As a young girl I often fantasized of homesteading in Alaska, foraging and hunting to provide life’s necessities. My dream also included climbing peaks and time spent in an igloo under the dancing Northern Lights. While I have yet to discover my Alaskan homesteading skills, I was recently schooled in the fine art of igloo making.
During Winter Trail Days in Rocky Mountain National Park, Igloo Ed, inventor of Grand Shelters Icebox, provided hands-on instruction for building an eight-foot diameter igloo. He made it look easy. That was before he turned control of the snow form over to me. After, kneeling in snow for an hour and holding the Icebox mold steady, I learned that patience is key to igloo making success, especially when working with hoary snow.
The process was not as glamorous or as easy as I had envisioned. There’s a technique to turning the snow, loading and packing it into the mold. Just the right hand-pressure is applied to form the perfect snow-block.
According to Igloo Ed, “Very experienced igloo builders can construct a complete shelter in as little as three hours.” After six hours of work, our igloo resembled more of a snow-walled wading pool than an overnight shelter. Needless to say I failed at my first igloo making adventure.
You might think setting up a tent for winter camping is much quicker than building an igloo and you’d be correct. However, sleeping inside an igloo is warmer, windproof and quiet. An igloo would make a superb basecamp for winter ice climbs.
The Grand Shelters Icebox retails at $179.95, less than the cost of a four-season tent. It weighs five pounds, less than a four-season tent, and consists of a form to build blocks of snow. This is the perfect tool for igloo making in Colorado’s variable snowpack.
If you're curious about igloo making visit Igloo Ed's online forum where you'll find Igloo Building Tips, Demos, Trip Reports and Photo Galleries.
Have fun and be safe out there!