What is Snowcamping and 10 Things You Should Know Before You Go

Join the SF Sierra Club Snowcamping Session virtual meetings this winter and learn more!

What is Snowcamping and 10 Things You Should Know Before You Go

Blog Post Guest Written By: the Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter snowcamping Section (photo by: Sissy Petr)

It was early in the winter of 1969, near Lincoln Peak on the way to the Sierra Club’s Bensen Hut. The Forest Service ski ranger remarks to snowshoers Frank Quinn, Andy Husari, and Carl Wisener, “Oh, Sierra Club. You people have been causing us lots of trouble lately, getting lost and injured." That commend was the catalyst for the founding of the Bay Chapter snowcamping training series, now in its 52th season!

Frank, Andy, and Carl were experienced winter campers. They understood that the increasing number of accidents came from the backpacking explosion of the 1960s. Inexperienced hikers were encountering the windy, wet conditions of spring and autumn storms. And when trails were obliterated by snow, they often had no idea how to use the map and compass that they might or might not have brought along. And so that spring the friends came to launch the Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter snowcamping Section and the training series.

The idea was to safely extend the average backpacker’s season beyond July and August.

“The first one,” Frank Quinn recalled, “was out of a motel in Kingvale just west of Soda Springs. We had two or three times the response we expected. We had a seminar inside and gave instruction in proper clothing, map and compass, and avalanche awareness. We went outside to practice snow shelter construction and proper ice axe technique.”

Since that day, today the training series offers seven different adult subgroup options with different trip dates, plus a group for families and youth groups for scouts. So far more than 3000 people have taken these trainings with no serious injury to report in 51 years! But this season – with COVID – all trips are postponed and this year more than any other year people are looking to get outside at any time, at any weather, with any experience. And we are back to the 60’s! There is an explosion of people on the trails who are not carrying the necessary equipment and are unprepared.

The Snowcamping Section of the Sierra Club SF Chapter this year will share with you 51 years of experience and knowledge through virtual meetings! Our virtual meetings aim to help you prepare to get out there.

Winter sports can be overwhelming, the questions are endless.

We've got virtual teaching sessions to cover the top 10 things you need to know before you go Snowcamping:

1. Trip Planning 

2. Know what cold means and how to handle

3. Clothing (January 20, 2021)

4. Other gear needed (January 27, 2021)

5. Food – what can you eat while Snowcamping? (February 3, 2021)

6. Navigation – no trails in the winter (February 10, 2021)

7. Shelter – know how to build a structure in the snow (February 17 & 24, 2021)

8. Kitchen – how important it is to have a covered kitchen (March 3 & 10, 2021)

9.  How to pack what is needed on a regular backpack (March 17, 2021)

10. Where can you get more knowledge, meet other snowcampers and take trips in the Bay Area! (March 24, 2021)


We are a group of fans of snow, so much that we like camping in it or on it and we want to teach you how! Safety is what drives us to have our training seasons every year. Join us, this year in a series of ten or virtual meetings to share with you what we have learned over the years.

Our virtual meetings are be held every Wednesday 6:30-7:30 pm starting January 6th, 2021 and they are free and open to all. Each virtual meeting will be devoted to one subject. A leader of ours, each time will present to you what they know best and answer all your questions. You don’t have to attend all and you don’t have to stay the whole time. For more information check Snowcamping.org. We can not wait to meet you! There’s no camping like snowcamping!

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