Every year during the glorious week between Christmas and New Year’s—easily the year’s best stretch of days—I join my wife’s family for a trip to Yosemite. It’s (relatively) uncrowded, unbelievably cozy, and often stunningly beautiful. Occasionally during snowy years, as we hike out to El Capitan from Curry Village, we’ll pass a dozen or so tents pitched in the snow, doors tightly zipped. Or, as we xc ski up on Glacier Point, we’ll spot a few brightly colored tents poking out of the snow with views of Half Dome wearing its snow hat in the distance.
Brr, I always think, before skiing back to the Glacier Point Ski Hut, or trudging back to the warmth of a heated tent cabin in Curry. But also: that looks kinda rad.
Never camped in the snow. On purpose anyway. I’ve woken up to a dusting of snow on my tent, but never packed a 4-season tent and snowshoes and specifically set out to make camp in the white stuff. Once, while semi-lost on the way to a 10th Mountain Division Hut in Colorado, I was almost forced to pitch my emergency tent and crawl into a space blanket to spend the night before my group spotted the twirl of smoke curling from the hut’s chimney below us, but that’s as close as I’ve come.
Obviously, big mountain climbers make camp in the snow all the time, but that’s more out of necessity, not necessarily because camping in the snow is fun, in and of itself.
Keeping warm, keeping snow out, keeping the inside dry—seems like a valuable skill set, but also kind of a nightmare when cabins exist. I own a 4-season tent. Snowshoes. Lots of snow pants and hard shells. Not sure what I’m waiting for, actually.
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Photo: Eddie Lawhead