Winter is when the training wheels come off for hikers, climbers, and backcountry skiers. When all of the planning and preparation you did before your trip won’t help you get out of the jam you’re in. When your buddy hits his head on a tree skiing down a backcountry route or a big chunk of falling ice takes out your belayer. When circumstances are so out of control, that you can only survive with what’s in your pack, the knowledge in your head, and the resources you can scrounge from your surrounding environment.
Build A Shelter
Your first priority in winter is to build a shelter to get out of the elements, especially the cold and the wind, which can cause hypothermia and frostbite. If you’re in the open and everyone in your group is mobile, you need to get below treeline. Studies of winter accident reports have shown that people who get below treeline survive far more often than those that don’t. The trees will protect you from the wind and provide fuel for making a fire. If you’re pinned down by the weather or a member of your party is injured and can’t be moved, digging a snow cave, a snow pit, or a snow trench will get you out of the wind.