OK, here's my cold story, FWIW.
Location: 31 Mile Lake in Quebec, someplace north of Ottawa, many years ago, around January 1.
I drove my old Chevy Blazer in to within a kilometer or so of my folks' cabin, put my pack on, and skied to the cabin. Don't know the temperature.
Started a roaring fire in the woodstove and went out on to the lake to make a hole in the ice so I could get water. The cabin had no power or plumbing. It took several hours to make the hole because the ice was more than three feet thick. I went in every hour or so to put more wood on the fire.
Finally reached water and filled a five-gallon bucket. Went in to make dinner on the woodstove. Left the bucket about four feet from the woodstove and went to bed. Got up several times during the night to put more wood on the fire. It wasn't a very good stove.
Despite my efforts, the bucket had a skin of ice on it by the next morning. Four feet from the stove. The hole in the lake had six inches of ice on it.
I did some cross-country skiing around the cabin for several days, skied out to an island in the lake that was privately owned and visited with the people there. They had a big wood-fired furnace, a generator and ... a two-way VHF radio. They had this to communicate with the pilot of the airplane sitting on the ice outside their cabin. It was on the side of the island opposite the shore, so I hadn't seen it while approaching the island.
The time came to leave. I skied out to my truck, stuck the key in the ignition, and CLICK, CLICK. The battery had enough juice for the starter solenoid, but not even close to enough juice to turn it over. This was a truck that had started easily (well, as easily as anything started back then) at -20F two weeks before down in Vermont.
Well, I figured that the people with the airplane also had the equipment necessary to get it started, so I put my skis on and went back out to the island to do a little begging. Fortunately, they were nice people. They had a giant, warm, fully charged marine battery, a spray can of ether, and a snowmobile with a trailer to haul it all ashore.
So we went back to the truck, hooked up the battery, and my new friend sprayed the ether while I stood on the clutch and cranked. It took a while, but it started. On three or four or five cylinders or something. No oil pressure. Also, I tried to let the clutch up while still in neutral. Bad idea. Fortunately, I didn''t stall it. Eventually the oil pressure started to come up, and the remaining cylinders decided to participate.
Once the old 350 was running more or less the way GM intended, I started to let the clutch up again, still in neutral. My leg was getting tired. It took a heavy foot on the gas and several attempts, but soon I had both halves of the clutch turning, along with the transmission input shaft. Amazingly, nothing had actually broken.
My rescuer headed back home and left me to get the truck actually moving. This was also a slow process, because the grease throughout the drive train was frozen solid. Shifting was slow and required a lot of effort until the transmission started to warm up.
Headed back south toward Ottawa, I turned on the radio (AM only, of course). The temperature in Ottawa was -50F. Not the wind chill. The actual temperature. No wonder the truck didn't want to start.
Goes to show, I suppose, that you can cross-country ski (and chop holes in ice) in colder weather than you can downhill ski. I had a beard, but no face mask. My nose was fine.
Edited by jhcooley - 12/6/13 at 5:38pm