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First 11' igloo is up!

Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:18 pm
by Banff Martin

In a surprise one-day build, my first 11' igloo has been built! We started at 10am and finished around 7pm, with time out for lunch & breaks. While the pad snow was old & heavy and built 1.5 weeks before the igloo, the snow was fresh from the night before. I'd been expecting having to use the old snow but the weather changed only the day before the build. The snow packed quite well, which helped our rotating 2~3 person crew's build time nicely.

However, I now see what Ed meant by the weaker geometry of the 11' model..! The morning after the build I could see that the lower levels were buckling in slightly, and the night photo below is from the evening. The new snow is compacting. At the same time, the forecast is less than ideal, with melting temps on many days. On a couple nights it won't freeze. (the walls appeared perfect the night before, the cleanest I've seen yet!)

A tunnel was cut connecting the igloos of course. =) I've a heavy piece of cardboard blocking it presently, and will have it out during freezing temps or when one doesn't want the draft.

I'm guessing the height may come down by a foot before the weekend with the fresh snow & warm weather combo; any better guesses as to what will happen?

The inside shot is from the corner of the igloo with the tunnel on the left, entrance to the right (with shovel in it) and 'leg pit' in center.

I doubt I'll build another 11' due to the quick sagging...the 9' may be the best for the future.

Any suggestions on helping the igloos in the warm weather? I could try blocking both entrances with cardboard...


Re: First 11' igloo is up!

Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:38 pm
by Banff Martin
As you may see from the outside photos, the pad wasn't that much wider than the igloo though it was as much as 3' deep. We didn't even try to load from the outside; with this model we found that there was enough elbow room to load from the inside. It wasn't always perfect, but it did work quite well.

Snow was gathered in the large scoop-bucket, then emptied onto the ground & loaded into the large Rubbermaid bucket, slid over into the entrance, hoisted onto the pad, then emptied. The form loader shoveled from that pile while the gatherer continued. This method also meant that when there were only 2 of us the form loader could go gather more snow while I self-loaded from within.

I packed almost all the blocks. One of the builders also has an Icebox but hasn't had the chance to build himself, and got some practice in. He's learning to slap less. =)

I know it's odd, but I use the full form until it gets cumbersome around the 7th level. At that point the form loader couldn't load for me, but passed me the shovel from waist-height. On the final levels they passed me the 4L milk jug unit I built - picture to come!

Next up...try to get clearance to build a 9' at the winter campground!

Re: First 11' igloo is up!

Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:01 am
by Banff Martin
A brief follow up:

The combination of the model size, new snow and warm temperatures combined badly; over the week the igloo slumped down so much of the walls bent in & touched the floor. Small kids can get in, but adults find it a challenge. =) I've filled in the connecting tunnel so the first igloo isn't as drafty. At no time did the igloo actually break; it just slumped & bent down in slow motion.

The temperatures were above melting most of the week with strong winds as well, and barely reached freezing some nights and not at all for half of the week. Tough conditions for a new igloo! I have to wonder how it would have turned out if the temp had dropped to -20C instead.

As for other differences in the building of this 11' vs. the 8 & 9' models, I noticed that I didn't need to pull in slightly on the upper left corner of the form. I had done so as a standing rule when starting on the 1st level but found it was only causing problems when I'd try to move the form. I'm guessing the corner needs progressively less tugging the larger the igloo.

I have to wonder how others finish the last block on their igloos. For this one we paused to pile up snow between the igloos so the tunnel could be cut the next day, and I then stacked 3 milk crates onto that to launch myself up to the edge of the top to pack the last block. My friends then passed snow up to me to finish.

If this igloo had been built for camping I'd be disappointed by what happened, but as it wasn't it was just a good learning experience.

Re: First 11' igloo is up!

Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 6:55 pm
by Igloo Ed
Sorry to take so long to reply, I've been overwhelmed a bit with the flood recovery this winter. There's a lot of red tape with permits and all.
Thanks for the report and updates on the 11 ft. igloo. A sad deal with it sagging.
One thing I do to stop the sagging is plug the vent while I'm gone. The perfect scenario would be to open the vent at night so the igloo freezes and close the vent during the day so warm air doesn't come up through the door.
I've packed snow onto the depressions that start sagging in and then carve the extra weight off the inside with good results to stop the sagging. Generally, the snow packed on like this is older and is stronger than the original powder.
I fill and pack the last top block by standing on the outside ledge and sliding the shovel up the wall until I can rotate it to dump it. I pack with a ski pole basket as I walk around the igloo, always pushing the snow away from me and across the igloo.
It is easier to handle/pack the form if the outside panel is left on as long as possible but that means putting the snow into the form from the inside. I only put it in from the inside when I am solo building.
It sounds like you had the worst of conditions for everything and I'm not surprised it sagged that fast.