#SurvivalTips #AdventuringWithKids

101 ways to stay warm & dry when it is cold & wet in the mountains

by Robbo Bennetts
first published in Outdoor Australia, June/July 2001

1) Don't go.(At least check the weather map first.) 2) Go back (if the weather is filthy when you get there). 3) If you do go, keep spare leather gardening gloves in the car for fitting snow chains so your ski gloves don’t get wet or muddy. 4) Think ahead and be packed and ready to take off as soon as you get there. (Don't waste a minute any time tasks have to be carried out in adverse conditions.)

5) Take advantage of any natural or man-made shelter and/or windbreaks, including the boot of your wagon. 6) If it is windy, stay on the lee of the mountain (but stay away from cornices or avalanche sites!). 7) Or stay below the tree line. 8) Eat and snack lots. 9) Drink lots. 10) Don’t drink alcohol.11) Don’t smoke. 12) Carry waterproofed matches and firelighters (or a candle or stove fuel) so that you can light a fire in an emergency. 13) The moment you start to get cold, do something about it. 14) Minimise sweating by not toting lots more than you have to. 15) Wipe away sweat with a hand towel or pack towel. 16) Regulate your body's temperature by adjusting your work rate and rest stops. 17) Regulate your body's temperature by adjusting your clothing, using the "layer principle". (Wear a base layer of clothes that wicks away moisture, a middle layer that insulates and a shell layer that is waterproof and breathable.) 18) Don't wear cotton. 19) Wear more thin layers of clothing rather than fewer thick layers. 20) Strip down at the trailhead so you don’t overheat too quickly when you are getting underway. 21) Carry spare warm clothes. 22) Waterproof your spare clothes in plastic bags, and avoid spills inside your pack. 23) Keep your shell layer (raincoat and overpants) readily accessible in case of sudden downpours. 24) Don't chookfoot in padded downhill gear. 25) Regularly wash, iron and re-proof your waterproofs between trips. 26) Invest in a down jacket. 27) Invest in shrunken woollen or windstopper gloves. 28) Carry spare gloves with you. 29) Carry spare socks and use them as mitts if all your gloves are wet. 30) Don’t wear gloves unless your hands are actually cold or there is lots of ice or hard-packed snow. 31) Warm up your hands before putting your gloves on (e.g. dry your hands and rub them together vigorously). 32) Apply the layer principle to your hands by wearing wicking inner gloves, insulating mitts and waterproof overmitts. 33) Avoid handling snow with gloves that are not genuinely waterproof. 34) If you don’t have waterproof overmitts, wear dishwashing gloves over your inner gloves when you have to handle snow (e.g when building a snow shelter). 35) Don't leave your gloves lying around in the snow. 36) Take off your gloves first if you need to fill a water bottle or bladder from a creek. 37) Hands still cold? Stick them under your armpits, or in your buddy's crutch, or do big windmills to help push warm blood to extremities (removing hands from buddy’s crutch first). 38) Make a hot drink and warm your hands by holding the mug. 39) Old saying: "Cold feet? Put on a hat." 40) Make sure your boots have totally dried out from their last trip. 41) Seal your boots before their next trip to keep them drier. 42) Only wear boots that are well fitting. 43) Wear two pairs of socks, one thin pair and one thick. 44) Wear gaiters. 45) Invest in Gore-Tex oversocks. 46) Try the vapour barrier principle by wearing plastic bags over your socks - you will probably never try it again! 47) Be reluctant to remove your skis because they act as insulators between your feet and the snow and it can be a hassle to get them back on. 48) Try and keep your group together so that people at the front don’t have to stand around a lot waiting for the others. 49) If you do have to wait for others, do some silly dancing, or play some silly games with frisbees or balls, or execute a few 180° jump turns, or practise some skills in the immediate area. 50) Protect your head and ears with a cap, beanie or balaclava. 51) Avoid snowballs which are programmed to splat down your collar. 52) Wear a neck warmer or scarf. 53) Carry goggles in case of blizzards. 54) Breathe through your nose. 55) Don’t let rain, hail or snow get into your pack, or soak your first or second layer of clothing. 56) Carry a foam bum mat to sit on. 57) Sit in the sunshine if there is any. 58) Watch out for "death cookies" (big blobs of snow that fall out of snowgums). 59) Carry a stove or thermos. 60) Don't lie around in the snow. 61) If you fall over, get up straight away and brush off the snow. 62) Don't eat snow, especially if it’s yellow! 63) Ski under control so that you don’t head-butt trees and immobilise yourself on the snow (a condition sometimes known as "bark poisoning"). 64) Insulate anyone who is injured and shelter them from the elements. 65) Avoid stepping through snow bridges or otherwise getting water in your boots. 66) Insulate old cuts or soft tissue injuries. 67) When snow-camping, pitch your tent in a sheltered site. 68) Build a snow wall to act as a windbreak on the windward side of your tent. 69) Zip up your tent before you set it up to keep rain and snow out. 70) Don’t let rain or snow fall into an open erected tent. 71) Avoid dragging snow into your tent and mop op any "puddles" with a small sponge. 72) Make sure your tent is adequately ventilated to minimise condensation. 73) Carry a snow shovel so you can warm yourself up by building a snow cave or igloo. 74) Dig a cold air sink inside your vestibule or at the entrance to your snow shelter. 75) Once inside your shelter, strip off down to your base layer, so that you "steam dry". 76) Dry off and rug up before you get cold. 77) Have a meaningful one-night stand and share your tent with someone you lust after. (200 watts is warmer than 100 watts.) 78) Dry your wet feet, put on dry socks, put plastic bags over your socks, put back on wet boots. 79) Wear your padded downhill gear around camp. 80) Wear your shell layer around camp to minimise heat loss by convection. 81) Make use of fireplaces in huts to warm yourself and dry out gear. 82) Retreat to your sleeping bag and retire early. 83) Make a hot drink and/or hot meal. 84) Invest in bivvy boots (or try neoprene wetboots instead). 85) Leave wet gear under your vestibule, or wrap it up in plastic bags, instead of just dragging it into your tent. Use a scrubbing brush to brush off snow and ice. 86) Keep your feet outside your tent when your boots are on. 87) Don’t let your boots freeze by leaving them sitting on the snow. (Tuck laces inside boots.) 88) Invest in a good snow (sleeping) bag. 89). Alternatively, use two colder bags, one inside the other. 90) Adjust up your sleeping bag to regulate heat loss through exposed body surface. 91) Use your sleeping bag as a mini drying room to dry out a "small load" of gloves, socks, etc. for the next day. 92) Dry gear in the sun or wind whenever you get a chance. 93) Lay your sleeping bag out well before use so that it "lofts up". 94) Go to bed warm, not cold. (Warm up with a night walk or a ski before you retire, if it is safe.) 95) Place a space blanket (silver side up) or a thin piece of foam under your bedroll. 96) Use a sleeping bag liner (in descending order of insulation: thermal fleece, polypropylene, cotton, silk). 97) Take a hotty with you, or simply fill up your Nalgene bottle with hot water and put it in a sock inside your sleeping bag. 98) Invest in a bivvy bag, or alternatively plant the foot of your sleeping bag inside your pack or zipped-up raincoat. 99) If you need a pee during the night, bottle it (and make your buddy shovel the snow off the tent). 100) At any time, if you or any member of your party are really cold or uncomfortable, have an escape plan and don’t hesitate to turn around and go back to civilisation. 101) Think warm thoughts, because sometimes psychological warmth is all you have!