EX ICE BAMBI
Norway – Lakselv
28 February – 10 March 2016
Twenty hopeful Army soldiers and officers, travelled to Lakselv, northern Norway, on Sunday 28 February 2016 for Exercise Ice Bambi, the first of three ten day training and selection exercises ahead of Exercise Ice Maiden itself.
The group stayed at the Allied Training Centre and enjoyed the hospitality warmly extended to them by both British and Norwegian forces. The aims of Exercise Ice Bambi were to introduce the beginners to Nordic ski touring and to consolidate any pre-existing knowledge amongst the others, expose all candidates to a harsh environment, teach basic survival skills and educate the team in relation to the use and maintenance of appropriate clothing, kit and equipment.
The first five days were spent under the supervision of British Forces personnel. The extremely experienced tutors, Dan and Ian, provided the team with detailed information and demonstrations on various aspects of cold weather survival, including nutrition, tent routines, marching routine and the kit and equipment they use. This period of classroom based tuition was followed by four days out in the field putting this new found knowledge into practice. After a morning of snow shoeing, the group had some basic skiing tuition followed almost immediately by a night ski. The use of head torches was discouraged as skiing ‘blind’ encourages the skier to trust the messages received by their feet. This approach was met with mixed reviews from the women initially, but it was generally agreed that a vast amount was learnt by all.
Captain Vibeke (Vibs) Sefland from the Norwegian School of Winter Warfare then provided a further few days of invaluable training, tweaked to the unique challenges faced by women in the field. She shared a vast number of tips gleaned from her decades of experience both as a mountaineer and as a cold weather specialist and provided the group with further advice on appropriate clothing, ski technique and tent and march routines. Her enthusiasm was infectious and her permanently upbeat nature and steadfast patience in this difficult climate were an inspiration to all.
The training portion of Exercise Ice Bambi culminated in the infamous “ice breaking drills”, thoughtfully arranged by Ian and Dan. The group, who had made camp on a frozen lake, were woken to the sound of the Norwegians drilling a large hole through the ice, an experience akin to watching someone make your own coffin. Each team member was then led through the drill which involved stepping into the frozen lake and successfully exiting it with the use of ski poles, bergen in tow.
The expedition leaders then had to make several difficult decisions regarding who would be brought forward to the next round of the selection process. Ten of the twenty women, plus two in reserve, from across the rank structure were chosen to progress to EX ICE READY in November 2016.
LEARN BASIC SURVIVAL SKILLS IN POLAR REGIONS
EXPOSE CANDIDATES TO THE EXTREME ENVIRONMENT OF THE POLAR REGIONS
INTRODUCTION TO NORDIC SKI TOURING
SELECT 12 CANDIDATES TO PROCEED TO EX ICE READY