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Mount Ruapehu - New Zealand

Posted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 1:33 am
by Kiwi Beeman
We have just completed our second 8 foot igloo on the lower slopes of Mount Ruapehu at Tongariro National Park in the central North Island of NZ. We chose a site low on the mountain because there was a forecast for rain coming in the next day or two. In this National Park there are 3 ski fields which get good snow coming up from Antarctica but also get rain coming down from the tropics.
Our first igloo built out of very dry powder took us 7.5 hours to build and only lasted 10 days before getting rained out.
This time we had the opposite, a thin layer of very fresh wet snow on top of a layer of very hard icy snow. This was great to pack but much more time consuming to gather. It would sinter together if left in a heap too long. We cheated a bit by doing 3/4 of the first layer and then putting the second layer straight onto a hard icy section at the back. This seemed to work out Ok and saved a lot of chipping. The build time was 5 hours but the base was so hard that an ice axe was needed to dig the entrance and trench. All up it took 6 hours from start to finish. We are making some progress.
The only construction problem we seem to have is not getting to holes 7 and 8 on the last few layers, possibly we are too keen to finish and are closing in too soon.
My wife and I slept comfortably in the igloo for one night and woke to a light rain in the morning. If the igloo lasts for 2 more days a very cold southerly will give it fresh coating of snow and set it up nicely for a while.

Re: Mount Ruapehu - New Zealand

Posted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:56 pm
by Igloo Ed
With the base snow being that hard, I can understand the slanted floor at the back of the igloo and the top of the door being above the sleeping floor. I was wondering if the snow base wasn't deep enough to dig down deeper. I've done the same thing in early season when I dig down to the ground and the foundation still isn't flat. Other times, I've ran into rocks where I incorporated them into the wall or even the floor.
Good to see your build time going down. With different snow conditions and having to go further for snow, you did well and learned a new technique. The walls are much stronger/denser with the sticky snow in comparison to the cold powder you used previously. Generally, the wet snow melts slower and compresses less than the cold powder but it is also closer to the melting point and can start sagging pretty quickly if the weather continues to stay warm.
I find I can't get to the last holes in the poles either on the 8 ft. igloo and it is usually because I fill the form to full. The 8 ft. should be 2 inches short of being full on each block. The shape of your igloo looks correct but usually if the form is filled to the correct fill level, the igloo has more shoulder room.
Glad you had a good night in the igloo and I hope that cold spell catches the igloo before it sags to much.
Thanks for the trip report.

Re: Mount Ruapehu - New Zealand

Posted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:24 pm
by Kiwi Beeman
Thanks for the reply Ed, helpful as always.
We tried to keep the blocks down 2 inches, I even put a yellow tape on the form at that level as it is very easy to sneak another shovel full of snow in!
I opened the entrance up the wall a little because the digging was so hard and the night temp was only about 0c and it was warm enough for rain in the morning. We were only using it for one night also.
The next plan is 3 of us to make a 9 foot model.
Regards Paul Badger

Re: Mount Ruapehu - New Zealand

Posted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 8:17 pm
by Igloo Ed
Hmm, thinking about it and wondering if your floor was flat or if the stake was lower than the surrounding base? I know you went up on a slope on one side and that might have goofed something up but the floor being dished would cause you not to reach the full length on the pole.
Three people in a nine footer works well if people are not taller than about 5'10". One person sleeps on the table though and can't go to bed until everyone else is ready and then he can lay out his bedding.

Re: Mount Ruapehu - New Zealand

Posted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:32 am
by Kiwi Beeman
What I did was start near the back slope and my plan was to chip away at the slope as I progressed around same as you did in the demo DVD. The problem was it was so hard and icy that I just chipped the top off level with top of the first layer and adjusted the pole to the second layer and carried on across. I then packed snow on top of the ramp blocks and and carried on round.
The stake was at the correct level all through and I just had to excavate the floor level at the back. This did not cause a problem with the snow being so had and icy.

The igloo had 1 day of damp weather and 2 warmish days but since then the area has had another 3 feet of snow. Plan to check to see if it is still standing in 10 days time when we go up to make the 9 foot model with Peter. Hope this will be the last storm of winter as I need some warm weather for my bees!

Re: Mount Ruapehu - New Zealand

Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:08 am
by Kiwi Beeman
We revisited the igloo 17 days later to find it had succumbed to hot weather. It had survived for two weeks and the area had recieved almost a metre of snow but most of that had gone too with a few hot days. The back of the igloo was rock hard.
Where we live in the North Island of New Zealand it is always going to be difficult for igloos to last for long periods of time. There are no trees to build under but perhaps we can build them in spots that lose the sun earlier in the day.

Re: Mount Ruapehu - New Zealand

Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:05 pm
by Igloo Ed
With it getting into spring for you and the igloo lasting two weeks.... That's pretty good and finding a spot that has less hours of daylight will make a big difference. Perhaps next season the igloos will do better earlier in the season.
It also helps to climb higher! :twisted:
It always amazes me how thin the walls can get and still be standing.