How I learned to make and sleep in a Swedish snowhole – at minus 30C

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Kevin Rushby saw a way to fulfil his childhood dream with an adventure company in Sweden – but could he ski into the snowy wilderness on a twisted ankle?

One British childhood winter experience remains the same, despite all the changes of the past century. It’s the one where you gaze out of the window, mesmerised by the falling snow, and start fantasising about building an igloo or a snow cave, then sleeping in it overnight. A few fortunate kids get to follow that up, but for most the fantasy is quickly quashed. The blizzard stops, the snow melts, you lob some slush at your mates then go inside to watch Ski Sunday.

Even on ski trips later in life, I discovered, childish and playful ambitions don’t get much of a look-in. It was only when I was on a summer kayak expedition in Sweden’s Saint Anna archipelago and chatted to local chef and guide Helena Hjort that I discovered other people have similar fantasies. “We started our business because we wanted to make trips that are like going away with a gang of friends,” says Helena, who runs Do the North with her old schoolmate Thomas Ohlander. “We kayak to islands where we camp – that’s our summer fun. But a night in a homemade snow cave is on the list.”

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