How to igloo!
Have you ever slept in an igloo? Ever since last weekend, I can answer this question with a big fat yes.
Being Swiss, I am used to mountains and snow and all that. But putting on snowshoes, trekking through thick powdery snow and building an igloo to sleep in was new to me.
If you ask me about my experience with the snowshoes… well, that was not my favourite part of the weekend. I don’t like the sticks you need to balance (I never liked them when skiing as well) and I certainly do not have the stamina to go uphill with snowshoes and a backpack that is half my weight. As a dancer, I can easily dance 5 hours in a row, but snowshoe trekking is something else.
But aside from all that, the weekend was as awesome as it could get. Once you picked out a place to set up your igloos, you need to prepare the ground. You will need one round shape per igloo (size depends on how many people will sleep in it) and a square field where you will cut out the bricks for the walls. Yes, you read right, you cut them out., with a saw. I too thought that this will not be possible, but once you firmly stomped down all the snow in that square, that was actually really easy and the bricks hold together pretty firmly.
And then it begins. You cut out the bricks, each the same size and thickness and then you start building the igloo, round by round, slightly leaning the bricks inside until you reach the top. Before you arrive at the top, the guys inside the igloo need a shovel to dig their way down and out of the igloo and to make the entrance at the same time.
We took some breaks in between and had lunch and snacks etc, but I guess, the 2 igloos took around 3-4hours in total to be ready.
We decorated the igloos as well with roofs over the entrance and even house numbers, just for fun. And we used the area where we cut out the bricks to make a couch and guard it from the wind with a wall made of more bricks.
Then, someone had to go into the igloo to prepare the sleeping area, to lay out the plastic blanket and arrange the inflatable sleeping mats on it, while the others handed that stuff inside. Check out the interior pictures in the gallery below.
Building an igloo is a lot of fun, but also hard work. I could feel every muscle the next day. We calculated that we moved around over 2.5 tons of snow for those 2 igloos, the couch and the kitchen area. Not the worst kind of sports.
When all was done, we made a fire in our living room made of snow (that actually did not melt down from the fire as many feared) and started cooking dinner… the scenery was awesome, fire, snow, stars and the full moon. It could not have been more perfect.
Wasn’t it cold outside and inside the igloo? Well, we were lucky to have the perfect weekend. Sunny, almost no wind and a full moon. With the sun, it felt like 15 degrees (celsius), when it was only around 5-6 in reality. Inside the igloo you have around 2-3 degrees, but it warms up a little with the people inside. Not one minute during that weekend did I feel cold. That was surprising. I even packed way to much because I feared I would be cold. You have to be prepared with the right gear though. Long thermal underwear is a must, and a thick inflatable mat to sleep on is also helpful. Make sure you use a waterproof coat if it isn’t waterproof itself. And of course, your sleeping bag should be suitable for cold temperatures. I was lucky and could use my dear friends comfort -50 degrees sleeping bag… All that was cold during the night was my nose.
Sleeping in an igloo is not much different then sleeping in a tent. Only the entrance is a little more tricky, as you have to crawl in (and out) on your back, then stand up and climb the half meter to the platform where you sleep on. The igloo walls dampen the sounds from the outside, but the inside noise seems louder than usual, so bring earplugs if you are sensitive about noises during the night.
The morning after is great, when it starts to get brighter outside, the light shimmers blueishly through the igloo walls and the snow. And the sunset view on the mountain when there is absolute nobody else present but you is priceless…
So, when will you go and build an igloo?
I am a swiss photographer (www.fmphotography.ch),
a travel, wildlife, volunteer and outdoors addict who cares about zero waste, the environment and simply our planet.