David in Israel Re: A Winter Crossing

While living on the dry side of the state of Oregon [eastern Oregon] while in college, my bugout plan always included heading to one of two prepped positions one a cramped remote cabin and some buckets of food and gear the other a friend who had well prepared but was too close to a highway. Circumstances would have dictated which to go to. In winter, my plan was to ski and sled in my gear. Without the assistance of a massive snow plowing network, much of the northern United States would be locked-in, once winter arrived. Almost all logging roads and highways would be closed until the snow melts. This seasonal closure can actually work for your retreat, by providing cheap security–filtering to just a tiny number of Sno-cats and snowmobiles with any possible access. I will leave discussion of snowmobiles, sleighs, and dog teams to an expert.

What you need:
Skis & Ski climbing (skins and/or wax and klister)
Collapsible shovel
Sleeping gear
High calorie foods
Powerful stove

You must become comfortable with your gear experience is the best way. I started with surplus Ramer bindings and upgraded to Silveretta 300s using military double chamber touring skis. Some prefer Telemark bindings over the randonee bindings. I stayed with the double chamber to take advantage of using climbing wax,
turning was not a major concern since I was not planning to be a sport user. I bought about 10 sets of military synthetic Ramer brand strap on skins at $5 a pair and
converted several to sticky on. There may be much better gear on the market now see if you can rent from a shop before you buy. Plastic mountaineering boots are warm comfortable and you can carry several liners if they get wet, assuming that you are sleeping warm you can take the liners into your sleeping bag. A mountaineering boot is designed for crampon use or direct walking on rock and ice for extended periods of time almost all have a hiking boot type vibram sole. While they are not the ideal for sport skiing control, a randonee binding is designed to fit this type of boot.

Your sled can be anything from a long kids sled and rope (better if you put PVC pipe extenders to a belt for downhill control) to expensive rescue or military models the better the sled the longer the life and usually easier to control in a downhill mode. [JWR Adds: For a team of four or more people, the large U.S. Army “Ahkio” sled is excellent. They can occasionally be found at DRMO auctions at military posts like Sierra Army Depot; California; Fort Carson, Colorado; Fort Drum, New York; and Fort Greeley, Alaska.]

The packable snow shovel a back country skiers friend dig you a nice burrow into the snow so you stay cozy no matter how cold it gets, digs out avalanche victims, and helps make igloo blocks. Be careful and build a safe snow cave. If you like snow caves a Goretex bivvy bag is a good way to keep your sleeping bag dry, don’t forget an insulating layer (foam, thermarest, pine boughs, cardboard, etc). If you prefer a tent be sure it is a true four season tent, designed to withstand heavy snow and wind.
High calorie foods with lots of fats and protein are important in winter ops both for warmth and endurance. High protein and fat diets will require much higher water intake to metabolize. A Camelbak worn over your belly and sipped regularly is ideal. BTW, a gulp of olive oil before bed raises your body temp a little to
digest keeping you warm at night. Water generation in a snow-covered environment is harder than it sounds. Forget eating snow it is water negative once you calculate the calories required for your body to melt and heat it. Consider it a worthless junk food. To melt snow you must carry a pot and a proper stove. The MSR series especially the XGK are made for blasting snow into water in a few minutes and they burn like an F-14’s engine ready for a carrier catapult launch! Use large stainless steel camp set pot if possible because there is a potential for dry spots at first and aluminum may burn, adding melted water helps spread the heat much faster.

An Aside: Bunny Socks
As almost nobody packs enough wool socks to last forever remember that rabbit skin after it is washed and tanned can be worn with the fur side to the feet, to winterize a pair of boots–especially in the absence of proper socks. These also make inner moccasins for your outer leathers if you have to make your own boots.