Duration: Program is 8 days. Dates are February 22 – March 1, 2021

A polar expedition is the ultimate adventure conducted in the most inhospitable environment. It requires a high degree of mental and physical preparedness and strength to endure conditions that are, at times, challenging. Despite this, polar travel can be a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. This specialized course is designed to provide participants with the skills and confidence to plan and complete extended expeditions or field work in extreme polar regions. This program is suitable for all skill levels, including novice skiers or individuals who have little or no experience in extreme cold weather. This course will provide you with the essential skills to plan, prepare for and achieve your own polar adventure goals.

This course blends in-class theoretical sessions with outside practical exercises. We start with basic, foundational concepts relating to the planning and preparation that is required to begin a polar expedition – such as the basics of nutrition, clothing systems, shelter and navigation. At the end of the program participants will have the knowledge and experience to become more self-reliant in the Arctic for extended periods of time. Each day participants will be required to reflect upon what they have learned and to critically think through increasingly more challenging exercises. The course will conclude with a 3-day (2-night) group expedition, where participants will be required to work together to complete a mini-expedition on Lake Winnipeg. The instructor will be present to provide guidance, when necessary, but the expectation is that the group will formulate and execute a travel plan without assistance. This is truly a challenging and exciting opportunity to reflect upon all of the skills and knowledge attained in the previous 6-days.


Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

With a population of just under 800,000, Winnipeg is the 7th largest city in Canada and the largest metropolitan area in the province of Manitoba. In Winter the climate is frigid and makes for a perfect location to train. The typical air temperature in February hovers around -20oC, with windchill further lowering this to between -30°C and -40°C for most of the month of February. The physical geography of Lake Winnipeg is ideal for this program as it provides a sprawling frozen environment, effectively simulating the conditions found on the sea ice in higher latitudes. Participants will experience a variety of ice and environmental conditions typically encountered in the Arctic – such as Sastrugi, pressure ridges, extreme wind chills and whiteouts. Our training basecamp is just a 1-hour drive North from Winnipeg International Airport. For more information regarding the City of Winnipeg click here.

Trip Details



Difficulty rating: 2

As this program is physically demanding, participants should have a high degree of physical fitness and be able to pull a sled weighing up to 100lbs (45kg) for up to 8hrs a day. We’ve designed this as an expeditionary style adventure, therefore all clients will be required to share the load of group equipment, such as fuel, stoves and common cooking gear. One of the requirements of this course is that clients sleep outside for the duration of the program. This will allow for perfecting of sleeping systems and other day-to-day routine requirements. AWE will provide a heated group shelter for theoretical sessions as well as a kitchen tent. Participants will rotate kitchen responsibilities. 


February 22 – March 1, 2021

8 days

Ratio client to guide

4:1 minimum; 8:1 maximum


$4950 CAD + GST (12%)

50% deposit due on registration. Balance due 60 days prior to start.

Program topics/curriculum

Expedition planning


Clothing systems

  • Moisture management

Packing the pulka (sledge)

Navigation and route planning

  • Compass and GPS use

Shelter and sleeping systems

  • Tents
    • Choosing a campsite and setting up a tent in severe weather
    • Tending to your shelter

Cold weather injuries and wilderness medicine in extreme cold environments

Risk assessment

Rescue (self-rescue and subject/partner rescue)

Stoves and fuel

Communication methods

  • Satellite comms (inReach, Iridium)

Technology and extreme cold

  • Solar, batteries, comms, GPS, etc.

Camp cooking

Predator defense

  • Polar bear and wildlife defense strategies

Expedition psychology

Solo expeditions 

What AWE provides

Expedition quality food

  • Breakfast, lunch & dinner during course. Dinner in Winnipeg (last day)
  • Trail snacks and hot drinks

Professional guide/instructor

Group equipment

  • Satellite phone, inReach®, expedition quality tents, fuel, MSR stoves, camp kitchen, medical kit, repair kit, etc.
  • Return transfer to Lake Winnipeg

What’s not included:

Gratuity (recommended)

Clients are responsible for: 

  • Return airfare to Winnipeg (see “Getting to Winnipeg” below)
  • Meals in Winnipeg (excluding final farewell dinner)
  • Personal camping items (winter sleeping bag*, camp mattress*, personal gear/clothing, medications/toiletries)
  • Backcountry skis, bindings and boots*
  • Medical and evacuation insurance (mandatory). Proof of insurance will be requested prior to trip start.
  • Trip cancelation insurance (recommended) for issues outside of our control (bad weather, etc.)

*AWE can assist with rentals if required. Please advise upon registration your requirements. A detailed client prospectus, including gear list will be provided upon registration.

Abbreviated schedule:

Sunday, February 21 Guests arrive in Winnipeg. Group meeting 1900hrs
Monday, February 22 Early morning transfer to training venue. Begin program.
Feb. 23 – 26 Theory and practical sessions
Feb. 27 – March 1 Mini expedition
March 1 Transfer back to Winnipeg in afternoon. Farewell dinner

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