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  1. #1
    New Member
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    Nov 2018
    Plymouth, NH
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    Question How do you set your tarp lines in dry snow?

    I've only recently gotten into winter camping and feel like I pretty much have my whole system dialed in EXCEPT for one thing - I have no idea how to get my stakes to hold in dry or powdery snow. I've had a few nights where I feel like I mostly got lucky that there wasn't any wind because even my snow stakes were pretty precarious.

    I've poured water on them to get them to ice in and that works well but it isn't the best when you're melting snow for water, and I recently learned about a deadman anchor. One thought I have is to attach my guylines to my tarp after all of the anchors are set, but then I'll be guessing about the best place to set my lines.

    Thank you in advance for your help!

  2. #2
    cougarmeat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Bend, OR
    WBBB, WBRR, WL LiteOwl
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    denniswinders, Do you have access to an “outdoor” store like REI? There are various kinds of “anchor” and they can supply them all. For example, at a basic level you have a snow stake. It’s shaped like a partial oval or arc and has holes in the aluminum form along it’s length. Another item is a snow fluke. It looks a little like the blade (shovel part) of a small shovel. Some come with a short aluminum handle that can be screwed on so it can be used as a shovel. But usually it is buried in the snow and the attached cable is run at an angle so it encourages the fluke to bury in rather than pop out - that’s very important if you are using it as an anchor after self-arresting someone’s slide over the edge of a crevasse. A third item is called a snow picket. It is a piece of T-bar aluminum - like a godzilla sized stake - you pound into the snow.

    Now what’s important in all this is the “pack” quality of the snow. For example, when you build and igloo, you first designate a quarry area and crush down the snow with your skis or snowshoes. Then - and this is important - you stay off that area for 15 to 20 minutes and the snow rebonds solid so you can cut snow blocks for building. Or, there’s a “kit” called a Grand Shelter that is three-sided plastic form you position, fill with snow, pack, then slide to the next position. So instead of cutting blocks and moving them, you are creating blocks, on-the-fly, in place. Again, it’s the wait-time, allowing the snow to solidify, that’s key.

    With your tarp - whether you use snow stakes or pieces of wood, bury them with a line out to attach too, then compress the snow (stand on it), then leave it alone for a while - let it harden up BEFORE you put force on that anchor line.

    So, “You are correct Sir!” in your thinking about attaching the tarp AFTER the anchors are set - but it’s more, “… after the snow has set.”

    Now if is really, really cold so the snow is just powder and won’t bond, then pick a spot were there are supporting trees you can guy too. Takes a little more looking.
    In order to see what few have seen, you must go where few have gone. And DO what few have done.

  3. #3
    all secure in sector 7 Shug's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    I have many so....
    Blackcrow DIY Tarp
    Whoopie Slings
    Pack the snow by piling it up and churning. Set the snow stake in. Hook tarp tie-outs but leave very loose. Smack down the snow with shovel or snowshoe. Pile more on. Smack again. Then wait for it to set and tighten. Could take a good while with dry snow.
    Or use a large brach instead of a stake.

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  4. #4
    Chard's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    HH Exped w DIY ZipMod & WBBB
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    Hi Denniswinders,

    1. Find an appropriate number of good sized sticks for tie-outs (1-3 feet long depending on snow).
    2. Cut a deep "T" into the snow with the stem facing the corner of your tarp. The softer the snow, the deeper you go.
    3. Loop your tarp line once around the stick. Don't wrap because it needs to slide easily.
    4. Place the stick deep into the top of the "T" with the line running along the stem to the tarp.
    5. Fill in the trench with snow and pack the area down with your hands, snowshoe or shovel.
    6. Important! Wait 15-20 minutes for the snow to sinter up (harden). It may take longer.
    7. Only when the snow is set and the stick doesn't move easily, tie a slippery taut-line hitch on the line. This is where the one loop over the stick allows the line to run freely.
    8. When breaking camp, simply pull the slippery taut-line hitch undone and pull the line from around the stick. This way you save the bother of digging up whatever anchor you've used.

    Stay warm.
    Survival is about getting out alive, Bushcraft is about going in to live - Chard (aka Forest-Hobo)

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  5. #5
    Senior Member OneClick's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    DIY 10.5' HyperD 1.6
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    I had to set 10+ stakes on my hot tent this past trip. I just dig away the snow and set the stake about 1.5-2" deep in the ground. A 9" stake looks silly sticking out, but that's all you need. It will set like it's in concrete but come out fairly easy when it's time. If you pounded all 9" in you would never get it out (TWSS).

  6. #6
    Senior Member Karla "with a k"'s Avatar
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    Jan 2016
    Milwaukee, WI
    11 ft DIY 1.6 HyperD Diamd Ripstop
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    Just used dead man stakes on a Pomoly Rhombus hot tent this weekend. Apparently from the previous replies, I'm doing it all wrong, but it worked.

    I wrapped one end of the guy line around a six-inch branch the thickness of my finger. Buried it horizontally in the snow, stomped on it. Piled more snow and stomped on that too.

    Then I loosely tied to the tent with a taut-line hitch which I tightened up once the snow hardened.

    I've done it this way for years and it worked for me. So, SYOS! Stake Your Own Stakes!
    Last edited by Karla "with a k"; 02-17-2022 at 16:22.
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  7. #7
    Crazytown3's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Tooele County, UT, USA
    WB Eldorado/DIY
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    I don't have dedicated snow anchors/stakes. I will probably get some this year though.

    In lieu of that, I just use my regular Y-stakes, and bury them in the snow horizontally vs. vertically. Pile snow on top and kind of stomp it down. After 5-10 minutes or so they are pretty well set and I can tighten up my tarp tie outs.

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