One very important skill you need in winter is how to stake out a tent or shelter when the ground is frozen or covered with snow. You can do this with skis, ice axes, and hiking poles, but people also use a special type of stake called a snow stake or snow anchor for anchoring your shelter to a snow-covered surface.
Before you can set up a shelter for the night on snow, the first thing you have to do is to pack down the area around it. You do this by walking back and forth over the area in order to compact the snow. This starts a process called sintering, where snow and water molecules bond more tightly together to form a rigid surface. Make sure you pack down the surface of the snow where you’ll be placing your stakes, as well.
After about 30-60 minutes you can pitch your tent and stake it out. Tie each guy line on your tent to a snow stake and dig a narrow trench in the snow that you can lay the stake in horizontally. A depth of 8 to 12 inches is usually sufficient. Next, fill the top of your stake trenches with snow and pack it down hard by pressing down on it with your boots. Do the same for all of the guy points, raise your shelter, and then tighten out the pitch.
The snow will soon harden up around the dead men and provide a very firm anchor point for shelter. To remove, simply lever out the stakes using an ice axe or a shovel. Cool, huh?Editor's note: If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed or recommend on SectionHiker, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we may (but not always) receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides. Thanks and we appreciate your support!