Arduous subarctic conditions for students’ expedition

28 March 2014

Rachel Atkinson

Five outdoor leadership undergraduates will spend 16 days trekking through deep snow in Canada as part of degree course

If you see a group of students dragging tyres along a Preston’s Guild Wheel then there’s a good chance they are in training for an upcoming arduous University expedition.

Five undergraduates from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are swapping the lecture theatre for the great outdoors of Canada as part of their BA (Hons) Outdoor Leadership course.

Second year students Hannah Smith, Luke Duckworth, Robin Naylor, Callum Munnelly and Ben Henderson will tackle 16 days of extreme subarctic weather conditions in Kluane National Park.

Hannah, from Tamworth, said: “I’m really excited about what’s in store for us. It’s going to be a fantastic experience and one which will test us to our physical and mental limits. It’s mandatory for our course that we take part in an expedition of at least four nights but we decided to go all out. We’ve done lots of research and training to make sure we’re as prepared as possible and have had great support from the University.”


I’m really excited about what’s in store for us. It’s going to be a fantastic experience and one which will test us to our physical and mental limits."

Along with the physical and mental endurance needed for this epic snow shoe expedition the experienced campers will be collecting data for their dissertation. Throughout the trip the group will have to carry and drag their basic survival equipment, including camping gear and 16 days of dehydrated food supplies, in rucksacks and on sleds. During part of the venture they will be four days away from civilisation in conditions which could get as cold as -40C.

The 21-year-old said: “We’ve decided spreading the load in rucksacks and sleds is a better option than carrying a heavy rucksack but pulling it through very deep snow will be physically tough. As we’ve not got the same conditions in Preston then the best training for us is practising pulling tyres behind us on the Guild Wheel. We’ve also spent time on winter skills courses and mini expeditions in the Lake District.

“We’ll have to melt a lot of snow to hydrate our main meals and our snacks will be chocolate, jelly and biscuits so we’ve got enough energy to walk the eight to 10 kilometres a day through snow that could be three metres deep.”

For safety reasons they will carry a satellite phone. The University’s Travel Bursary has contributed towards the trip while RAB, a leading outdoor clothing company, has provided them with discounted top-of-the-range equipment.

Hannah added: “Teamwork is going to be the most important skill when we’re out there. We’ve put in all the training so now we just have to enjoy it. It’s going to be wonderful and a trip we’ll remember forever.”

Alli Inkster, Course Leader on the BA (Hons) Outdoor Leadership, added: “The intricacies of expedition planning are complex. From the outset the students have undertaken research and motivated themselves beyond any course and modular requirements. Indeed as an expedition for ‘fledgling/ trainee’ outdoor leaders this is an excellent level to start at.”