Saturday, February 16, 2013

Winter Camp 02-8/9-2013

Leaving no trace but footprints and snow caves. National Forest Service Land in the Wasatch Mountains near the Davis County, Salt Lake County line. SLC international airport and Oquirh Mountains to the west. 

5:30 PM and digging snow caves. Only 1 foot of total snow but we (me and one of the Dads) went up the night before to pile the snow.

At 4 PM it was snowing hard and I got a call from one of the Moms: "Is the blizzard going to have an impact on the camp?" "Yes", I said, "It'll be cold and wet". She obviously wanted me to pull to plug, and she was not amused by my answer, but as you can see, the weather was ideal.

Some blue sky after the storm. Nighttime temperatures dropped to the upper teens but inside my cave, sleeping in a small cave alone, the temperatures were mid-thirties.

Hard to tell but we're less than three miles from the Utah State Capital, and about a million people.

The morning after and the scouts break their shelter. It took four boys on top, jumping up and down, before it broke. As you can see they could've had much more head room.

The Boy Scouts of America might have issues, but if they do anything right it is getting soft, lazy, 'gamer' teenage boys off the couch and outside, camping, hiking and experiencing nature. I am not big on scouting, but I’ll serve as a Scout Master if only to have a minor impact on boys that think winter camping is sleeping in a million dollar cabin and riding snow-machines. It is sad that some boys grow up thinking that is normal behavior. In my world winter camp is all about sleeping in the snow.  
One of my all time favorite books is 'Minus 148' by Art Davidson. It's the story of the first successful winter ascent of Denali. While descending from the summit three of the climbers are caught high on the mountain in a week-long blizzard with wind-chill temperatures estimated at -148 degrees. The only reason they lived is credited to digging a snow-cave for protection. Alternatively, the book 'White Winds' by Joe Wilcox, tells a similar story but one which ends with the death of seven climbers. The died because their tents were literally blown away leaving them with no protection. Most of us will never be in such extreme environments but both stories are a good lesson.
If I have to be a Scout Master, my Scouts better plan on sleeping in the snow at least once in their lives. Someday they will thank me. I feel bad for anyone who has never slept in the snow. 


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