Traveling to the Ice Hotel with Diabetes

Ann Bartlett Health Guide
  • With the Winter Olympic games underway, winter sports are on everyone’s minds. For the diabetes community, everyone is cheering for Kris Freeman. Freeman is representing the USA in the cross-country ski event, looking to do better then he did at the last Olympics. What I love about Kris’s story is that even for an Olympic athlete, diabetes can be an unpredictable partner, but that should not deter us from our dreams.


    Like Kris, I’m an avid fan of winter sports. Although I live in Washington, DC, which doesn’t get a lot of snow, my cross country skis and snowshoes lay in-wait all winter for the moment I can jump in the car and make to a snowy trail, or when we have the unusual snow storm that blankets us with enough snow for snowshoeing.

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    This year, my winter escape was to Quebec, Canada. While most people head south for warmer weather, we headed north for the Winter Carnival and a stay at the Hotel De Glace, which is a hotel made entirely of ice. We were a little bit nervous about surviving more than 24 hours in the sub-freezing temps, but with help from experienced hotel staff, we did more than survive - we thrived in the cold!


    Check out our adventure!


    Cold weather affects people differently. When I’m outside and exercising, my blood sugar tends to drop rather dramatically, but standing in the cold is different. It makes my blood sugar rise. Adrenaline kicks in to help us stay warm, but for those of us with diabetes, it also drives up blood sugar. My long hours in the cold weather saw blood sugars way higher than I would normally. I had to adjust my basal and bolus rates to accommodate for that.


    The biggest risk in cold weather is our technology and insulin. Neither like extreme temperatures of any kind, so internal pockets were a must on this trip and every couple of hours I wandered back inside to check the temps of my devices and insulin. One negative is that technology has moved to plug-in battery charges and, in the cold weather, these things run down quickly. I had brought an extra One Touch mini-meter, which saved me from having to run back in to recharge the battery of the Verio. Since the ice hotel had an overnight guest services area, I simply charged my Dexcom, but if you are not going to have that convenience, rethink which meter you take.




    As for my insulin at the ice hotel, I had the luxury of storing it inside a heated building, but when I was in our room for the night, I slipped it into my sleeping bag to spend the night with me.


    Cold weather is definitely challenging, but this trip was one of the best experiences I’ve had to date, and I learned that if you are dressed right, it is incredibly fun! Would I go back and do it again? In a New York minute!


    More information on our trip to the ice hotel, as well as slideshow, can be found at


Published On: February 19, 2014