Offgrid Survival Survival Scenarios: Snowed-In or Snowed On?
We spoke with series Executive Producer Grant Kahler regarding the...
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Welcome to another entry of Survival Scenarios, where we ask you how you’d handle a difficult choice in a hypothetical survival situation. Previously, we asked whether you’d prefer to have a flashlight or a firearm in a dark flooded urban area, or go barefoot in order to keep your bug-out bag. Today we have another installation that will challenge your survival mindset, and as always, it ends with a poll where you can make your choice.
How would you rather survive for one week: trapped inside a tiny snowed-in cabin during a blizzard, or wandering a barren and frigid tundra landscape?
Before you answer, we’ll provide some more background information on the circumstances. As with previous Survival Scenarios, in either case, you’ll need to survive for a full 7 days, and you will be alone. You'll be located in a remote wilderness environment, specifically the sparsely-populated region of Nunavut, Canada.
You traveled to Nunavut in January to hunt caribou, accompanied by your friend Jed, an experienced hunter and outdoorsman. Jed owns a small one-room log cabin, which he visits each winter to set up base camp. It's accessible only by flying into the small town of Baker Lake, then riding snowmobiles north for almost a full day. This year, he invited you to join him, and you jumped at the chance for an adventure, despite the cold conditions.
Speaking of which, the local weather generally fluctuates in the neighborhood of -30°C this time of year—that's -22°F to Americans. Snowfall is inevitable, with a rapidly-changing forecast par for the course. Staying warm in these inhospitable conditions is essential.
Jed's cabin is outfitted with the most basic requirements for survival in the north—a sturdy fireplace, stacks of wood, sleeping platforms, shelving, and a few basic hand tools. Of course, there's no electricity, communications, or running water, but that's to be expected in this remote location. As for other necessary items and supplies, you brought them along with you. Food, water, thick sleeping bags, extra clothing, rifles, and some gasoline for the return trip.
During your first few days in the cabin, things were going well. However, on the morning of the third day, the skies began to darken, and the wind picked up. A major snowstorm appeared to be slowly heading your way from the northeast. Knowing that the cabin's firewood supplies were dwindling and that more might be needed to weather the storm, Jed grabbed an ax and decided to head out on his snowmobile to collect some more. He said he'd be back within the hour, so you left it in his capable hands, and stayed behind at the cabin.
Three hours later, Jed still hadn't returned. You start to realize something must have gone wrong, as wind howls around the cabin. Cracking open the door, you can see snow is falling fast now, and visibility is low. It's time to make a difficult decision—do you head out after Jed, and risk getting lost in the white-out? Or do you hunker down, wait out the worst of the storm, and hope that he miraculously makes it back alive?
Declining to leave the safety of the cabin may seem like a wise choice now, but what you don't know is that this storm won't be relenting any time soon. If you stay at the cabin, you'll make it through the night, only to find a solid wall of snow blocking your only exit the next morning. You're snowed-in, and you'll be stuck inside this cabin with limited supplies as the blizzard rages.
First and foremost, the lack of firewood will become a problem. As noted earlier, that's the reason Jed left in the first place, so you'll need to carefully ration what's left. If worst comes to worst, you can start tearing apart the cabin's interior and furnishings to feed the fire. Food will also become a problem, as you were nearing the end of your time in the cabin, and beginning to exhaust your supplies. That, too, will have to be rationed.
The biggest danger in this scenario is not physical, however. It's psychological. You'll be stuck in a small windowless cabin, all alone. There's very little to do to keep your mind occupied, and you're deeply worried about your friend, not to mention the doubts about whether rescue is coming for either of you. Cabin fever will set in quickly if you don't stay vigilant.
In this scenario, you're trapped with your own thoughts at the mercy of Mother Nature, but at least you're relatively safe and warm for now.
On the other hand, if you choose to brave the cold wind in search of your friend, you'll find that your fears about getting lost were not unfounded. In complete white-out conditions, you stumble through the snow aimlessly, and realize after only a few minutes that falling snow has obscured both Jed's tracks and your path back to the cabin.
Fortunately, you had enough forethought to bring along warm clothing and survival supplies for a longer trek. You're decked out head-to-toe in warm hunting gear and heavy snow boots, and your backpack is filled with enough remaining food to sustain you for a few days. When that food runs out, you have your rifle, so you can attempt to hunt to survive. You can also make use of your limited knowledge of trapping to set some snares for small game, but the odds of catching anything substantial seem low.
In the vast northern wilderness, staying busy and mentally occupied will not be a problem. What will be a problem is staying warm. Remember what we said about the temperature? The weather is bone-chilling. Even with your thick gear, you'll need to start a fire and find or build a shelter ASAP. That may mean digging into a snow bank, or you may be able to fashion an A-frame or lean-to structure from saplings. It's no log cabin, but it'll have to do.
With some luck, the weather will relent long enough for you to orient yourself and head back towards civilization. You may even be able to track down Jed. Regardless, it won't be easy, and you're likely going to be stuck out in the open for several very long and cold days.
So, make your choice of either staying put in the snowed-in cabin, or wandering in the arctic wilderness. Enter your decision into the poll below, and feel free to justify that choice in the comments section.
Survival Scenarios is a recurring feature on OFFGRIDweb.com, and will ask you to make a difficult choice between two or more hypothetical situations.
We don’t just want you to read our posts silently—we want to hear what you have to say. That’s why we’re working hard to provide more interactive content like quizzes, polls, and giveaways. Got any suggestions? Post them in the comments below, or head over to our Facebook page.