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PUTTING UP A TENT IN THE SNOW

Putting up a tent in the snow, is not as difficult as it may seem, the most difficult thing (excluding wind which is a pain in the arse!) is trying to get a balance between speed and minimum effort, of course in good weather you can take your time, not a really good idea here.

Take off as much clothing as you can and put away in your pack to keep it dry, even in the lowest temperature you will sweat in the effort, when done, change shirt and get dressed more fully. I have found that it is best start cold and warm up, not too cold though! I find the effort of putting up the tent and collecting the fire wood is enough to keep me warm.

Ok, the tent, first of all tramp down the snow to give you a firm base for erection, do not waste your time clearing the snow as the ground will most likely to be frozen underneath.

When erecting the tent stay organised, especially if it is snowing, your equipment could be buried in a surprisingly short time, so be vigilant!

Try to keep your hands as dry as possible. As soon as the tent is up, put all of your equipment in, as this should not take even a minute to do, do this before looking for firewood. If your are going to be sleeping here for a few days, it would be a good idea to clear most of the snow from inside the tent, leaving a few inches around the wall of the tent, put this snow around the outside of the tent, believe it or not this will insulate very well and add up to 5 degrees to the inside of the tent! When collecting wood be sure it is a dry as you can find, standing dead wood is best, dead wood could appear to be sodden, but often this is only on the outside and the inside being perfectly dry.

This will need testing though as the wood will probably be frozen, this is done by taking a sliver of the wood and placing it on your tongue, your 98 degree body temperature will thaw this very rapidly, if the sliver is damp it will feel damp on your tongue, if it is dry it will be similar to putting blotting paper on your tongue.

Gather just enough wood to make small fire, just big enough to boil some water for a brew, collect more wood while this boiling, in theory by the time you back tea will be ready! Drink your tea to get warm, add another layer of clothing, and get more wood.

If at all possible, have the fire inside it really does not have to be very big, keep everything as dry as you can, hang any wet clothes in the top of the tent to dry, the air temperature can be as much as 30 degrees higher than at ground level.

You will have no shortage of water, just melt snow, make sure not to eat snow, this does no good what so ever, in fact it is very bad for the following reasons, for a start, eating snow vastly lowers your body temperature, which is obviously dangerous, secondly, it will not hydrate you as your body uses more energy thawing the snow than it gets from it, thirdly, it can give you a cold burn on your lips and in your mouth, so don’t do it!!

Another thing to keep in mind when setting up camp, is your surroundings, of course this is with all camps not just snow, try to find somewhere with natural shelter, like a hill or trees etc, anything to keep the wind down, we all know about the wind chill factor, details of how to calculate the wind chill can be found on the “OUT HERE” web site.