Also for being STRANDED in the backcountry, get your self a good pack and carry some basics. Avy Beacon, I use a BCA Tracker. One or two bottles of water and energy drink. Some Cliff Bars,beef jerky, a bag of peanuts. Fire starter basics, a lighter and some matches, some fire starter material. A small folding wood saw is good. I like a metal shovel, with an integrated probe (BCA), because I can melt snow on it if I have to. Compass, flashlight. I also carry 2, two-way radios with extra batteries (if you were stranded, you could put the radio on scan and try to pick up a signal). An extra vest and a pair of clear goggles, in case of dark (night).
I had just posted this post and I found this story on the snowmobilers, it brought back this memory. It kinda hit home.
I just read the story of the 6 snowmobilers that had to hole up in a cabin in Colorado during a storm last week.
Well this is my story. Back in February 2006, my wife and I drive all night, arrive at the trail-head in Wyoming. Well we unload the sleds and head up into the mountains. We head up north onto the ungroomed trails. It gets later in the day and we end up with one of the sleds stuck in a ravine, we double up on the 800 RMK and start back south. It's getting dark and it starts snowing. I switch to the clear goggles as it starts snowing harder. I gave my wife a flashlight to scan to the sides, as the snow became blinding. We managed to stay in contact with the trail. The direct way back to the truck crossed an open expanse where the winds were howling across at 70 MPH. No go. We stayed in the trees, but with the blinding snow it was slow going. I remembered a hut in the area from mountain biking in the area 3 years ago but we would need a bit of luck to find it in those conditions. That flashlight that my wife was using to scan the sides of the trail, that was how we found the hut (I now pack a headlite for my helmet).
We had been out in the blizzard for 6 hours. I jumped off the sled and checked the door, it was open. Unbelievable, it was about 7 ft. by 14 ft., it had a dirt floor and a little wood stove, no wood, but for now, shelter. During the night I had to go out 3 times into the dark and find wood. The second time out I almost missed the hut in the snow on my way back. It snowed 36 inches in that storm. I had my food and water. That is where the metal shovel came in handy because I was able to melt and drink 4 bottles of water during the night. We were at 10,400 feet. My wife got sick during the night, so I had her slowly eat and drink as she went in and out of sleep. I ended up sleeping just before daylight. About 9:00 the next morning we decided to attempt the ride back to the truck. It was still dumping snow as we set out. The snow was coming up over the hood on the sled. It was a crazy ride, wife just kept her head down and didn't see a thing all the way back. Damn near a white-out.
We got back to the truck about noon. Here is the kicker. Our faithful Lab Gunnar was sleeping in our truck. He hopped out took a pee and promptly rolled in the fresh snow, happy as hell to see us. We had been gone from the truck for 23 hours. We went back up the next day and found the other sled. That's a whole nother story.