Winter Finally Arrived: Guiding in Extreme Temperatures

Ruosovoma

About one week ago temperatures started falling drastically, first from between -5°C and -10°C to -20°C, afterwards further down to -30°C and below. All activities are continuing just as before, so there is suddenly much more to think about and to care about on every trip. Once under -25°C and especially under -30°C the risk for frostbites strongly increases, especially when on a sled or snow scooter as the wind reinforces the cold effect. Being the guide has become much more challenging during past week and it takes much more effort to make people feel comfortable and safe on tour. 

Reindeer

After a cold start of the season in November, the weather has been very mild. Throughout most of December, temperatures rarely dropped below -15°C. The final half of the month was a very warm period, with -10°C being the exception and -1°C being the rule. The weather was cloudy and snowy. The fresh incoming snow was very welcome, since a number of positive degrees days caused a short period of melt and much of the snow disappeared. A strange sight in Lapland halfway through December.

Morning break

At that time, people were anxious about not seeing the northern lights because of the clouds blocking the view of the sky for 24 hours a day. Besides of that, everybody on tour was very happy and very relaxed. Since temperatures were mild it was very enjoyable to be out for a day, to have a long lunch break by the fire and to have an evening snow shoe walk through the forest. It was so warm that we needed to remind the guests about taking their jackets and big gloves, since everything was snowy and the wetness and humidity could still affect them and make them cold, but they felt too warm to be running around with down gear.

Saarjärvi

Now the situation is very different. Especially on snow mobile tour, we need to check that people cover up their faces and properly close everything to shield themselves from the wind. In the breaks we look for white spots and tell them what to do when their hands or feet start feeling very cold. Some guests get far out of their comfort zone and actually stop enjoying what they are doing. Their mind is stuck on one dominating thought and that is “home, home home, take me home”.

Much more than before it is important to talk comfort into everyone and to guide them through what to do when they really start feeling the cold. Once they realise that you know what is happening, that you know what to do about it and they start feeling a bit warmer they can relax again for a while and enjoy their surroundings.

 

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