When most people think of arctic shelter they probably think of an igloo. Igloos are great shelters for arctic conditions, but they require just the right snow, tools, and specified skills to build. An easier survival shelter that can be built with only a shovel, and without any prior experience is a quinzhee. A quinzhee is basically a hollowed out mound of snow. Here are the basic instructions on how to build one.
- First select a location that has deep snow for building material.
- Start shoveling the snow into a round pile until it is about 8 feet high. Use snow of different consistencies and temperatures to add strength to the shelter. This could take some time, and will definitely take energy and raise your temperature. Make sure to shed layers of clothing as you heat up to prevent sweating which will later freeze and greatly reduce your clothing’s insulating ability.
- Add on an entrance tunnel area by making a smaller mound on the downhill edge of your larger mound.
- Round out your pile and allow it sit and settle down for approximately an hour and a half. This will help strengthen the quinzhee.
- While you are waiting, gather up some sticks that are about 2 feet in length. These will be used to determine the thickness of the quinzhee walls. Stick them into the mound pointing them towards the center, not straight down, all over the surface about 2 feet apart from each other.
- Start hollowing the mound out from the downhill side. As you go up and out you will start to find the ends of the sticks that you poked into the mound earlier. Do not remove snow beyond this level.
- Use the last several feet of snow that you are removing to make snow beds on either side of the entrance with a shallow trench in the middle. This will help the colder air to flow out and keep you warmer.
- Finally, make a small hole in the top for ventilation.
Staying warm is the number one necessity in the arctic. The quinzhee will help you do just that.
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