There have been hushed discussions and knowing looks over the course of the winter, secret meetings discussing the maps of the local area. A question was asked ‘what lies there, in that darker section'? ‘That bit outside the dotted line saying station operating area’? Heidi gave us a knowing look and dryly answered ‘dragons'. And so the expedition to see these ‘dragons’ was born, with the same adventurous crew as the cane line trip – Heidi, Alex, Eddie and Leon.
We gathered on Thursday in the field store to collect tents, multiple sleeping bags, sleeping mats, thermarests, cooking gear, eating utensils and anything else that you could possibly think of for a camping trip in −20ºC temperatures. After checking the gear, we loaded the trailer and Hägglunds in preparation for an early Saturday departure and a five hour long drive where Heidi was constantly telling Eddie to drive faster and Alex suffered debilitating motion sickness.
We found a suitable camping spot nestled below Mount Hordern on the lee side of the mountain and spent the next couple of hours setting up camp. Two polar pyramids for sleeping, one polar pyramid for the toilet, a dome for Heidi and another for eating and cooking in.
With camp set up we set off to look for said dragons on a number of walks, we did a lap of Mt Hordern seeing deep wind scours, erratic boulders and steep cliffs, navigated steep scree slopes that wouldn’t be out of place in a Lord of the Rings tale, but sadly, still no dragons. We conquered Mt Tritoppen a beautiful days hike with an unimaginably beautiful view and a few other short walks around the base of Mt Hordern to the sound of the cracking plateau ice.
The wind presented us with constant challenges, whether it was just lighting the stove to have a brew in the morning or navigating the opening to the toilet tent. The wind sucks the temperature out of everything, a hot meal straight from the roaring stove is frozen by the time you’re almost finished eating which means you get a hot meal and a cold one in the space of a few minutes. Time for elevenses?
All said and done polar camping is an unforgettable experience with or without dragons.
Leon & Eddie
Take a look at a short video of our road trip.