Arctic Ops with the Canadian Military
This February, I joined the Canadian Armed Forces on their annual winter sovereignty exercise-- Operation NUNALIVUT. I flew from rainy Vancouver to snowy Yellowknife to rendezvous with the Military's Joint Task Force North headquarters.
I met Major Bilodeau in the lobby of the Discovery Inn downtown "Arctic ready," or so I thought.
After a brief safety rundown, I boarded a RCAF Hercules bound for Nunavut. As I peeked out the window all I could see was a snowy, icy desert below-- this was going to be two weeks of something else entirely. Touching down in -55 degree weather proved to be a strong, slap-in-the-face reminder of just how challenging Arctic survival is.
True North: Winter Survival with the Canadian Rangers
There is nothing quite like going to the Arctic in the middle of the winter. The Rangers are the Military's "eyes and ears on the ground" across vast swathes of unpopulated, inhospitable territory. They are true experts in Arctic survival.
Keeping Your Gear Working and Toes Warm at -55
Challenges are around every corner in the Arctic in the winter. Deadly cold temperatures, polar bear attacks, a slip through the sea ice, lack of food, and malfunctioning camera gear. This piece specifically deals with that last one.
A Different Side to the Canadian Armed Forces
Our home base in the Arctic was a WWII airplane hanger, converted by Military engineers into a livable (and heated) base. My many nights here spent embedded with the Forces turned out to be a deeply personal experience.