. By that time the evening had come to an end and it was time to crawl into bed.
The final day and the trip back
On the following day, the men were up early once again. The camp was packed up and everything was tidied prior to leaving the site. The participants had a ski trip of about 2.5 kilometres on an upward slope ahead of them. On this day the snow was better for skiing because the temperature had been below freezing during the night. This caused the snow crust to harden and better carry the skiers, ensuring everyone was in a good mood for the return journey.
All in all, the outing into the wilderness was very successful. Despite having equipment problems, being deprived of their breakfast and walking hungry all Saturday, the activists still greatly enjoyed the activity!