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Spring Snow
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Elijah Ziemann
(MrBlondyable) - F
Spring Snow on 03/11/2013 21:25:13 MDT Print View

What would be the best way to set up camp in around 18 inches of stiff, compacted snow? Do I use snow stakes or dig to ground level? Will the ground be any warmer than the snow? How would I further insulate a Walmart blue foam pad for use on snow? How do I make a sitting/campfire area? I've never really been snow camping. Keep in mind I'll be using a tarp as my shelter and the temps will be around 45F. Thanks.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Spring Snow on 03/11/2013 22:21:09 MDT Print View

Even with compacted snow, 45* temps will begin to make things mushy. A lot depends on exactly how far down you go when stomping down your site. If you find that after tromping down the snow you're only a few inches from the ground, you might be able to pound some stakes in. If you're still sitting several inches from the ground, you'll probably have nice snow to use deadman anchors in. But be careful that you don't create a situation where your guylines and anchors (stakes, snow shoes, etc) are stuck in the ice if things drop below freezing.

This is a guess, but the ground will probably be around freezing point, since the snow will have been insulating it. Even if you hit solidly frozen ground, stout stakes can be pounded in.

You can supplement your blue pad any way you like. Remember that R-values are cumulative, so they just stack up. More blue foam, an inflatable pad, anything really. But I suggest an R-value of around 5 or greater to be good on wet snow.

You may not want a sitting area. Again, in 45F, the snow can be very wet. At the very least, have a large fully waterproof groundsheet under your tarp!

Elijah Ziemann
(MrBlondyable) - F
Re on 03/12/2013 06:24:29 MDT Print View

Thanks Travis. What stakes would you recommend? I called the ranger at the porkies, she said they'll have around 18 inches of snow. Should I bring MSR groundhogs, which I hear work in packed snow, or snow stakes? Do snow stakes work in dirt, in the even that we find a snow free campsite?

j lan
(justaddfuel) - F

Locale: MN
Re: Spring Snow on 03/12/2013 07:08:25 MDT Print View

I wouldn't use anything expensive for deadmans this time of year. Sticks and rocks and chunks of ice should do you right. Loop around them so you can untie and pull out the guyline

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Spring Snow on 03/12/2013 10:44:11 MDT Print View

James makes good points. You don't even need stakes with the right deadman anchors and guyline knots.

That being said, I've had good luck using either the Groundhogs (when there is very little snow and I can pound them into the ground) or MSR snow stakes. What I've been doing with the MSRs this winter is packing the snow where I'm going to put my stake. Once the snow work-hardens enough, I stick the stake in just like if it were dirt; at an angle away from the tent. I then pack some more snow around it, leaving just a bit of the head sticking up. Once the snow sets, I loop the guyline around it. If done right, it will hold a good amount of tension, albeit probably not as much as a large dead man. If the snow has really frozen solid around the stake, a little thump with my heel knocks it loose and it slips right up and out.

Tarping in the winter takes a bit of effort. If you have snow where you are, I'd suggest practicing staking out your tarp, either using deadman or snow stakes.

Edit: the aluminum snow stakes like the MSRs can work in regular ground. However, if you hit a rock, root, or frozen soil, you can bend them much easier than the Groundhogs.

I know, it's tricky figuring out which stakes to bring during this time of year when you're not really sure how much snow you'll have. But given that there's 18" on the ground now, I'd go for the deadman or MSR's.

These two threads have pictures of tarps I used this winter, using the MSR stakes:

Edited by T.L. on 03/12/2013 11:01:16 MDT.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Spring Snow on 03/12/2013 19:21:43 MDT Print View

Unless you're expecting wind while you go off hiking after your shelter is set up, about anything but ti shephards hook stakes should be fine. Seems Groundhogs are overkill. Use sticks even, I've done that a few times. If you dig down to dirt, the shephard style stakes would work unless the ground is muddy, but I usually weight my stakes down with rocks unless I stay close to my shelter, too much money tied up to have it sail away. I'd go with a little more ground insulation under your bag. Even a summer weight pad would help with your ccf pad if you have a decent bag. Give it a go and see what works for you.