Can You Tie Your Shoelaces in -35° Cold?

Learning valuable skills and subskills in surviving in the cold from Romi Garduce

Romi Garduce, Filipino high altitude mountaineer and environmentalist, has traveled across and climbed all the highest mountains in all seven continents, in extreme cold conditions. Romi joined Louie Sangalang in one of his training sessions in the -30° Blast Freezer at the FWD North Pole Marathon Training Facility to help him simulate some very mundane yet very challenging tasks he needs to learn to accomplish properly in the extreme Arctic cold—changing clothes and tying shoelaces.  

“This is my first time to be inside a blast freezer. Back in the day, when I was training for Alpine mountaineering, we didn’t have this facility. We go straight to battle the cold,” Romi says. “It’s great that Louie gets to experience the cold. It’s difficult to just to imagine extreme conditions. Now, he can really begin to train his mind and body to adjust to the cold, knows what to expect, how to move, and how to use his gear properly. These things are very important.”

One of the very interesting simulations that Romi did with Louie in the freezer is tying shoelaces. 

“There are everyday tasks that are normally so mundane but very challenging in extreme cold. I call these sub skills. In the freezer, I asked Louie to tie his own shoelaces. After that exercise, he found out that his gloves were loose. His dexterity with the gloves was inefficient. He couldn’t even tie his own shoelaces. As simple as that,” he explains. “In extreme cold, he needs to wear three layers of gloves, and the base layer should be the right fit so your grip, the minute movements of your fingers are retained.”