Built & slept in an 8' igloo! (in late Feb)

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Banff Martin
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Built & slept in an 8' igloo! (in late Feb)

Post by Banff Martin » Tue May 29, 2012 8:20 pm

Hello!

First, I apologize for not posting this months ago. Long story, poor plot..!

Here is what I e-mailed to co-workers on March 1:

"'mornin!

Attached is a running pictorial of my igloo construction project while on vacation in BC. I didn't take proper record of how long it took to build, but I'd say about 12 hours, plus about 4 hours to make the base/pad for the igloo.

Aside from giving the igloo a 'solid' and insulating platform to sit on that will delay sagging over time, the pad provides a temperature insulating feature plus additional space while inside the igloo. After the igloo building is about halfway done, one tunnels into the base and up into the igloo; this prevents cold air from entering the igloo later as cold air cannot rise (air hole required, as the same holds for oxygen!). As well, one can stand within the trench/doorway inside the igloo or store gear in that cold sink.

This is the 2nd size the Icebox tool can make, the 8'. The tool makes igloos 7-11' wide, with total outside height being 4'7" for the 7', 6'3" for the 8 & 9', and 6'7" for the 10 & 11' models. You can read all about the unit at http://grandshelters.com/ & index.php. Lee Thompson, Kameko & myself made a 7' at Lake Louise about a month ago.

I was lucky doing this build, as I had snowball-type snow as compared to the sugar snow of the last time. Snowball snow doesn't fall out gaps nearly as easily and is much easier to pack! I also had the use of a construction-style plastic bucket - starting on the 3rd level I placed the bucket inside the igloo and loaded it with snow from outside, then resumed igloo building. When the walls got higher I filled the bucket & dragged it into the igloo & up onto the igloo 'floor'. For the final 2 blocks I used a wooden block to help jump up onto the igloo & finish. Naturally, I then stood on top of the igloo to enjoy the view. =) Waterproof gloves were also important for packing the blocks, and some shovels are better than others for this.

I spent Friday night in the igloo, which was an interesting experience. The humidity had me seeing my breath from the start and the temperature never got above 1 degree C, nor could it without the walls melting faster. The walls did drip every minute or so but it wasn't an issue. Next time I'll consider smoothing the walls so drips run down to the floor. It had lots of insulation underneath me, so the igloo floor wasn't cold; my boots went into the doorway. I also proved you can get wireless on a laptop within an igloo! The igloo didn't dampen sound as much as I'd expected; maybe 10db? I could hear everything outside. Sleeping in there was good, I'd do so again!

(oh yes, I had a puppy companion at the start of the process - she belonged to the construction crew that are building the house you see in some of the pictures) I tried to take more pictures within the igloo but it was a challenge with my phone's camera. I took a couple outside at night but they didn't turn out; with candles lit the igloo glows.

Let me know if you've any thoughts or questions!"
Attachments
Level 4 or 5.jpg
Level 7.jpg
high-tech!.jpg
reverse.jpg
v3.jpg
v2.jpg
View from s.bag this morning.jpg
Done-size comparison.jpg
Done-back view.jpg
melting.JPG
If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right!

Banff Martin
Posts: 128
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:20 pm
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Location: Banff AB, Canada

Re: Built & slept in an 8' igloo! (in late Feb)

Post by Banff Martin » Tue May 29, 2012 8:38 pm

Right! Only 10 pictures per posting.

While the build went very well, I'm sure it could have been done more quickly. Without video or pics of me packing by somone that wasn't there I know it's hard to indicate where I can improve...

I quite enjoyed using the rubbermaid bucket; I hauled it within the igloo starting at the 3rd level and used my garden spade as a shovel. I kept using the outer panel right up to the 7th level as I was confident this way that the height of the blocks would be correct this way. Of course at the higher levels the spade wasn't useful, so I used a 4L milk jug with the bottom sliced off. =) I launched myself onto the top of the igloo to finish the final blocks, having first placed snow up on the edge via the milk jug.

In the Bow Valley it seems there is a snowshoe tour company that uses the Icebox to build igloos, and takes their customers there. I'm hoping to join their build crew this coming winter and improve my technique.

Again, sorry for the delay in posting this..!
Attachments
Base.jpg
Igloo mascot Willow.jpg
Level 2.jpg
Level 2.5.jpg
Level 3.jpg
If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right!

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Igloo Ed
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Re: Built & slept in an 8' igloo! (in late Feb)

Post by Igloo Ed » Wed May 30, 2012 3:49 pm

It looks like you did a fine job on the igloo. How thin the walls are on the melted igloo is a pretty good indicator that the shape was correct.
You mentioned waterproof gloves and I do love my Outdoor Research "Meteor Mitts", they are the best I've found so far.
It's good you tried more than one shovel. Your garden spade looks to be the correct shape and size but it looks to be steel. Steel shovels are quite heavy, which makes it more work and a person loses some agility with the shovel. I've never used a sidewalk shovel like you had but the bucket looks pretty good. I don't know about those strange shaped handles though.
The milk jug for the top layers probably worked pretty good. My shovel handle can be removed and just the blade can be used on the top layers. I think the milk jug would work better with the handle as I have to hold onto the shank of my blade and it's slippery.
You also mentioned smoothing out the walls so they don't drip. If one pulls in a little with the left hand and is careful how the first shovel full is packed, the lower corner of the block doesn't hang in. I see some holes/voids in that corner on your lower layers. Sometimes I poke my fingers down into that corner to get all the voids packed. The voids can have chunks in them that act like stalactites that drip.
I shovel snow into the igloo rather than use a bucket but my method does have it's pitfalls. It requires good planning so the pile isn't in the way and it's also easy to goof the floor up inside the igloo when using the snow.
It looks like you went a long ways for snow, 12 hours is understandable with those snow conditions and it being your second igloo.
I wouldn't doubt you could learn some from the snowshoe tour company, they might also be able to learn something from you. Everyone learns differently...
I once did something like you did with the Tupperware tub to drag the snow in for a solo build, but I used my pulk: http://www.skipulk.com
I had about 14 inches of snow but I built a 40 inch tall base so I could have a proper door. That used up the snow for quite a ways and I ended up having to haul all the snow for the nine foot igloo I built.
I was able to push the loaded pulk up a ramp and in through a temporary door I cut through the igloo wall. I was also able to finagle the poles someway that I could dump the load without going into the igloo. I'd put in a few pulk loads before crawling into the igloo to use the snow.
Thanks for your report!

Banff Martin
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Re: Built & slept in an 8' igloo! (in late Feb)

Post by Banff Martin » Wed May 30, 2012 5:25 pm

Thanks, I'll look into the gloves. I started with the waterproof gloves, then switched to another pair of almost-waterproof gloves when my fingers got cold.

The sidewalk shovel was quite efficient in gathering snow and bringing it to the igloo. There was less than 8" of snow. What I was doing was gathering snow uphill and having gravity help the load slide back down to the building area. The plastic shovel was then good for getting the snow from the sidewalk unit into the igloo or bucket; it is an ergonomic version with a 2nd handle at the middle of the length, and was much easier on the back. I agree the spade could be lighter, but on a plus side it was easy for the snow to slide off it's surface.

I can see the pulk being great for bringing snow from a distance on a level or uphill. I found it very handy to haul the bucket up into the igloo; it was stable inside, contained the snow, and left elbow room in the igloo. I don't think I'd want to drag it full uphill any distance though! It was heavy to pull it up into the igloo, but it made 2-3 blocks and only needed to be hauled this way after the 4th level - before that I used the ergonomic shovel to load it from outside the igloo.

Interesting detail on the corners, I'll come back to that when it gets cold! =)

Two more threads to come, 1 past and 1 future adventure...
If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right!

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Igloo Ed
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Re: Built & slept in an 8' igloo! (in late Feb)

Post by Igloo Ed » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:57 am

Banff Martin wrote:I agree the spade could be lighter, but on a plus side it was easy for the snow to slide off it's surface.
The metal backpacking shovels are very slippery with the paint they put on them. I think some are powder coated paint.

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