Hi Glenn. First the news.
As I was writing this post last night my roomies parents were lost East of Mt Bachelor on a snowmobile. They were located by search and rescue after 7 hours. They swerved off trail, rolled the machine and got it stuck with them trapped under it. They managed to get out and started walking. So anyway shall we all spend one moment thinking about that. They were not experienced snowmobilers, they rented a dual person machine, they had no idea what they were doing, the mother is rather frail. They were soaking wet, under dressed and completely unprepared and she cried the whole ime cause she thought she was gonna buy it
So I got to thinking that if they had a cell phone and called 911, or had a signal flare gun, or a gps, or dry clothing things might have gone better.
So Glenn these were completely inexperienced snow people. I had not assumed that stupidity was gonna be a major component of this, but then they find dead naked people in the winter who have taken off their clothes in a snow storm... and such. My experience with "this group" almost made me think that people would think before getting onto a powerful machine and riding it into wilderness unprepared.
After that I might suggest a cell phone, flare gun and flashlight shovel and wearing reasonable clothes in the first place and having down liners in your emergency pack.
Now as to your comments. Yes of course but I am trying to save the average idiot now. Closed cell foam is cheap indestructable and alone it can insulate you from the snow under you. Even a foam sit pad and a bivy sack would be an improvement.
Around here build snow shelters isn't hard, we have plenty of medium soft sloped snow, but building a snow shelter, especially for the inexperienced can kill you by sapping the last of your energy and getting your clothes wet. Also the idea of lighting a fire in deep snow to stay warm is not possible.
For now a story. In 2000 my snow camping buddy and I took my secretary snow camping with us. She had been a wrangler in Wyoming so she was as tough as us. When she asked what to bring I said I'll have all your gear just bring something to eat that doesn't have to be cooked.
So anyway we were in the worst blizzard of the year in the Sierras and after trying every trick in the book and using expedition grade cooking gear, gave up trying to cook dinner, it was impossible even with the stove in its own mini snow cave. So we retire to my tent and zip the door and lament not having dinner when Kristin pulls out a sandwich with all the fixins and a whole half a chicken breast on it. So we decided she could camp with us anytime and passed it around. Then she pulls out a bottle of burgundy to chase it with.
Lessons learned - don't plan on a fire or cooking, carry candy bars and snacks, not fruit it freezes. Do not dig more than a small platform, keeping dry, STAY PUT with the machine. Carry atleast a bivy bag and a cell phone, and flashlight. If I could get every member of my club to carry a bivy bag and shovel and cell it would cover most over nights.
Jim more coming