Quebecer Frederic Dion calls himself a professional adventurer but even by his own standards his next exploit will challenge every bit of his considerable survival skills, physical and mental toughness.
In mid-August, Dion plans to pull off a wilderness survival stunt that requires him to be dropped by helicopter somewhere in the Yukon wilderness blindfolded, hundreds of kilometres from the nearest settlement, with no food, no water, no camping gear, nothing but the contents of a scout belt to survive on.
“In fact, the only gear that I’ll have with me is my scout belt, which is a small inflatable raft that weighs four pounds and a water bottle, a knife, lighters and some little survival gear,” said Dion in a phone interview from his home in Notre-Dame-de-Mont-Carmel, about 20 kilometres north of Trois-Rivieres.
Raising money for charity
The 38-year-old father of two is hoping to use his stunt to raise $5,000 for the Quebec-based charity Opération Enfants Soleil, which helps sick children and their families. Since 2009, Dion has raised $25,000 for the children’s charity.
“My child needed some help from them years ago,” Dion said. “It’s my way to give back.”
Dion, who has received an honourable mention from the General Governor of Canada for the rescue of nine skiers in the Alps in 2014, has been named special ambassador for l’Association des scouts du Canada, and hopes his adventures will also raise the awareness of the scouting movement in Quebec and in Canada.
Dion has several exploits under his belt, including a 4,382-kilometre kite-skiing solo trek to the South Pole in 2015.
Lots of paddling
He’s been training hard to prepare for his next adventure.
“I’m paddling a lot these days,” Dion said, “and mentally it’s all about being able to handle the doubt, being able to accept that you don’t know where you are, and maybe it’s going to be cold, and at some point when you don’t eat for many days, it becomes a lot more challenging psychologically.”
It helps that his wife, Caroline Mailhot, is a psychologist.
“We’re working together to have me trained to be able to handle the loneliness, the stress, the doubt, the fears,” Dion said.
His wife supports him in his endeavours, Dion said.
‘Cold is the killer’
“She knows how I’m training and she knows I won’t take too much risk, so that’s all right for her, she trusts me,” Dion said.
The biggest danger facing him is not the grizzly bears or other predators but the cold, Dion said.
“Cold is the killer in the woods,” Dion said.
Still, he is considering taking with him bear spray, as well as a satellite phone and a GPS tracking and rescue beacon just in case.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Polar Sea – major new Arctic adventure, science, social documentary series, Radio Canada International
Finland: Lapland TV host becomes nature enthusiast, Yle News
Norway: Arctic bird cliff will be Norway’s next contribution to slow TV, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Campaign helps immigrants enjoy Swedish nature, Radio Sweden
United States: Alaska documentary chronicles one family’s remote cabin adventure, Alaska Dispatch