Camping in the snow? I didn’t even think it was a possibility- sure they have to camp in the snow on a trek to the North Pole (or some such extremity) but those guys get sponsored by Tag Heuer and for normal people like us… It’s kind of like driving your car across the sea or sun bathing at night. On a holiday activity list, it comes under the category “unlikely”, as drawn up while sitting on a tropical beach sipping cocktails. Which is where we were just a few months ago. Not anymore.
The snowline begins inches away from my blue hands, huddled in my tent, surrounded by the depths of a white winter. In fact the snowline is a snow wall nearly three feet high, surrounding us, broken only by the little hobbit-track we’ve been digging so that we can more easily reach the rest of the encampment.
It is, in fact, so cold the chick-peas, which long ago refused to sprout, are not even soaking overnight now that there’s s a quarter inch slab of ice sealing their pot of water. The MacBook Pro isn’t turning on at all – it’s sleek, brushed titanium body sucks heat from your hand, close to sticking point – and even the dog only seems to turn on for a few hours a day – her sleek, soft, thick, new, winter-coated body the obvious first step to the inevitable 24/7 hibernation.
Anyhow, we were more or less fine until today when my sleeping bag’s zip finally gave up after a few days of struggle. And because the zip on the right leg of my ski-suit gave up a while back already, for the first time there is the possibility that, during the course of a night, my skin could be bare to the frigid air. I’m hating zips.
For overlanders, the size of their vehicles is in direct inverse proportion to the number of zips they might encounter in a typical day. In a big old intercontinental truck or bus the only zips around might be on the laptop bag. A smaller jeep or van, with a tent on the roof, will thus have a few more zips to use every night. The number of zips increases dramatically when you hit two-wheels, of course, but even further down the scale, very close to the other end where we are hanging out at the moment, the backpacking overlander has to deal with the bloody things constantly. Especially here where it’s freezing during the day and bloody freezing at night and second-hand ski-suits are added into the mix of sleeping bags, tents and rucksacks.
See, the thing we’re discovering about zips is that they are crap. They break. They get stuck. The bit of fabric hem gets snagged under the puller, the teeth fall out. You need two hands to use them, sometimes three. Sometimes two people.
I’m struggling with the tent-zip at night. The entrance flap. “Door” is too grand a word.
<<Why don’t you do it from the outside? Dunia suggests.
<<Because then I’ll be outside the closed tent and can’t get in. And it’s cold – who invented these things anyway? Wasn’t it NASA?
<<No, you’re thinking of Velcro – zips have been around for a long, long time…
<<Time for a redesign, I reckon.
That night – starry sky and a frozen breeze wafting in through where the zip wouldn’t close – I dream of someone taking a spacewalk.
<<Houston, I can’t get the zip closed on my suit…
<<Roger that, eagle nine, why don’t you try it from the outside?