Bivouacking in Igloo and Snow Cave
The Winter Camp is all about wilderness living in Nordic winter conditions. Experience bivouacking in a cold camp under the open sky, building and sleeping in an igloo or snow cave. Learn to stoke the ‘inner fire’ and to connect with the cold.
At the tree line between silent forests and alpine tundra, the Norwegian highlands offer ideal conditions to learn and test Nordic winter wilderness living skills, bivouacking in both cold camp and snow cave or igloo.
At the beginning there is an introduction to skiing on traditional wooden skis. This allows us to move freely in the snowy wilderness, as Scandinavians have done for thousands of years; drawing a trail amid a rolling landscape in a gentle way; navigating the impenetrable forest and the uniform plateaus; keenly observing wind and weather, the altering snow and the landscape’s topography. All this is essential to bivouacking in Nordic winter conditions, as it makes us part of the winter world.
Since time immemorial people have lived with the cold as a matter of course. Yet the cold is a strict master. We have to get aware of the dangers lurking in snow, ice and fog: frostbite, hypothermia, snow blindness, avalanches, lake or river ice and white out. We have to face these threats consciously; to avoid the traps set up out there; to protect ourselves from them; and to poke our ‘inner fire’ and preserve the glowing embers of our lives.
We set up a cold camp in the woods where we spend two nights around a campfire under an open sky. Taking advantage of the given conditions, we build simple shelters from the snow. Exposed to the cold, the warmth of a fire is essential, be it as a floating campfire on the snow, as the core and centre of our camp, or as the inner fire that needs to be stoked just like our campfire.
Igloo and Snow Cave
The snowfields of the vast tundra are the right terrain for building an igloo or a snow cave. Taking into account snow conditions and avalanche safety, we select a snow bank suitable to build these constructions on our own. When ready, we slip under the warming mantle made of snow, and spend two more nights sleeping in an igloo or snow cave. Here, where we can’t light a fire, we melt snow on just small flames and learn to handle the precious goods of warmth and water with particular care.
DETAILS – WINTER CAMP
The 8-day winter camp begins and ends at Tolga station, Norway, a 4 hours train trip North of Oslo. (Shorter or longer versions are available on agreement.)
On the arrival day we meet at Tolga in the afternoon for a joint taxi transfer to a lodge in the wilds. Here we spend the first two nights and get an introduction to skiing on traditional wooden skis.
The day after, we head out skiing into the woods. There, we set up a cold camp and spend two nights bivouacking under the open sky.
Then we move on to build snow caves and igloos, in which we spend two more nights.
The lodge will be available for us continuously as a retreat, in case we can’t stay in cold camp, igloo or snow cave. We return there for a last overnight stay together.
The winter camp ends on the morning of the departure day with a joint return transfer to Tolga station.
Start and end of the course correspond with the trains to/from Tolga.
The program may be subject to changes.
View location on a map:
The winter camp is suitable for adults and youth accompanied by adults.
The long stay in the cold requires
- a good physical condition and stamina
- the mental readiness to accept unfamiliar conditions and act accordingly
- the ability to take care of one’s own needs and respect the needs of others
- prior knowledge of skiing is recommended, but not a prerequisite as long as you are in good physical shape.
The course aims to provide know-how, skills and practice necessary for bivouacking and living in Nordic winter conditions.
The participants run the camp in fellowship. Your active participation is required.
You want to:
- experience an intensive winter adventure
- gain knowledge and skills for bivouacking in Nordic winter conditions
- connect with cold, winter and nature
Read more about the general profile:
- Group with min. 4 / max. 12 participants
- Experienced course leader: Thoralf Rumswinkel
- Introduction to skiing on traditional wooden skis
- Program as described
- Taxi transfers from/to railway station
- 2 nights in a lodge (at our disposition during the full course period)
- 4 nights in a cold camp and snow cave or igloo
- Food for full board (to be prepared by the group)
- Set of wooden skis with Kandahar-binding, poles, grip wax (Participants may bring their own skis.)
- Bivouac equipment package (underlay mat, sleeping pad, additional sleeping bag)
- Group equipment for cold camp and snow cave / igloo
- First aid and emergency kits
- Topographic maps