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Polar Vortex reaches Fernie

thumbToday it is colder here in Fernie then on the North Pole. This morning at 7 am the thermometer dipped to its lowest temp right before sunrise.  It is  -30°C at my house. It is too cold and too dangerous to do anything. The ski resort has issued a warning about  skiing and the risk of frostbite on your face when you  ski down. I doubt that this cold makes Canadian tough, because all you can do is to stay inside. Not for me, I am getting dressed and pull my tires in my polar outfit and test my gear in full arctic conditions.

pulling tires

Tire pulling

pulling tires

The best way of getting ready for an arctic expedition is to do exactly what you would be doing in the arctic – pulling a sled. Except  a sled is a big thing to haul around so I take our old  worn out  tires and  pull them up the hill. It is a bit like walking a cute dog that gets lots of attention. Everybody stops and is curious what you are doing.  I train at the Fernie Provincial Park  cross country trail because it has steep hills, my favorite. I just love to push these tires, around 40 kg up a 35 degree slope and edge my skis, pushing my weight forward while I am pulling the tires as hard as I can.   Afterwards you feel so fulfilled  by the hard work that a spin class in the gym looks easy.

geo_sp_red_jacket_(1_of_1)[1]

Ruff wear

geo_sp_red_jacket_(1_of_1)[1]On each polar expedition you have the tough decision to make  what kind of fur  you are stitching around the hood of your jacket.  If you research it you learn that wolverine is the best fur. Inuit and other natives wear it exclusively. It sheds the snow and ice and  doesn’t absorb the water. It is warm and fuzzy around your skin. But wolverine? that is one of the most special animals around and because they are so shy, they are hard to hunt. So I called  the people of Alaska fur exchange in Anchorage for some dead sled dog fur. The women convinced me that dead dog won’t do the trick, it is like the fake furs that are in fashion. “Once it is wet, it will always smell like, well, wet dog” she says. Say no more. The same with coyote, and rabbit. The best are wolf, polar bear and wolverine, all of them are expensive but they prevent you from getting frostbite on your face. My other jacket has a wolverine/wolf mix and was definitely very warm and absorbed all the ice. Hmm, and now I need to have to order two ruffs for two different jackets. The women suggested I take a small white wolf ruff for my lighter jacket and a wolverine ruff for my big arctic jacket. I couldn’t argue, because not all fur is created equal.

return of the sun

The sun returned

return of the sun
Just a few hours ago the sun returned to Resolute Bay in the Canadian Arctic. Tom Griffin, Kenn Borek’s manager send me this picture from his office today. I asked him if the sun gave any heat. He looked at his thermometer and noted it was -45°C outside. The days leading up to the sun’s return are often the coldest of the year, much colder then even in January. But the sun is more then heat, it is comforting for light and the sun makes you happy even if you can’t feel the rays. From this position, just a few degrees above the horizon it will rotate around in that position, never getting higher or lower until later in the spring. When we set foot on the ice, the sun will be halfway its highest point in the horizon, 23.5° so we will see the sun at a angle of about 10° – not even enough for a sun tan or a charge with the solar panels.

return of the sun

Sun returned in the Canadian Arctic

return of the sunJust a few hours ago the sun returned to Resolute Bay in the Canadian Arctic. Tom Griffin, Kenn Borek’s manager send me this picture from his office today. I asked him if the sun gave any heat. He looked at his thermometer and noted it was -45°C outside. The days leading up to the sun’s return are often the coldest of the year, much colder then even in January. But the sun is more then heat, it is comforting for light and the sun makes you happy even if you can’t feel the rays. From this position, just a few degrees above the horizon it will rotate around in that position, never getting higher or lower until later in the spring. When we set foot on the ice, the sun will be halfway its highest point in the horizon, 23.5° so we will see the sun at a angle of about 10° – not even enough for a sun tan or a charge with the solar panels.

Alaskan weather disaster

Alaskan weather disaster

Here is Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River in Valdez, Alaska from 1/26/2014. Due to the high temperatures in Alaska, a glacier sized avalanche has blocked the river. An ice lake has formed, currently at an estimated depth of 60 feet and growing. The Richardson Highway is flooded and the town of Valdez cut off from road access. There is some concern as to when and how the lake will release and downstream and residents are on evacuation alert. This all happens in January in Alaska when temperatures soared in the 60 range. Extreme weather events will be common, even in Alaska!

by Plant for the Planet