On the planet Hoth, when Luke gets attacked by the Wampa and Han goes to look for him, we have this snippet of dialog (emphasis mine):

DECK OFFICER: Sir, Commander Skywalker hasn't come in through the south entrance. He might have forgotten to check in.

HAN: Not likely. Are the speeders ready?

DECK OFFICER: Not yet. We're having some trouble adapting them to the cold.

HAN: Then we'll have to go out on Tauntauns.

DECK OFFICER: Sir, the temperature's dropping too rapidly.

HAN: That's right. And my friend's out in it.

Given that the speeders are apparently ready when the Imperials attack a few days later, this leads me to believe that it took a week or less to finish adapting the vehicles to the extreme temperatures on Hoth. One would think that working vehicles should be a priority, so it brings up a question that AFAIK hasn't been addressed in the EU:

How long had the Rebels been on Hoth before the events seen on-screen in Episode V?

  • 10
    That raises another question: how did they have trained Tauntauns before they had adapted speeders to the cold? Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 14:26
  • 3
    Where do tauntauns come from? It's possible they bought a bunch of trained tauntauns, but I'm no expert.
    – jhocking
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 18:43
  • 9
    The speeders went out the next morning to pick up Luke and Han, perhaps the temperature just drops too low at night for them to handle.
    – Collin
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 19:15
  • 3
    Maybe they'd been on Hoth for a while, but the speeders had just come in recently. Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 20:41
  • 1
    @Collin Pure speculation, but I agree. I've always assumed that the speeders, being in-atmosphere craft, operated partially by hydraulic systems just like modern airplanes, and the hydraulic fluid would get too viscous at night for them to fly. The same problem occurs with all kinds of lubricants in vehicles at Antarctic bases in our galaxy. Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 1:16

5 Answers 5


From the opening crawl.

Evading the dreaded Imperial Starfleet, a group of freedom fighters led by Luke Skywalker have established a new secret base on the remote ice world of Hoth.

So it sounds at least that it is a recent event.

I have always been under the impression that they are still unpacking/setting up, so only days or weeks.

Edit after seeing it again

There are a couple of other factors that indicate they have not been there long.

  • Han and Luke are looking for life when we first see them on Hoth.
  • They have not discovered the snow beasts yet.
  • A couple of good answers here, but I'll accept this one since it is reinforced by what we see on-screen.
    – Omegacron
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 18:23

According to the Wookieepedia article on Hoth:

The Rebellion operated out of Echo Base for about one year before it was discovered by the Empire in 3 ABY.

The source appears to be the Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back source book from the old West End Games roleplaying game.

I'm not sure if this source is considered canon, but one year seems reasonable. Consider that the Rebel Alliance needed time to construct the base and its defenses, including ice caverns, the power generator, the shield generator, the ion cannon, and other defensive installations. True, some of these devices may have been preassembled and could have been dropped into place from orbit. But expanding the exisitng ice caverns to accomodate the Rebel base must have taken more time.

For an "in-universe" explanation for the problems adapting the snowspeeders to the cold, we can speculate that the snowspeeders required constant maintenance even after one year. Or perhaps Hoth was entering into into its winter season when temperatures dropped even lower than normal.

  • I believe most of the caverns/rooms were already there from some previous settlers who attempted to colonize Hoth and build a mining settlement. However, if a better answer doesn't show up I'll accept this.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 19:57
  • If it ever was considered canon, it no longer is according to Disney.
    – BBlake
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 20:42
  • @Omegacron - This site says it took the Rebels quite some time to adapt the Airspeeder into the Snowspeeder, and they only finished the job just before the battle. It also seems to suggest that they hadn't had time to adapt many of them, which is why so few were used in the battle. galactic-voyage.com/… galactic-voyage.com/Light%20Side-Speeders-Snowspeeder.htm
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 3:11
  • @Omegacron -As for the base's construction, Wookiepedia says it was a combination of pre-existing natural ice caves and newly dug tunnels and bunkers: "Monnon's engineers built the base under the mountains of the Clabburn Range south of the Nev Ice Flow and reinforced the natural ice caverns beneath the surface of Hoth to serve as pathways, using LC-10bWs." starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Echo_Base
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 3:19
  • @Omegacron - More info, from the Wookieepedia page on Wampas: "The Rebel Alliance established its secret headquarters on Hoth during the Galactic Civil War following the Battle of Yavin, in a series of ice caves that came to be known as Echo Base." "The Alliance Survey Team Theta at some point found on Hoth the personal logs of a smuggler named Jonox Forb, who inhabited the naturally formed ice caves before their conversion into Echo Base." starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Wampa
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 3:21

According to the (canon) Star Wars: Battles that Changed the Galaxy factbook, the Rebellion proper had been situated on the planet for less than a month when the Empire arrived in force. Their advance-team (one of several out surveying likely planets, we learn in The Last Jedi), had been there for longer, approximately two years, laying the technical groundwork as well as installing a generator, ion cannon and planetary shield, and hollowing out the caverns.

But the Alliance had the resources to succeed where smuggling rings had failed. Rebel engineers spent two years expanding ice caverns into a formidable base built around a giant ion cannon, powered by a reactor stolen from a Praetor-class battlecruiser and buried a kilometer below the surface ice. The battle-worn, cautious General Carlist Rieekan ensured Echo Base—named for its caverns’ eerie acoustics—would be a fortress, with heavy blast doors protecting its north and south entrances, rings of trenches for infantry, and anti-vehicle and anti-personnel emplacements built into the mountainside and set on the surrounding ice fields. Establishing Echo Base was an enormous undertaking intended to give the Alliance a principal base for the rest of the Galactic Civil War; because of some truly bad luck, the rebels called it home for less than a month.

  • This is corroborated by The Rebel Files: "We'd been there less than a month. We'd launched a hundred small projects to make Hoth's hostile environment something livable and familiar. And suddenly none of it mattered." -p136, quote from General Rieekan
    – Milo P
    Commented Dec 14, 2021 at 21:28

About 2 years or so. Echo Base in particular was only in use for about a year before the battle.

From the Wookieepedia page on Hoth:

The Rebellion's first official involvement on Hoth came in 1 ABY when Alliance High Command agreed to use the planet as their headquarters. The Alliance Corps of Engineers, under the command of Major Kem Monnon and supervised by Major Bren Derlin, descended on the ice planet to begin construction of High Command's new base of operations. Monnon's engineers took over the remains of the caverns once used by Salmakk for his smuggling operation, expanding the facilities considerably. The base was built in the northern hemisphere on the only livable temperate band near the equator. Construction on the new Echo Base was completed in 2 ABY.

The Rebellion operated out of Echo Base for about one year before it was discovered by the Empire in 3 ABY.


  • 1
    Wikia is not really a canon source. is any of that dating data cited there? Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 5:10
  • @DVK - no, all of it is cited. It comes from The Galaxy Guide 3: Empire Strikes Back.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 7:12

Even when moving into a small apartment it takes at least week to carry all things and make the apartment fit for living. But such a huge base could not be built in a week as the first answer stated.

Its ridiculous.

Use the logic here it's a fully operational base and they use trained animals etc, they must have been there at least a year, but year and a half is better assumption according to all the info !

  • True, but the base itself had been there for years. The Rebels just took over the abandoned facility.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 19:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.