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You Want Cold? This Is Cold

NEAR the North Pole, photographer Melanie Stetson Freeman and staff writer Kurt Shillinger stayed two nights and three days in a frozen white world where the sun never sets in the summertime. The temperature was a minus 35 degrees F.

``We train to survive in these conditions,'' says Lt. Col. Manuel Pereira of the 109th Air National Guard unit from Scotia, N.Y., ``but hope we won't have to do the real thing.''

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Known as ``Cool School,'' the training is for members of the 109th, a unit that flies missions to the North and South pole. Following are excerpts from the story that ran in the Monitor on May 18:

A crowded parachute snow house quickly fills with a strange orange-tinted fog from too much breathing as its builders gather inside to taste the first fruits of their survival efforts. The temperature inside rises to 0 degrees F. Warmth is relative.

``I didn't sleep all night,'' says Capt. Karen Love, ``I kept rubbing my feet together all night but couldn't get warm.'' She had attempted to sleep in an individual shelter called a fighter trench. The trenches were so shallow that breath took form as snow on the ceiling and fell back on the person trying to sleep in it. Every student wears a three-pint water pouch around his neck and between layers of clothing. The student fills the pouch with snow and uses body warmth to melt it (for drinking).

This presents two problems: An uncomfortable lump of snow continually bounces one clothing layer off the chest. And leakage in subzero temperatures is not desirable.

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