Camping

    Choosing Your Snow Cave Location

    Snow Cave — Before you waste hours of digging, you will need to find a suitable location for your snow cave.

    First, make sure the area is safe from avalanches. Second, decide which of the three main ways of building a snow cave are most suitable for your location: piling and then digging into a snow mound, digging into a large snow bank or digging down into deep snow.

    For any of these three options, you will need to have snow that is at least 4-5 feet high and at least 8 feet wide at the narrowest point.

    1. Piling Snow and Digging it Out

    This type of snow cave can be built anywhere there is snow. For most areas of the world, this is the only option. You can create this type of igloo-shaped snow cave by creating a large pile of snow, waiting at least 2 hours and then digging it out.

    This is the most common type of snow cave but also the most time consuming because the snow must be moved twice. Plan for at least 3 hours to pile and an additional 3 hours to dig it out.

    Next:
    1. Piling a Snow Cave
    2. Digging Out a Snow Cave
    3. Sleeping in a Snow Cave

     

    2. Digging into a Snow Bank

    To dig a snow cave into a snow bank, you will need a snow bank that is at least 5 ft. high but preferrably about 10 ft. high. Also, it will need to be at least 8 feet wide at the narrowest point to accomodate sleeping.

    If you have an avalanche pole or a ski pole (remove the basket first) you can use it to depth check the snow bank to see if it is a sufficient size. Otherwise, you may find trees or rocks when you start digging into your snow bank.

    When you are digging, it will be more efficient if there is a hill below the door so you can easily get rid of the snow. Before digging you may need to mark the roof area if it is likely that someone could walk on it. Finally, make sure you include a vent hole.

    Next:
    1. Digging Out a Snow Cave
    2. Sleeping in a Snow Cave

     

    Digging Down Into the Snow

    In order to dig an underground snow cave, the snow field will need to be at least 4-5 feet deep. Use an avalanche pole or a ski pole (remove the basket first) to depth check the snow to see if it is deep enough.

    This method is the most prone to collapse. Mark the roof area with noticeable markings like ski poles or logs and make sure to include a vent hole. Do not walk on the roof area because it does not have the same strength as a domed roof.

    Next:
    1. Digging Out a Snow Cave
    2. Sleeping in a Snow Cave