Each winter I make a little wish that we will have at least one snow fall with enough snow to make a quinzhee. You are excused if you call this an igloo, as I did too until I learnt the technical different between the two. An igloo is built with snow blocks, one by one, as you would with bricks, where as a quinzhee is a mound of snow that is hollowed out from the inside. An igloo is structurally sounder, but a quinzhee is a quicker temporary structure, that can provide shelter, or in our case, entertainment!
It is not a difficult thing to make, but requires a lot of snow, of the right consistency, and some labor. This one took me about 3 hours to make, on my own. I have made many, and I work quickly, so it may take a beginner longer. More hands make less work so I recommend finding helpers. My husband prefers to sit inside drinking tea and waving to me from the window.
Using a snow shovel I collect snow from around the yard and pile it into a huge mass, 4-5ft hight. Along the way I give the pile a good whack and pat with the snow shovel to make the snow dense and firm. Once a massive pile has formed, then I start digging out the inside. I use the snow shovel for this too, and when a good opening has been cleared, I work with a small hand held garden spade. With the inside cleared out and finished, I neaten the outside by smoothing and sanding it all over with my gloves. This process is physically rewarding, and I always feel like I have worked hard at the end. Some snow is more challenging to work with than other snow. This snow was very light and powdery and so not the best to work with. Sticky snow is the easiest!
You can see more of our snow caves!