Tolerance to the Cold.

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Tolerance to the Cold.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Sun 24 Sep, 2017 11:44 am

I have just finished reading 'Home of the Blizzard ', the story of Douglas Mawson and his expedition to Anatartica. Sitting in my nice cosy lounge room with the fire burning I still had a chill running through my bones as I read of the conditions Mawson and his men had to endure. It sounds as if Douglas Mawson had some super natural ability to handle extreme cold and a few of his expedition members where quoted in the book commenting on his ability to continue on seemingly unperterbed when all around him were struggling in icy gales and way below freezing temperatures.
Mawsons physical description doesn't seem to vary greatly from other members of his team so what was it that enabled him to deal with temps that others were unable to tolerate ? How much of dealing with the cold is mental and how much relates to a persons physical attributes ?

I'll be sitting by my nice warm fire waiting to here what you think ......... :oops: :oops: :oops:
"What went ye out into the wilderness to see?
A reed shaken in the wind"?
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Re: Tolerance to the Cold.

Postby Moondog55 » Sun 24 Sep, 2017 6:14 pm

Adaptation and exposure help but I suspect he had excellent blood flow and circulation to his extremities and a highly adapted "Hunters Reflex" and also possibly a really good digestion that allowed him to utilise more of the food he ate.
I'm not aware tho of any medical studies in which he participated that may shed any light on that subject
Most probably tho it was a mental adaptation more than a physical one
Ve are too soon old und too late schmart
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Re: Tolerance to the Cold.

Postby Gadgetgeek » Sun 01 Oct, 2017 5:03 pm

There are some people who are just able to "turn the furnace" up as it were. Both mentally not feeling the cold as much, and to a certain degree muscles can work better when cooled (again, to a point) There is a cognitive aspect, as with experience you can regulate your energy expenditure to keep you right in the sweet spot of not wasting energy. And there are a hundred little mistakes that can take you out, and if you were able to avoid them, you'll last longer than the other guys. Simple things like smoking or allowing one body part to warm up more than the others (your face by the fire) and that can trip the thermostat and leave you cold. Its also survivorship bias at play, we don't know what really took those other guys out in all cases, so maybe he was just lucky in a hundred small ways.
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Re: Tolerance to the Cold.

Postby taswegian » Sun 01 Oct, 2017 5:50 pm

I haven't an answer, just observations. But not in Antarctic conditions!
as a youngster my hands would at times be extremely cold, blue and without any sense of touch. It could happen anytime including midsummer.
Then on the coldest of days they maybe toasty warm.
Doc told me I had Raynauds disease (phenomena).
Nothing else was cold and until I got into recent years would wear shorts for about 9 months of the year. Sun damage put an end to shorts.
I was told I had good circulation despite my cold hands.

I hate heat and couldn't walk in such, but love those cold bracing winters days where the wind feels straight off the south pole.
Only time I remember 'freezing' was coming off Pillinger once in midwinter, snow to the waist and it was #$% COLD.

I came to the conclusion (for me) there's a lot going on in the body, and cold tolerance, like a lot of things is a subjective topic influenced by many and varied circumstances.

Obviously it goes without saying there are some, from medical problems who suffer acutely.

All that aside, how those people survived in those primitive conditions at the South Pole is a credit to them.
I could also never be tempted to jump in for a dip like they do each season on the winter stopovers nowadays.
Nor could I ever see myself chose to expose myself to shut harsh conditions for such prolonged times.
They were tough nuts for sure.
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Re: Tolerance to the Cold.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Sun 01 Oct, 2017 10:23 pm

It's got me buggered how some people can spend a day in full winter type gear while somebody of similar build and BMI can comfortably wander around in shorts and a thin shirt and not feel any discomfort or cold but some of the things you touched on Gadet obviously hold some of the clues.

Shane Southorn ( Buzzard ) is a legend in the Tasmanian surfing community. Apart from being a naturally talented surfer one of the things that makes him stand out from the crowd is the ridiculously long sessions he can have in the water, often in the middle of winter. I've tried to stay in the water for the same duration as him in the past and haven't even come close before I'm loosing strength in my arms and cant paddle anymore. I've met people in the bushwalking community who seem to fall into the same group ( sounds like you might be one of them Taswegian !).

I love winter walking but those extra long nights in a tent and minus temperatures sure make it a test.
"What went ye out into the wilderness to see?
A reed shaken in the wind"?
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Re: Tolerance to the Cold.

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 02 Oct, 2017 8:02 am

Body fat helps... Skinny folks freeze.
Just move it!
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Re: Tolerance to the Cold.

Postby davidf » Mon 02 Oct, 2017 9:03 am

i am lighter but fatter than 15 years ago. Good body mass seemed to work better than being fat.
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Re: Tolerance to the Cold.

Postby wayno » Mon 02 Oct, 2017 9:25 am

omega 3 fat can help. all the animals in those latitudes have a lot of it. back then you could just go out and kill whatever animal you felt like for dinner and got your dose of omega 3. there is a certain amount of aclimatisation to be had from living in the cold. the endocrine system revs up and burns more energy to maintain body temp... also depends on body fat levels in your body.
once you get below a certain temp, it doesnt make a lot of difference as long as you're insulated, when you get far enough below freezing theres little moisture in the air, the moisture can conduct a lot of heat out of your body... it can feel worse around zero degrees when there can still be a lot of moisture in the air...
from the land of the long white clouds...

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Re: Tolerance to the Cold.

Postby Hallu » Thu 05 Oct, 2017 12:33 am

Yeah I think you need to live in the cold to trigger reaction from your body to rev up as Wayno says. When I go snowshoeing and it's -10°C, while it's 10 to 15° more where I live, my extremeties get cold very fast in the shade (the sun helps a lot). I've never lived in the mountains but I expect your body functions differently, in the same way you get used to the altitude by producing more red blood cells. Now I know some people are prone to altitude sickness and some aren't, without having anything to do with fitness, but I don't know whether that's true or not for how quickly you get used to the cold.
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Re: Tolerance to the Cold.

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 09 Oct, 2017 9:04 am

Acclimatisation works for both the cold and heat. There’s more than enough real life evidences out there.
Just move it!
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Re: Tolerance to the Cold.

Postby jdeks » Tue 10 Oct, 2017 2:03 pm

GPSGuided wrote:Body fat helps... Skinny folks freeze.


Not all of us. I'm pretty lean and people regularly comment on my habit of walking barefoot in the snow around camp. Part canadian maybe?

I usually do my winter hikes in just a shirt and jumper and only throw an overlayer / gloves on if bad weather sets in. 0 deg bags tend to do me fine down to around -5. Motorbike around in canberra winters and victorian rains, never bothered me much.

No idea why. Grew up in QLD and hated the heat. Loved our holidays with family in NSW because it finally got below 15C. Used to annoy my mum by leaving my windows open for the cool fresh air. So possibly something I was born with?

At the end of the day we all need the same core temp to run, but various anatomical variations might leave one person more prone to cold extremities or discomfort than another. I get terrible earache if I go swimming then stand in cold wind, but if I'm dry it's not an issue. My main snowhiking buddy carries the half weight of my entire pack in clothes alone - gets wicked chillblains and cold fingers and ears. But, he's about 14ft tall, so I suspect circulation systems dont scale efficiently, or he's possibly catching the jetstream.

Conditioning helps too. I feel the cold, I just don't ...feel cold?
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Re: Tolerance to the Cold.

Postby GPSGuided » Tue 10 Oct, 2017 2:08 pm

jdeks wrote:Not all of us.

Biological variability, giving us that normal distribution curve. :mrgreen:
Just move it!
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