Artic kit questions.

Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
The pines are seldom mote than 10 meters high in that part of Scandinavia. No danger.

We were taught not to compress the snow, as it would be much more difficult to excavate, and make for a heavier roof ( not good in case of a cave in).
To increase the strength, and tell you how far up you can go, we inserted the skid. Slightly from the side.
Excavated from below until we reached the skis in the middle of the roof, then went down in an arch.

The sides we compressed by patting it more solid.

No doubt that the OP will have plenty of teaching in digging in snow on his Arcic course!

It seems UK might experience colder temperatures night time this coming days, good exercise for OP!
 
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Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
It is not the physical act of snow compression which hardens snow.
What really happens is snow metamorphosis, it changes character right down to the individual flakes and crystals.
Friction and compression heat the surfaces so they melt. Then they freeze, they fuse, together.
Outside my house at -10C, you can feel it happen. Takes about 30 minutes at most to really set up hard.
Walk on it with snowshoes to stir it up. Come back in 30 minutes = hard enough to walk on.
Same when they plow the streets. 30 minutes and you can cut the berm into blocks.

This is what you have to learn to study when you dig snow pits to look for slab avalanche conditions.
The weak layers of big crystals are like ball bearings.
We still get flat-land idiots who believe it's OK to snowmobile across the top of a big slope.
No, you climb. Vertical tracks and turn at the tops.
High marking cornices is a sport for the experienced with 90mph NOX-boosted sleds.

Inuit build igloolik in hard packed snow. They have 30 different words for snow conditions.
Even big igloolik are strong enough to stand on. Blocks of ice or panels of fish skin for light inside
besides the kudliq (quilliq) seal blubber lamp/cooker. Then the inside surface melts and freezes like a 1" thick shell.

Get a really rusty old hand saw and grind 2 tpi in a 3" wide long blade for a snow knife.
 
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Greg

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Jul 16, 2006
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Pembrokeshire
Snow holes - are they the horisontal with a ledge ( or without)?

I know it sounds crazy, but the horisontally dug shelters are quite nice. I recall the temp inside was just a few minus, very pleasant.
The graves, ( vertical dug) with ir without a ledge, are not fun. Those we did only in emergency.

I hope the OP has a chance to practice on those sniw shelters.

My favourite was and is the pine shelter. Love the sound in the tree.
We used to tunnel into the snow about 2m then caved out the interior big enough for 4 guys leaving one big sleeping shelf and dropped a cold air trench where our feet were... Buuld a small shelf for a candle ... Punch a hole through the roof with a ski pole and put a set of skis in an 'X' on the roof outside.
Depending on the snow depth and conditions we'd also use the block & cave method.
The snow graves were 2 man.. Basically a 6ft trench was dug then we carved out a sleeping platform half way down on each side and the roof was covered with either snow blocks or a pegged out basha.
I forgot to mention.. We also used Quinzee shelters too when the snow wasnt deep enough for snowholes but generally that was only during the 2wk survival training phase.
 
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Greg

Full Member
Jul 16, 2006
3,662
103
Pembrokeshire
It is not the physical act of snow compression which hardens snow.
What really happens is snow metamorphosis, it changes character right down to the individual flakes and crystals.
Friction and compression heat the surfaces so they melt. Then they freeze, they fuse, together.
Outside my house at -10C, you can feel it happen. Takes about 30 minutes at most to really set up hard.
Walk on it with snowshoes to stir it up. Come back in 30 minutes = hard enough to walk on.
Same when they plow the streets. 30 minutes and you can cut the berm into blocks.

This is what you have to learn to study when you dig snow pits to look for slab avalanche conditions.
The weak layers of big crystals are like ball bearings.
We still get flat-land idiots who believe it's OK to snowmobile across the top of a big slope.
No, you climb. Vertical tracks and turn at the tops.
High marking cornices is a sport for the experienced with 90mph NOX-boosted sleds.

Inuit build igloolik in hard packed snow. They have 30 different words for snow conditions.
Even big igloolik are strong enough to stand on. Blocks of ice or panels of fish skin for light inside
besides the kudliq (quilliq) seal blubber lamp/cooker. Then the inside surface melts and freezes like a 1" thick shell.

Get a really rusty old hand saw and grind 2 tpi in a 3" wide long blade for a snow knife.
I never got to build an igloo.. Maybe one day :)
 

Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
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Canada
I am no expert but have dug and slept in a few snow holes on the local hills with the kids -- found you have to be super anal about not touching the sides.
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
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2,262
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Because of wetness?
Yes, similar to the old canvas tents during rain.

I have never slept in snow in warm minus temps, I guess the wetness must be quite bad. Needs to be below zero inside the shelter.
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
Optimize your night-time sleeping conditions. Then fool around.
If the drifts are big, cold, dry enough and hard enough to cut,
get out your snow knife and make an igloolik. Dig to the grass. The wall is a spiral.

After they plow my street, the snow berms along the edges set up pretty hard in less than an hour ( say just -10C).
You could cut that up into blocks, skid them all to my front yard on the shovels and build to your heart's content.
If it's an up-screw, we all sleep in the house as planned!!!
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,262
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
It takes time and a lot of practice to build an igloo I would think.

Unless I remember wrongly, a two man horisontal shelter took well under an hour to get finished and ready for sleep.
The grave ( one man) even quicker. Those we learned to do in emergency only. Survival knowledge.

We did sleep in them a few times, but it is not so pleasant.
Cold.
 
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Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
The greatest skills are judging the snow quality and the experience to work quickly when you are desperately cold (-30C)
and you gotta get out of the wind. -30C is bad. You must do something real soon.
Inuit have some 30 different words for snow, each describes a certain texture.
I don't recognize more than maybe 8 and those are the easy ones.

Never forget that the Inuit live on the tundra. By definition there are no trees at all. None, never were, never will be.
You have to dig in like the animals do. Grouse and Ptarmigan fly straight into the snow banks. POOF! they disappear.
Read about the physics of the light and heat trapping in polar bear fur.
 

sunndog

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May 23, 2014
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derbyshire
I built a kinda three sided igloo once.
After I'd dug a snow cave into a 6 foot drift the next day I made a sort of porch over the entrance out of blocks. It's a bit different to building a wall that's straight level and plumb but easy enough if you keep working your way in

This was playing here in England and about -10*c so not shivering and rushing
 
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Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
8,706
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McBride, BC
-10C and you can dress for it with little trouble. Any modest exercise does the rest.
Building with snow, you sure start to pay attention to different snow qualities.
Good job, sunndog. Clearly on everybody's bucket list.

Wind chill is not a linear scale.
Every time you stop, cut a few blocks for a wind break for you and your stove.

Just out of the village, there's a grazing lease that must be 2 miles long N/S.
The blizzards drive up such gigantic drifts that whole families go there with shovels and snow knives
to build and dig and have lots of hot foods and drinks. Two-burner classic petrol Coleman stove cannot be beat.