Forums: Climbing Disciplines: Alpine & Ice:
Living in snow cave?
RSS FeedRSS Feeds for Alpine & Ice

Premier Sponsor:

 
First page Previous page 1 2 3 Next page Last page  View All


climbingaggie03


Nov 28, 2008, 8:48 PM
Post #1 of 75 (11995 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Mar 18, 2004
Posts: 1172

Living in snow cave?
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

So I'm curious if anyone out there has spent any extended period of time in a snow cave or igloo.

I'm planning on working the ski season again this year, but in an effort to avoid the cramped, smelly, and dirty employee housing, and to save money, I'm thinking about camping instead. My first thought was my tent, but I figure with lows in the negative teens to 20's last year, a snow shelter would be warmer.

I'm not dead set on doing this, and I'll always have couches to sleep on if for some reason, I don't want to sleep outside. I'll also have hot showers and meals. But i am wondering if anyone has spent a comparable amount of time in a snow shelter and could offer me tips/advice. Especially if there are any features that you found that made your shelter more livable? shelves? candle? Also do you think an Igloo or Cave would be better?

I know that I'll need to make sure that it's ventilated well, and that if we get a warm spell, the shelter's stability can be compromised, mostly I'm wondering if people think that living in a snow shelter for 2 1/2 months, or so, is feasible and any advice to make it more comfortable.


evanwish


Nov 29, 2008, 12:34 AM
Post #2 of 75 (11964 views)
Shortcut

Registered: May 22, 2007
Posts: 1040

Re: [climbingaggie03] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

i've never spent an extended period in a snow cave, only one night, but it was surprisingly comfortable!

if you have plenty of time to build it, i would suggest the Iglo. plus they're alot easier to build on flat ground.

as you probably already know, the most important thing is that your entrance is below your sleaping quarters and that you have sufficient ventilation above your head. (this will provide ventilation and prevent too much dripping)

if you're going to be staying long, find a big snow drift (or pile one up bigger) and make yourself a nice large cave. make sure it has a perfectly arched dome ceiling! any ridges or bumbs are where water will collect and drip. If its perfectly smooth the water will follow the roof and down the wall..


I would suggest rebuilding it often, especially after those warm spells. but you'd be surprised at how strong a snow cave or iglo can be when its cold enough. we once got 13 guys to climb on top of one we made and it still didn't break! (its diameter was about 10 feet)


juiced442


Nov 29, 2008, 1:03 AM
Post #3 of 75 (11960 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Oct 31, 2008
Posts: 11

Re: [climbingaggie03] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

also dont build a cave where the snow plow plows. an unfortunate soul did this a few years ago. rip


julio412


Nov 29, 2008, 2:05 AM
Post #4 of 75 (11952 views)
Shortcut

Registered: May 16, 2005
Posts: 144

Re: [climbingaggie03] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

I can only offer advice about living in the cold(winter-PU camper, Coleman tent)
Store your water in a "Igloo"contractor type of water jug;keeps water from freezing.
Keep a pee bottle around.
Security-either pack up every day,camp in a very obscure spot, or risk losing everything; odds are you're not the only one "bumming it".
In your budget incorporate a day a week to dry out and get cleaned up.
Also a big double mantle lantern really helps with warmth and light.
All the best
Julio


jeremyash


Nov 29, 2008, 2:47 AM
Post #5 of 75 (11944 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Sep 15, 2007
Posts: 46

Re: [climbingaggie03] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

There was an article in Outside last year some time about a guy who wanted to set up a large campsite of igloos for he and his friends to spend some time in. I forget which issue though : ( It may have been some time in december or january...ish

But one thing they suggested was this:
http://outside.away.com/...200412/20041214.html

I haven't used it, but i guess its a tool to help you properly form your igloo. Hope this helps, and i'll try to find that article for you.

-Jeremy


jeremyash


Nov 29, 2008, 2:49 AM
Post #6 of 75 (11943 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Sep 15, 2007
Posts: 46

Re: [climbingaggie03] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

....found it

http://outside.away.com/...gloo-building-1.html


climbingaggie03


Nov 29, 2008, 10:59 AM
Post #7 of 75 (11884 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Mar 18, 2004
Posts: 1172

Re: [jeremyash] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

hmmm, that looks interesting, it seems like a bit much to pay for, but maybe I can find a deal...


Partner angry


Nov 29, 2008, 11:08 AM
Post #8 of 75 (11874 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Jul 21, 2003
Posts: 8405

Re: [climbingaggie03] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

I'm assuming you'll be camping on the ground just outside of the employee housing. Couldn't you just set up the tent next to one wall, then build snow walls on the other sides.

Or, since being small or mobile isn't a huge problem, put a propane heater in the tent. Certainly that would be a lot simpler than constantly worrying about all the issues of maintaining an igloo.

If it were me, I'd set the tent up as close to the laundry room as possible and route the dryer exhaust through the tent. You'll be warm and downy fresh all the time.


climbingaggie03


Nov 29, 2008, 11:16 AM
Post #9 of 75 (11867 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Mar 18, 2004
Posts: 1172

Re: [angry] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

That would be nice, but No, I'll be on some forest service land about a 5 minute walk from work. I'm planning on a nice shady stealthy spot. So small and mobile aren't a huge problem.

I'm not too fired up on the propane heater thing, with the concerns with melting the tent, and CO poisoning, I don't think that I would be comfortable with the idea of sleeping with it on at night. any way around these concerns angry?

Also, anybody have any ideas on how to make the floor more comfortable? I've got the deluxe Thermarest dreamtime mattress, so no worries for sleeping, I'm wondering about the rest of the floor, maybe a nylon tarp and a couple of closed cell foam pads? or the outside article mentioned putting carpet in.


Partner angry


Nov 29, 2008, 11:27 AM
Post #10 of 75 (11860 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Jul 21, 2003
Posts: 8405

Re: [climbingaggie03] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Well, the camping like that I've done has been in a canvas tent. Though if you keep the thing from touching the walls, it won't melt.

Also, you don't sleep with it on. You need to have bags/blankets warm enough to sleep but first thing in the morning, you roll over and fire it up. By the time you get up, it's warm in the tent.

For CO2 and CO, propane burns really cleanly. A propane heater wouldn't be any worse, maybe better, than a propane stove. They do produce a lot of heat though, so it wouldn't hurt to leave the zipper a little open. That's probably a good idea when cooking too.

For the floor, get a cot.


Valarc


Nov 29, 2008, 11:28 AM
Post #11 of 75 (11858 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 19, 2007
Posts: 1473

Re: [climbingaggie03] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

If you use a catalytic propane heater, there's no worry about CO. I've used a sportcat from coleman and it's pretty damn handy. I wouldn't be a big fan of leaving it running while asleep, but it can be nice to warm the tent up in the morning before getting dressed.


altelis


Nov 29, 2008, 2:38 PM
Post #12 of 75 (11803 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Nov 10, 2004
Posts: 2168

Re: [climbingaggie03] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

can't say that i have- but i have some friends who live on the backside of Solitude and Brighton in Utah and they live in a yurt.

i would think (given your area gets enough snow) that this would be your best bet.

no need to worry about melting/etc. they had a wood stove, but you wouldn't NEED one, and a propane heater would certainly do the trick.

an actual yurt is expensive, but fashioning a yurt out of spare wood/ downed wood wouldn't be all that difficult. just need to get out there early enough to beat any of the first big dumps (probably too late, ehBlush)


adamtd


Dec 2, 2008, 6:53 PM
Post #13 of 75 (11690 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Nov 11, 2002
Posts: 187

Re: [climbingaggie03] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (1 rating)  
Can't Post

Well, for all the people that answered your question, but have never spent any time in an igloo, snow cave, or snow quinzee (sp?)... I'll give you an educated opinion. I lived in three seperate snow quinzzees over 15 days. We would ski into a cirque in the Wind River Range, climb the mountains in the area, skiing down them, and after 5 days, move on to the next area to build another quinzee. First, what is an igloo... igloos are built with blocks; snow caves are dug into an already existing snow pile/cornice/snow wall; quinzees are a pile of snow you make and then dig out. A quinzee is probably more like what you are thinking of building so here is a tip. Pile up a couple of packs and then pile the snow on and around them, packing it well as you go along. As you're carving out the inside walls, first, remember that an arch is the strongest geometric shape, so maintain a good arch. I want to make a special safety note here... I've had a snow quinzee collapse on me while I was digging it out. Have someone always standing by while you're digging out the quinzee incase it collapses, in which case they can grab you by your feet and pull you out. Until you have a proper arch inside, don't consider your quinzee stable. Before you start digging out the quinzee, push a series of sticks/wands/ski poles perpendicularly into the exterior wall a minimum of 12" deep (maybe for you 18"-24" since you'll be in it for a prolonged time). Place them all around, on top and at all different heights. Place them all a uniform depth into the snow. As you dig out the quinzee, you're digging for these sticks. These ensure you don't make your walls too thin, but if you never reach them that's fine. You'll want to smooth the walls as you go, or else when the temperatures climb above freezing, which they will, it'll keep water from dripping on you. Around the edge of your living space pad, carve a small trench to keep this water away from your living area. When you start to tunnel, pick the leeward side. Tunnel to your packs, and pull them out, you just saved that much work. When you dig out the quinzee, make the tunnel lower than the level you'll be sleeping on. In fact, if you can have the living space floor even with the ceiling of the tunnel, it'll trap the hot air and minimize cold air from replacing the trapped warm air. In addition you'll have a nice bench to sit on. Invest in several foam pads (cheap ones are fine, and sleep on two for added warmth and comfort), to lay out on the floor to completely cover it, so as to ensure you don't roll over onto the snow at night, and it'll give you more room to sprawl out. You can even extend it over the edge of your bench, so you can sit on it without getting your legs wet and cold. Have a little piece that you can throw on the ground at the base of your bench for when you dangle your feet over. Make sure you put a couple of vent holes in the wall. I like doing two on opposite sides down low, and then 90 degree to those, two holes up high. This allows for air exchange and a little cross ventilation, without being overwhelming. Don't cook in your quinzee... CO poisoning is a very real danger (I'm a firefighter-paramedic, trust me), far greater than in a tent due to an even greater decrease in ventilation. As far as temperatures, in our quinzees it got above freezing very often, and was quite comfortable even in just long underwear. We were sleeping 5 in a quinzee, but it was also much larger to fit us all. Lighting wise, a candle worked very well for me, when it came to reading. Dig a little shelf in the wall and make a vertical hole just above it, or else the melting water will drip onto your candle putting it out. I noticed someone else mentioned keeping water in a thermos or cooler. We built walls extending past the door of our quinzee, flattened them off, and used them as our kitchen and "working" surfaces. Under them, we cut out blocks. We were able to store our nalgenes in insulated sleeves, as well as a pot full of water (uninsulated) ready to go for the morning, inside of this "ice box" and we replaced the blocks as doors. In the morning there was a very thin layer of ice on the pot of water, and the nalgenes were completely uniced. It's worth noting that snow within the snow pack stays at or just below freezing. Only the very surface layers of snow get colder (or warmer for that matter)... snow is a great insulator. I guess it's worth mentioning here, that when we were staying in these quinzees, temperatures got as low as -40F at night on two occasions, and hovered around -10F regularly. I know you said you aren't dead set on doing this yet, and it would certainly have challenges. It is worth noting that it would be an awesome experience, and you'd always have some good stories to tell. How many people can say they lived in a snow shelter for 2.5 months, you could even do it just for a short stint for the fun of it. Best of luck to you, and if you have any other questions PM me. Cheers, Adam


dr_feelgood


Dec 2, 2008, 6:54 PM
Post #14 of 75 (11683 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 6, 2004
Posts: 26060

Re: [adamtd] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

We need paragraph structure in aisle three.


adamtd


Dec 2, 2008, 7:08 PM
Post #15 of 75 (11670 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Nov 11, 2002
Posts: 187

Re: [dr_feelgood] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Fair enough Dr. Feelgood. I failed to use proper paragraph structure in my 2.5"x1.5" frame I had to write it in... I actually thought about it but I was also worried about there being a character limit. Of course if I thought about it, I'd have reached the limit well before I finish my little novelette.


graniteboy


Dec 3, 2008, 4:56 PM
Post #16 of 75 (11589 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Dec 1, 2001
Posts: 1092

Re: [adamtd] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (3 ratings)  
Can't Post

Hmmmm...I've lived in both igloos and snow caves for extended periods (>40 days at a stretch) and one year did exactly what you're thinking of. Taught skiing and lived in a cave all winter.
I noticed that someone above wrote some sort of mini thesis on snow life, and I didn't have time to wade thru all that verbiage...but this is what I have to say about the matter.

1) A cave is preferable. High winds can tear an igloo to shreds and or blow the chinking out between the blocks. A well built igloo is great, but Unless you have bona fide pack ice to build your igloo out of, use a cave. And Colorado doesn't have arctic sea ice to build things out of.
2) use a vapor barrier liner in your bag, and a good bivy sack outside of it. The humidity in a cave is always, i mean always, at 100%. which means that, if you spend more than a couple weeks living in this cave, your bag will always be damp, and you will end up shivering every night for the 1st half hour while thawing out all that frozen vapor. In conjunction with the fact that you'll always be breathing cold damp air, eventually, this will help to get you sick with pneumonia and you can then live in the ICU for awhile...

3) Take your bag into the laundry and run it in the dryer once a week. Helps with vapor issue stated above.
4) Think about an evening bartending job. You can make twice as much $$ in tips that way, as compared to teaching...and can actually live in a house, and won't hafta listen to your cave settling around you at night. But you won't get to feel like such a lone misunderstood wolf...you decide which you like better.
5) speaking of settling...snow is a viscoelastic substance.... eventually your cave will shrink in height. be prepared to shovel it bigger (taller) once a week. think about that when you build it to begin with....
6) don't forget to ventilate the thing. and don't kill yourself with carbon monoxide from your stove.

If you have questions, drop me a line. I could write a dissertation, but i gotta go.


Partner chugach001


Dec 8, 2008, 10:03 AM
Post #17 of 75 (11451 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Oct 21, 2002
Posts: 311

Re: [graniteboy] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

My wife and I spent 8 unplanned days in a cave and, as mentioned, shoveled about 1 foot off the roof once during the stay. EVERYTHING was soaked. It was either frozen or damp when we slept in it.

No fun, especially when you were planning on climbing and sleeping in a tent.


dingus


Dec 8, 2008, 10:21 AM
Post #18 of 75 (11435 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Dec 16, 2002
Posts: 17398

Re: [graniteboy] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

graniteboy wrote:
Hmmmm...I've lived in both igloos and snow caves for extended periods (>40 days at a stretch) and one year did exactly what you're thinking of. Taught skiing and lived in a cave all winter.
I noticed that someone above wrote some sort of mini thesis on snow life, and I didn't have time to wade thru all that verbiage...but this is what I have to say about the matter.

1) A cave is preferable. High winds can tear an igloo to shreds and or blow the chinking out between the blocks. A well built igloo is great, but Unless you have bona fide pack ice to build your igloo out of, use a cave. And Colorado doesn't have arctic sea ice to build things out of.
2) use a vapor barrier liner in your bag, and a good bivy sack outside of it. The humidity in a cave is always, i mean always, at 100%. which means that, if you spend more than a couple weeks living in this cave, your bag will always be damp, and you will end up shivering every night for the 1st half hour while thawing out all that frozen vapor. In conjunction with the fact that you'll always be breathing cold damp air, eventually, this will help to get you sick with pneumonia and you can then live in the ICU for awhile...

3) Take your bag into the laundry and run it in the dryer once a week. Helps with vapor issue stated above.
4) Think about an evening bartending job. You can make twice as much $$ in tips that way, as compared to teaching...and can actually live in a house, and won't hafta listen to your cave settling around you at night. But you won't get to feel like such a lone misunderstood wolf...you decide which you like better.
5) speaking of settling...snow is a viscoelastic substance.... eventually your cave will shrink in height. be prepared to shovel it bigger (taller) once a week. think about that when you build it to begin with....
6) don't forget to ventilate the thing. and don't kill yourself with carbon monoxide from your stove.

If you have questions, drop me a line. I could write a dissertation, but i gotta go.

You make it sound so.... romantic!

Sounds like a truly and I mean TRULY wretched existence.

GO FOR IT!

DMT


reg


Dec 8, 2008, 10:53 AM
Post #19 of 75 (11399 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Nov 10, 2004
Posts: 1560

Re: [climbingaggie03] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

i like angry's idea - a tent, a large tent ie: family so you can stand up, walk around, have a friend over for cribbage, maybe a table and a couple camp chairs AND one of these fer sure. come on brother, enjoy the time, be comfortable and limit the suffering. Cool


graniteboy


Dec 8, 2008, 10:57 AM
Post #20 of 75 (11389 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Dec 1, 2001
Posts: 1092

Re: [dingus] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Yeah, well, there's not much that's romantic about being homeless in the winter, no matter where you are....except maybe baja california and points south.
But a cave sure beats the hell out of a tent for dealing with sub zero temps, high winds, etc.

If you plan on living in a tent anyway, you should have a cave that you can hole up in during foul weather and cold spells. Good luck out there.


chadnsc


Dec 8, 2008, 11:15 AM
Post #21 of 75 (11367 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Nov 24, 2003
Posts: 4449

Re: [climbingaggie03] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

jeremyash wrote:
But one thing they suggested was this:
http://outside.away.com/...200412/20041214.html

I haven't used it, but i guess its a tool to help you properly form your igloo. Hope this helps, and i'll try to find that article for you.

-Jeremy

climbingaggie03 wrote:
hmmm, that looks interesting, it seems like a bit much to pay for, but maybe I can find a deal...
The product you're linking is actually well worth its cost if you're going to be in an area without large amounts of hard packed snow. The basket is used to hold and compact loose snow into useable, properly angled blocks of snow. While it still takes about 3 hours to build a proper igloo I have found using the product way, way easier than traditional igloo building methods using a snow saw.

Here is a link to a good review of the Icebox tool with a great pictorial showing how it is used.

Edit:
Whoops! I guess the link requires a paid subscription! I am sorry about this; I thought it was a free article. Please see a later post for a summary of the article with pictures.



(This post was edited by chadnsc on Dec 8, 2008, 2:33 PM)


dingus


Dec 8, 2008, 11:23 AM
Post #22 of 75 (11359 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Dec 16, 2002
Posts: 17398

Re: [graniteboy] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

graniteboy wrote:
Yeah, well, there's not much that's romantic about being homeless in the winter, no matter where you are....

I'd go with one of these 'snow caves', all other things being equal



DMT


graniteboy


Dec 8, 2008, 12:51 PM
Post #23 of 75 (11328 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Dec 1, 2001
Posts: 1092

Re: [dingus] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

yup. el desierto. That's exactly why I'm goin to baja for a few weeks. sea kayaking next to the dolphins in 80 degree water in december beats the hell outta waiting around here while no snow falls and the ice hasn't really formed up yet.


dynosore


Dec 8, 2008, 12:59 PM
Post #24 of 75 (11317 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Jul 29, 2004
Posts: 1768

Re: [climbingaggie03] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Get a used wall tent for a few hundred instead. You will be FAR more comfortable.


jrathfon


Dec 8, 2008, 2:04 PM
Post #25 of 75 (11271 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Jun 5, 2006
Posts: 494

Re: [chadnsc] Living in snow cave? [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

A rubbermaid tub is about $3 at walmart.

A beer case box with a garbage bag liner is ~$14-30 depending on the quality, but comes with 24 beers.

You can pack snow into either to make a pseudo igloo (out of snow not ice).

We made a really nice snow-gloo in my backyard and camped in it for 3 days with only 5 inches of snow. (I was probably 14) The only thing we used were 3 boxes and 3 garbage bags to form the blocks, then just pack all the joints with snow to make it seamless. A rubbermaid tub would eliminate the soggy cardboard problem.

First page Previous page 1 2 3 Next page Last page  View All

Forums : Climbing Disciplines : Alpine & Ice

 


Search for (options)

Log In:

Username:
Password: Remember me:

Go Register
Go Lost Password?



Follow us on Twiter Become a Fan on Facebook