Snow Wall

c. Snow Cave. A snow cave is used to shelter 1-16 men for extended periods of time.

There must be a well-compacted snow base of at least 6 feet to construct.

(1) Basic principles for construction.

(a) Dig down into the snow until the desired tunnel entrance has been reached. Place all excavated snow on top of the shelter for added strength.

(b) Cut an entrance opening into the snow approximately 3 feet by 3 feet.

(c) Continue to dig out cave while removing excess snow out of the entrance. Shape the roof into a dome. If a bluish color appears through the snow in the roof, stop, there is not enough snow to support the roof.

(d) Create a cooking/working self and a sleeping bench inside the shelter.

(e) A ventilation hole should be dug through the roof at a 45-degree angle above the entrance. A ski pole or branch is left in the hole to mark the hole and allow clearing should the ventilation hole become clogged. A pine bough branch can be placed into the outside of the roof above the hole to aid in keeping the hole clear during falling snow. During the day and at night there should be an Arctic century posted for safety in case the cave collapses.

(f) Personnel who are digging will become wet from perspiration while digging inside the cave. Personnel that are digging should wear a minimum amount of clothing with a protective layer.

(g) Once the cave has been dug, completely fill in the entrance hole with snow block. Pack in loose snow between the cracks and allow it to harden for approximately 2-3 hours, weather dependant. After it has hardened, cut out a small entrance hole.

(h) Snow caves can be heated by a candle, which will raise the inside temperature, approximately 2 degrees. If a candle is left burning while individuals sleep, a fire watch must remain posted to reduce the danger of asphyxiation. Burning stoves to heat a cave will cause snow to melt and should be avoided.

(i) Packs, poncho, or snow blocks can be used to block the entrance to the cave.

Tree Pit Snow Shelter


Tree-pit Snow Shelter. A tree-pit snow shelter is designed for 1-3 men for short periods of time. It provides excellent overhead cover and concealment and should be used for LP/Ops.

(1) Basic principles for construction.

(a) Locate a tree with bushy branches that provides overhead cover.

(b) Dig out the snow around the tree trunk until you reach the depth and diameter desired, or until you reach the ground.

(c) Find and cut other evergreen boughs. Place them over the top of the pit for additional concealment. Do not utilize bough from the tree you are under.

(d) Place evergreen boughs in the bottom of the pit for insulation.

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