Pitching tents

To pitch a tent in the snow, select a sheltered campsite, avoiding snow-laden trees. Prepare the tent site by trampling down the snow until it forms a hard, level platform. Trampling is best done in boots, as skis do not generally give enough pressure to compress snow effectively. Once the site is well trampled down, ensure it is level and smooth, best done using skis. Pitch the back of the tent into the wind, preferably with the door facing across or down the hill, as cold air travels down hill and should go around the tent, not into it.

Peg down the base of the tent using snow pegs or dead sticks that are 30–40 cm long. Snow pegs save time and environmental damage. Loop snow pegs or sticks into the cords that are attached to the bottom eyelets, push the pegs into the snow, and pack the snow down by stamping. These cords, about 50 cm long, should be attached to all the points on the tent normally secured by pegs. If the sticks get frozen in, the cord can be cut and the tent removed. Then there is plenty of room for the pegs or sticks to be removed using boots, a snow shovel or similar tool, without the risk of damaging the tent. The roof guys and tent-pole guys are tied or looped to dead sticks that are 60–80 cm long and the sticks driven into the snow. Remember to leave about 25 cm of stick out of the snow since this makes it easier to pull them out when the tent is taken down. Before leaving the site these sticks should be scattered to remove any trace of your presence. Plastic bags can be used instead of tent pegs, by filling with snow and tying to the guys and cords as before, then burying them. However, the can be difficult to get out later, and must not be left behind.

Another way of anchoring the tent is to stamp a small trench parallel to the tent where you would normally put a peg in. Thread a stick through the extra piece of cord attached to the tent, place it horizontally in the hole and stomp snow down on top to bury. These ‘dead men’ hold very well—the only problem with this method is getting the sticks out later.

Always try to keep the inner tent dry. This may mean laying the fly over and putting the two up together, or pitching the fly first which is possible with some tents. Take an extra sponge or synthetic cloth to mop up any snow or water getting into the tent. If it rains, check the pegs regularly as they can be washed out. If it snows make sure the snow is knocked off the tent regularly or the tent can collapse under the weight.