- When removing mittens to do practical work, stuff them in your jacket -- or your pants! -- to keep them warm. Otherwise, the moisture will freeze quickly. And getting those cold hands back in there will be like sticking stiff fingers in the freezer; with no heat to warm the blood, the lack of circulation to the tips can quickly lead to frostbites.
- It is not a bad idea to tape the tip of your nose. In temperatures below -20C, it is recommended to wear a face system (mask or other) to avoid frostbites. In cold temperatures, steam from the breath turns to moisture. That moisture will quickly freeze over when your face system is lowered to eat or drink. Upon repositioning over the nose, the icicles will scratch the sensitive skin and your nose will begin to look as if it went through the meat grinder. The tape will help with that!
- Be conservative in your use of toilet paper -- but don't be stupid. When planning, set yourself a limit, and don't exceed it. This is not an environment where you want to run out...
- Bring chocolate and break it into small pieces before leaving. If you don't like chocolate, you will come to love it in a cold and strenuous environment. Its sugar translates to immediate fuel and as long as you are exerting will have virtually none of the negative effect associated with sugar intake in a normal setting. Because of the cold, breaking pieces ahead of time will avoid cracking a tooth while trying, or frustrating drools while thawing over-sized bits in your mouth!
- If you are in the lead, loosen your skis when crossing a thinly refrozen lead. (A lead is a crack of open ocean in the ice generated by currents, tides and wind). Thin ice -- or rubber-ice -- will flex and often hold when the weight is distributed across the skis. But in case it doesn't, you'll be glad you did. There are other things you will want to think about in the event that you fall in the drink than trying to get your skis off! Besides, skis float.
- Keep a change of clothes easily accessible in your sled. If you fall in the drink, you'll need to get naked and change fast before hypothermia sets in. This is not a time when you want to wonder where you have placed that replacement top!
- From about March 3rd or so in these latitudes, the sun no longer sets; it hovers 360 degree over the horizon over the course of twelve hours. Save batteries on your GPS and navigate with the sun. Determine where North is as you set off in the morning, and then turn it off. If Noon is straight ahead, it will take an hour for the sun to reach one O'clock; two hours to reach two O'clock; three hours to reach three o'clock or 90 degrees to your right from the Noon position, and so on.
- Pack light: when dragging your sledge for hours over pressure ridges or rubble fields, you'll be glad you did. No need to bring multiple pairs of undies. Once over there, you won't care -- and no one will either! What happens at the North Pole stays at the North Pole... Besides, bacteria does not live in subzero environment
- Wear vapor barriers on your feet, or plastic socks, between your base layer and second sock. The plastic seals moisture preventing the outer socks from getting wet and freezing, which can lead to frostbites.
- Don't forget to take photos. It can be so cold that taking the mittens off to find a camera deep in your pocket can seem like a lot of work. But long after you have left the ice, those photos will be worth the price of admission, and stay with you forever!
To find out more about every aspect of an expedition to the North Pole, and witness its extraordinary and rarely filmed beauty, visit www.intothecold.org.
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