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INSTC - Igloo building in Scotland January 22nd 2011

Posted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:37 pm
by Andy
After a successful trip last April with Chris Townsend to learn using an Ice Box I had the pleasure of visiting Ed with my wife Christine in September and spent a wonderful three days camping with Ed and enjoying the surrounds of Button Rock and RMNP. Ed showed pointed out locations he uses in winter for igloo sites and described how much powder snow builds up inthe park. The locations are so much more sheltered than the location we used last April high on the Cairngorm plateau in the highlands of Scotland.

We purchased an Ice Box and door to take back with us after our hiking and riding adventure in Wyoming and just had the challenge of packing in the suitcase! We did not have to wait long to try out the Igloo with winter coming early to Scotland in November I was able to build an Igloo in my garden. The cold weather lasted until Christmas and so did the Igloo but eventually melted with a rapid thaw. I planned a trip for the Inverness Nordic Ski and Touring Club to build Igloos in the Cairngorm mountains again in January with Chris Townsend. Six of us eventually made our way up to the plateau and began building about 2pm. We are 57 degrees north so it gets dark about 5pm that time of year and being beginners we expected to complete the Igloos in the dark.
Skins on for climb.JPG
A walk in to 2,000ft before putting on skis. Climb to 4,000ft before reaching Igloo site.
The snow was good both for skiing and Igloo building but there was a very hard ice layer below 4 inches of soft snow making it difficult to dig an entrance trench and we had to gather snow from quite a distance.
Bright doors for safety.JPG
Cold windy conditions in the morning. Bright yellow doors ideal in poor visibility do give a decptive appearence of sunshine in the Igloo!
Carn Ban Mor Igloos in construction.jpg
The start of the build. We had good calm conditions with compact but soft snow.
On third layer.JPG
Two Igloos in construction
The weather conditions were kind again to us and although it was very tempting to go skiing we knew that the daylight would not last and with the wind increasing there was a need to get shelter completed for safety. The snow collectors and shovellers kept very warm but the packers needed the walls high enough to cut the wind and make the build comfortable. The use of industrial vinyl gloves over liner gloves was a good choice to avoid wet, cold hands - a lesson learned from last year. The need for a little extra height to build the last layers 6 and 7 was solved by filled a neoprene stuff sack with snow as a barrel to stand on. This made a big difference to completing the upper layers successfully without the need to carry a heavy crate. The Igloos were completed in the darkness with head torches and it was then a delight to settle down to a hot meal, bottle of wine and blether. It gave me an opportunity to try out the Primus MF stove's gas consumption ready for a trip to Norway in April. The yellow plastic end plate from the Ice Box gives a firm support for the stove and the efficency of the stove and pan combination resulted in no melting of the roof.
Weather closing in at finish.JPG
Completion of Igloos at night with snow and wind increasing.
Andy getting the tea sorted.JPG
The comfort of the Igloo far exceeds a tent in the severe conditions on Carn Ban Mor
The Igloo gave a wonderfully secure and calm shelter, so much so that it was a great surprise in the morning to find outside the very cold, windy and whiteout conditions. We took time to break camp and made our way back the summit on a compass bearing. Descent from the summit was a little difficult at first with heavy packs and poor visibility. The sun broke through making the final section of skiing a lovely run down with the telemark skis. It was a very successful trip and we plan another in March hoping to introduce more members to the delights of Eds Ice Box Igloo Tool.
Bright doors for safety.JPG
Cold windy conditions in the morning. Bright yellow doors ideal in poor visibility do give a decptive appearence of sunshine in the Igloo!
Graham approaching.JPG
A good run down - Graham with mountain touring skis.