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41 votes

How to melt snow without fire or body heat?

If you have a clean black garbage bag with you (and if you don't, you really should :)), put the snow into the garbage bag, arrange it in a thin layer inside the bag, and lay the bag in the sun on a ...
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  • 22.2k
28 votes

Skis versus snow shoes - when to choose which for travelling the backcountry?

First off, I want to make clear that this applies to skiing and snowshoeing as a means of long-distance travel. It doesn't directly apply to skiing in specifically for the descents. Skis are better ...
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21 votes
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How much difference does wind chill make if you are inside a snow cave?

The concept of wind chill does not apply in this situation. Wind chill talks about perceived temperature due to additional heat loss due to convection. Meaning without wind, the "heated" air will stay ...
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  • 21.5k
21 votes

How to melt snow without fire or body heat?

A dark coloured water bottle strapped on top of your pack would absorb quite a lot of solar heat on a sunny day. Getting the snow in would be easier with a wide neck, like a bike bottle or Nalgene. ...
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20 votes
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Why don't people in the UK use snowshoes?

This is really interesting, and I think it might be similar to why we don't generally have snow tires / chains etc as a common item here in stores. Certainly the South rarely gets snow, with Wales, ...
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19 votes
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Is it safe to drink snow?

If it is clean, fresh snow, it is safe to drink. This is basically drinking rain water. It hasn't had time to pick up pollutants when it is newly fallen. I live in New England, and kids do this all ...
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  • 4,199
18 votes
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What is the most effective means of melting snow with body heat for drinking?

The best way to melt snow is to put it in a bottle inside your jacket under your mid layers while you're on the move and let your body heat melt it. Do not place it against the skin, leave a layer or ...
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  • 53k
17 votes
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First time snow hiking

I have never been in the area, but from what I can see in the Internet, there indeed are a lot of winter hiking routes in Lenzerheide. And all those routes are signposted. In fact, you can see a map ...
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  • 3,474
15 votes
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What is the most efficient strategy to melt snow using a stove?

For maximum efficiency (i.e. melted water per used fuel) make sure the following things are always true: Always have some water in the pot. Never have only water in the pot. Having water increases ...
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  • 21.5k
14 votes
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Are there any techniques for starting and maintaining a fire in snow?

Aside from what is mentioned in the answers to this question (How to light a fire with wet firewood?) the things you need to be concerned about in winter are the cold, frozen wood, and your fire being ...
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  • 53k
14 votes
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Should I use one or two trekking poles?

They weight of the extra pole is counteracted by the energy saved using it. Poles do more than offer stability, they also save you legs precious energy on the climb, and on the descent. At 16,000ft ...
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  • 53k
14 votes
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Why doesn't it snow much at -30 °C?

It's actually kind of the other way around, it's not that being too cold prevents snow from falling, it's that an absence of moisture in the air allows the atmosphere to cool. Low pressure systems ...
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  • 53k
14 votes
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Skis versus snow shoes - when to choose which for travelling the backcountry?

Summary from a winter spend in Winnipeg long ago compared to Central European conditions: there are probably good reasons why native North American people went with snowshoes while native Europeans ...
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13 votes
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Finding a suitable slope to practice self arrest?

In general it really depends on the snow condition. Angle: If it's powder snow you need a quite steep angle (25 degrees and more). If it's icy/ hard/ wind slab snow then you can try it on a less ...
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  • 2,652
13 votes

Using a "tarp" over the entrance of a snow cave

You want to leave enough room at the entrance for airflow. If the entrance is totally blocked you could possibly suffocate on the CO2 you breathe out. In addition to the entrance, keep an eye on the ...
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13 votes
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Measuring a dangerous snow slope

If you don't have a compass or other instruments, it is possible to measure the slope with your two (ski) poles solely. Just hold one pole vertically by using gravity and stick it into the snow. Hold ...
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  • 12.1k
13 votes

What is the most effective means of melting snow with body heat for drinking?

Pee on it. To keep the water drinkable, you'd want to have the liquids separated but still have good thermal transfer between them. A well equipped traveller will pick his/her thermos bottle and a ...
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  • 139
13 votes
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What is the best breathing holes strategy for a quinzee?

I'm somewhat of a claustrophobic sleeper when it comes to quinzhees, so I'm very particular about my ventilation. How much ventilation you need is proportionate to the size of your quinzhee, and how ...
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  • 53k
12 votes
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Skis or Snowshoes for Colorado

I am willing to take the time to learn what I need to, so I don't want to go with the "easier to use at first" option. If you really mean that, then you can't not try skiing. There are many ...
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  • 22.2k
12 votes

Should I use one or two trekking poles?

If you get a pair, you can choose whether to actually use one or both for a particular day. I recommend that you buy a pair well before your expedition, and use them enough to you learn your ...
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  • 4,348
12 votes
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Why does red snow make a person sick?

Watermelon snow is caused by algae called Chlamydomonas nivalis. Apparently, it has laxative effects. As Giersch and National Park representatives explain, the red pigment in the algae helps to ...
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12 votes
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Which is more dangerous, icy roads or icy roads with snow on top?

Both are dangerous, and as James says both require drivers to be extra cautious and adjust their driving. However from my experience living in Alberta, Canada where we spend ~5 months of the year in ...
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  • 740
11 votes

Escaping tree well

Really the key to escaping tree wells is to ski/board/snowshoe with a buddy. I have friends who have ended up head down in a tree well, completely unable to reach their bindings. With every movement ...
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10 votes

What is the fastest style of sled?

I'm from Switzerland and must have used a dozen or so different types of sleds over the years. By far the fastest types I have ever ridden (and still do so ever winter) are 'Rodel' type sleds which ...
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  • 12.1k
10 votes

Is there a technique to snow-shoeing besides "walk on the snow"?

I think it's quite similar to skiing because the reason for kick-and-glide is to save energy. Same for snowshoes; try not to elevate the whole weight of the shoe for every step. Of course in deep snow ...
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  • 12.1k
10 votes

Why don't people in the UK use snowshoes?

In addition to the good answer by Aravona, there are two important reasons: Snow shoes are impractical on steep terrain because they put a lot of stress on your ankles. If you are going to buy ...
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10 votes
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Why should I carry a snow anchor?

Well, the primary difference is that once you've used your ice axe as an anchor, you can't use it to climb with. Also, two anchors is almost always better than one, especially in snow. You never ...
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