Saturday, February 11, 2006

Snow Caving: does it work and how do you build one?

We took the varisity scouts snow caving last night as Apsen Grove. There were at least 3 other scout groups there as it got dark (and only two or three including us in the morning). (To my knowledge, no scouts were lost, injured, killed or mained in any of the groups this weekend. )

Building a snow cave is simple but time consuming. Before we went snow caving, we went up and piled our snow so that it could consolidate for a few days. Life happened and we had to delay a week. So we actually let it settle for 1.5 weeks. We made our snow pile in a tree well so that we could start the entrance well below the top of the mound. The trick to the entrance is to make it as small as possible (we could crawl through it) and make it slope up into the cave to trap warm air inside. After carving the entrance, start working on the chamber. We used a cheap plastic walmart type tobogan sled to muck out the snow. That was a good idea. We also used an electric light to light the cave during digging. Ideally, the cave will be dug while its still light out so that one can use the sunlight to guage the thickness of the walls. The walls and cieling should be thin enough that you can barely see sunlight shining though (too thin = cold, too thick = collapse risk). In the dark, we just used a flashlight to gauge thickness. You'll have to turn on the inside light to guage the thickness, but the way. We used an avalanche shovel to dig. That was perfect.

It's probably a good idea to bring a pair of clothes to wear while digging because you'll get sweaty and covered with snow during the process. Once the cave is done and you are inside, its just a matter of spreading out the sleeping stuff and calling it a night. We stayed above 25 at night even though it got down to 6 outside. I was surprised. It actually works and that was one of the best nights I've spent sleeping in the winter.

This trip was the second time that I've had my snot freeze as it dripped from my nose (my nose runs clear and slow at about 25 degrees). The scouts thought that my snotcicle was cool, as did I. The other time was XC skiing out to Doughnut falls back when that was allowed.

1 comment:

Dawnawanna said...

You can't ski out to Doughnut Falls anymore? That's it, I'm not moving back.