Is the winter too harsh? Suddenly too cold? Too much snow? Here are a few ways to start enjoying the weather! If you are not the sporty type, go on and scroll past the madness, straight to the artsy and foodie bits.
Get to the classic outdoor sports. Cross-country skiing and skating are amazing (and environmentally friendly) ways to enjoy nature and get some exercise. If you do not own skis, they can often be rented – same thing with skates. No need to look for special ski trails, with enough snow you can literally go cross-country. If going skating, check out the ice conditions and make sure that the ice is thick enough, at least 10 cm. Avoid areas with potentially thinner ice. Don’t forget the safety equipment.
|Ice is tricky business. Bring a friend and all the safety gear.|
Back to those childhood memories! Why not get to the nearest slope and go sledding? Even more fun if you’re an adult. Get a sledge, a snow racer, a bit of plastic, or use one of those big heavy-duty garbage sacks to put under your behind - those slide perfectly on the snow. Your pants should have some padding though, otherwise you will count each and every bump in the snow with your said behind.
|A ski kiting school with students practicing.|
Try a more extreme sport. Ski kiting (or kite skiing?) is great fun, you will cover long distances with a thrill, and maybe learn to do some tricks up in the air. You might want to get a lesson with an instructor the first few times. Ice climbing is one of my favorite sports, and it can only be done in the deep of the winter. Once again, you’ll need someone to teach you in the beginning. But if you get hooked, you’ll never again complain about the cold! I used to get disappointed when the cold spells came, now I grab my ice axes, crampons and a helmet and get out there! Norwegian Rjukan is a good place to go to when there’s no ice in your area. There’s normally good ice and many nice climbing areas, as well as instructors to choose from.
|Me, climbing vertical ice in Gudbrandsdalen in Norway.|
Go winter fishing. When it’s been cold for a long time and the ice has a safe thickness, rather much more than 10 cm, you can give winter fishing a try. And as you’ll be sitting there anyway, why not pitch a tent above you, and have a cozy picnic? Tipi tents are perfect for that, you don’t need a floor and you have enough room for standing upright. You can even use a stove inside a tipi. Remember though that the pole in the middle will get warm and can melt through ice, so use a bit of wood or other material, ten by ten inches or so, to put under it.
|Winter camping with friends on a lake in 2016. No fish, but a great cozy winter camp and much fun getting there on skis.|
Try traditional DIY winter housing – one or all of the different techniques. There are so many variations: snow caves, igloos, quinzhees, or maybe you’re ambitious enough to build a Lumitalo? Do careful research about what kind of snow to use, how to harden it, and how to arrange for a good ventilation. Take your time to learn – this is a very good survival technique for future use.
|Staircase in one of the rooms of Ice hotel in Jukkasjärvi, the 2017 edition.|
Build a snow or an ice sculpture. Get your inspiration from the beautiful ice hotel in Jukkasjärvi. Or try to mimic your favorite Renaissance sculpture. Not feeling much like a Michelangelo? Then be Anna from Frozen and build a snowman! There’s great magic in that too. Here’s the priceless inspiration from Calvin and Hobbes in case you need it.
|Advanced ice and snow sculpture decorating one of the rooms in Jukkasjärvi Ice Hotel, 2017 edition.|
Build an art piece from colored ice! For some more winter art inspiration, try using balloons in freezing temperatures – for creating simple ice art in the form of aquarocks, or more elaborate sculptural combinations. Or how about a colored ice igloo made using milk cartons? Put some illumination inside and have it light up your back yard, or use it as a cabin for hangout and beautiful picnics. For those with less time on their hands, here area few ideas about ice lanterns. A simple snow lantern is fast and simple to make and requires no waiting time. Light up those just outside your door, or place them all the way along a path or a road.
|During the cold spells, make sure to protect face, hands, and ears from cold bite. Layered clothing and good shoes are important. Here, after a nice half hour run in -17 C (just about 0 F) in Northern Sweden.|
Use the cold to boost your endorphins. Start with a sauna, a hot shower or maybe a fast run (see a choice of other winter sports above) and continue with a contrasting chill. Rolling in the snow after sauna will get your blood circulation to a new level. Or why not take a dip in ice-cold water before returning to the warmth? You’ll have a full-blown endorphin level, for sure. Here's what you can look like after a run and a swim, even in temperatures just above freezing.
|Me, sailing in Svalbard and picking up ice in the water, from the same sea where I took a dip within 24 hours (no sauna or warm room was available though).|
Take advantage of the natural freezer for your foodie needs. For those who enjoy home-made ice-cream but do not have an ice-cream machine, low sub-zero temperatures are a blessing. You can be sitting there, surrounded by snow lanterns, and be churning a batch of the finest sorbet you’ve ever made. Use the snow and ice for serving seafood, make ice glasses for the cocktails (mittens recommended), or keep it simple and have a chilled beer to celebrate the winter beauty.
|Use the garden furniture as intended! Even if it's covered with loads of snow - enjoy the extra functionality.|
The more you make sure you enjoy the winter weather, the more used your body gets to the cold. And you'll get so much more happiness from the cold days, instead of just grumpily waiting for them to pass. Isn't it what life's about? Enjoying every day, whatever it looks like. Hope you'll have a great winter!