INTERNATIONAL SNOW CAMPING ASSOCIATION (ISCA)
WHO WE ARE
BECOME A MEMBER
The contents on this page has been supplied by
members os the International Snow Camping Association (ISCA), much of it can also be seen on ISCA members individual
web sites features in our links section.
|Make a snow
Find a flat sheltered spot for your shelter. Don't go too close
to trees or big rocks since blowing snow tends to accumulate around
Dig a hole in the snow, about a
foot longer than your body and about 3 feet wide, use the
snow from the dig to build walls around the hole. Try to get
one of the short sides downwind.
Keep digging until the hole is 3 ft from
floor to upper edge. Keep in mind that the smaller your shelter
is the warmer it will be.
Leave a 1.5x1.5 ft opening in the downwind
upper short edge with a connecting corridor as in the picture, this
will be your door.
If you plan to use a stove in the
shelter you must also make a vent opening in the side
opposite to the door. This opening should be about 6x6 inches.
If possible, try to make a block of hard snow
1.5x1.5x0.5 ft to use as a door block, place this block inside the
hole when you're done.
|Cover half of the floor on the opposite
side of the opening with soft branches to provide extra insulation from the cold
snow beneath. This will be your sleeping area, you will later
cover the branches with your sleeping pad. If you don't have a sleeping
pad with you, make a thicker layer of branches. If it is snowing
while you are building your shelter, you can do this step later,
after the roof has been put up so you won't get snow on your
|Place a number of tree branches over the
hole as in the picture. Keep in mind that these branches may have to
carry some heavy snow loads. You can use skis and ski poles for this
purpose as well but keep in mind that you won't be able to use them
again without ruining the shelter.
|Cover the hole with your tarp. Attach edges
and corners as well as possible with stakes made from tree branches
or string to a nearby tree. Don't rely on weights such
as rocks or big chunks of wood, they will start sliding. You want
to make sure that there's no way that the tarp will start sagging or
slip down through the openings in the ceiling.
Cover the tarp with a layer of snow for
insulation. If there is powder snow available try to get a coverage
of at least 3 inches. If there is no powder use wet snow or
hard snow to make blocks 1.5" thick to form a sheet on top of the
tarp, try to rest the blocks on the support poles and not on the
tarp. If it is snowing heavily you can let nature take care of this
Move in to the shelter. Put your
sleeping pad on the
branches and sleep with your head away from the door. You can block
the door opening to keep warm but you must have at least two small air vents
on opposite sides of the shelter to ensure an adequate air
SOME THINGS TO KEEP IN
When you're using a stove in the shelter you must
open both the door opening and the vent opening. Make sure that the
vent opening is kept clear from falling snow on the outside, poke
around with a stick periodically if needed.
If you need to
urinate during the night, don't go outside in the cold. Just go on the floor inside
the shelter. The urine will seep down through the snow, there will be
a stained crater left but you can just cover that with some
|Making a pair of emergency snowshoes to get to safety is
extremely simple. It's surprising how many people try to get to
safety in knee deep snow and drop from exhaustion.
|Find two stocky branches about 3 feet long with plenty of small branches and
plenty of green, preferably from a fir tree but other trees will
do if there are no firs in the area.
Tie one branch to each foot at the front end
of the branch as in the picture. Thread the string through something
on the front of your boot otherwise your foot will slip out of
the binding. Make sure your foot can swivel enough to walk.
That's it, you're ready to go!
HOW TO MAKE AN IGLOO:
You should build your igloo on a level surface where
the snow is at least 3 feet deep. There should be enough hard snow
for your igloo, if the surface snow is powdery there's probably hard packed snow a
bit deeper. Large bumps on the surface of the snow it usually
means that there is a large object below the snow such as a boulder or a large stomp, they can get
in the way so it's better to pick as flat a spot as
possible. Don't make your igloo bigger than it needs to be. Mark out in the snow where you
plan to have the wall of your igloo.
out blocks from
the area which will be the inside of the igloo. The lower blocks should
be about 1 foot thick, 3 feet long and 1.5 feet high,
the higher blocks should be about 6 inches thick, 2 feet long, and 1
foot high. If you size the blocks as I have said above you will need
approximately the following number of blocks:
Sleeping 1 person, 6 feet inner diameter: 30 blocks
Sleeping 2 people, 7 feet inner diameter: 40 blocks
people, 9 feet inner diameter: 60 blocks
Don't worry if you think you'll have trouble fitting,
once the igloo is finished you can carve out a bit
of space for your feet from the inner
The hole resulting from your cutting will be the
floor in the igloo so you want a sleeping area for each person as high up
as possible, a general purpose area that
should be a bit lower to allow for mobility, and a deep entrance hole that extends outside
of the igloo. The entrance hole should be as narrow as possible while still allowing you to get in and out without too
much discomfort. The deep entrance hole will absorb the cold air
and release it to the outside while
the warm air
will rise and stay trapped inside the
BUILD A SPIRAL
Place your largest and widest blocks in a circle
around the hole where you have been cutting out your blocks, the blocks
should be tilted in towards the center. Start with the block that goes on
top of the entrance hole, the whole entrance hole must be traversed by one
single block with plenty of support on both sides. Cut the blocks so they
form a spiral, make sure that the block covering the entrance hole is the
Add blocks to the wall until you only have a small
opening in the roof. Before you get to the point that
it's hard to
get in and out of the dome move any blocks not yet used to the inside of the dome
so you can put them all up in one sweep from the
the blocks are in place cut the final top piece to the right size. If you
can wiggle it out from the inside and lower it down into position that's
great, but if your hole is very circular this won't be possible,
you'll have to put the block on top of the dome from the outside and then
lower it down from the
Fill any cracks with snow.
Make a little doorway over the entrance to keep snow out.
You have to make at least one air hole in the roof to ensure
proper ventilation. Without good ventilation you could run out
of oxygen, very dangerous.
Smoothen the inside of the dome to prevent water
Your igloo is now ready to be lived in, check your air hole
periodically to make sure it's not blocked. If you've done everything right you will be