Just after completion, around 6:30 pm on December 13, 2000.
Well, it's been at least 5 years since I have slept in an igloo, so
yesterday I decided to remedy this situation. The wonderful
snowstorm of December 12 had piled a record 13" of wonderful powder
snow onto my neighborhood, and the temperature was in the 'teens--perfect
conditions for iglooing.
Here is the snow-block "mine," a snow pile from the big storm. After snow has been disturbed (as in being shoveled onto a pile), the snowflakes bond together into a crystalline structure, from which blocks can be cut. The snow should be dry for igloo blocks--wet snow is too heavy and has no insulating quality. I use a machete and a carpenter's saw to cut the blocks.
Here is the completed structure. This iglo is about 80 inches in diameter--enough to sleep 2 people. I was pretty happy with it, considering that I have not built one in a long time. The courses were not as consistent as they could have been, and a couple of joints were not tight. Fortunately, when you work with snow it is very easy to fill in cracks.
This is around 11:00 pm, just before turning out the lights. Backyard iglooing is a little more civilized than in the woods. I had my portable phone, radio (for the latest election news), digital camera, National Geographic, iced tea (which froze before I could finish it), thermometer, and a palm pilot (to test it for robustness). Temperature was about 0 F outside when I went into the igloo, and about 30 F inside the igloo. This was a little colder inside than I expected, due to one or two cracks in the walls and to a lack of companion. More bodies = more heat.
Starting the igloo in the backyard. You build in a spiral, cutting the blocks so they fit tightly together. As you go up, the blocks must be tilted in to form the roof.
This is where it starts getting tricky. The best is to work with at least two people, one inside and one outside. I was alone (Melanie could not be tricked into this enterprise), so I was forced to work from the outside for most of layer 3. After three layers the walls were high enough that I could cut an entrance through the base and work from the inside again.
This is the igloo from the inside. We are looking upward at the keystone.
The igloo is located in beautiful Bay View and should be up for the duration of the cold. Anyone is welcome to come sleep over in it. I recommend couples, but it works well solo as well. Come see how the other half lives!