How to Construct an Emergency Snow Shelter

Before you start: Avoid getting too wet and cold, so put on over-trousers jacket and gloves before you start. Digging in the snow is hard work so keep other layers to a minimum.  You don’t want to get too sweaty before you settle into your new home. As with all building sites helmets should be worn at all times.

1. Basic building block: Dig out a narrow slot in the snow just over shoulder width. Above this draw out two lines with the pick of the axe (narrower than in the photo). Then one line parallel to the slot.
Then dig out under the block with the adze or pick of the axe.

2. Lift out the block: Slide hands underneath the block and lift it out. The firmer the snow the more digging will be required to release the block. Try to keep the blocks neat with flat faces as this will make the construction easier.

3. Placing the blocks: Place the block on one side of the trench you’ve created then dig out further blocks working away from you.

4. Building the walls: Build up the walls on either side of the trench and at one end. If you have a good depth of snow you can deepen the trench to reduce the number of blocks required.

5. Roof it over: Start another quarry nearby and create blocks slightly larger than the original block size. Use these to roof over your shelter. This is where you will regret making the walls too far apart as the snow may not be strong enough to span the gap. Or you might not be strong enough to lift the block!

6. Finishing touches: Plaster the inside and outside with loose snow to fill any remaining gaps.This design of shelter works best for one person. It is more comfortable if it is tall enough for you to sit up inside but takes longer to construct. It needs to be long enough to cover you legs.

7. Sit back and relax: Once completed it’s time to move in. Put on all your spare clothing. Insulate yourself from the ground with the contents of your sack. Crawl into your survival bag inside the shelter then block of the entrance with either a rucksack or another block.