We got to the Glacier Basin campground sometime between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. Normally, parties are supposed to camp in the trees at the campground, where there are marked campsites. However, those campsites were under about 6 feet of snow. Eddie wanted us to set up camp in a meadow just outside the campground proper, because it would simulate high alpine snow camping better. In the snow covered meadow, there is little protection from the wind. However, at the altitude we were at, there was no chance we would be getting the wind that swirls around the mountain tops. And we are also pitching our tents in a fairly level location. No need to dig into the mountain side to create a flat spot to pitch a tent. We did dig down 6 to 12 inches to get level spots, and to reach older, harder-packed snow.
My tent-mate Chuck wanted to pitch our tent out a bit from the rest of everyone else. So Chuck and I began digging. We made a couple of mistakes though. First, we didn't dig deep enough. Also, later that night we discovered we didn't really make it level enough. After setting up Cory's tent, we realized she did not have enough snow stakes to properly stake the tent out. We used her regular tent stakes as well. Regular tent stakes look like a large nail with a hook at the end for looping guy lines onto. Snow stakes are wider, and curved to hold better in the snow. We put two of the regular tent stakes together to better grip the snow, and then buried them under more packed snow to try and hold them better. We did have 6 snow stakes and the tent should have been fine with them, but we wanted to be safe. We even used the ski poles and, after our self-arrest practice, our ice axes to stake down the tent even further.
After we got the tent set up, we asked Eddie to critique our work. Since the tent was somewhat different than others' in our party, we weren't sure our setup would cut the mustard. The rest of the tents all had doors and vestibules on the narrow part of the tent. Ours had the door and vestibule on the wide side. This meant that our tent had a wider profile for wind to catch, as the vestibule stuck out into the wind. If anyone wants this explained, I can whip up a graphic diagram.
Eddie confirmed our suspicions. Since we hadn't dug down too far, he suggested that we build a snow wall around the tent to prevent wind from catching the edge of it, and flipping us over as we slept. So we set out to dig around the tend and build up a wall. It wasn't a pretty wall. Sunday morning, we got to see a really nice wall that some folks forced off the mountain by high winds had build around their cook pit. Ours was shameful in comparison. For first time snow campers, though, we didn't feel too badly.
After all this digging in snow, we were tired. Most of us used the time to eat. Most folks brought some ready made foods for eating. Almost everything I had required some cooking. Luckily, I really wasn't all that hungry. I did munch on 2 or 3 chewy granola bars though, just to keep my energy level up. Chuck ate bagels and cream cheese and smoked salmon. Several of us went to get and filter water from an exposed part of the White River. Although I was out of water, I didn't. Chuck and I finished off the water he still had.
Next entry, Self-Arrest (Saturday afternoon).