Order Tara's Bicycle Touring Cookbook Today!

Building an Igloo

by Tyler

All winter long, we'd been pining away for a snowstorm, waiting expectantly in semi-patient disbelief as the season flew by. With February behind us and March beginning, it was finally starting to sink in that a traditional midwest winter-wonderland probably wasn't in the cards for us this year. Not having a snowy winter in Minnesota is just plain weird.

Happily, the season wasn't a total bust. Last night, long after we'd given up hope for a proper blizzard, it started snowing on our way to the grocery store. We were ecstatic, watching with glee as wet, swirling flakes filled the night sky.

Snowy Drive Past Church Snowy Drive Snowy Drive

Winter at last!

The total snowfall ended up being fairly modest, but it was enough to start a project we've been dreaming about for several months: making an igloo. This weekend, our friend Alex was kind enough to show us the ropes. He brought his igloo-building ICEBOX out to our place, and his lovely wife, Megan, and their two adorable kids, Brynn and Adrian joined us a few hours later. Together, we got down to work: lots of crusty snow crushing, powder shoveling, and block stacking in the great outdoors.

Alex & Tyler Setting Up the Ice Box Adrian in the Snow Fort Brynn in the Snow Fort Tara Shoveling Contented Tyler Alex Shaping the Igloo

Somehow, there are no photos of Megan :(

It took about six hours to make the igloo, and we enjoyed every minute of it. After an hour or so, Tara took a break to prepare warm chocolate chip cookies—they were a huge hit. We all took a lunch break at the halfway point, cozying up inside to make homemade bacon and caramelized onion pizzas. Then, we returned to the task at hand, finishing the walls of our snowy home-to-be.

Happy Tara Shoveling Alex Leaping Out of Igloo Alex in the Igloo Alex in the Igloo Alex Filling the Ice Box with Snow Alex in the Igloo Alex in the Nearly-Completed Igloo

The final step was my favorite: entombing Alex by lobbing snow onto the crown of our structure (right on top of his head). With the igloo complete, we waited patiently for him to emerge. After a few minutes of silence, a disembodied arm appeared at the base. We handed Alex the camera for a few inside-the-igloo photos, and then he burrowed his way out.

View from Inside the Igloo Tyler Shoveling (Pretty Snow) Sparkling Snow Flying & Tyler Alex' Arm Sticking Out of Igloo View from Inside the Igloo

Afterward, we all celebrated with a dip in the hot tub. Several intrepid members of our little party ran into the igloo in just their bathing suits, rolled around in the snow for a minute, and then came sprinting back for another skin-screaming dip into the steaming water. We made maple-on-snow candy, and watched the sun set, and that was the end to a wonderful day. Now we have an igloo to sleep in!

Tyler Shoveling Out the Entryway

Thank you Alex, Megan, Adrian and Brynn!



    That is soooo cool! How long did it last, and did you end up sleeping in it overnight? Or is that for another blog post?
    Posted by Magalie on April 7th, 2012 at 12:26 PM
    Thanks Magalie! It lasted until the weather turned spring-like a few days later, and it melted to the ground. We did get a chance to sleep in it though! Journal entry to come at some point... :-)
    Posted by Tara on April 10th, 2012 at 10:20 AM
    It looks so so cool, i'm so eager to build and igloo next winter.

    I have been researching the ICEBOX® for quite some time. It looks cool, and am hopefully having a friend bring one over to Sweden in the next month.

    Can i ask, when shovelling the snow into the ICEBOX®, how long do you have to wait for it to form & take shape before moving onto the next block?


    Posted by Ratty on September 10th, 2012 at 9:14 AM
    Hi Ratty,
    Good question! This is really both the trick and the miracle of the Ice Box method. The trick is making sure that your snow is nice, loose (no chunks), and agitated. By that I mean that anything less than wet sticky snow will need to be mixed around a bit with one's shovel or feet just prior to putting it into the Ice Box. The reason for this is to create just enough friction on the ice particles so that their exterior slightly melts. If this is done properly, even with very cold powdery snow, all one needs to do is firmly press the snow into the form until it "locks up."

    The miracle is that once well agitated snow locks up, one is free to move the form onto the next block immediately (though sometimes I let them sit for a few moments when doing the precarious upper blocks. Not sure if that's necessary or not, but it makes me feel better).

    Hope that helps, and best wishes with your igloo!
    Posted by Alex on September 10th, 2012 at 10:42 AM