Snow Camping Hints
by Susan McDonough
These are few of the snow camping tips we found on the beginners trip. Missing is how to get a Sherpa to carry your pack and how to get a pizza delivered to the campsite. We are, however, open to any reader suggestion on how to tackle these important issues.
Start with boiling water in your pot prior to melting snow in it for drinking water. This avoids the burning, melting and general hissing you get when you just dump the freezing snow in the pot.
Those down booties with little foam bottoms can be a lightweight addition to the pack. They attach to the feet with draw strings at the top of the bootie or with internal elastic bands over the instep. Since you do a little walking around in the snow with these make sure you choose the type that stays on your feet the best.
Sitting around the campstove can be a pain in the back. Place you skis side by side vertical in the snow with the pattern side facing you. Then fold the sleep pad in half 90 degrees with one side against the skis as a back rest and the other side on the snow for a sit pad. A chaise lounge in the snow. Do this at your own risk as skis can delaminate if too much pressure is put on the ends.
Carefully squeeze the air out of your inflatable pad in the morning to get the humidity out. A space blanket can be used as a ground cloth. It is light, compact and damp proof but it is a little noisy. If you are a touchy sleeper you might want to bring a conventional ground cloth. Whatever ground cloth you use, be sure and fold it carefully so as to not trap air and bulk up your pack.
For that little extra warmth at night, boil your drinking water and put the hot water in your drinking bottle (a nalgene bottle doesn't seem to taste too plastic later). Put the top on tight (really tight) and put it in your sleeping bed to warm up your bag before you go to bed. Keep a little candy or fat by your bed in case you wake up cold. Eating something high in fat can restart your internal heater.
To keep your stove from getting clogged with soot, use a small squeeze bottle of alcohol as a starter. Label it carefully so you won't mix it up with the Peppermint Snapps. And put a little chapstick on the pump cup connection instead of spit. The connection will hold better.
A foam mouse pad wrapped with aluminum foil makes a nice pad for your stove.
A coffee can fits just right around a SVEA stove if you can't find your pot. Also the deep top of a double boiler pot can be turned upside down over a pot of boiling water. Fill the lid with snow and the top helps the water in the pot to boil and start the snow melting in the inverted top.
Test your stove (outside is a good idea) to make sure it is in good working order before you pack it up for the trip. The tiny rings and connections can crack over the summer and make a real mess in your pack. Cold food is no fun on a snow trip. It is a good idea to bring a small kit of spare parts for your stove too.
When setting up your tent in windy conditions, put pack in tent as extra weight so it doesn't blow away while you are setting up camp.
Trader Joe instant soups were a winner in the quick and tasty meal department. Some people throw the paper container away and put the ingredients in a zip lock bag and eat out of the bag. Choose the zip lock bag carefully because the boiling water sometimes causes a leak in the bag.