How it Began:
In October of 2014, Brian Rice and David Delafield sat down in an urban coffee shop in Edmonton, Alberta and reminisced about some previous times spent out in the bush with friends. For several years their summers had ended around a campfire during the annual Ratroot Rendezvous hosted by Karamat Wilderness Ways. But through the winter the Alberta community of instructors and practitioners of Bushcraft rarely gathered together. From this conversation the idea was born to create a gathering to bring people together to celebrate the winter season
A cabin in Cooking Lake Provincial Park was booked, and over the New Years weekend of 2015 a small group of wilderness living skills instructors snowshoed 5 kilometres through the forest to share some skills and enjoy some winter comraderie. Brian was the first to arrive and spent the first night staring at the walls and wondering where his so-called friends were.......
By the second evening the numbers had grown, Dale & Colleen Kiselyk and Kelly Harlton had joined. Then out of the moonlit night and temperatures of -32C Karina, David Delafield and Jay Seely emerged, covered in a healthy frost from pulling sleds through the darkness. Sometime after midnight, when meals had been eaten and faces warmed, our final founding member, Shilo Bruce, made the solo trek following the tracks in the snow left by the others.
Word traveled, more friends were invited and Frostbite! 2016 was again held in Cooking Lake Provincial Park with expanded numbers. Just under 20 people made the snowshoe trek to participate in an event that was slowly becoming more structured. The 2nd Frostbite featured workshops on traditional trapping techniques, tracking and nature awareness, stargazing, natural history interpretation and navigation.
Frostbite! 2017 required some logistical changes. More people were invited, a website was created and 14 instructors committed to providing 1 or more courses during the weekend. Foothills Camp & Retreat Centre near Bowden agreed to take a chance on the event, and to our surprise, people came. The 3rd Frostbite! brought together 108 instructors and students of bushcraft, survival and traditional wilderness living skills for 48 hours of seminars, workshops, stories and memory creation.
From a half-baked idea in a coffee shop, Frostbite! has emerged as one of the largest gatherings of winter outdoor skills students and instructors in Canada. This has only been possible with the incredible support from the community of Instructors that have willingly shared their time, skills and knowledge. And it has only grown to this size with the support of people that choose to celebrate winter and all its possibilities.
So mark your schedules for the first weekend in January. Frostbite! is here to stay and we hope you will you join us next near.