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M Reducing Winter Pack Weight: Wood Fire Cooking in the Snow

by Kevin Sawchuk

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Article Summary:

Tiny snowflakes fall from fir trees, shimmering like diamond dust in the moonlight. The taunting winds and stinging snows of the day have been usurped by a clear evening stillness and cold moonlight. Dug into our snow kitchen, we seem close to the earth; more like hibernating bears than winter campers. A wood fire burns on the hard stamped snow 'counter' of our kitchen, melting snow for water to make our dinner while providing a bit of warmth. Cooking with a wood fire also makes the experience more primitive, but in a strangely familiar and comforting way.

Mountain trips in winter offer a dramatically different and rewarding experience. While the generally predictable and mild weather of summer makes for easier, safer and lighter weight travel, it limits your mountain visits to three or four months per year. Wouldn't it be enjoyable to have the skills to travel mountainous terrain in any season? Winter's harsher weather, unpredictable storms and avalanche risk make a more challenging experience.

However, winter's challenges come with the rewards of solitude, newness and the chance to learn new skills. In the winter, the mountains are yours alone. Their changed appearance will renew your enthusiasm for places you've already known in more pastoral conditions. Winter travel offers the opportunity to master a set of skills that elevate your abilities far above those of the fair weather traveler.


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