Fire and Ice : Femundsmarka

This wilderness course is all about winter survival, or better: wilderness living in Nordic winter conditions. We live in a cold camp under the open sky and in snow caves or igloos, which we dig or build by ourselves. In the Nordic Winter Wilderness Camp we learn to poke the ‘inner fire’ and to ally ourselves with the cold.

The course takes place in ‘Femundsmarka’, a region which the Norwegians themselves regard as the embodiment of wilderness. Situated between one of the country’s largest lakes and the borderline mountains to Sweden, the region is uninhabited. Just the Scandinavian Natives, the Sami people, herd their reindeer flocks in the area. Enchanted pine and birch forests stretch along the foot of the barren, yet sublime massif. Here we find ideal circumstances to learn and test Nordic winter wilderness living skills.

Nordic Winter Wilderness Camp (picture) / Winter Wildnis Camp (Bild)

Cold Camp

We build a cold camp in the extensive forests, where we spend two nights under the open sky. We learn to take advantage of the given conditions, and to determine a sheltered campsite. We learn to make simple shelters from snow. We also learn to make ‘floating’ fires on top of the snow and to build a fixed fireplace as centre and hearth of our camp.

Nordic Winter Wilderness Camp: Digging a Snow Cave (picture) / Winter Wildnis Camp: eine Schneehöhle graben (Bild)

Snow Cave and Igloo

The vast snow-covered mountain slopes are the right terrain for snow caves and igloos. Already during our stay in the cold camp we find out a suitable place up there, check the snow conditions, and dig or build our new lodging in a massive snowdrift. For two other nights we slide under the protecting and warming blanket of snow which covers the barren mountain tundra. Here, where there is no way to light a log fire, we melt snow ‘on a low flame’ and learn to take special care of the precious goods warmth and water.

Nordic Winter Wilderness Camp: Wilderness Living in an Igloo (picture) / Winter Wildnis Camp: Wildnisleben im Iglu (Bild)

Out in the Winter Wilderness

At the beginning of the course we get an introduction to skiing on traditional wooden skis. This way we can move freely in the snowy wilderness, as the Scandinavians do since thousands of years. We learn how to leave our tracks prudently between the hills, so that we glide smoothly in them. We also learn natural navigation, using landmarks and other natural signs for our orientation. Keenly observing wind and weather, the altering snow conditions and the landscape’s topography, we learn to train our attention and awareness, and to make these things become part of our consciousness.

Nordic Winter Wilderness Camp: Winter Survival Activity on Wooden Skis (picture) / Winter Wildnis Camp: Wintersurvival auf traditionellen Holzski (Bild)

Winter Survival – Nordic Winter Wilderness Living

The cold is a strict master. It is potentially life-threatening, and yet people live with it quite naturally since primeval times. In the Nordic Winter Wilderness Camp we learn to detect the dangers lurking in cold, snow, ice and fog: frost bites, hypothermia, snowblindness, avalances, lake- and river ice, and white out. And we learn to meet these dangers with calm; to protect ourselves from them; to avoid the traps set up out there; to poke our ‘inner fire’ and to save the glowing embers of our lives.

Nordic Winter Wilderness Camp: Campfire Floating on the Snow (picture) / Winter Wildnis Camp: Lagerfeuer auf dem Schnee (Bild)


The eleven-day Winter Wilderness Course starts in the afternoon of the first day in Røros, a historic copper-mining town, which can be easily reached by train from Oslo or Trondheim. From there a taxi brings us to a lodge on the verge of Femundsmarka. Here we spend the first two nights, and here we get aquainted to skiing on traditional wooden skis and the nordic winter landscape. The next day, we take our skis and move on into the remote Femundsmarka. In an isolated summer farm house we find a night’s lodging. Then we install ourselves in a cold camp for two nights in the forests under the open sky. During this period we build snow caves and igloos higher up in the mountains, where we move in afterwards for two other nights. The summer farm house will be available for us continuously as a retreat, in case we can’t stay in cold camp, igloo or snow cave. At the end we return to the summer farm house and finally to the lodge where we spent the first nights. The Nordic Winter Wilderness Camp ends with a communal transfer back to Røros in the morning of the last day. Start and end correspond with the trains from/to Oslo.


Visit of Røros, the historic mining town and world heritage site. Feel free to ask me for recommendations about attractions and accomodations in Røros.

Nordic Winter Wilderness Camp: Traditional Wooden Skis (picture) / Winter Wildnis Camp: Traditionelle Holzski (Bild)

Topics and Methods

  • Winter Wilderness Living Skills

    • Use of traditional wooden skis
    • Cold Camp
    • Simple shelters made from snow
    • Snow cave / igloo
    • Firemaking in the snow
    • Obtaining water
    • Handling the dangers of winter
  • Nature Connection

    • Natural navigation
    • Giving Thanks
    • Coyote Teaching
    • Poking the ‘inner fire’

    Community Culture

    • Regular talking circles
    • Connective course design and leadership style (8shields model)
  • This is included:

    • Group with min. 4 / max. 12 participants
    • Experienced course leader: Thoralf Rumswinkel
    • Introduction to skiing on traditional wooden skis
    • Program as described above
    • Taxi transfers from/to railway station
    • 3 nights in a lodge (electricity, shared hot showers)
    • 3 nights in a summer farm house (no elecricity, no running water. The house is at our disposition during the planned outdoor stay, too.)
    • 2 nights in a cold camp
    • 2 nights in snow cave or igloo
    • Food for full board (to be prepared by the group)
    • Set of wooden skis with Kandahar-binding, poles, grip wax (Participants may bring their own skis.)
    • Group equipment for cold camp and snow cave / igloo
    • First aid and emergency kits
    • Topographic maps


    Bivouac equipment package
    You can book a bivouac equipment package (underlay mat, sleeping pad, additional sleeping bag), if you don’t want to bring it on your own. The package will be stored at the farm house before the camp starts, so you won’t need to carry it on the skiing legs there and back.

    • Additional costs: 35,- € / 350,- nok
  • Course Profile

    The Nordic Winter Wilderness Camp is suited to adults, youth from app. 16 years onwards may join after prior agreement.
    The regional normal temperatures in mid-March are app. -6°C, temperatures down to -30°C or up to +5°C may occur. The prolonged stay in the cold requires:

    • A good physical condition and endurance.
    • The willingness to get involved in unusual circumstances and to act according to them.
    • The ability to express one’s own needs, to take care of them and those of others.
    • Previous experience in skiing is recommended, but not requested for people with an athletic lifestyle.

    Two skiing-legs at the beginning and the end of the course are backpacking tours (each app. 12 km, +/- 100 Hm).
    Also otherwise we move a lot on skis in unprepared, gentle terrain, yet we focus on know-how and practice of winter wilderness living skills.
    The course aims to pass on the skills necessery for independent wilderness stays in nordic winter conditions.
    The course is bilingual (English-German), we will translate in both directions whenever neccessary.
    The program can be subject to changes.


    • 6.mar – 10.mar 2020
      WINTER SURVIVAL CAMP Compact (private group)
    • Further dates on request

    Price (11-days program)

    • 1.145,- € / 10.750,- nok

    Book now!

Nordic Winter Wilderness Camp: Tracking on Traditional Wooden Skis (picture) / Winter Wildnis Camp: Spurenlesen auf traditionellen Holzski (Bild)

See all fixed dates here:

Read more about the general program:

Do you have any questions? Please take contact: