How Strong Are They?
Those new to snow shelters often stay up the first night they sleep in one staring at the ceiling, wondering if it’s going to collapse. Remember, they only collapse when you’re building them, and that’s only if they are constructed wrong; if you can get inside a finished shelter, it will not collapse. Plus, they harden with time and become rock hard or like ice badly, but you get the point. Now just so you believe me, here’s a photo with 20 students standing on one the next morning. Pretty solid!
Practice, Practice, Practice
There’s an old saying, “repetition is the mother of skill.” If you want to become good at any skill, you must practice. I can build any of these shelters in under an hour and most within 15 to 20 minutes, but that ability has come from much practice.
Now I don’t care if you practice in your backyard, drive up in the hills and build one with the kids and then drive home afterward and sleep in your bed; the key here is that you practice. And, might I suggest that you try to stay the night in one at least once. You might enjoy it; they beat the heck out of a tent in the winter.
Tents are colder and rattle in the wind, whereas snow shelters are warmer and almost completely soundproof for an incredible night’s sleep. Most people I know, after they get good at building one, won’t sleep in a tent in the winter. For backcountry ski trips, they’re awesome; you don’t have to bother hauling in that extra weight for the tent.
Many people never practice their emergency skills or use their emergency gear until a true emergency happens. The only problem with that approach is that it’s a bad time to find out something doesn’t work, or you’re not sure how to do it. I can’t count how many times a student broke one of those wire saws from their survival kits or had one of those 99-cent reflective blankets rip in half in the wind. I’ve always emphasized that my students use and test their skills and gear to find out what works, so when the time comes that they truly do need them, they can count on them.
Remember, “repetition is the mother of skill,” and after you build a few, you’ll be an old pro. Now go back and review my posts and try out each method.