Dec 19, 2007 at 5:50 pm #1226372
My early christmas gift this year was an (absolutely beautiful) Oware Pyramid tarp — primarily for use as a day or overnight shelter in the snow:
(this is a photo of Viktor Karpenko's…)
Now I have to acquire some stakes and guylines for it. What do people use as a lightweight snow stake in deep wet or powder snow?
I've been looking at the Kifaru SST pins — 2.25oz, 32" rods that you sink vertically into the snow. Kifaru says they're the strongest and simplest, and I'm inclined to believe them but I've never read an account of anyone comparing them to typical snow anchors.
Has anyone tried these?
My plan is to go try out my Oware pyramid with at least 2 other people. That will afford us some trekking poles to use in the same way the SST pins work.
How many snow anchors should be used to make a storm-worthy pitch? My Oware 'mid has 4 corners, 4 midpoints, and 3 guylines for a total of 11 stake points if you don't double anything up. Does anyone with an oware mid or a megamid have advice on how many of these points need to be staked "bomber" and how many of them can just have a buried snowshoe or possibly a 1.5oz 18" SST Pin?
PS check out my Gear Swap post about the Oware 'Mid:Dec 19, 2007 at 8:07 pm #1413161
I have always used these with a freestanding tent:
The SMC anchors are buried in the snow and then stamped into place. After a couple of days they can be hard to take out.
These look interesting:
I have not seen the SSTs before, I guess at 32" long they would hold anywhere.Dec 19, 2007 at 11:19 pm #1413172
@djohnsonLocale: Washington State
I would agree with Christopher- the SMC T-Anchors are fantastic. I usually have mostly these but also some SMC snow stakes which can be used as deadmen or as normal stakes in icy conditions. I carry them all in a small silnylon stuff sack which becomes another deadman.
I've used anchors such as he mentions above- both from Sierra Designs and Hilleberg. Great idea, but I find placing them to be a real hassle and in winter, I want fast stake placeents. SMC Ts are the fastest to place and remove I've seen.
32" is way overkill. Deadmen or fluke-style are the way to go and they don't melt out.Dec 20, 2007 at 12:00 am #1413177
Thanks Christopher and Doug.
My greatest concern with the SMC-style anchors (and especially anything used as a deadman) is the angle of the pull. That is, (in my mind,) my pyramid tarp will be pulling hard at an upwards angle of maybe 20-30 degrees.
Is that wrong? Do these things hold well against an upward-angled pull, rather than just a sideways pull as would be the case in a freestanding tent?
I'd be curious to hear from Hex 3 and megamid owners as to what they use, too — who has weathered a severe storm? Who has had an anchor pull out?Dec 20, 2007 at 1:08 am #1413180
> I've been looking at the Kifaru SST pins — 2.25oz, 32" rods that you sink vertically into the snow.
Ah – this is backpackingLIGHT here!
2.5 oz (70 g) per stake? I can't think of a less efficient way of anchoring a tent, unless you go to 1 inch steel bars as used on circus tents. And the SST pins are ROUND: the least effective thing for anchoring in the snow.
OK, seriously – they are way too heavy for what they offer. You should be looking either at light aluminium angles, say 1" x 1" x 1/16" or slightly larger and 12" – 18" long, or better still at deadman anchors about 8" square or so. Both will weigh a fraction of the SST pins and hold far better. You can make the Al angles yourself with a hacksaw and a file.
Stamp the snow down and let it freeze solid a bit before you pitch the tent. That way the snow will hold a lot better. The process is called 'firnification'.
CheersDec 20, 2007 at 5:20 am #1413186
@quoddyLocale: New York/Vermont Border
I, too, use SMC TAnchors. For some lesser holding purposes SMC Perforated Snow Stakes work well. Both have excellent holding power for their weight and for what they are designed to do.Dec 20, 2007 at 7:59 am #1413202
@djohnsonLocale: Washington State
I don't think you'll have a problem Brian. You'll just change the angle accordingly.
But thinking of your situation, snow filled stuff sacks might be a good choice too because of ease of placement. Dig a hole, drop it in, bury it. But with the t-anchors from SMC it would be tramp the snow down and push them in an an angle. Stamp. I think I'd go for the T-anchors.
But staking tents in the snow is FUN! YOu should try a couple of different things. But I'm with Roger- I'd skip the Kifarus and try T-anchors (flukes), snow stakes (deadman- picket style), and a couple of small stuff sacks. See what works for you!
It's much easier to nail a solid pitch than you may imagine.
I would love to hear from tipi owners too!Dec 20, 2007 at 1:30 pm #1413266
had trouble with inserting the imageDec 20, 2007 at 1:43 pm #1413268
In the latest "Revised and Even Better!" "Allen & Mike & Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book." Mike Clelland has a great illustration of how we have been using the pyramid tarp in the snow.
We have refined it since the photo was taken. Instead of digging down the entire depth, we only remove the foot well material and use it to construct a wall and backrest. We work harden as you would for for a quarry then using a snow saw, we remove the blocks from the foot well and construct wall around the perimeter.Dec 20, 2007 at 1:51 pm #1413270
Viktor: what do you use to cut your snow blocks with? A discrete snow saw, or just a shovel?
Also, what do you use to anchor your OWare 'mid?Dec 20, 2007 at 1:55 pm #1413271
Wondering if a carbon fiber flat rod about 1/8" X 3/4" X 12" with some holes for guyline and mini 3gm binners in it would be good for burying. Could be used as a vertical stake too. Should weigh about .5oz ea.
????Dec 20, 2007 at 4:07 pm #1413297
@tkkncLocale: Desert Rat in the Southwest
I have used the Kifaru SST pins. They are not real light. They hold well. Sometimes you can not drive them through the ice. Here are stakes with the 8 man tepee.Dec 20, 2007 at 4:19 pm #1413300
@slnsfLocale: Northern California
>My greatest concern with the SMC-style anchors (and
>especially anything used as a deadman) is the angle
>of the pull. That is, (in my mind,) my pyramid tarp
>will be pulling hard at an upwards angle of maybe 20-30
I use the SMC T-anchors and stakes as well, and love them. The trick is to attach a loop to their centers (not the top), and to attach that loop to your tent's lines, then keep the plane of the anchor or stake perpendicular to that line when you bury it.
The force is thus handled by the entire face of the anchor or snow stake, and that's a really strong setup. Also, counterintuitively to me, facing the convex side toward the tent works best.
I have a picture of this setup somewhere – if I can find it, I'll post it.Dec 20, 2007 at 4:34 pm #1413309
I use a saw similar to this:
In order to get uniform blocks, you need a snow saw. A shovel just will not work very well for building the wall. It will work if you just dig out the area like the figure shows. The key to the setup is site prep. You need to stomp down an area that you are planning on using, let it set up for at least one hour, This allows the snow to harden and be worked. Use the saw to cut uniform blocks and then stack the block around the perimeter. The saw is used to control the dimensions of the blocks measured as:
Thickness – handle length
Height and width – saw length
"Allen and Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book" has a great section on thisDec 20, 2007 at 10:27 pm #1413347
I use dead men to anchor the tarp. They are short lengths of PVC pipe, about 300 mm, with a short line tied to the center of it, and the free end of the line has a loop that attaches to the tarp line. I stomp a hole (250 mm) in the snow, place the dead man parallel to side of the tarp, fill in the hole with snow, and stomp on it again to set it. I then run the tarp line through the loop and tighten down the tarp.Dec 21, 2007 at 1:13 am #1413353
> Wondering if a carbon fiber flat rod about 1/8" X 3/4" X 12" with some holes for guyline and mini 3gm binners in it would be good for burying. Could be used as a vertical stake too. Should weigh about .5oz ea.
Not a simple question.
A lot of the CF flat strip commercially available is pultruded for the kite industry. Very stiff, but very little strength across the strip, and VERY prone to splitting if you go just that little bit to far with it. I looked at using pultruded tubing as tent poles (tunnel tent) for a while, but the chance of totally catastrophic failure in the field was too big a risk.
You can get CF fabric sheet (2D weave) and cut strips out of it. This might work but has two disadvantages imho. The first is cost – really high! (I did consider it …) The second is the risk of water slowly ingressing along the fibers, leading to delamination problems. Bit like the tail fins on a couple of Boeings.
If you could get custom-made strip to your specs it would not be bad, although I would FAR prefer custom CF angle to strip. That could be interesting, but it would still be a bit fragile.
I have gone the other route, and used titanium sheet to make angles and anchors for use in the snow. The advantage of titanium is that the sheet can be really thin, and it slices in easily. More about this early in the new year.
RogerDec 21, 2007 at 11:51 am #1413397
>>> I can't think of a less efficient way of anchoring a tent, unless you go to 1 inch steel bars as used on circus tents.
Where and when we least expect it, sometimes we find something that gives us a good laugh when we need one. That comment was one of them for me. Thanks!Dec 21, 2007 at 11:54 am #1413398
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
I like to use small dead branches buried with the tautline
above the snow for adjustment. When time to go, just undo
the knot and slide the cord out leaving the branches in place.Dec 21, 2007 at 1:24 pm #1413408
> I like to use small dead branches buried with the tautline
above the snow for adjustment. When time to go, just undo
the knot and slide the cord out leaving the branches in place.
Thereby completely solving the problem of how to get the stake out of the ice, which is neat. Thanks.
But we sometimes have sun on the guys in the late afternoon, and this means the guys and the knots are above freezing point and wet. Early next morning they are often frozen solid and can't be undone. Difficult. I guess one could use a slip hitch on the tautline knot – that might work. I haven't tried that as the hitch doesn't work on the Dyneema string I use anyhow.
I stopped using nylon string as all that is available is Chinese-made mason's line, and the quality of that has gone way downhill.Dec 22, 2007 at 1:23 am #1413456
@al_t-tudeLocale: High Sierra and CA Central Coast
I've spent many a night in the snow snug inside a Megamid or Megalight. I've never used a stake or any other rigid device. Stuff sacks will work, but are heavy and alot of work to empty when full of consolidated snow. Fabric snow anchors can be purchased from REI et al, but…
shop made silnylon deadmen are much lighter, less bulky and quicker to set-up and dismantle. Picture an 8"x8" fabric square with cordlace stitched to each corner and meeting 9" above the fabric in a common loop – like a tiny upside down parachute. Girth hitch this loop through your tent stake out loop, dig an appropriately sized hole, spread the fabric in the bottom of the hole, fill with snow, stomp on it and allow 1/2 hour sintering time to achieve full strength. Never had a failure or problem.
Anchoring the 4 corners might be sufficient, but I like to secure all 8 stake outs for security and to discourage the ingress of wind driven spindrift.
I like the pine bough idea, but I can't be assured of trees in the regions in which I camp.Dec 22, 2007 at 7:58 am #1413477
@tkkncLocale: Desert Rat in the Southwest
This is the Bibler version of the soft snow stake Al is talking about. If you are going to make some soft stakes use cord or webbing that does not absorb water.Dec 23, 2007 at 1:02 am #1413531
> shop made silnylon deadmen are much lighter … Girth hitch this loop through your tent stake out loop, dig an appropriately sized hole, spread the fabric in the bottom of the hole, fill with snow, stomp on it and allow 1/2 hour sintering time to achieve full strength.
It's that 1/2 hour bit which can be a problem. When you are exhausted, it's getting dark and the wind is howling and the snow is falling – well, 'falling' in a horizontal line across the ground (because before that the conditions were quite impossible for camping), then waiting half an hour can be a shade less than optimal. Actually, you can freeze to death in that time.
Xmas CheersDec 23, 2007 at 8:55 am #1413558
@mad777Locale: South Florida
I use a Hex3 in winter and use "natural snow anchors" i.e. sticks. Keep in mind that this doesn't work in deserts, above treeline, etc. and I dual-purpose things like snowshoes, treking poles that I would have anyway in those conditions.
Don't bury your ice axe, you may need it to get the other anchors out in the morning!
As for frozen knots,(don't try this at home) I'm just stupid enough to hold a mini-bic under them for a brief second to thaw them out.Dec 23, 2007 at 5:40 pm #1413593
> As for frozen knots,(don't try this at home) I'm just stupid enough to hold a mini-bic under them for a brief second to thaw them out.
Does that work when the storm is still raging on?Dec 23, 2007 at 7:54 pm #1413599
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