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How to Build a Snow Cave

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A T-shaped snow cave is a quick and efficient way to protect yourself from even the worst winter storm. Locate a large snow drift or steep, stable snow slope, and start digging with the instructions below.

1. DIG THE ENTRANCE

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Dig an entrance about 18 inches wide and as high as your chest.

2. WIDEN INTO A T SHAPE

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To make it easier to dig, widen the top of the entrance to form a T shape.

3. EXCAVATE THE INTERIOR

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Dig several feet farther into the drift and excavate the interior of the cave. The floor of the cave will be at about waist level, so much of your digging will be upward and to the sides.

4. SEAL THE TOP OF THE ENTRANCE

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When the interior space is fully formed, use blocks of snow, bags of snow or snowballs packed together to seal the top of the T.

5. POKE VENTILATION HOLES

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Use a ski pole or shovel handle to poke several ventilation holes in the ceiling at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Use a bag of snow to seal the tunnel entrance.

14 Comments on How to Build a Snow Cave

  1. When you are done enjoying your snow cave collapse and destroy the cave so other kids don’t come along and make a grave mistake.

  2. This didn’t talk about arching the roof. It is MUCH more likely to cave in if the roof is not arched.

  3. I wish the graphics included more human figures. I can’t really make out exactly what’s being described.

  4. In a location with very cold, light powdery snow, digging without collapse can be a problem. Try a large dome tent, carefully covered with snow…
    and there you go. Voila!

  5. Ima need a bigger entrance.

  6. I like this T-shaped method, it can save you a lot of time and sweat. I would however recommend sleeping feet-in not head-in like the illustration. if it does happen to collapse it puts your face about a foot from the outside instead of 5 to 6 feet from the air buried in snow.

  7. Great fun. Best way to camp in the winter. We try to do this each year inour troop. Definitely be sure to mark the location. or, better yet, block the location from snow plows or dump trucks with your vehicle, so it cant be plowed or buried.

  8. Really works great in southeastern Texas

  9. Put sticks in when you pile the snow and then dig to the sticks. It gives you the vents and keeps you from cutting too close and collapsing the igloo on yourself. It’s the method they taught at Okpik back in the day.

  10. We do this every year up in the Yukon with scouts.

  11. Absolutely MARK IT. Two young boys were recently killed in one they build when road crews came and buried them badly with dump trucks full of snow.

  12. Maybe a few safety disclaimers too.

  13. 6. Mark the location. seriously, a well built snow shelter will support a person, and if you are building one for survival reasons a searcher could literally walk over you. If you are building one for fun or instruction be sure to mark it so you can avoided by other folks or found if you are overdue.

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