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View Full Version : man vs. nature - nature wins again



dropkick
2007-05-27, 03:22
Was flipping through the channels again and ran apon "Man Vs. Nature" again watched for a short time and then switched off again. Was going to ignore what he did but it continued to bug me so I decided to post about it.

He built a bad snow shelter, and as I live and grew up with the snow this was kind of close to home.

He had a peice of how you build them but no real understanding.

The shelter he built would only be an improvement over just lying in the snow if you had a heat source (said he had none) or if you had to worry about wind chill - and he said before he started to dig that he was out of the wind (the ridgeline was protecting him)

This is what he built (in a amazingly short amount of time with limited tools - while off camera):
http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2006-3/1165284/incorrect.JPG
He made the sleep shelf correctly if he would have dug the hole correctly - raised so the cold air "pools" below the sleep area and doesn't rob you of any warmth build up.
However he built it at the bottom of a well, and cold air is going to roll off the ridge and fill his hole all the way to the top. The raised shelf might as well not be there.

This is how he should have built it:
http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2006-3/1165284/correct.JPG
The entrance below the shelf, with a dip in it to trap the cold air.


-If he could have closed the top of his trench in some way his shelter would have worked. Not as good as the shelter above, but it would have at least kept him somewhat warm instead of stealing it away.

TeeDee
2007-05-27, 16:32
Is a "cave-in" any worry?

Your second picture is what I've always thought of as a "snow cave".

dropkick
2007-05-27, 23:48
Cave in is always going to depend on the type of snow, how it's layered and whether it's sticky enough. You wouldn't be able to build anything if the snow was too powdery or grainy.

- I'd be much happier having the 2 feet of snow in the roof of the "snow cave" collapse on me instead of the 5 feet of it in his trench.

Take-a-knee
2007-05-28, 00:42
A "cave in" is most likely caused by an avalanche. The lesson here is stay out of, and especially don't camp in, avalanche prone areas. Really smart experienced himalayan climbers don't die from falls or exposure, they do get killed from avalanches periodically. The nearly superhuman Greg Lowe comes to mind. Ed Viestur is tough, smart and lucky.

Geo.
2007-05-28, 06:23
Was flipping through the channels again and ran apon "Man Vs. Nature" again watched for a short time and then switched off again. Was going to ignore what he did but it continued to bug me so I decided to post about it.

Good post Dropkick. No wonder that example bugged you - I'm no snowcave expert, but that first example looks like a disaster on a hair trigger, it's a wonder it went to air! (in more ways than one) ;)
Your example was the way I was taught to build a cave, (important that the sleeping bench be higher than the tunnel entrance) - couple of refinements being a small vent hole and also making the roof of the sleeping chamber dome shaped so water runs down the sides with less chance of dripping down on you.
I've never spent a night in a snowcave, but believe they can be warmer than a tent if built correctly.
We had a disaster some years ago here when an army squad were engaged in a mountain exercise. They got caught out in unexpected extremely bad weather and couldn't be accessed for a few days - they got separated and several died of exposure. They'd tried to build a shelter using their packs but that didn't work. A civilian climber who was also in the same area and also expected to have died, walked out after the storms alive and well after having built a snowcave and sitting it out.

KLeth
2007-05-28, 08:12
I am no expert in snow shelters either but the shaft approach must be harder to ventilate. CO2 is heavier than O2 and will "roll" down a shaft but cold air is also "rolls" down.
Ventilation might have worked due to the cold air :aetsch: and bad design.

Also it is much easier to dig in than to dig down - I have used that approach when camouflaging.

Iceman
2007-05-28, 10:48
Good point Dropkick. I have never tried a snow cave. Often we snowshoe in enough snow for a cave, but I have only practiced constructing a snow trench. Both look like a cold, miserable night, but may save you...

The reason I have only tried the trench, is because it's construction poses less risk to the digger of getting soaked during it's construction, and the trench does not require the snow to be in the "right" condition. A trench can basically be dug in any type snow. You can also dig a really long trench, or an X shaped trench for more sleepers... without an increased risk of cave in associated with a larger size cave.

Your trench can be either covered with branches, then snow, or blocks of snow... we carry painters drop clothes (plastic) in our winter sled survival kits, to assist with emergency trench construction....drop clothes over the branches, before the snow covering. You can also use the plastic over ones self during trench construction to keep dry during construction, and in the trench to keep the sleepers dry from dripping water....

Most of these shelter aren't necessarily warm, but do keep the person out of the wind, the real killer IMHO.

oops56
2007-05-28, 11:01
All i need is a path for the mailman so he can bring my ebay stoves:adore: :adore:

Thudley
2007-05-28, 11:54
There have been several rescues of climbers on Mt. Hood who used snow caves to survive for days on the mountain in bad weather. Hood is famous for rescues. It's not a difficult climb, and some people tend to ignore the weather signs figuring they can get down quickly enough. Almost every year, someone either dies on, or gets rescued from, these mountains. Out here, climbers are well versed in building snow caves. This thread has reminded me that I need to do a "re-qual".

Ed

Amigi
2007-05-28, 14:58
Being as I live in Florida, I dont have anything to add. :p

Take-a-knee
2007-05-28, 17:18
Back in my arctic infantry days we used to sleep out in snow trenches overnite, it was required twice each winter. It gets you out of the breeze. Where we trained in mid winter there usually was only a couple of feet of snow and it was as dry as powder, totally unsuitable for building a snow cave. I read after I left AK that when snow falls during different temperatures, there can be a gradient in the snow bank itself. If you pile these layers of snow on a cold day, they will "sinter" into a mass firm enough to dig into. I've never had a chance to try it.

Iceman
2007-05-28, 18:54
Being as I live in Florida, I dont have anything to add. :p


Hey Amigi, maybe you can start a thread on gator wraslin' or ducking a hurricane or something? :biggrin:

oops56
2007-05-28, 19:04
Hey Amigi, maybe you can start a thread on gator wraslin' or ducking a hurricane or something? :biggrin:


or put out a fire

Rhino-lfl
2007-05-29, 12:25
Being as I live in Florida, I dont have anything to add. :p


How about mosquito deterrence :)

But I have nothing to add either, even though I live in the NE and we get tons of snow, I hate snow, and prefer to sit indoors watching tv, playing video games and drinking whiskey. Cold sucks.

Streamweaver
2007-05-31, 11:56
Dont take any advice you see on Man Vs Wild!! Bear Grylls is a moron!

Amigi
2007-05-31, 15:36
or put out a fire

Actually, not far from the truth. I have been hiking the fire lines for the last three weeks in my time off. We clear fallen trees that cross the line or tag them with red tape for the professional crews who come in via heli.
It isnt easy hiking at all, hot as hell and most of its rough ground. But it's rewarding.