For most South Africans snow is a mystical thing that only ever happens on some distant mountains and most often involve a long car trip to get to them. Then after hours in the car (and queuing behind everybody else looking for a snow day out) you finally reach the top of the middle of nowhere mountains to discover that the snow is actually only a few sporadic patches that are already melting.
And to be honest most of us like our snow that way – a long way away. After all one of the greatest things about living in South Africa, besides its people, is the amazing weather! Who doesn’t love long hot summers and relatively mild winters? While those from Jo’burg or the high veld who scrape frost off their cars once in a while might take issue with calling our winters mild, they are truly mild winters. Unlike those in the Northern climes, our weather warnings generally are limited to wear a jersey or put some extra sunblock on.
So you can image the shock to the system when on a recent trip abroad to Scandinavia I experienced my first snow storm. This wasn’t any ordinary snow story, this was the worst one not only of the year, but of the past few years. Snow was piling in drifts everywhere and the world had turned completely white. The meaning and value of new words suddenly become abundantly clear: thermal underwear, wind chill factors, extremely strong and hot coffee. Of course I was thinking about none of these things – I was thinking purely about pitching stretch tents in these alien environments. That, and the Swedish model selling coffee at the local cafe.
Pitching a tent for snowy environments is a very different kettle of strömming (a Nordic fish delicacy – don’t ask and don’t eat!). The ground is frozen solid which, while making for better rigging, also makes it harder to hammer into; the wind can come in sudden gusts with surprising force; and last, but not least, snow can collect on top of the tent increasing weight and pressure on supports. These considerations were slightly out of my area of expertise, so I turned them over the the real experts back at Tentickle HQ. Chatting to the team there, it turns out that the frozen ground really isn’t an issue – they have plenty of systems and pitching techniques in place that they don’t even need to worry about pitching on frozen adamantium-laced stone. The wind, while gusty, is nothing compared to the nightmares of pitching in Cape Town and if even winds down at Cape Agulhas can’t rustle a Tentickle Tent’s flaps, then very little a winter storm throws at it can do any harm. The last point was a little more interesting. Because of the weight buildup of snow, a slightly different pitching design is needed to ensure that the snow slips off the tent and avoids building up. While this system is similar to the existing ones used to direct rain away and prevent build up, a little more planning and engineering is involved. This does change the design process, but with the right supports and poles, the tents can be pitched in such a way that the snow won’t build up.
With these questions put firmly to bed, I could return my thoughts to that Swedish goddess pouring me that life saving coffee.
So, if you are planning a winter wedding somewhere high in the Drakensberg mountain or the Cederberg, look no further than Tentickle Tents!