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#146925 - 02/24/11 08:05 PM Best emergency shelter in snow?
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
I just took a locally offered "winter camping" class which turned to be heavily oriented towards "how to build a snow cave".

A good snow cave takes quite a lot of time and energy/calories to build, and can leave a person not only tired but wet. I'm therefore disinclined to build one for normal winter camping --- maybe for a multi-day base camp or if very bad weather was expected.

I'm also disinclined to build one in a "dayhike gone wrong" scenario. Again, a lot of time, energy, and it also requires a bit of skill to get right.

What I'm inclined to build instead (in an emergency situation) is a snow trench or debris hut, depending on amount of snow to work with. IMO, in a true life threatening emergency, the "leave no trace" ethics go out the window and I start stripping live branches off trees, both as ground insulation in the trench, and to provide roof structure for the trench --- branches, covered with ripped open plastic bags or tarp or jacket or whatever, and that in turn covered with a few inches of snow for insulation. light a tea candle for a little warmth. Seems a lot easier and requires less experience than a snow cave.

I'm wondering if folks on this forum that have experience at this have other preferences (or nuances)? On backpacking trips and in the summer I don't carry anything that would help me cut live branches, but for shoulder season and winter day trips I think I'll start carrying a very light (1 - 3 ounce) saw of some sort as part of my emergency gear, just the minimum needed to cut some tree branches if necessary (obviously this can help too in an emergency situation in building a fire when that makes sense).

Thoughts?
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#146935 - 02/24/11 09:08 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
Jimshaw Offline
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Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Brianle
In the case that you speak of your best tool is a medium weight pair of pruning shears. I would choose a bunch of fir trees that form a natural shelter under them. Under the tree there will be a lot of dry branches that can be removed to start a fire or for insulation under you. With some larger branches laying on snow and lots of green needles, you can get a fire going on top but it won't last real long - take advantage of it.

Trouble with snow shelters as you say, is getting wet. Whats our cardinal rule of staying warm? "don't get wet", so the whole concept of emergency snow caves is flawed. Also they sag, so a day or two later the ceiling may be too low to use. Snow is a good insulater. A plastic bag over you and then bury your self in the snow. As long as you have a breathing space outside of the plastic you will be fine. Apparently no one has ever suffocated in a snow cave unless it collapsed onto them, and if it did, how would you get out, or would you die there?

Obviously I consider snow caves to be dangerous for two reasons, you will get wet digging it and it could collapse on you.
Jim
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#146936 - 02/24/11 09:10 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
oldranger Offline
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Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I passed my roughest night ever in a snow pit that had a tarp, supported by branches. Long night, cold temps (somewhere around 0F). It was an impromptu bivouac on a climbing trip. I came out with all 20 digits, so with the help of brewing up a few cups of tea during the interminable night, the snow pit worked well enough. It took me about 30-45 minutes to construct, as best I can remember. I am glad I started to prepare it before the sun set.

The best snow caves are those built by others which you reoocupy - that was my experience on Denali.

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#146942 - 02/25/11 03:29 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: oldranger]
BrianLe Offline
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Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"The best snow caves are those built by others which you reoocupy - that was my experience on Denali."


Thanks, that's quite the same idea I have in mind.

In terms or reuse of a snow cave, the issue often is that folks feel compelled to collapse these so that an unwary person doesn't fall in. In any event, you certainly can't count on finding such a shelter when and where you need it!
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#146943 - 02/25/11 03:45 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: Jimshaw]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Thanks, Jim. Pruning shears strike me as too heavy for emergency use. I was initially thinking in terms of one of those little emergency wire saws, though I've read that the lightest versions aren't very durable or even reliable. In lieu of that, I just ordered a "Coghlans Pocket Sierra Saw" for $9 from Amazon.com, listed weight is 2.4 oz. I reckon I can cut branches at need with that.

Finding a natural tree well is certainly an alternative, particularly if time is short, or perhaps if you have nothing to dig snow with.
The thing that inclines me towards the snow trench/pit is that it can be made into a pretty small enclosed insulated space and thus can be significantly warmer than normal air temperature (obviously some fresh air is needed ...). I think it's do-able to dig a snow trench with a snowshoe and with care and pacing oneself not get wet in the process.

I guess that's about four things I want to make sure I have on winter day trips, beyond the typical ten essentials:
(1) snow shoes or one of those really light plastic "snowclaw" no-handle snow shovels (about 6 oz),
(2) some sort of lightweight tool to cut moderate sized tree branches
(3) a couple of yard waste bags (can split open to cover branches above the trench)
(4) some sort of reasonably long-burning candle, to add some heat to the enclosed space
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#146944 - 02/25/11 04:33 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
oldranger Offline
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Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
My favorite multitool, a Leatherman Wave, has a dandy saw which is perfect for slicing through small branches. About 4 inches long, it can easily cut anything 2 inches or so in diameter, which is about right for this use. A Wave is not what you would call lightweight, but I definitely carry one in the winter, especially if I using snowshoes or skis, and I make sure I have set it up so that I had the right tools to work on bindings, stoves, and other critical gear.

I tend not to use this saw for chores around the house where other tools are available, since I want to keep it sharp for the backwoods occasions. I suppose I can get it resharpened, but that is a bit of a hassle

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#146945 - 02/25/11 06:45 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
Paulo Offline
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Registered: 01/27/11
Posts: 158
Loc: Normally Pacific Northwest
I would use something along the lines of a folding saw. (not collapsible). That way, if you need to cut snow you're in a much better situation.
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#146946 - 02/25/11 06:58 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
Glenn Offline
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Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Why not add some useful gear to your dayhiking kit: say, a lightweight (6x8) tarp (Visqueen sheets are cheaper than silnylon), a couple of garbage bags, 50' of light cord, and maybe a comforter (one of those cheap, small, light quilts - down or "down alternative" - that you can pick up in those home decor stores for about $10.) In many situations, that may eliminate the need to strip branches, dig snow pits, and otherwise get all wet and tired.

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#146947 - 02/25/11 09:09 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
phat Offline
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Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Brian, I've done this, and you really don't want branches that are that big.. a simple knife works pretty good for boughs for insulation. and just pulling them down to pull them off the tree. A nice little sharp opinel knife will serve you better, I think, than those horrid little coghlans saws. at least anywhere there are evergreens, I've never had an issue making a bough bed with just a knife..

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#146949 - 02/25/11 09:22 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: phat]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Excellent point. I was talking about using a saw for the roofing/tarp support material. Even at that you could probably break them off. It's wonderful what you can do when motivated.

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#146950 - 02/25/11 09:24 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: phat]
phat Offline
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Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

And let's say for sure, any of this is a lot better with a few garbage bags and/or a small tarp.. my silponcho is always in my daybag.
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#146955 - 02/25/11 01:07 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: phat]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Interesting approach. Catch is that the knife I carry is very light and short. In lots of normal backpacking I find that I never need a "real knife". Given that the Coughlan saw is 2.4 oz (and one review claimed 1.4 oz) for a 3.7" blade, I think I'd rather err on the side of something better for cutting wood at need --- for dayhike emergency situations only --- rather than bring a bigger knife. With the little saw blade, an emergency fire in shoulder season trips is also a more credible option.

Besides, I've already ordered it ... :-)
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#146957 - 02/25/11 01:18 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: Glenn]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"Why not add some useful gear to your dayhiking kit ..."


Well, the one doesn't preclude the other. Depending on conditions I'll sometimes bring my gatewood cape as rain gear and emergency shelter, and I do bring a couple of garbage bags and a candle, and of course general 10 essentials stuff, plus reasonably warm clothing to wear on breaks and at least a sitpad. Not sure that 50' of cord is required, but I do bring quite a bit.

Comforter: my 32F rated WM Summerlite weighs 20 oz; for winter day hikes I think that would be as good an option as any to carry for emergency. I think this and other options are situational, based on what I know of the trip, just balancing risks against weight.

Quote:
"In many situations, that may eliminate the need to strip branches, dig snow pits, and otherwise get all wet and tired."


Indeed, but my point here is thinking through the trade-offs ahead of time and having a credible set of kit, offset by weight and bulk to carry. A 6 oz snowclaw for when I'm not in snowshoes, and a couple oz worth of folding saw isn't much against the possibility of saving a life (possibly my own).
Again, the thing about an enclosed snow shelter is that apart from blocking wind, you can get significantly higher temperatures inside. The snow cave I slept in last weekend stayed in the 30's F, while temps got into the single digits just outside. I imagine that a good snow trench could approach that, and without me necessarily getting all that wet or tired or taking literally hours in the construction.

I'm not meaning the above as argument or dispute, just wanting to thoroughly air the ideas in case I or anyone else is misunderstanding something. I certainly agree with the idea of bringing some other things to help survive, such specifics depending on anticipated conditions.
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Brian Lewis
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#146960 - 02/25/11 01:29 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: phat]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"Brian, I've done this, and you really don't want branches that are that big.. a simple knife works pretty good for boughs for insulation."

One other thought occurs to me here --- I'm talking about cutting branches for more than just insulation. For stretching across the top of a snow trench I'll want branches that are a good 4' long if not longer, that can hold a load of insulating snow on top of them. That's the context in which I'm thinking of cutting thicker stuff --- whether live or not-too-brittle dead branches. The latter I can perhaps snap off from the tree (won't find any "on the ground" branches under the snow of course ...), but it seems to me that I might have to cut some relatively thick stuff to get branches that are still strong enough on the far (tapering) ends to support a snow load.

Another use is along this line for building a debris hut when there isn't enough snow for a trench. Here is one site that illustrates and explains about debris huts.
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Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#146987 - 02/25/11 08:15 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Brian, If you can find a store that sellls Japanese carpentry tools, there are several very lightweight saws that they use. I have a small folding saw that is very light and the blade is razor sharp. The blade is very thin, so you have to be careful with it, but it would cut anything you would want for a shelter.

I dug a trench shelter last winter, not because of an emergency, but because the weather was really clear and I didn't feel like putting up my tent. Didn't take long. I didn't even need a cover over it. If I had, I could have made one, I suppose.
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#146989 - 02/25/11 08:42 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: TomD]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Thanks, Tom. If you ever encounter a link to something specific, I'd be interested in a (URL) pointer to the Japanese carpentry tools. I have a set of Japanese sharpening stones that are pretty amazing, I know that folks there have hand tools down to an impressive science.

Trench shelter that you didn't need to cover: my impression here is that you dug something deep enough to be out of the wind, but not so deep that you could have covered it and sat up inside?
I expect one that's covered would take more time and effort. An alternative to a trench for just blocking wind is to build a small (or large) snow wall on the appropriate side(s) of a tarp or tent. Heck, just stomping down a firm sleeping platform on snow tends to put a person at least a little below ground (okay "snow surface") level.

It is indeed nice to just cowboy camp on cold clear nights when you're pretty sure of no precipitation!

Back on the initial point, it occurred to me later today that I've been thinking of snow caves with a solo (or at least independent) hiker bias. Traveling in a group I could see a snow cave being a viable approach if one group member becomes sick or injured --- warmer for a group of two or three to share a small snow cave than to stick each person in individual trenches, plus if one were injured, a group shelter allows one or two others in there with them to monitor and help them out. But if time or energy were low, a "trench for two", where the two essentially embrace (regardless of gender or orientation) --- this might nevertheless be a good alternative.

The tough thing about emergency shelters is that we hopefully never get "real" practice at these, just designed practice at best under generally low pressure conditions. It's easy to sit back and make guesses as to what would be best. My hope here is that by sort of "thinking out loud" and getting feedback (here) that I'll be mentally prepared to make good decisions in an actual winter day hike emergency.
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http://postholer.com/brianle

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#147008 - 02/26/11 04:04 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
TomD Offline
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Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Brian, the only place I ever saw those tools was at Nuuanu Hardware in Honolulu. The Japanese also make a short handled hand saw that is hard to describe-the handle is a short dowel with a two sided blade about the size of a 5-7 index card mounted to it. Sounds weird, but works really well. My folding saw is made by YKK, probably not the zipper company, but that's what the label says. The blade on mine is 10" which is a bit bigger than I remember (haven't used it in years), but they do make smaller ones. A small pruning saw would do the same job. What I like about mine is that if folds like a pocket knife, so no case to lose.

Found a fancy version of the handsaw-
http://japanwoodworker.com/product.asp?pf_id=19.605.0&s=JapanWoodworker

and a fancy version of the folding saw-
http://japanwoodworker.com/dept.asp?dept_id=13932&s=JapanWoodworker

Mine probably cost $5-10 at most, but it isn't fancy and I've owned it for years. There are a few websites selling the fancier ones. The thing about these saws is that they are incredibly sharp and are designed to cut on the draw stroke rather than the push stroke like a typical American hand saw.

Yep, you are right about the trench. It was on a slope and I just cut into the hillside to make it flat-maybe 18-24" deep or so at the most. Zero wind that night, temp probably around 20F at 8500ft. up above Palm Springs. Took the tram up. The snow was firm, but not rock solid, so it wasn't that much work. I have a Voile Mini shovel-metal blade.

Anyone getting a shovel-stay away from the plastic bladed ones-totally useless in some conditions, like snow mixed with layers of ice. Voile, BD or even this cheap one on Amazon would be better in my opinion.
http://tinyurl.com/4rnx7rc


Edited by TomD (02/26/11 04:33 AM)
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#147017 - 02/26/11 09:15 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: TomD]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
I never thought about using the Japanese carpentry saws for cutting snow and ice. I have 6 of them and they are great precision tools. If I was going to use them in the field, I would make a light wood scabbard for the one I was going to take. The blades are very flexible but prone to being bent if miss-handled. I think you could destroy it otherwise.


Edited by skcreidc (02/26/11 09:16 AM)

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#147035 - 02/26/11 12:39 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: TomD]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"Anyone getting a shovel-stay away from the plastic bladed ones-totally useless in some conditions, like snow mixed with layers of ice."

While I completely agree on this point, I guess that in general snow shovels are another thing about which a lot of debate could be sparked. The group I've been hiking with in recent years seems to like to carry these in winter; personally, I think I would rarely see the need.

If I'm snowshoeing, then a snowshow can move a lot of snow (admittedly not ice or very hard/firm snow), if I'm not then I'll carry a 6 oz "snow claw". Unless there's some reason to believe that a shovel might actually get used. Note that if an ice axe is carried, this can break through tough stuff to augment a whimpier shovel.

For actual backpacking trips I'm disinclined to bring a shovel because I'm already carrying a shelter of some sort, so again, either snowshoes or 6 oz plastic "snow claw" to move snow at need.

My recollection is that the lightest metal tipped shovel is about a pound. I might break down and get one if I do many winter trips with this group, but it's quite a bit to carry just for a potential emergency. On day hikes I'd rather invest that pound towards a light sleeping bag.
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#147043 - 02/26/11 02:12 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Brianle
Its all about avolanche. If you have to dig someone out you will want a tough metal blade, not a whimpy metal or plastic blade, but without avo transcievers it also doesn't matter since you won't know where to dig anyway.

If you do not camp in avolanche country a plastic shovel is just as good (almost), BUT - what actually will you do with a shovel? Dig a cathole? A shovel may be just wasted weight unless you PLAN on digging. smile Fill your pan with snow to melt? Both? sick. I always carried a plastic bladed shovel in the Sierras, then a snowclaw which is totally worthless, and now I just use a ski tip for camp chores.

It takes a lot less energy to carry and pitch a tent than to carry a shovel and dig a cave, and you will be dryer with the tent.
Jim
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#147050 - 02/26/11 02:53 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: skcreidc]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Originally Posted By skcreidc
I never thought about using the Japanese carpentry saws for cutting snow and ice. I have 6 of them and they are great precision tools. If I was going to use them in the field, I would make a light wood scabbard for the one I was going to take. The blades are very flexible but prone to being bent if miss-handled. I think you could destroy it otherwise.


I'm not talking about using them for snow, but for cutting branches to make a shelter. If I wanted a snow saw, I'd get the one SMC makes. My folding saw could be used to do both, but not as well as the SMC, which has really big teeth and is made of aluminum.

As far as Brian's comment about shovels, I always carry mine. I find it really useful for a lot of things, including digging out my tent platform and the area in front of my tent, getting snow for water, digging a latrine or digging out your car in the parking lot. I wouldn't want to be using a snowshoe for any of that. I bought a Snow-Claw when they first came out, but it is more useful for sitting on than anything else.

If you've seen any of the pictures I've posted of my trips to Yosemite, you will see what I have done with my shovel. Here are a couple -






Edited by TomD (02/26/11 03:02 PM)
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#147063 - 02/26/11 07:40 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: TomD]
OttoStover Offline
member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 62
Loc: Norway
Looked nice and tidy the camp there TomD, goodjob
But weather one takes no showel or one showel including the debate which type is a question of the terrain and weather. In dense forest all you need is perhaps an emergency shelter ala bivybag or windbag. In treeless terrain however the need for a GOOD showel is evident. Here i Norway we just had an accident where 4 german tourists died in a storm. They would probably have survived if they had dug a snowcave. http://www.trailspace.com/forums/backcountry/topics/85123.html

The DNT (our trekking organization) has made some suggestions for winter equipment in the mountains http://www.turistforeningen.no/english/article.php?ar_id=17652&fo_id=3622 Showel is strongly advised, both on short trips hut-to-hut and even on daytrips. Weather may change before you know. cool

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#147069 - 02/26/11 11:22 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I didn't take it as argument: you added nicely to my comment - I particularly enjoyed the thought about balancing risks and kit for a given situation.

I don't have the heavy winter experience the rest of you do, so I didn't really have the thought fully developed - it just seemed that the idea of extra kit in winter wasn't getting discussed, so I just wanted to get that ball rolling.

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#147075 - 02/27/11 01:03 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: Jimshaw]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Yup, if any serious risk of avalanche then I agree with the shovel. And if anyone else on the trip has a beacon, then I'll bring my beacon (don't own any wands ...). It really depends on the trip. At least in my general area most avalanches happen in the same places every year, so --- duh! Don't go to those places if the risk is significant (which can be found out online before venturing out and pretending to dig a snow pit ...).
IMO the biggest thing to know about avalanches is how to avoid getting in them, and not so much about how to more conveniently find the bodies later. So it's about map reading, understanding snow layers, being wise enough to turn back when conditions look dicey, etc etc.

So anyway, in some contexts, a metal tipped shovel can be worth carrying. I do own one, but it's a couple of pounds, not something I'd like to carry often.

The snowclaw is far from optimal, but if I'm not wearing snowshoes I reckon it's a worthwhile trade-off to carry. A bit of a PITA to use, until you consider the alternatives in a real emergency!

In fact, using snowshoe or snowclaw I do occasionally move a bit of snow in normal snow camping, just not large volumes of the stuff.


Edited by BrianLe (02/27/11 01:04 AM)
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#147076 - 02/27/11 01:14 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: TomD]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"As far as Brian's comment about shovels, I always carry mine. I find it really useful for a lot of things, including digging out my tent platform and the area in front of my tent, getting snow for water, digging a latrine or digging out your car in the parking lot. I wouldn't want to be using a snowshoe for any of that. I bought a Snow-Claw when they first came out, but it is more useful for sitting on than anything else."


Thanks, Tom --- this is just the sort of thing I was looking for in this thread. Now I'm starting to think more seriously about buying that 1 pound metal tipped shovel and perhaps taking it on a few more trips.

But I suspect I'll still err on the side of making do with snowshoe or snowclaw. I did a 3-day trip at the end of January where my snowshoe worked just dandy for the minimal stuff I needed to do for tent platform prep. I've never found it that difficult to get snow to melt, and I'd think a snowshoe or snow claw would be okay for moving snow off of a car. Digging a latrine, however --- that's situational, whether to blue-bag it or whatever, and depends on group dynamics as well. It's one thing that could help convert me to be more of a shovel-carrier, however. Have to think on that.
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#147079 - 02/27/11 02:20 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
TomD Offline
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Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Brian, one of the reasons I carry a shovel is just because I really like it. I like having it and like using it. Sounds silly, but that is really the reason. I feel like having it makes doing a few things easier and I know I could use a snowshoe or ski to accomplish some the same tasks, but I learned long ago when I used to do real work that having the right tool (not for camping necessarily) makes work a lot easier.

Without it, I probably wouldn't have gone to the trouble to dig out my kitchen area like I did, but when I can say "hey, I brought a shovel, what can I do with it?" that's an incentive to spend some time doing stuff to make the campsite a bit more comfortable.

If you look closely, you can see the footwell I dug in front of my tent in the vestibule. In the first picture, a water bottle and piece of blue pad are in it. In the second, I put the blue pad down and could sit and stretch my legs like sitting in a chair. Learned that on my first winter trip from Jim Shaw and it makes putting on boots and cooking way more comfortable than crouching down or just sitting cross-legged on a flat surface.

Kind of like having the right computer program-I spent a bunch of dough to get Adobe Acrobat and I can do some seemingly simple things with it I can't do with Word or Word Perfect.

All of the other suggestions people have made make sense as well under the right circumstances and since many of the posters have far more experience than me, I am no position to argue that my way is the "best."


Edited by TomD (02/27/11 02:29 AM)
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#147080 - 02/27/11 07:59 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: TomD]
oldranger Offline
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Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I like your attitude, or perhaps I should say, I dig your position on this topic.

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#147081 - 02/27/11 11:37 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: TomD]
BrianLe Offline
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Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"...I learned long ago when I used to do real work that having the right tool (not for camping necessarily) makes work a lot easier."


No question. It just comes down to the same sort of weight trade-off issue that light and ultralight backpackers make differently than folks that follow a more traditional path, regardless of season --- no "rights" or "wrongs" here. I like to err more on the side of a lighter pack, so long as I can do so without too much compromise to comfort or safety. We each set this "how much is too much" slider bar to the point that best suits our individual preferences.
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#147089 - 02/27/11 03:55 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
TomD Offline
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Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
One thing to keep in mind. I have been towing a sled, so weight hasn't been a factor. Even without the sled, I'd still take the shovel. I've even taken it on day hikes.
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#147091 - 02/27/11 04:56 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: TomD]
OregonMouse Offline
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Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
If you're in avalanche territory, a shovel is one of the essentials! So is, among other things, training in how to evaluate the snowpack.
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#147095 - 02/27/11 07:33 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: TomD]
BrianLe Offline
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Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"I've even taken it on day hikes."


I would be more inclined to take a shovel on dayhikes --- on backpacking trips I'm carrying what I need to survive most situations, and I'm a bit less weight conscious on day trips.

But as OM says, it's in part about avalanche risk assessment as well making it easier to build shelters.

I tend to not carry a shovel as I tend to avoid avalanche zones for the most part when snowshoeing and XC/backcountry skiing. I hope to be doing some winter scrambles soon, however, which is the main reason I anticipate buying a (light, metal scoop) shovel.
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#147099 - 02/27/11 07:54 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
hikerduane Offline
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Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I never used a shovel or had one until I started doing trips with a highly experienced group here in N CA. Now, the shovel is used to dig a kitchen area, which I never did before, but is neat at meal time and for being comfortable. Yesterday, all three of us had shovels for our Sierra overnighter. Don, the oldest at 63 dug a pit I guess you could call it and said you can use ski poles to support the tarp roof he added. He rigged up deadman anchors from 6" or so dowels or sticks would substitute I guess, at each grommet, using cording and said they will support fresh snowfall and someone walking on it. He dug it over four feet deep, but I imagine in a emergency, you could just do the trench. He also compacted the snow, out a foot from the edges.

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#147107 - 02/28/11 12:42 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: hikerduane]
phat Offline
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Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
this kind of stuff (a pit under my shangri-la tent) is what I really like a shovel for. But to be fair, I ususally take that when going heavy in the winter (read that as, I'm taking a sled).

If I'm just on my back, then I have a quasi real tent, and at that point I don't take it.
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#147121 - 02/28/11 12:11 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: hikerduane]
BrianLe Offline
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Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"Now, the shovel is used to dig a kitchen area, which I never did before, but is neat at meal time and for being comfortable."


I have to say that I'm ambivalent at best about this whole "dig a kitchen area" thing. The group I was with did that on our snow camping trip, and some folks on my 3-day snowshoe (same overall group) did one near their tent with the idea of a communal meal.

Now, I certainly enjoy the fellowship of other hikers, but apart from needless work it strikes me as a great way to get cold feet (literally). Sitting around eating with folks on the camping excursion, many/most had cold feet, jumping up and down and things to try to maintain feeling.

My normal process is to just crawl into my sleeping bag and cook just outside my shelter. Much warmer, and no extra work.

To be clear, I'm not putting folks down who do this; I would just prefer get my human interaction type done by talking while walking during the day and not gather for meals in a more exposed and sedentary way that invites a chilly experience.

Tough to be alone, however, while others are enjoying each others company. Maybe I need to get electrically heated footwear or something to adjust to this different style ...
Or just be the "loner" ! :-)
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#147135 - 02/28/11 01:17 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
hikerduane Offline
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Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I understand. It is a great way for everyone, even me, to socialize and see what others are eating, talk gear, so forth. In larger groups, we really have a great time, the biggest thing I look forward to, gets me outta my shell. We use sit pads, at least I do, others drag over there closed cell type sleeping pad to sit on and place their feet on in the trench. I don't like that because some are messy and I don't have a second sit pad for my feet. You need extra, dry inserts for your boots or use down booties, with fresh, dry socks, which I have done both and on the same trip even (stupid me), and I use those chemical packs placed on the bottom of my socks, under my tootsies, opened up half an hour or more before needing, as they seem slow to activate the last few years. I also believe the kitchen gives everyone an excuse to stay up a little later as at this time of year, the nights are long enough. Gotta come prepared also. Don was cold Saturday night, I believe he did not bring enough insulating layers, he had a Goretex parka which is only good for a storm, not for staying warm.

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#147170 - 02/28/11 11:30 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: hikerduane]
TomD Offline
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Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I go out by myself, so socializing isn't why I made my area in front of my tent. It is just for my own comfort.

Brian-I came across this saw-looks a lot like mine, but different materials and probably heavier, but basically the same design-
http://www.sportsimportsltd.com/ulfoousaw.html
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#147171 - 02/28/11 11:36 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
Jimshaw Offline
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Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Brianle
I was gonna PM you but then I decided it should be a post. smile Please try adding another layer of insulation to your legs, sit on a foam pad and put you feet on a small foam pad. Then tell me if you were enough warmer to allow you to socialise with the people who came properly prepared. smile
Jim
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#147181 - 03/01/11 11:56 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: TomD]
BrianLe Offline
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Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Thanks, Tom. The key piece of data for me missing on that saw is a listed weight ...
FWIW, what I have on order is the Coghlan's Pocket Sierra Saw, listed weight of 2.4 oz, but the first review on that (Amazon.com) site claims it weighs just 1.4 oz. For day hikes, I can live with either.

It's quite similar to the one you've pointed out, albeit with about half the blade length (3.7"). While of course not nearly as nice to use as a 7" blade, it seems to me that should be enough for sawing through the kind of stuff I'm thinking about in an emergency situation.
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#147182 - 03/01/11 12:13 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: Jimshaw]
BrianLe Offline
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Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
":-) Please try adding another layer of insulation to your legs, sit on a foam pad and put you feet on a small foam pad. Then tell me if you were enough warmer to allow you to socialise with the people who came properly prepared. :-)"

Hi Jim. In fact I was sitting on a ccf foam pad. I can't imagine changing footwear and pants to add an additional layer of leg insulation only to have to change again to take same off later, nor do I think that would have helped --- I had silk long johns, pants, and rain pants on.

These folks were sedentary for long enough that I fetched my Feathered Friends down booties and swapped my boots for those and propped my feet up so only the ccf outer bootie heel was on the packed snow, but still cold feet. To be clear, it was in the single digits Farenheit, so relatively cold for my area. Also to be clear, it wasn't just me with cold feet --- several people were talking about or exhibiting clear signs of cold feet.

Properly prepared: It's true. I wasn't properly prepared to literally stand or sit around in single digit temps for long periods. Next time I'll bring a big metal barrel and lots of fire wood for that "hobos staying warm in winter" look. smile

Or, just go on trips with folks that are inclined to move a bit more and stand around and drink coffee a bit less. <insert rim shot here> I never have cold feet on normal (for me) snow trips.

Certainly there are cases where a person wants to be able to be sedentary (and not in a sleeping bag) in very cold weather; ice fishing, for example (never done it).
For winter backpacking trips, I think it makes a lot more sense to adjust camp "style" rather than bring electrically heated socks or boots, or chemical heat packs or whatever.

Each to their own!
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#147213 - 03/01/11 10:06 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
Jimshaw Offline
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Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
I've spent many many nights camping in extreme mountain winter weather, chasing storms, and sitting out in the storms. If you have the right clothes your feet do not get cold. If you're from Washington and it was single digits, why were you wearing silk underwear and "pants" instead of midweight long underwear and down pants?

And don't forget the old adage about putting your hat on if your feet get cold. What kind of head insulation do you wear? Just because people camp where its cold doesn't mean they are wet and miserable.
Jim
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#147226 - 03/01/11 11:13 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: Jimshaw]
TomD Offline
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Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I saw an article recently that said that the whole "put a hat on" theory wasn't true, except maybe for babies-has to to with surface area compared to overall body mass. I like hats anyway, so I'd be wearing one.

I have a pair of insulated pants. Mine are not down, not sure what they are. Got them from GoLite a few years ago on a closeout. Full side zip and pretty warm. Those plus my big parka and I can sit around in +15-20F and not get cold at all. As you can see from my pics, I use pieces of a blue pad for sitting or standing on. Plus I have a pair of down booties. I might get one of those rabbit fur trooper hats too.
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#147227 - 03/01/11 11:23 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: Jimshaw]
hikerduane Offline
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Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I do all I can to keep my feet and hands warm. Down booties or dry boot liners and wool socks alone don't cut it for me. The charcoal/salt/ferrous chemical packs come as close as I can to having warm feet. I need to try a pad to rest my feet on when we are sitting around the kitchen. I even put some guaranteed to keep feet warm insoles in my down booties, helps for a bit. At least this last weekend, my feet stayed warm most of the time. My feet have always been that way. If I am snowmobiling, I can move enough to keep my feet warm even in my old Sorels.

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#147228 - 03/01/11 11:32 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: TomD]
wandering_daisy Offline
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Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
I think it is trendy now to discount older sayings. The head heat loss stuff is significant. But it is not just the hat, it is loss from head and neck (think balaclava) and heat loss and inhaled cold from breathing. When I was seriously winter backpacking (-20 to -40)the minute we got to camp we stompped the tent platform, then immediately took off wet clothing and put on insulating clothes- parkas with tunnel fur lined hoods to pre-warm the air before breathing, insulated pants, Micky Mouse boots, big mits and a face mask. Then we melted water, cooked dinner, and went to bed. No sitting around socializing! When we got to our base camp, we spent an entire day building a huge snow cave that we lived in for more than a week. In the snow cave we could sit around and socialize since it was about 30 degrees inside. In fact we had to be careful not to get it too warm. We would light one little candle and it would be enough light. The snow cave was not an emergency shelter, but a planned structure. It was downright luxurious compared to tent camping.

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#147229 - 03/01/11 11:39 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: Jimshaw]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"I've spent many many nights camping in extreme mountain winter weather, chasing storms, and sitting out in the storms. If you have the right clothes your feet do not get cold. If you're from Washington and it was single digits, why were you wearing silk underwear and "pants" instead of midweight long underwear and down pants?"


I think we might be talking past each other a bit here --- if I read this right, you're trying to help me figure out the right additional clothing to wear so I can sit around (out of a sleeping bag) in low temps and stay comfy.

I'm saying that I don't want to carry all of those heavy clothes when a style shift allows me to be plenty warm; I'm not normally geared up to "sit around a lot" comfortably in camp, because it's not my usual style.

Indeed, if I went out with the intent of winter "sit around a lot" type of camping, I'd bring a separate ccf pad to put under my down booties and bring my BPL cocoon pants, maybe chemical heat units to put in the booties. I don't care to bring those things, but instead prefer a hiking style that minimizes "sit around and chew the fat" time in cold weather. Much less time in camp equates for me (in all four seasons) to more comfort and more miles or easier miles while walking (or skiing) on the trail.

I'm not looking to convert anyone here (!). I do think this sort of conversation is helpful for folks to think about alternative styles of hiking (or camping). Definitely no one and only one "right" way !
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#147272 - 03/02/11 07:17 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
Heather-ak Offline
member

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 597
Loc: Fairbanks, AK
I never understood how you could enjoy the great outdoors in a group...

But maybe I'm just antisocial!

I vote with BrianLe - more hiking, less sitting!

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#147276 - 03/02/11 07:53 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: Heather-ak]
hikerduane Offline
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Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Some trips are like last weekend, only a few of us. Then there was Winterfest a month ago where over 20 at one time or another gathered, it was more of a trip we all looked forward to, as mtnsteve is pretty popular. A annual thing. Time and place for everything. If there isn't enough to keep me interested, I'll go for a jaunt by myself, which I did at Winterfest while most still socialized or go fishing on summer trips. I couldn't do the large groups all the time. Most of my trips are solo, so it gives me a chance to catch up with people I only see once in a great while and to meet new folks who might want to go on a trip, with fewer people. At Winterfest, I got to see people I had not seen for over a year or more and one couple showed their new family member to us all.:)

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#147277 - 03/02/11 08:05 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: hikerduane]
Heather-ak Offline
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Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 597
Loc: Fairbanks, AK
HikerDuane,

I hope you didn't take what I said in a negative way! 'cuz I didn't mean it to be negative, just kinda fun seeing how many different ways there are to hike.

It is a personality thing for me - when I hike with others I get anxious - am I hiking too fast, too slow, taking too many breaks or too few and gee I can't hear them because I'm hard of hearing and do they think I'm ignorning them and gee I wish they'd shut-up so I can listen to that bird.

Not to say I don't talk on the trail - mostly it goes like this:
"No Moose on the loose - hey moosey moose"... and well you get the picture wink

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#147280 - 03/02/11 08:27 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
I said earlier:
Quote:
"I just ordered a "Coghlans Pocket Sierra Saw" for $9 from Amazon.com, listed weight is 2.4 oz. I reckon I can cut branches at need with that."

Since this thread turned in part to a discussion on such ancillary gear, I thought I would follow up as that pocket saw just showed up in the mail today. It is in fact 1.4 oz, 41 grams, so I'm pleased about that. Not a super robust unit, has plastic handle, pretty thin metal blade, but seems like a good choice for a piece of gear that's for emergencies or at most infrequent use --- I'm sure it will hold up fine so long as I take reasonable care and don't try to force it to act like it has a bombproof saw blade.

Blade is 3.5" long --- slightly longer in fact, but 3.5" is the effective, serrated length.

It locks open and feels quite secure that way.

I'll have to test it out sometime, but on first inspection I'm pleased with it, nice to have something that light that can do the job at need.
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#147295 - 03/03/11 12:27 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: Heather-ak]
hikerduane Offline
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Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Heather, did not take it badly, just had to state my position a little bit more. I'm flexible. I have bped so many years solo and now really solo the last seven years since my dog, Pooch passed away that if a trip sounds interesting I will go with others. I turn down trips to the coast, north and south of San Francisco, they are just too far and I prefer my mountains. Not many of the group trips are large, just annual ones, like what I call our "mtnsteve-less Winterfest" as mtnsteve put his own on for years in the Lassen Volcanic Nat'l Park so many years, but had not the last three years due to body repairs until this last month. When they do some coastal trips, they get a good turn out at times as those are closer for the group I bp with. I'm the only one from the mountains in our small group. Come bp with us/me. I go all the time with women, I'm too safe.

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#147296 - 03/03/11 12:29 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
hikerduane Offline
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Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
You are gonna be short stroking that thing. smile

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#147329 - 03/03/11 07:59 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: Heather-ak]
Glenn Offline
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Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I usually go in groups; if it's not kids, and I'm not a leader, I don't let the rest of the group bother me too much. If I'm hiking too slow (or they're too fast - depends on your perspective), I let them go. After all, I'm set up for solo travel, so I'll either catch up by evening or I won't.

I often don't hike in a big knot of folks (I like to hear the birds, too.) In fact, a few weeks ago, 7 or 8 of us went to a local park for a winter campout; we backpacked in about 3 miles. We started out in single file, bunched up on each other's heels. That lasted about a quarter mile; two of us stopped to "adjust our packs" while everyone went on without us. The rest of the hike was much more pleasant.

I enjoy the socializing over dinner, but I don't feel compelled to stay up or (if anyone brought "beverages") to partake in refreshments. I just tell them I'm turning in; they can like it or not. I tend to get into rhythm with the sunlight - get up and start when it's light, go to bed when it's dark. (I realize that might not work so well for you!)

Of course, some of my attitude is built-in. My wife and I were discussing whether or not to do something the other day, and I said, "What might everyone else think about that?" to which she replied, "Since when did that start bothering YOU?" wink

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#147344 - 03/04/11 02:19 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: Glenn]
TomD Offline
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Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
When I did the Milford Track in NZ way back when, at any one time, there were probably a couple of hundred people on the track, but because of the way the huts were spread out, you could hike and rarely see anyone except in the evening when everyone in your group was at the hut and of course in the morning when people would take off in small groups. I was alone, but hooked up with another hiker and he and I went much of the way together. We would come across other hikers here and there, but not that many. It was a good way to maximize the number of hikers without turning it into a constant gaggle of people around you.
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#147353 - 03/04/11 11:50 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: TomD]
wandering_daisy Offline
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Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
Well, now that we are on the topic of solo vs group, I will add my two cents. In serious winter conditions, solo is simply not safe. Particularly on longer trips, say a week or more. Summer conditions are forgiving, winter not. I have had my hands get cold enough that I could not manipulate a zipper. You also need someone who can observe you and see if you are getting hypothermic or frost bite. There are all sorts of little things that can go wrong in the winter that will kill you. Every year someone at a ski area drops into a tree well and smothers, unable to get themselves out. What if you post-hole into a stream and cannot get your foot free? And what if partially burried by an avalanche? A lot of people think they can extract themselves from precarious winter situations but have never really done so. I have been totally humbled by winter conditions. None of us is perfect- we all make mistakes. There really is safety in numbers in the winter. And with a group of four you can well afford the extra weight of bringing one good shovel. And a bonus is company on those long winter nights! Just pick competent partners that you like to be with.

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#147360 - 03/04/11 01:44 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: wandering_daisy]
Heather-ak Offline
member

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 597
Loc: Fairbanks, AK
I will admit that the reason I do less winter camping than I would like is because I will not do it solo.

However, I am thinking about doing my April trip solo (which is still winter here.) I took a look at the risks, and while still higher than summer - they are low. (No bears, no avalanche possible, no moving water on the route in question, should be no -20F temperatures.) I would not do this same trip solo in Dec., Jan., or Feb. I won't do the trip or postpone based on weather predictions (knowing they only get it right about 50% of the time smile )

So I think it comes down to risk assessment, even for summer trips... Heck solo or group trips too!

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#147371 - 03/04/11 03:58 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: Heather-ak]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
With the long nights in winter, at least a few other souls along helps pass the time for a bit before hitting the sack. I've been out in negative temps solo, but have my old snowmobile to get me out and I am only a short ways from other snowmobile traffic. Like WD, my biggest worry is cold hands then not being able to function from that.

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#147387 - 03/05/11 01:38 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: Heather-ak]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"So I think it comes down to risk assessment, even for summer trips... Heck solo or group trips too!"


I completely agree with this. Certainly a good group is safer than being solo in winter conditions. I don't think that equates to "therefore it's unsafe to go solo". Safety is relative, and risks can be mitigated with good judgment & experience.

I'd point out as well that being with some groups is less safe than hiking solo. Bad group dynamics, poorly prepared or inexperienced (and not willing to listen) group members --- I'd be a lot safer on my own than hiking in many groups that I've encountered on various trails.

I don't say these things in a spirit of rebuttal, but more just to add to the (generally) correct comment about safety in numbers.
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#147402 - 03/05/11 03:54 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: BrianLe]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Except for my first winter trip with Jim Shaw and Steve (BMISF who used to post here),my winter trips have been by myself. However, I was not in avalanche country and not really out in the boonies (Yosemite and Mt. San Jacinto). Not to say I couldn't have gotten in trouble, like falling off the rim of Yosemite Valley or something like that, but generally speaking, not that dangerous.

I was probably in more danger driving up there and around the park in bad weather than when I was camping. I'm not necessarily advocating solo winter camping, but with a bit of common sense, it can be done relatively safely.


Edited by TomD (03/05/11 03:56 PM)
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#147419 - 03/05/11 11:15 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: TomD]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Tom, I got to see Steve, his wife and their infant son at mtnsteve's Winterfest over a month ago, they came up for a few hours and visited. They all looked very happy.

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#147454 - 03/06/11 09:45 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: hikerduane]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Great. Good to hear he's doing well.
_________________________
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#147628 - 03/10/11 09:09 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: TomD]
bmisf Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 629
...and glad to see you all still out there, too!

Been a bit busy with new family, baby, etc. - not out camping as much as I'd like but we did get baby out for snowshoeing several times already this winter (Lassen, Yosemite, Aspen CO area).

Here we are at Winterfest, visiting with Duane and all the others (for the record, though I like solo travel, I'm part of the group that builds these snow kitchens and it's something I look forward to on every group trip):



A little late on the main topic here, but I have tried all of the different kinds of snow shelters mentioned (and one or two not), and completely agree re snow caves. For serious mountaineering, I suppose knowing how to make snow caves is good skill to have at your disposal, but for general snow camping, I'd say of little real use.

Same with quinzees and igloos - I was on a trip with some folks in Yellowstone in the dead of winter several years back, and the others were using Igloo Ed's grand shelters tool to make igloos. They took hours to build - exhausting, even with the tool and its form/arm for consistently placing blocks in a spiral (I helped build the first one). I happily slept in my tent, even at -14, and disliked the muffled, stuffy, wet inside of the igloo. I suppose where they might stand out as more practical is if you're creating a base camp for several nights' use, or for use over a season.

Trenches are another story - fast enough to build quickly and comfortable in some situations. I've used them with bivy sacks and found it workable. Tree wells or spruce shelters like Jim posted certainly make sense as emergency shelters in forested areas.

My favorite remains a good four-season tent, or, in spring snow conditions where I know we won't have a blizzard, a nice ultralight three-season tent, tarptent or hammock. Fast to set up, and at least for a true four-season tent, safe and comfy. Plus, unlike the snow caves and quinzees and igloos, they let you hear the sounds of animals, wind, birds, soft snow falling on the fabric...to me, part of the joy of being out there.

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#147635 - 03/10/11 10:26 PM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: bmisf]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Hey Steve! Good to see you. Thanks for posting the picture. Sounds like you've a couple of good trips. I may try to get out for a couple of days towards the end of the season.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#147653 - 03/11/11 11:05 AM Re: Best emergency shelter in snow? [Re: TomD]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Ah yes the new addition, the hilight of everyones trip. Thank you Steve.

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