Saturday, March 1, 2014

From a Cold Weather Leader Training Participant

Early January [2014] I had the remarkable opportunity to attend Cold Weather Leader Training at the Northern Tier High Adventure Base located in Ely, Minnesota. The training included in-depth instruction in how the human body reacts to cold, how to dress, what to eat, winter transportation, winter shelters, cold weather health hazards and how to treat them, snow shoeing, dog sledding and more.

My personal experience was one of the most memorable I’ve had for training and adventure at any BSA camp. Due to a severe winter storm which centered over New York metro area, all flights were canceled and airports closed on precisely the day I was scheduled to leave. The jet stream that was forcing arctic weather and temperatures south from Canada and over the northeastern US meant that Ely was predicted to experience unusually cold temperatures as well. It was an air travel mess, and this caused me to arrive a day late for my training at Ely, Minnesota.

Doug Best decked out in
Northern Tier gear.
One of the most disturbing things to happen was that I arrived to the training and my baggage didn’t. In hind sight this was a blessing. This meant that all I had was what was in my day pack. With out my personal gear, sleeping bags, clothing layers, extreme cold weather boots, toiletries and other items, I was preparing to venture out overnight into some of the most extreme temperatures recorded in Ely at that time of year. This circumstance was entirely unexpected and unplanned. The Northern Tier staff was suddenly and without warning, burdened with the task of satisfying all my cold weather needs for the outdoor segment of the training. Together with their supreme knowledge and ability to outfit me for the frigid environment of Northern Tier, I successfully accomplished temperatures that dropped to a bone chilling -34.4 ºF. The following day the wind chill made it feel like -67 ºF. By staying active and observing what I was taught my personal experience fluctuated from feeling cool, warm, to sometimes over heating and having to “vent.” I experienced personally how the science of staying warm in the cold really works.

I am completely impressed with Northern Tier and the staff there. It is rare that I have encountered such friendly and accommodating staff at training. Their knowledge and experience is easily among the best the BSA has. Without exception they are easily some of the most friendly, accessible, wise, experienced and fun teams that I have had. I have never experienced temperatures like these before, and I was completely unprepared. Northern Tier knew what was necessary and without hesitation came through and enabled me to experience these extremes safely and without incident.

Thank you Northern Tier!

I am looking forward to returning soon. (Hopefully with my luggage)

Douglas Best
ASM Troop 240
Council High Adventure Training Chair

Theodore Roosevelt Council, Long Island NY


The 2014 CWLT Course and Staff