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Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Problem with deadmen on 01/17/2011 21:15:54 MST Print View

Contrary to the thread title, this is not about zombies.

I went out this weekend to try my hand at winter camping but ran into a problem. The snow in the area I was in was sugar snow. I setup my tarp and used stakes in a deadman fashion. After 2 hours the snow had not setup at all and the stakes pulled right out. Probably 30 minutes to go until dark so I packed up and headed home. I wasn't going to risk snowing collapsing the tarp or the winds picking up and it ending up in Kansas.

I went back the next morning and checked the locations where the deadmen were. Completely said up. Pretty much exactly as it says in Mike and Allen's book. I could have brought along something bigger to bury and that may have been enough but I'm not sure.

Any suggestions for this kind of snow? I don't plan on normally getting to camp 5 hours early to give the snow that long to setup. My poles are used with the tarp so those aren't an option. There was 3 feet of snow on the ground so any natural materials were hidden. And I don't think even those parachute things would have helped with the snow so loose. Any knowledge provided on this would be most appreciated. Thanks.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Problem with deadmen on 01/17/2011 21:25:53 MST Print View

Add some water?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
setting up deadmen on 01/17/2011 21:26:38 MST Print View

If it's real cold, pouring water and/or peeing on the anchor will set it up in a hurry. Seriously. Using big deadmen helps too (a ski or branch buried sidways).

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Problem with deadmen on 01/17/2011 21:29:27 MST Print View

Use some SMC aluminum snow stakes, drive them in, and then stomp some snow around them. If you put enough energy into it, little bits of the dry snow will melt and then re-freeze into the holes on the stakes. If that still is not enough, dribble a couple of spoons of water on each one, and let that freeze in.

--B.G.--

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: setting up deadmen on 01/17/2011 22:28:42 MST Print View

"Using big deadmen helps too (a ski or branch buried sidways)"

Snowshoes too.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Problem with deadmen on 01/17/2011 23:09:25 MST Print View

Randy, I think the problem might have been the temperature of the snow, it many places in the Rockies the day time temps were unseasonably warm this last weekend.
If it was warm, the snow might have never set up until the temp. drops, usually after the sun goes down. When you went back in the morning, yes it was set up because of the colder overnight temps. It might have worked if you had waited until after dark.
Of course this is all just conjecture, I wasn't there, but just trying to help.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Problem with deadmen on 01/18/2011 04:07:51 MST Print View

Yeah, that can happen. Often with deeper snow it will layer out. Colder below will keep it from sintering as quickly. If the snow continues, you can build a deep layer of heavy, non-sticky snow that is too cold to sinter. The upper layers can sinter a lot quicker. You can end up with layers of densly packed snow, followed by layers of loose granular like snow. Wetting the snow often helps. Or, simply exposing it to the outside air. Snow is a good insulator. Changing locations to a closed in area, or an open area may help.

Anyway, stakes can fail, often these simply do not have enough bite. I have seen it so granular, even a 6" parachute will pull loose. Under these conditions, a deadman is your only good choice. Often wetting the snow will only create a ball of ice that has no bite on the surrounding snow, just too granular. It really depends on conditions, as does most of winter camping. (I do not do winter camp anymore, getting too old for that stuff...)

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Stakes on 01/19/2011 08:57:14 MST Print View

Thanks for all the input. I like Bob's suggestion for the snow stakes but I may make some even longer ones for these conditions. I happen to be going to the aluminum extrusion place tomorrow for something else and will check out what they have that would work. I usually buy the scraps as they are a lot cheaper and no cutting charge. I'm sure I'll find something that will work.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Stakes on 01/19/2011 11:33:43 MST Print View

Oh, you can get into all kinds of trouble at an aluminum extrusion place. Get some aluminum pickets maybe 24" long, then drill a dozen holes in each end (so that the snow and ice has something to freeze into). If you use those in the field, make sure that you have a good extraction tool. That might mean a metal shovel or a metal ice axe.

--B.G.--

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Deadmen on 01/19/2011 12:29:50 MST Print View

Deadmen tell no tales....

Oh wait - now we have CSI !!!

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Stakes on 01/19/2011 12:55:25 MST Print View

Randy, search some of the old articles and forums, there are a few on snow stake making (some with Ti, but you can use the pattern). It might help?

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Problem with deadmen on 01/19/2011 13:02:14 MST Print View

Or make mini snow anchors or snow flukes, like those used in glacier travel and crevasse rescue. Like the picture below, but smaller, lighter, and skip the cable.

Snow fluke

Get some lightweight but fairly stiff sheet aluminum (I used 6061-T6 because I had some, I think it was 1/32 inch but I don't recall for sure), cut pieces out in the appropriate shape (shear, snips or saw), punch a lot of big holes in them, then bend vertically down the middle slightly to make little kites.

I made a set in the 1970's that I still use on occasion. I can post a picture of the real thing if anyone wants it.

Edited by ewolin on 01/19/2011 13:06:06 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Stakes on 01/19/2011 16:44:28 MST Print View

> the old articles and forums, there are a few on snow stake making (some with Ti,

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/make_your_own_gear_titanium_snow_stakes.html

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/myog_ti_snow_stakes_part_2.html

And Ti snow stakes will also go into icy ground like you wouldn't believe.

Cheers

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Stakes on 01/19/2011 19:24:53 MST Print View

Thanks guys! Great info. BTW, what kind of place do you look for to find titanium for sale locally? I was able to google the extrusion place but searching for titanium in Denver isn't much use.

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
... on 01/21/2011 16:59:02 MST Print View

Just stomp it down, if its super cold and sugur snow and wont set up just dig deeper. That and skis/snowshoes/poles/axes/packs/trees/sticks as deadmen and I've never had any issues. That said I also dont tarp in the winter though.