Tyson Gillard | 07.16.2013

1  Find an appropriate spot to build your snow cave.  Some important things to remember when selecting a site:

  • Assess the location's vulnerability to potential avalanche threat.  Avoid site if this is a possible danger.
  • Look for a substantial snow drift near ridges or trees that has a snow depth of at least 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters).  Pile extra snow on to achieve this depth if necessary.
  • Make sure the snow pack is of a desirable consistency (not granular or corn type) and allow at least an hour after packing the snow down for the snow crystals to meld together.  This will increase the structural integrity of the cave.

2  Start carving out a tunnel in a slightly upward direction.  Make the tunnel slightly wider than the occupants body.

3  Continue to shape a domed area that will allow the occupants to at least sit up comfortably in the main space.  Be sure to make your walls at least 1 foot (0.3 meters) thick.  By increasing the thickness of the walls, the better insulated and warmer the cave will be.

4  Begin to sculpt an elevated area to serve as a sleeping platform.  Raising this area ensures that the occupants will be closer to the warmer air in the finished cave.

5  Finish carving out the elevated sleeping area and working platform.  Using gloved hands for the final shaping will aid in smoothing out any rough surfaces which will help to prevent dripping as temperature inside the cave increases.

6  Create a hole for ventilation.

7  Build a snow-pack block to help prevent drafts at the entrance.


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