Survival Training

Course Aim

Learn skills which will assist you become confident and proficient at working in cold temperatures allowing you to maximise your potential in the MYAU or similar events and expeditions.

Is it for me?

Many athletes do not finish the MYAU, not due to their physical ability, but by not being properly prepared for competing in severe cold temperatures for multiple days. By learning how to cope, work and become acclimatised before the MYAU begins we hope that your hard work developing your fitness will be rewarded by achieving your aims in the MYAU.


This course will be run with a maximum of ten people and would be geared towards those entering or intending to enter the MYAU. However, it is also open to anybody doing other winter ultra events or expeditions as the skills of course are not just required for the MYAU.

Cyclists are welcome as many of the learning outcomes taught will be required in the race. The course will be based on foot and ski travel. If you are a cyclist and require further information please contact Stewart directly.

It will be an opportunity to become familiar with the equipment to be carried and used on the MYAU whilst acclimatising. The main topics to be covered in the four days will be:

  • Equipment, clothing, footwear and outerwear – Layering for “dry cold”, finding out what works for you in the Yukon, how much to carry and find out what you don’t need
  • Shelter, bivvy, tent or tarp and a chance to become familiar with, and adapt, your own shelter for maximum warmth • Nutrition – Effects of cold on calorific intake, hydration, how to plan your food
  • Cold weather first aid and hygiene – Recognising cold injuries, prevention of immersion foot, frostbite and hypothermia, what to include in a first aid kit
  • Sled/pulk and harness set up – Become acquainted with your pulk and harness, correct fitting of harness and alternative set ups
  • Operating in extreme temperatures -General awareness of cold conditions, how they affect your body, tips on reducing cold effects, melting snow
  • Stoves and cooking – Introduction to the Primus stove, other stoves, lighting and maintenance, use of stove boards
  • Emergency shelter construction and fire lighting – Simple emergency shelters, simple fire starting techniques

This will be a four day course and will include a full night out on part of the trail that will be used in the actual MYAU. Participants will be given maximum time outdoors during the course to become acclimatised and become familiar with the equipment they will use on the MYAU. Evening lectures and discussions can include motivation and what can go wrong. The course is flexible and will cater for the demands of the participants where possible. It is not designed to be physically over demanding. It is not a boot camp!

Picture: Braeburn Lake area – copyright: Joanne Stirling


This will be at Braeburn Lake and which is a semi wilderness setting along the trail used in the MYAU. Accommodation will either be in traditional log cabins or heated wall tents shared by four. Camp life will not be luxurious with the maximum amount of time spent outside as possible.

Picture: Cabins Lake Braeburn – copyright: Joanne Stirling

How much does it cost?

Cost for the 4-day survival training is GBP 650.00 plus 5% GST.

What’s included?

  • Transfers from Whitehorse and return
  • Accommodation at Braeburn Lake in either traditional wood cabins or walled tents
  • All meals during the course (trail snacks will be provided but you may wish to bring your personal preference)
  • Access to equipment hired for the race

How do I book?

If you have any question or you want to book the training please contact Stewart at

Picture: Cabin interior – copyright: Joanne Stirling

About Stewart

Stewart is a former Police Officer with 30 years experience, now retired he has been working in the outdoor adventure world since 2012. Using his Mountain Leader (S) qualification and his Winter Mountain Leader training he has developed a successful career as a guide and wilderness specialist. Holding further qualifications in Bushcraft from the Institute of Outside Learning and Polar Survival Training from Norway. Over the last few years he has gained experience operating in extreme cold temperatures, jungles and at altitude (Kilimanjaro). As a former British Army Reserves Officer he also has experience of training, communications and team building combined with a high level of inter-personal and communication skills, easily relating to groups and individuals of all ages and backgrounds. Stewart is no stranger to long distance events having completed a number of ultra marathons, including 100 mile distance on skis in the MYAU and has trekked for 48 days to cross the Pyrenees mountain chain from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.

During his work in the adventure challenge business he has led expeditions for students to the Jungles of Borneo and Laos, as well as the peaks of Nepal. He has guided on and event managed mass participation walking and cycling events with up to 650 participants; leading cyclists from London to Paris and across the Alps from Milan to Monaco. Also as part of this work he has delivered training to those wishing to take part in challenge events and expeditions throughout the world.

In 2016 he managed the remote checkpoint at Dog Grave Lake in the MYAU, very successfully dealing with the logistics, staffing and running of the checkpoint. He has also been involved in other activities in the backcountry of the Yukon during the winter; assisting in breaking trail to remote locations and setting up camps in the bush.

These experiences have given him a unique opportunity to view athletes continually pushing themselves and seeing what works, and also the mistakes that can be made. As a result of consultation with many of the athletes in previous years of the MYAU and Robert Polhammer the idea of setting up a “Race Camp” has been born. The purpose of this is to ensure that future athletes can maximise the efforts put into physical training in the race itself and complete it successfully and safely.

Having trained with Stu in a variety of terrains, including below -30 on the Hardangavidda, it was an easy decision to come to him, before I ran the Ice Ultra in Sweden in 2016, to get some advice on surviving in harsh Arctic environments when pushing to your limits. He’s quite a nice chap too.

Robbie Britton Team GB member 24 Hour World Running Championships 2015, 2016 Ice Ultra Winner