Valerjan Romanovski, and the study of surviving the outdoors in the winter
Valerjan Romanovski, a Polish scientist spent 50 days in Lapland, Finland living outdoors in the middle of winter. He camped by a frozen river, took cold baths every day in Kirami’s retailer Vinbergs cold tub and only ate cold food. All in the name of science: Valerjan’s mission is to study how the human body handles extremely cold conditions for a longer period of time.
Valerjan spent 50 days near Rovaniemi, Lapland, from the 7th of December 2020 until the 25th of January 2021. He chose the Finnish Lapland as his destination for several reasons.
“I had been thinking a lot about my destination. I have been to Siberia several times, so I thought that Lapland would be a good location this time. The Finnish-Polish Association of Rovaniemi helped me to come to Finland and gain the permission to settle by the river, where I was able to carry out my project. I knew I could also count on them in case I had any needs or emergencies,” Valerjan explains.
Valerjan’s days by the frozen river Ounasjoki consisted of keeping warm without a heated indoor space. For the extremely cold days when the temperature sank even to -36 degrees C, he built an igloo.
“One important thing was constant movement: I warmed myself with physical effort or otherwise I could have frozen. If there wasn’t enough snow, I rode a bike or walked about 20 km a day. In January, when there was a lot of snow, I was able also to do cross-country skiing.”
Valerjan took cold baths every day to test and reinforce his body.
“I either bathed in a cold tub, sponsored by Kirami’s Polish reseller Vingberg, or in a hole in the ice on the frozen river. Once a week, I took a warm bath in a Kirami hot tub to warm myself.”
Challenges along the way
Surprisingly for most of us, Valerjan’s biggest challenge wasn’t the freezing temperature, but the long polar night, or “kaamos”. In the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon for two winter months.
“My biggest challenge were the dark days ¬– I am not accustomed to that. Maybe it was the reason why I chose Lapland for my destination, to make this challenge even harder for me,” Valerjan laughs.
Another difficulty that Valerjan faced was the ability to dry his clothes: he often had to wear frozen shoes and clothes that dried on him.
“During the most difficult moments I was trying to focus only on that exact moment and day. It helped me to get through the challenging times. “
After the adventure
Valerjan’s aim was to examine how his body would react after being cold 24/7. To study this further, he works together with Polish universities, mostly with the Academy of Physical Education in Krakow and the Krakow Technological University.
“The analysis of the blood allows to verify the changes more precisely. After receiving the first initial blood results from my doctor, it can be said that cold had a positive impact on my body and no alarming changes have been noticed. The full blood results will be published in a scientific publication later.”
After each project, Valerjan gains more experience and knowledge, and shares them with people who want to use cold in a safe way. Together with a team of scientists from the Academy of Physical Education in Krakow, he is planning to publish material about the safe and conscious use of cold.
“The project helped me to confirm the assumptions that it is possible to live outside in the freezing winter without any source of heat and eat only frozen food. Baths in the freezing water helped me to ensure good mental health – after polar baths I felt calm and relaxed. By using a hot tub with warm water once a week I was able to analyze what impact the warm water had in me after being in the cold for so long. Warm bath also helped me to relax and reduce the stress from being constantly cold.”
See a video of Valerjan’s experiment In Finnish Lapland
Valerian Romanovsky told about his trip on Polish Dzień Dobry TVN.