When we talk about survival skills, we consider ways in which we can fulfill our most urgent needs in any situation: in the wilderness, in urban environments, in war zones or any other life threatening circumstances. One of the most difficult and dangerous situations, however, is extreme cold weather. Taking care of needs like food, water, warmth and shelter automatically becomes harder in a cold place. If you are planning a mountaineering expedition to a cold, snowy place, make sure you are well versed with the survival techniques you are likely to need there.
Your first and foremost need in a cold environment is to keep warm and dry. For this you need to build a shelter that can give warmth as well as keep out the snow and wind. If you have sufficient skill to build an igloo and the situation allows it too, then that is the best option. It stays much warmer than any other kind of shelter. However, if that is too much for you, then use a snow tent which will protect you from the wind and snow. Cover the floor with dead branches or plastic bags, because any shelter that gets damp is a bad idea. Use extra blankets to keep warm because a tent will not retain any warmth. Similarly, you can use natural cover if you do not have even a tent. Select a place with an outcrop of rock above it, or where tree branches create a natural roof. Build your shelter in as dry a place as possible and preferably on higher ground.
For warmth, you can try using waterproof matches to kindle a fire, or light a stove if you have one with you. Keep your body heat intact as much as possible. Staying dry is also a great help. Wear plastic bags on your feet inside your shoes to keep feet dry. Always wear woolen clothing because it will keep you warm even if it does get wet. Do not over exert yourself to the point that you start sweating, because your sweat will freeze and make you colder, risking hypothermia.
Hypothermia and frostbite are both very real dangers in extreme cold. If hypothermia occurs, try to get dry and warm as soon as possible. Drink something hot but never anything with caffeine in it, as it can dehydrate you, and never alcohol either. With frostbite, immediate medical attention would be needed. But if it is not possible then submerge frostbitten body parts in tepid water. Hot water will cause burns. Rubbing the frostbitten areas will cause more damage so only pat them. You may see blisters appearing, and in that case, do not pop them as that increases risk of infection. The affected areas should be covered with dry, loose sterile dressing, but no pressure should be applied.
Finally, food and water will also be needed. These needs come after those of warmth and shelter because a human can survive without food for up to three weeks, and a few days without water. However, starvation will cause unnecessary and unhelpful stress, so food and water will have to be procured. Water can be obtained easily from melted snow or ice. Food is harder to get, so make sure that you have extra supplies of non perishable food items, especially concentrated energy tablets and high sugar foods.
Expeditions in cold weather can be very dangerous if something goes wrong, so you must prepare yourself for all possible hardships well in advance. Efficient preparedness will go a long way in helping you battle dangerous elements and ensure survival against the odds.