Thursday, 3 April 2014

Students embark on Canadian expedition

A group of UCLan Outdoors undergraduates are set to travel to Canada as part of their BA (Hons) Outdoor Leadership course.

Second year students Hannah Smith, Luke Duckworth, Robin Naylor, Callum Munnelly and Ben Henderson will tackle 16 days of extreme subartic weather conditions in Kluane National Park.

Hannah said: "I'm really excited about what's in store for us. It's going to be a fantastic experience and one which will test us to our physical and mental limits. It's mandatory for our course that we take part in an expedition of at least four nights, but we decided to go all out.

"We've done lots of research and training to make sure we're as prepared as possible and we've had great support from the UCLan."

Along with the physical and mental endurance needed for this expedition, the group will collect data for their dissertations. Throughout the trip they will carry and drag their basic survival equipment, including camping gear and 16 days of dehydrated food supplies, in rucksacks and on sleds.

During part of the venture they will be four days away from civilisation in temperatures which could drop to -40C.

"We've decided spreading the load in rucksacks and sleds is a better option than carrying a heavy rucksack but pulling it through very deep snow will be physically tough," Hannah added.

"As we've not got the same conditions in Preston we've been practising by pulling tyres behind us on the Guild Wheel. We've also spent time on winter skills courses and mini-expeditions in the Lake District.

"We'll have to melt a lot of snow to hydrate our main meals and our snacks will be chocolate, jelly and biscuits so we've got enough energy to walk the eight to 10 kilometres a day through snow that could be three metres deep.

"Teamwork is going to be the most important skill when we're out there. We've put in all the training so now we just have to enjoy it. It's going to be wonderful and a trip we'll remember forever."

For safety reasons they will carry a satellite phone. The University's Travel Bursary Scheme has contributed towards the trip while RAB, a leading outdoor clothing company, has provided them with discounted top-of-the-range equipment.

Course Leader Alli Inkster said the group have shown they're ready for the challenges which lie ahead: "The group will continue the excellent standards set by previous planned expeditions from the Outdoor Leadership cohort. Our staff recognise the huge amount of work that has gone into organising this trip.

"The intricacies of expedition planning are complex. From the outset the students have undertaken research and motivated themselves beyond any course and modular requirements.

"There has been training plans to develop skills in areas they don't have and research to gather as much information as possible, to assist with decision making en-route and dealing with weather conditions.

"The trip will enable them to discuss expeditioning and outdoor leading to any future employer. Last year the external examiner stated the students' expeditions were at an excellent level, well above expectations and requirements. The Outdoor Division continues to utilise its staff expertise to support the high standards the students aim to achieve."

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