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  1. ITV Report

Former Cumbria students conquer the Arctic

Rhiannon Pritchard and Arran Laird have taken on an advanced polar training course Photo: University of Cumbria

Two graduates of the University of Cumbria have embarked on a journey involving sub-zero temperatures and learning about polar bears.

Rhiannon Pritchard and Arran Laird, who met while studying Outdoor Leadership at the University of Cumbria in 2015, are now taking up an advanced polar training course.

The course, which began in August last year, is based in Svalbard, between mainland Norway and the North Pole.

It involves doing tough activities in subzero temperatures.

The course includes camping next to a glacier Credit: University of Cumbria

Some of the activities include:

  • A nine-day glacier course at Nordenskiöldbreen
  • Camping next to a glacier to practice safe travel techniques
  • Crevasse rescue
  • Studying glacier formation
  • Helicopter rescue teamwork

We undertook a week long field leadership course to deal with stressful situations and working under extreme pressure, a week long first aid course involving large outdoor scenarios to test our skills in the harsh environment

– Arran Laird

Only 30 students are taken accepted onto the course, a majority of which are usually Norwegian.

Rhiannon and Arran say it was possible due to their experience at the University of Cumbria.

On completing our BA with Cumbria we were accepted onto the course in Svalbard. This was possible due to our background as expedition leaders as well as education in outdoor leadership and the relevant Arctic experience that Cumbria enabled us to gain.

– Arran Laird

The group also learn about the need for polar bear protection, group management and how to manage a camp in some of the world’s most demanding environments.