Monday, December 5, 2022

Winter Backcountry Campsite Construction

Outdoor Research has posted a nice video on how to create a backcountry winter campsite. Specifically, they design a site for a Megamid or Mega Lite style tent. These are circus style tents with no floor and a center pole. In the snow, this style of tent allows for quite a bit of customization.

It should be noted that this style of tent is often used for cook tents on expeditions. Historically, AAI guides used this style of tent to create cook tents on Denali. Climbers still slept in tents with floors, but the ability to customize cooking space makes this a very desirable tent to operate with in an expeditionary setting.

Check out the video on how to build a backcountry campsite in the snow, below:

  1. Stamp out a platform with your skis.
  2. Start small with digging out the tent area.
  3. One person will climb down onto the "table" and hold the center tentpole. That person should place the tentpole on something that will disperse the weight appropriately.
  4. Once the tent is up, fill in the snow around the edges.
  5. Dig down inside to create bed areas or benches.
  6. Cut blocks with a snow saw and stack the blocks around the tent to decrease the impact of wind.
  7. Finally, when taking down the tent, be sure to fill into the holes. There's no reason to leave a place where someone could ski into a hole and get hurt.
People who do a lot of light backpacking also often use this style of tent. However, the tent is not as good if you have bug or rodent issues, issues you won't have in the snow.

One more interesting thing... These tents are often used in outdoor education. Outdoor educators have started to refer to the pole in the center of the tent as a "chastity pole." In other words, it blocks someone from rolling over to snuggle with someone else. So if snuggling is your thing, this probably isn't the tent set-up for you...

--Jason D. Martin

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