Isolation is the main fear for Queenstowner Blair Whitaker as he prepares to live in a snow cave.
The 33-year-old plans to spend 30 nights alone on The Remarkables ski field to raise money for an avalanche dogs charity.
And while he expects to handle the relative cold and discomfort, the long hours of eerie silence once the skiers depart will be tough – especially as Saturday will be his first overnight stay in a snow cave.
“The isolation at night I’ll struggle with as the weeks go by,” Whitaker says.
“During the day it’ll be sweet. I can talk to people on the mountain about the charity, keep my spirits up, keep cranking.
“But it’s a long time between 5pm and 9am to be sitting around on your own. My friends have promised to bring me a Fergburger now and then.”
Whitaker, an NZONE parachute packer, hopes to raise $20,000 for charity Aspiring Avalanche Dogs.
It provides the Southern Lakes region with a primary response avalanche search dog service.
Amateur mountaineer Whitaker, originally from Waikato, chose the charity after 15 years of back-country snowboarding.
The father-of-one will skydive on to The Remarkables on Saturday morning. Then he’ll spend a day building his cave to the east of the car park and filling it with sponsored kit – a sleeping bag, food, clothes, gas cooker, solar chargers
and a portable loo for outside.
“Staying dry is a worry,” he says.
“Warmth isn’t a big deal in a snow cave – when you jump in you can feel the difference without the wind chill.
“But if I get wet, I’ll feel the cold.”
Follow Whitaker’s progress at www.facebook.com/TheSnow CaveProject webpage.