Winter Caving

A friend and I decided to see how big of a cave network we could make in the snow drifts near us. These drifts were made from snow blowing over the prairies and dropping off the edge of a small “cliff” that descended into a slough. This ended up accumulating a large quantity of snow, in some places 2-3 meters deep and about as high.

The first day we made a pretty decent network of tunnels, you can see the three entrances below. The left and center entrances go into smaller tunnels while the one of the right is actually quite spacious as the snow drift was quite a lot deeper.

View of Three Entrances

This took about 3 hr and and the end we were absolutely drenched, as it had been a warm enough day that the snow didn’t stay solid long, so even through winter coats it would melt.

Main Cave Entrance

On the second day, at this same location we were able to extend it to around 12m in length. We closed up skylight with blocks and filled in the centre entrance. This left us with a “hatch” where you can climb out onto the plateau above, two entrances, and areas where you can sit upright without issue. If you weren’t overly attached to being comfortable, you could fit a small family in here!

Final cave network viewed from the left
Center view, showing the second entrance (behind the shovel)
Caves viewed from the right. Notice the wonderfully carved initials by my friend
Inside view. Tunnel extends for about 12m.
Interior lighting

We also then made a small cave a little ways away, just to see how deep the snow was. It turns out in this section it was very deep indeed. The bank appears to be more steep here, possibly due to the trees.

Cavern on the White

This last one we did in about 45 minutes of rapid shovelling. The amazing part is that we could have continued, we still hadn’t reached the bank and we got about 1.5-2m in with an interior over 1m tall. Easily tall enough to sit up straight in.

One thing that was really surprising was how quiet it was even inside the last cave. Once you sat down in there you could hardly hear the outside world. Inside the cave network you had to shout just to be heard by someone only a few meters away. The sound deadening inside a snow cave is very reminiscent of anechoic chambers.

Sleeping inside a snow cave sounds like an absolute dream.