During a cold stretch that had many Canadians scurrying indoors, a researcher known as Professor Popsicle has found humans can successfully spend days on end in the bitter cold.
Gordon Giesbrecht has spent the past 26 days skiing the isolated, frozen expanse of Lake Winnipeg as part of his research for the University of Manitoba on how the body copes with the cold.
Temperatures averaged -15 F, and dipped as low as -31 F during his 240-mile trek on cross-country skis.
“Now when I’m outside and it’s -25 C, it’s not really a big problem,” he told Reuters by satellite phone Monday night from his small tent on the world’s tenth-largest lake.
“This has been more a test of just dealing with the cold and living with it, and getting your clothing and your actions coordinated so that you don’t end up getting frostbite or anything,” explained Giesbrecht.
Soft, deep snow made for some tough slogging with his backpack and sled carrying his food and gear. On two mornings, Giesbrecht emerged from his tent to find the wind so fierce that his tent was almost flat.
“The most vulnerable time of the day is when you are trying to set up your tent, and I was not about to take that chance,” he wrote on a Web site updated by his family.
Other than numb fingertips, which will likely take a month to return to normal, Giesbrecht said he feels fine.
But he said the first thing he plans to do when he returns to Winnipeg is to jump into a hot tub. “It’s going to feel great,” he said.