Pitch Your Tent
Snowy site? Here’s how John Gookin, coauthor of NOLS Winter Camping, stomps out a perfect camp:
1. Flatten an area twice the size of your tent’s footprint with your skis or snowshoes.
2. Lay out the tent (but don’t pitch it yet), then dig trenches for deadman anchors. Make the trenches six to 12 inches deep, a foot away from each corner. Gookin’s deadman of choice is a smooth, two-foot-long stick because you can pull the line and leave the stick behind (stakes, trekking or ski poles, and snow-filled stuffsacks also work). Place them perpendicular to the line of pull.
3. Tie a trucker’s hitch (easy to work with when frozen) around the anchors, making sure to keep the knot above the snow’s surface so you can adjust and untie it later.
4. Bury the deadmen and stomp snow on top.
5. Let them settle for about an hour. Before pitching your tent and piling in, you should be able to stand or kneel on your site without snowshoes or skis. The longer they sinter (consolidate into solid snow), the harder they’ll freeze–so sink the deadmen right the first time.