Hunting the cold – day #2

This article is part of the series “2016-01: Hunting the cold”.

Yesterday I travelled to Pajala to search the cold. With a minimum of -39.6 °C i missed the -40 °C.

Day #2 I stood up quite early, took a short breakfast and drove again to Käymäjärvi, where I measured the coldest temperature yesterday. It seemed to be colder than last night and directly after I turned left into the small road to Käymäjärvi, the thermometer showed -40.3 °C. First time below -40 °C – yay! At 08:37, nine minutes later it showed -40.7 °C , which turned out to be the coldest temperature I measured this day.

I continued the road to the end. Here a couple of lonely wooden building stand beside the road, obviously uninhabited, at least in the winter.

But now it was time to pack the pulka – a transportation sledge – and mount the skis. I wanted to make a ski tour, at least a short one. I parked the car at the place where I saw the aurora the day before.

I filled the pulka with warm clothes, hot tea, a bit of food, the camera equipment and such. Then I dressed for skiing. Here it was -37 °C and I dressed carefully to stay warm and avoid frostbite.

One of the telescope tracking poles was not possible to fix. I tried a workaround with the result, that it broke after 5 meters. I’ll have to buy new ones.

First skiing was easy, even with only one ski pole. The snow on the frozen swamp was hard and it was easy to pull the pulka behind.

But then I entered the forest. Of course pulkas are not made for woodland and this forest was like a thicket of birches which sometimes bend down and build low hanging arcs.

I tried to turn left to find more open land (I was quite unprepared and hadn’t any map with me) and had to cross several small brooks. One of them was a bit larger, a bit deeper and I could here water floating under the ice. I had to unmount me skis and was quite nervous crossing the brook that I probably would jump over easily in summer but all went well.

I continued and wanted to make another photo, but not the camera. It didn’t work any longer. The D-800 just showed an ERR on the display, that was all. Now I was a bit of fed up: Only one ski pole in the midst of a thicket of birch trees and the camera not working. I turned and went back. This probably was one of the shortest ski tours ever.

That’s what I looked like. The first photo is taken 10 minutes after beginning, the second right after the end of the tour. That was not easy: The Nikon D-800 was out of order, the iPhone is not made for cold temperatures and the batteries of my auxiliary camera were left in the car and didn’t work neither. But at last I found a battery that worked for the moment.

You see the fur cap? Some equipment that I have is really expensive, for example by Canada Goose down parka (not on the photos above). The fur cap however is from H&M and costed only 10 Euros. You can hardly call this professional equipment but it worked extremely well.

When you exhale in this cold the air flickers as it does over open fire. No surprise, the temperature difference is round 75 °C. When you inhale you should wear a buff or a scarf to protect your lungs. Remember the temperature difference?

I was so glad that the car copes with the cold. It was -36.9 °C outside and -35.1 °C inside when I started the car after the tour. It took only two seconds and the motor was running. Only changing gears is heavy as long the system is so cold.

On the way back temperatures dropped again below -40 °C. Time to many another selfie – a ridiculous one: The camera inside, holden by a long arm, me outside in front of the car. To my big relief the Nikon camera worked again. The motive: The temperature at the left, me outside with my parka at the right. It didn’t work as excepted. Where’s my face?!

Back in Pajala I admired the fragile birch trees covered with frost beside of the river Torneälven. In the background the clear sky with colours from pink to azure. It seemed to be even colder on the bridge that led over the river back into the city. I could feel the wind through my gloves and mittens and even the nose started to freeze together with the camera when taking photos! I closed my hood completely which looks a bit ridiculous, but I stayed warm.

I took my anemometer (A birthday present to myself) and measured the wind: 20 km/h. The temperature: -36 °C. That makes a wind chill of -51 °C! That’s what I call coldness!

I took a lunch and headed home since weather in this region should worsen, while the forecast for Skelleftehamn looked quite good. It was hardly warmer than -25 °C on the whole journey back home.

At 7 o’clock I arrived home. -28 °C outside – time for a hot bath!

8 comments to “Hunting the cold – day #2”

  1. Elijah 2016-01-08 13:02

    I was in Pajala last summer, it was hot and I later went swimming in Torneälven. Loads of mosquitos… Very strange how fragile your live gets very quickly in that extreme cold! After all those electronical devices fail you get thrown back at yourself. Take care and enjoy the beauty of this wonderland! E.

  2. way-up-north 2016-01-08 13:39

    That’s why I prefer compass and a good map, Elijah. They will neither freeze or run out of battery. But taking photos is less easy to replace. I never used analogue cameras. I just love the digital workflow.

    In addition to that I had a bivy bag with me and an extrawarm down coverall – just to be save.

  3. Ma HB 2016-01-10 19:01

    Dear Olaf, thank you for interesting reports – 2 days in extremly coldness!There was nowbody on the ways because of -40°?- only you?
    And the camera and i phone went on strike.
    And your body?? I hope you are in good health?!
    Nice photos – who is in the cap hidden? –
    Yours Ma HB

  4. Annika 2016-01-10 21:11

    Jetzt erst gesehen—andere Welt da oben :-)

  5. way-up-north 2016-01-10 21:14

    I’m fine – thank you, Ma HB. But you really have to be careful when it’s so cold.

    It’s always me hiding in this huge fur hood. But sometimes it’s hard to see.

  6. way-up-north 2016-01-10 21:14

    Ja, Annika, schon.

  7. Katrin 2016-01-16 09:21

    fantastic ice and snowworld! My pupils told me yesterday, that school in Russia close, when it’s colder than -30°. We’ve now the first snow in Augsburg, but it’s quite warm.
    The picture with the pink sky I like most.
    Have a good time.

  8. way-up-north 2016-01-16 09:27

    Hej Katrin!

    Probably you’ll get more snow in the next days and it will get colder. But I guess that schools don’t close, do they?

    In Oymyakon, the coldest village in Siberia schools close, when it’s colder than -52 °C …

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