Last week we stood on this spot in boxer shorts. Today the same outfit would mean certain death within half an hour. A cold day, that's for sure, but not in absolute temperature. For Summer is almost here (though some may argue, that there are no Summers on the Svalbard (ice caps)). More than keeping yourself in harmony with the elements through elegance process of thermo regulation. Arguably the most relevant of all aspects of Arctic travel, thermo regulation is about keeping you warm and dry by adjusting clothing. Sounds simple? Well, it ain't.
For the start, you need lots of layers of clothing like in onion. As the body is pretty much drowned with the stink after two months of constant wear like Devold thermal underwear, the so called base layer. Its major purpose is to divert sweat away from the skin. A friend from northern Norway once told me that "If you sweat, you're dead." and I'm sure she wasn't referring to a game of squash. Out in the hills, sweat is the first thing to freeze and try running around in an armour of ice. You'd be dead or at least really miserable before you can say "Ice is nice".
But let's get back to our onion, the insulation layer(s), the essence of thermo regulation. The second layer is meant to keep you warm, so anything from a woolen sweater to a fleece would be great gear. You can have also more layers here, but remember what happens when you sweat.
Last but not least, the shell layer. Keep the snow, wind and cold out while still letting your sweat out. In practice, under our condition, all shell layers become armours of ice sooner or later, but as long as they still keep the cold out it's ok.
So how is all this relevant? 1000 metres below, on the Mediterranean beaches of Wijdefjorden, flowers blossom and reindeer graze yet up here we have substituted sun cream and sun glasses for face masks and goggles. To put it bluntly the reindeer below don't have to give a damn about thermo regulation since nature has designed them to live up here. In contrast, we are just 5 (and a half) tiny aliens in an environment that's capable of pushing you to the knees with a single snowstorm. Granted, pulling pulkas uphill in half a metre of fresh yet heavy snow is nobody's idea of fun. At least it's easy to see who to build up a respect up here, the snow queen and her environment. To end this pitiful entry with its very beginning ??? to the nature only, for you need to thermo regulate. Or else you know what ...
One of the truly frozen five