In terms of food and supplies... bring more food. This ties into your question about energy level. Everything you do will require more energy. Your pack will be heavier, walking on snow requires more energy. Setting up your tent, going to the bathroom, going between tent and cook area, finding a place to sit down.
quote:Gortex vs. down filled coat?
Goretex is great as long as you have something under it to insulate. I've never used down but from what I know, it's fine unless it gets wet. I don't know how well it would work with a backpack on.
quote:Should I trade my down sleeping bag for a synthetic one?
I know people who use a down sleeping bag and they are fine. The biggest mistake I've seen people make on a winter camp is leaving the windows closed. Picture frost everywhere. Just leave the windows open 4-6 inches or so and you should be okay.
quote:What rating should I go for?
That's a difficult question. I would go with a bag that is rated for the temperature I am camping in. You're body size in relation to the sleeping back will have a big affect on warmth. Having more people in your tent will make things cozier. Wearing a layer of clothing will help out. Also the ratio of surface area to body mass is greater for a woman than it is for a man, so women will general feel cold sooner than men will.
quote:Should I be concerned with building muscle in a different area?
After you try it you'll know where you need to build more muscle.<img src=icon_smile_approve.gif border=0 align=middle>Most ski hills rent snowshoes so you can always rent some to get a feel for the stride.
quote:I am full of questions and would appreciate any wisdom that you might want to part with.
Don't underestimate the cold, you'll be spending a lot of time in it. It's only dangerous if you're not prepared. I went for a late night walks on a cold winter night to get a feel for how prepared I would be. It takes a surprising amount of snow to make water. The more people in your group, the more fun you will have. You can bring more gear like tarps, shovel, etc. It also means more extra gear if something goes wrong. I've never had any incedents happen but it's better safe than sorry.