After the last big snow storm we were hit with, I decided to go out and play in the snow with my little sister, Alyssa. I suggested we build a snow fort (as we did last year) and that we recruit our brother, Casey, to help out. Casey brought up the idea of building a quinzee instead of a fort, and we ventured out into the front yard to get started.
To build a quinzee, you basically gather a giant mound of snow in roughly the shape of a dome or igloo. After the mound is of satisfactory size (you want to leave thick walls at least a foot thick as well as have plenty of room inside), pack the snow down as best you can. Then begin digging!
The entrance to our quinzee, lit from the inside
Slowly begin digging a hole to create an entrance to the quinzee. Dig down as well as in, until you almost reach the ground. You want to utilize the height of your snow mound and by digging straight in you would be wasting all the snow underneath you and the structure!
Alyssa, kickin' back and relaxin'
After an entrance has been dug out and you are at least a foot or two inside the snow mound, you can begin digging in other directions. We continued digging straight in for a bit until we could lie down inside the mound, and then proceeded to dig out the sides and ceiling a bit more.
When the inside space is sufficient (hopefully this means you can sit up comfortably) and there are still at least a foot of walls on all sides, the quinzee is almost complete! Smooth out the interior walls, add some finishing touches, and enjoy! If you’re going to be utilizing the quinzee for more than a day, it’s probably a good idea to reinforce the structure. You can do this by burning a candle inside the quinzee – this will begin to melt the snow, but the water will freeze and the ice will add support to the interior walls. Similarly, add water to the outside of the quinzee overnight.
If you are going to be sleeping in the quinzee and conditions are particularly cold/windy, you can build a small wall in front of the door to prevent the elements from getting inside. You can also carefully drill a ventilation hole in the top of the quinzee – be careful! You don’t want to compromise the integrity of the structure.
Shoveling the initial mound and removing all that snow from the inside of the quinzee is tough work, but with a friend or two helping out it goes by quickly, and hanging out inside is really fun! The interior heats up a bit and can end up being rather comfortable relative to the outside conditions. We made great use out of our quinzee, telling ghost stories, taking pictures, and even talking on the phone (ok, not really)!
Alyssa on a conference call inside the quinzee
Building this quinzee almost makes me wish for another big snow storm so we can make another! Almost.