Second quinzhee attempt, Winter: 1, Ed: 1

As I previously wrote here, I have been looking to sharpen my winter hiking skills.   The first attempt consisted of piling up snow, letting it sinter, then hollowing it out.  The results were positive, although I learned that a) you get soaked and b) to do it right you need a big pile and c) I was a little too claustrophobic.

Today’s attempt was a sort of modified design, basically a glorified tunnel into a snowbank, the remains of multiple storms’ shoveling off my back patio, which has had a few weeks now to compress.  The bank is about 3-4′ high.  The plan was simply to cut a tunnel through it, to provide a sleeping space that was ~90% enclosed.  I have a fear of being buried, and I don’t want to learn how to build a proper snow shelter the hard way.  I cut the tunnel N-S through the bank; the prevailing wind here is west.   This will help keep it ventilated without turning into a wind-tunnel.  The tunnel is about 10′ long.

Things I learned:

  • You need to make the tunnel high enough for both you and your sleep system.
  • You get soaked – today was about 30 degrees and sunny, so I was wearing cotton-based ‘yard’ clothes.  I was pretty wet by the end.
  • It doesn’t take long if you have a good snowbank, maybe 30 minutes.
  • The middle of the tunnel narrows as you lose the right angle for shovelling.   This isn’t a bad thing, as it helps preserve body heat.
  • You really need a shovel; there’s no way I could have done this by hand.
  • A snow shovel makes a lot of sharp, stress concentrating edges.   Use your boots. knees, hands to smooth/round the tunnel to help distribute the weight more effectively.

I’d feel comfortable in this shelter, at least on a sleeping pad.   If you’re not expecting snow/rain, this sort of shelter is fine, you can sleep mostly covered, out of the wind, but still have fresh air.

About smokebeard 141 Articles
Smokebeard has hiked the 2652 mile Pacific Crest Trail, the 2160+ mile Appalachian Trail, the 73+ mile Great Glen Cycle Route, all 46 of the Adirondack High Peaks, the 78+ mile Rhode Island North/South Trail, and the Saranac Six. He is also a certified Leave No Trace Trainer. A former MATC Caretaker in the Piazza Rock/Saddleback area, he’s passionate about applying Leave No Trace as an ethical system. His latest adventure was a 3 week thruhike of the 273 mile Long Trail in Vermont.

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