Thar she blows…
In high wind, everything becomes a sail, so hold on tight when you take out your jacket, tent, shovel, or bag. "I pre-rig my tent and fly together," Larsen says, "so I can pull it out and quickly stake down one or two corners to prevent it from blowing away."
>> Pad your schedule
"In the cold, everything takes considerably more time and energy—setting up your tent, rigging guylines, melting snow," says Larsen. "You'll be amazed at how these tasks drag on, so plan accordingly."
>> Site your tent wisely
You want a location sheltered from the wind and next to trees or rock faces, which absorb the sun's warmth, then release it at night. Also, "Look for sites near drifts of compacted snow," Larsen says. "It makes cutting blocks for snow walls much easier."
>> Build a foundation
Use your skis, snowshoes, or a shovel to stamp out a flat tent platform. In the vestibule, dig a pit for your feet so you can easily take your boots on and off.
>> Use every guy point
"The more you connect your tent to the snow, the more rock solid it becomes," says Mike Finnegan, a Mt. Washington meteorologist. Use snowstakes (like SMC's T-Anchors, 4 for $32, smcgear.net); or tie the lines around rocks or logs, then bury them under two feet of snow. And consider bringing a small mallet to hammer stakes into hardpack.
>> Pile snow around the base of the tent
It should form a small wall about three to six inches high and should touch the tent. "This will block gaps between the tent and fly and prevent snow from blowing in," explains Larsen.
>> Build a snow wall
If you're staying in one location for several days or expect seriously bad weather, create a protective snow barrier by carving out (with a shovel or ski) cinderblock-size chunks of snow and stacking them. The wall should be three feet high and extend two feet past the tent on either side to prevent the area around the tent from getting choked with spindrift.
>> Close all tent zips
"And secure all Velcro tabs or snaps on your tent door before sleeping," Finnegan suggests. "If condensation might become an issue, leave a small section of the door unzipped at the top to let out humid air."