Snow Caves and Mountain Safety

Beaver Creek ski patrol recently held a mountain safety week that included many demonstrations about both in-bounds and out-of-bounds ski safety.

beaver creek patrol safety

I was most interested in the snow caves that they built at a few different locations on the mountain since a snow cave shelter can help someone stay alive in an emergency situation. I found two different styles of caves on the mountain–first, this type of cave which is built when a person burrows into a steep snow slope:

entry 1

The second type of cave I found was more of a trench-style cave, which is first built as a person digs a trench into the ground and then adds snow blocks over the top for an angled roof.

trench style cave

Both types of caves didn’t leave much room for comfort. The smaller the cave, the easier it is to warm up inside, but as I crawled into the entryways, I felt thankful that I wouldn’t have to stay the night in either of these caves.

snow cave inside 1

They were dark…and they didn’t have ventilation holes, so they weren’t make for actual habitation.

snow cave inside 2

Despite their small size and lack of entry tunnels or “doors,” I think that these caves offer good examples of the basic types of snow shelters that people can build in an emergency situation.

Want to know how to build your own snow cave?
Read my article on the About.com Survival Skills website:
“How to Build a Snow Cave”
Staying outside overnight in a snow cave to wait out a blizzard doesn’t exactly sound like it would be a comfortable experience, but being able to build an effective survival shelter in such conditions can be a lifesaver…click here to continue reading

Photos © Traci J. Macnamara.

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