The Artisan Travel Blog

Time to "Man Up" (Part 2)

Continued from TIME TO MAN-UP (PART 1)

Option 1:  Go directly from the sauna into an icy plunge pool

It feels like being overcome by a panic attack

Believe it or not, this is the easy option!

Ali Sauna (10)

From the comfort of a warm sauna........
(Image: Visit Finland)


Rush from the warmth of the sauna and submerse your body in the icy waters of a purpose built plunge pool – essentially, a big hole in the ice! The secret is to just go for it, hesitation can often result in failure and a dash back to the sauna's toasty sanctuary.

Ali Sauna (3)

Pausing to think about if often results in a hasty retreat..........
(Image: Visit Finland)


The first time you try this is so shocking that it feels like being overcome by a panic attack. The cold water causes the chest to contract and you find yourself frantically gasping for air. The sensation of going from almost uncomfortably warm to teeth-chatteringly cold is one that only the very brave endure for more than a few seconds on their first attempt.

Ali Sauna (4)

Is she smiling or grimacing?
Image: Visit Finland


What I have noticed however, is that after a few minutes of contemplation back in the sauna, there are very few people (including myself) who don't feel exceptionally invigorated and return for a second and a third icy plunge. Indeed, many hardened ice pool veterans in Finland will spend a considerable length of time "enjoying" the bitterly cold waters.

Ali Sauna (7)

They breed them tough in Finland!
Image: Visit Finland


However, this is nothing compared to the second cool down option.

The second option involves running from the sauna and then rolling in snow. If that sounds a tad brisk then consider that snow holds the temperature of the air so, unlike water, it can descend far beyond freezing point. There are many occasions in Northern Finland when the mercury, and the air temperature, drops below -25°C. Such temperatures are very manageable when wearing the correct clothing but an entirely different proposition when you’re emerging from a sauna in just your swimming costume.

 Ali Sauna2

Lappish style snow shower.......
(Image: Visit Finland)


The sensation of going from 75C to -25C is certainly an enlivening one

The sensation of going from +75°C to -25°C is certainly an enlivening one and I am under no illusion that it sounds anything other than absolutely horrific. Indeed, that moment of rolling in the snow is beyond dreadful and its only the hardiest of souls who successfully fight the instinct to jump straight back up and race back to the comfort of the sauna. However, back indoors with a large towel wrapped around you it quickly begins to make sense. Your whole body tingles, you experience a deep sense of warmth and wellbeing (anybody who remembers the Ready Brek glow will understand) coupled with significantly heightened mental awareness.

Of course, it's all very well my writing about the sauna/snow roll experience but, if you've been so good as to read this far you may well be thinking,

"Has he done it himself?"

I'm pleased to tell you that the answer is yes, I have tried both experiences and, on balance, I will very likely do both again if only to get better proof than that provided in the picture below that was taken by my 7 year old son. We think he was too busy laughing uproariously to hold the camera steady. The temperature that evening was -12C and both my wife and I can just be seen jumping to our feet and heading back to the sauna with the sort of haste that might cause even the likes of Usain Bolt considerable consternation.

Ali Sauna (5)

Sprinting back to the sauna after our snow roll
Image: An hysterical Archie McLean (age 7)


It makes Alexander Armstrong's namby-pamby Norwegian exploits seem like a warm summer dip

Yes, sauna to snow is a remarkable experience and one that I would recommend to absolutely anybody (if only the once), but I can't help but ask myself who on earth first thought that going from sauna to snow is a good idea? Frankly, it makes Alexander Armstrong’s namby-pamby Norwegian exploits seem like a warm summer dip.

I’m not entirely sure why Land of the Midnight Sun's itinerary didn’t include Finland because the wintery fells, frozen lakes and snow laden forests combine to create Christmas card landscapes that are easily as beautiful as anywhere else in the Arctic. Perhaps somebody was put off by the extremes of going directly from a roasting and stuffy sauna to bitingly cold snow. If that is the case then perhaps ITV’s programming commissioners might like to consider a second series.

Personally, I would call it

”Alexander Armstrong Visits Finland and Learns to “Man Up”"


Are you hardy enough? Fancy taking the hot/cold, plunge/roll test? Here's a place where your chilly winter dreams can come true!

Jeris Winter Cottage Adventure

Read 3966 times Last modified on Monday, 26 March 2018

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