High Altitude and Polar Survival School

Snow shoeing at 12,000 ft in the Rocky Mountains in an early February blizzard

Before traveling to the High Arctic in 1984, many of us took the Quest High Altitude and Polar Survival School near Crested Butte , Colorado in the first week of February. The classroom portion was held in Crested Butte during the first weekend and the field training was in the mountains nearby at about about 12,000 feet. The group included the instructor, Greg Wiggins, and three students. After the classroom training we were taken up to about 9,000 feet in a blizzard with a snow cat. We then snow shoed in the snowstorm up to the training area at about 12,000 feet.  We set up two tents the first night and slept through the storm. We were having some trouble breathing in the tents because the snow covered fabric was cutting off the oxygen flow. The next morning we awoke to a cold day with beautiful sunshine.   our tents the next morning

We practiced our survival techniques throughout the day and then built two 2 man snow caves for the second night.  two man snow cave       inside snow cave

The next day was more survival training and then each of us was taken separately to a remote location to begin our 24 hour solo. We had our cold weather gear on , but we had no sleeping bag and only one bullion cube and a candle for the period and it dropped to -10 F that night. I quickly set up a solar still and melted some water and then proceeded to build a snow cave for the night.     solo snow cave    Once it was built darkness was setting in so I grabbed some pine branches to lay on in my cave and attempted to sleep, although I was very cold.    trying to sleep in the snow cave       The next morning finally came and I did some chores and was finally picked up by Greg and re-united with the other 2 students.    leaving solo area      We then started our snowshoe trek down the mountain while practicing some compass work to complete our training.    homeward bound

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