There are a lot of things that suck about fighting in the cold—especially when there’s snow in addition to the cold—that make the miserable life of a grunt even more miserable. It sucks to be really wet. It sucks to be really really cold. It really sucks to be really wet and really cold all at the same time. It gets worse, of course, though regular cold and wet is bad enough. Cold and wet fighting at altitude is worse by an order of magnitude, as many of you reading this can attest.
Frigid, snowy conditions give a whole new meaning to the term cold bore shot.
Ice and snow confound mobility. Cold thickens CLP and other lubricants. Weapons are fouled by snow and ice. Plastic and rubber pieces and seals fail or break as metals grow brittle. Muzzle velocities drop, the range of most weapons is degraded. Weapons with a short trigger pull (we don't count the rather lackluster M9) are something less than forgiving of numb fingers or hands wrapped in thick gloves and mittens. Many fabrics lose flexibility and serious shrinkage can occur (not just in the fabric, either.) There’s lots of things to keep in mind.
To get to the fight you need skis, snowshoes, snowcats, perhaps a Bv206S. Some units train to do nothing but fight in the snow. The Gebirgsjäger, Israel’s Alpinistim and of course our very own Tenth Mountain. Their professionalism and adaptive skills notwithstanding, it may be someone in the civilian sector who has developed the latest and greatest in mountain warfare TTPs. It’s won’t ever show up in 31-70 Chapter 6 or and any of CALL’s handbooks, but we thought it was funny. Figured maybe it was appropriate for the Labor Day Weekend to wax a little less serious for one article. The guy designing what we have decided should be called the Direct Action Assault Snowboard is Dave Lee, former professional snowboarder and design genius behind lots of unique work at Signal Snowboards: watch the Signal crew do battle on the slopes.
When you're done, sound off with any of your cold weather experience in the field. Have a favorite little stove small enough to throw in a 3-day pack? Any hints or tips you can pass along to others? Looking for anything in your experience (kit or lesson learned) that might help some other poor bastard humping the side of an icy mountain at the ass end of a freezing valley barely out of the stone age.