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First igloo of the season is up!

Posted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:06 pm
by Banff Martin

While my packing time is still overly slow, an 8' has been built!

I'd been arranging to build this at the Norquay ski area, but we got a good snowfall in the Banff townsite last week. This is built in the parking lot of a recreation area near where I live. It can't be used for camping, but I wasn't intending to do that with the first one anyway.

With all the attention this one has received since Sunday night's completion I don't think I'll run my insulation experiment in it...I'll build a 7' and poke holes in that instead. It'll be much easier to reach all parts of the igloo that way anyway.

I have to wonder - is there an easier way to build a big pad? It took me about 2 hours to convert the plowed pile into my pad. I felt it was quicker to convert the pile than gather the snow for one from scratch. While I've snowshoes I felt I was better off breaking it up & packing it down with my boots. I was glad to have made the pad the day before the build though - nice to be on a more solid surface and not wear away the footholds so much.

No support system was used overnight for this igloo; we figured that the 4th level didn't hand inwards enough to be a sagging concern.

Though I've good gloves, I find my hands still end up getting cold while packing. I'm considering using some kind of curved packing tool instead to avoid this...

Final thought of the build: my shoveller almost mis-read the plumb-bob hanging off the side of the form during the 1st level, and it's even harder to read as the packer. I'm considering temporarily attaching a torpedo level. Could be quicker for solo building as well?

It was nice to see the small flag catch the wind as it does. 8-)

Re: First igloo of the season is up!

Posted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:05 pm
by PineMartyn
Nice job Banff Martin. Dang...I'm jealous. Still nowhere near enough snow here yet in central Ontario. I'm curious to hear how your experiment works out.

Cheers to you and happy iglooing,

Re: First igloo of the season is up!

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:35 pm
by Igloo Ed
Don't know how I missed this first time around. Thanks Pinemartyn for bringing it up again.
Nice igloo, as far north as you are it should last a long time with a base like that.
By looking at the uncompleted igloo picture I can see ice if not some dirt too. If you didn't get to leveling off the pile right after the plow pushed it up, it can be a nightmare to break it up and level it off. I've done it at demos and I've had the best luck using a steel sand spade to break it up.
I try to get it leveled off as close as possible before I begin stomping on the chucks to break them up and pack the base.
I've built a tall base with about 18 inches of icy loose snow that was probably less work than the ice piles. I got the snow onto the pile by standing with my back to the pile and then using the shovel like a paddle to through the snow behind me. It's much easier and faster than picking up shovel fulls and throwing them.
The last few years, I've been noticing that I hardly ever lift the snow anymore. It has to be lifted into the form but I either sweep it along with the shovel or scoop/paddle it to move the snow. When I'm leveling a floor on either a pile or slanted terrain, I push the snow to the low spots rather than lift and pitch. On slants, it develops into a quarry wall and there I chop downward off the wall until I have a pile to stomp into loose snow which then gets moved by sweeping or scooping. When I sweep, I can throw the snow ten feet or a little more.
The ledge/footholds is another thing that is so important.
I used to use gloves but noticed the snow melted between my fingers so I switched over to mittens and haven't looked back. The OR Meteor mitt is the best I've found for waterproof. The snow needs to be felt when packing so your hand can conform to the shape the snow wants to take on sometimes. A tool wouldn't be like that. I've never tried one though.

Re: First igloo of the season is up!

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:00 am
by Banff Martin
The pile was pretty loose. While there was some dirt in it, neither parking lot had been sanded so there really wasn't that much grit in it. There were a few hard chunks but not was really just a time consuming matter to spread & pack it. I used my garden spade for a balance support more than actual shovelling while I used my boots on the pile.

I'm hopeful it will last the winter? I've never had the chance to see an igloo age through the season so this should be interesting. We've had marginally positive temperatures forecast but not occur thus far. Presently I can stand in the trench with a couple inches of space above my head to spare; we'll see how it sags.

The locals & tourists haven't altered it much so far; I've cleared one of the two airholes once, and someone almost blocked off the entrance with snow blocks another day. So far so good!

Thanks Pine Martyn. I'll try to get the 7' built soon & run the experiment! I'll try mitts next time as well.

Re: First igloo of the season is up!

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:54 pm
by Igloo Ed
With it being in town and not having to carry the shovel, an aluminum grain shovel (scoop shovel) works well for leveling off a pile when it is loose. You can move massive amounts of snow with them.
It is a big job though to level off and pack a base when the pile is tall like that. If there's anyway you could get the plow driver to level it a bit, it would sure help.
The shape of your igloo looks very close to a true catenary curve and I think your cold temps will keep the snow from getting soft. It should melt holes through from the sun or wind before it sags completely.
People do seem to respect the igloos and not mess with them but the temptation is to much for some. It's fun to see how many enjoy the igloo though.