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Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure
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Kittilä 2023


Wayland on a previous expedition. - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

The planning for this trip originally began in 2020 targeted at February 2021. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, that date had to be postponed. We nearly got there in 2022 but our flights were cancelled by Finnair at short notice so our new target is now February 2023.

The plan is to take a group with varying levels of experience into the Boreal Forest, west of Kittilä in Northern Finland. The trip will focus on sub zero camping skills with relatively short distances travelled between camps. We will be flying in to the local airport, picking up food and fuel supplies locally.

My equipment should remain largely the same as previous trips but there have been a few minor modifications and I’m sure more refinements may follow.

I will be experimenting with a new shelter, the Wayland Snow Shed, and a new Ventile cover for my sleeping system. I have also made a lighter weight toboggan and changed the saw I will be taking with me. Apart from the addition of a solar charger and an iPhone to my photographic kit, most of the other changes made to my gear so far are cosmetic really.

The Ice Raven / Sub Zero Crew flag. - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

The plan as it stands at the moment will be to fly out in two parties, The Advance party will depart the airport with the gear loaded on toboggans and head to the nearest supermarket for supplies. From there we head West into state owned forestry land for our first camp where we can pitch our shelters and then start building snow shelters and attend to other camp admin.

From there, we break camp and move a few miles further from the town and the airport. Our second camp puts us in an area with a wider range of terrain, perfect for more skills training.  This is where we will rendezvous with the Main party who will be flying out a few days later due to time constraints.

After a few days at our second camp, we will return to our first camp to occupy the snow shelters for the last night before flying home.

From that camp, it is just a short trip back to the airport where we can repack the gear for the flights home.

Of course, such plans very often change on the ground but an outline like this is at least a good starting point.

Snow block cutter - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

This is a Mad Idea that has taken form...

The snow block cutter / mould / kitchen / windbreak.

It is one of those crazy ideas I wake up with occasionally but I thought this one might have wings.

It’s primary purpose is to push into wind compacted snow to cut blocks for building an igloo. If good snow conditions are not available, loose snow can be shovelled into it and compacted to serve the purpose instead.

It’s secondary purpose when not being used for that is to act as a kitchen base to stop the stoves melting into the snow.

It will fit in the big duffel bags with kit packed inside it, taking little space for itself.

Tipping the scales at 1.33 kg it is not insignificant but, as an experiment, I hope it will prove worth it’s weight.

Snow block cutter - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

It never does any harm to consider different opinions.

So many people have said I should have put handles on this that I changed  my mind and added some. For the very few grams they weigh theyare unlikely to do  any harm.

I’m also showing here another way it could be used. As a wind break with a handy shelf over the cooking area.

That would mean using my fire grill to stop the stoves melting down into the snow but no harm there.

Returning to my sleep system, I knocked up a home made a pump bag for the Down Mattress as well to make things easier when setting up camp.

Sadly when checking the sleeping bags, about a year after last seeing them I discovered that the synthetic insulation in my old Nanok bag had completely collapsed which means I need to order another one before the trip. Given that I have used it for about 12 years or so I should not be surprised but the suddenness was a bit of a wake up call.

I store my bags loosely packed into large boxes. Un-compressed but generally out of the way. I am very glad I checked them long before needing to pack them. ( The down bag is stored the same way and is fine.)

Glove Harness - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

Another item that I decided to tweak was my glove / mitten harness. I made it originally with a simple strap across the chest but decided along the way that I would prefer a release system for safety.

I replaced the braided strap with one that had a plastic quick release buckle but never liked the look and feel of the thing so I decided to replace it again with a Sam Brown stud system to release it if needed. A bit more “old school” which will sit well with the rest of my gear.


17th January 2023

What an age we live in?

I have just ordered all my food and fuel supplies for the trip for collection from a local supermarket 1300 miles away at midday on the day of our arrival.

I'm able to do this on a Finnish website, even though the only word I know means "thank you", because Google Chrome translates the web pages almost seamlessly. I can check the ingredients aren't going to hospitalise me and add to the order any time up to the day I fly. My credit card gives me the best exchange rate with no foreign transaction charges and I do this all from the comfort of my own home.

This is the kind of future that the internet was made for.

We committed to the trip at the turn of the year. After the problems of the last years we were cautious of doing so but as much of Europe has had poor snow conditions and many of the ski centres closed their slopes we needed to beat the headlong rush to book tickets for Levi.

Finnair, in yet another demonstration of their dubious ethical standards, were rushing even faster to hike up the prices to make profit from this bonanza and although we got in as early as we could, we got rather burned as the prices stared to rise. A day or so later and we would have been paying hundreds more. Shocking. If there was any other option on this route I would gladly choose a different carrier next time.

Never the less, it looks like we are on our way at last.


Sub Zero Crew - Bushcraft UK

Unless noted otherwise, all photography, artwork and content on this site is copyrighted. © Gary Waidson 2022 All rights reserved

The Ice Raven Project promotes sustainable and low impact bushcraft and wilderness skills in Arctic and winter conditions. This includes the use of  tents, tarps  and snow shelters where possible. Fires are only used where safe and where use and collection of firewood will not damage the natural environment. We often travel to locations by public transport and then use snowshoes, sleds, toboggans and pulks to transport our equipment into the wilderness.