Cold Hunter One: Gear Prepping

Rigging your sled correctly can make a huge difference in your perceived effort level and degree of suffering while traveling for days on the glacier.

With years of experience lashing komatiks in Greenland, Siberia and the Northwest Passage, pulling sleds to the North Pole and carrying cabin building supplies on the roof of his car – Lonnie sure knows how to tie knots and lash a sled. This vital skill is necessary, as taking your gloves off in extreme cold is simply not an option. Check out these tips from the two for your next adventure:

Three key tips for rigging and lashing the sled:

1. Tie a bridle to your sled to form a triangle, place a ring at the top of the triangle, it should be fixed. You can verify that you are on center by pulling the ring back to each corner of the sled.

2. Attach a rope to each side of your hip belt with carabiners and run it through the ring on the slide bridle, forming another “V”. This allows the rope to slide around in the ring thereby constantly adjusting to equalize the load on your hips. This one is the key!

3. Tie a bunch of independent loops along each side of sled, large enough to handle with gloves on.

Four foot bamboo gardening wands, Lonnie calls them his friends – all 135 of them. Short ones mark Lonnie's safe passage and flag dangerous crevasses. They help him find our way back home to basecamp, eliminating the need to re-probe the route on the return. Longer wands, made by taping together two 4’ wands, mark the camps and caches that hold life-saving supplies.

On a psychological front, they are motivational beacons, they keep Lonnie moving forward. On the way up, for every hundred strides, he places a wand; gives him something to do as he's ski along, simply counting helps pass the kilometers on a sometimes mundane trudge. On the way home, the “friends” provide a welcome dose of reassurance that all is on track and he is heading home.

Lonnie places two little flags on our wands: one with 3M reflective tape the other with black duct tape. In low light, black shows up best against the white snowy background. Reflective tape is vital for spotting the wands at night when he flashes his headlamp in their direction.

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