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Winter Camping in an Igloo!

Info on gear, conditioning, and preparation for hiking/climbing. Gear Classifieds
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Postby Couloirman » Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:52 pm

Igloo Ed wrote:
Couloirman wrote:Looks like solo works, but it'd definitely be easier to share the work if it takes 1-3 hours.

Whoa, I've never claimed to build them any faster than 1 hour and 40 minutes.



Oh I'm sure it takes most mortals longer, I was just saying from the rei catalog it said as short as 1.5 hrs so thats where I got that from. I have very limited igloo experience to speak from so Im sure itll take me 3-4.

Also, any good tips on plans for building an exhaust chimney? Just leave a hole in the ceiling? Put in a tower chimney? A kinked tower so snow doesnt come inside?
Couloir than you are

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Postby Igloo Ed » Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:29 pm

Couloirman wrote:Oh I'm sure it takes most mortals longer, I was just saying from the rei catalog it said as short as 1.5 hrs so thats where I got that from. I have very limited igloo experience to speak from so Im sure itll take me 3-4.

Well, I guess it would look kinda strange for them to write it out as 1 hour and 40 minutes. The rest of their information is correct though.
Also, any good tips on plans for building an exhaust chimney? Just leave a hole in the ceiling? Put in a tower chimney? A kinked tower so snow doesnt come inside?

Poke one of the poles through the ceiling directly above the trench so any snow that falls when you work on the vent will end up in the trench and not on your gear. The vent will melt larger and shoving a snowball into the vent and poking through it again works well. You'll feel a draft when the hole melts to about baseball size and you'll loose all your heat. It's best to fix it before you loose the heat.
The air travels fast enough to blow most snow up away from the vent and the little bit that comes in falls strait down into the trench.
The door can drift over and you should keep an eye on that. Mostly the drifting buildup occurs because there is a dead air space by the door. I don't build wind walls or anything like that. I try to open the space up in front of the door as much as possible so the snow just blows on by. You'll notice this if you look at some of our pictures on our site.
The closest I've ever come to having the door drift over was when we built out in a flat exposed area and had to dig down and then in under the igloo with the door. This left a hole/dead air space where the snow just filled right in.

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Postby firsttracks » Fri Oct 19, 2007 7:50 am

Welcome, Igloo Ed! I'm glad to see that you're here. Thank you so much for such an awesome tool. It's served me well since we last chatted on email after my Denali trip. As I told you before, we were the envy of every climber on the mountain! We woke up so much more refreshed than any other climber. We definitely had an unfair advantage. All the guided expeditions hated us. :)

My follow-up on this thread:

Solo Construction: I've built around four 7' igloos solo. My fastest time (with incredible snow) was around 1 hour. Usually, they take around 2 hours (my experiences are very similar to Igloo Ed's). Don't go too fast, though: you'll work up a sweat! I usually build 8' igloos when I have one partner, and 9' igloos with two partners (my pictures showed an 8' igloo on Denali, and a 9' igloo in the Sierras).

Chimney Construction: I've found this to be essential! It is so nice cooking from inside a sleeping bag. To build a chimney, I first complete the regular igloo construction. I then dig out a trench between sleeping surfaces to give more headroom, and to make the entrance lower than the sleeping area (to conserve heat). Then, from inside the igloo, I poke sticks (trail wands, avy probes, etc) through the igloo, aligned with the width of the trench, at the head area of the igloo (feet go by the opening, opposite the chimney). The goal is to extend the trench through the wall of the igloo. On the outside of the igloo, I then cut away an opening by the sticks, and place chunks/shovel loads of snow around the opening to give it more height and to protect the opening. Does this make sense? Look at my third pic of me in my sleeping bag. The trench is below my sleeping bag, and the chimney is next to my head. In my first picture, the chimney is on the right side of the igloo. The entrance is just to the left of my climbing partner (Chuck), and between the pickets and snowshoes. (Yes, it's below ground level.)

Trips:
Long's Peak: I'm definitely planning on a Long's Peak trip. (I still haven't climbed Long's yet!) This could be a great place to get everyone out and build some igloos for fun. This would be really cool because the igloos will still be there for parties that follow us. No need for them to carry tents, either! I'm very flexible on this trip. Anytime, perhaps as early as next weekend (conflict with the Halloween climb, though), will work for me. Let me know who's interested, and we can try to coordinate schedules on this one.

Snowmass Lake: I also would like to schedule a trip to Snowmass. I want to ski this one, so this might be more of a March/April trip, depending on avy conditions.

Chicago Basin: I'd like to spend 4-5 days next spring (April?) in the Chicago Basin for some skiing and climbing.

Others? Suggest some other trips (Missouri Gulch, Elbert/Massive, Harvard/Columbia), and I might be able to make it up there. I also plan on spending several weekends in Silverton and Ouray this winter.

Sierras? I'm also always interested in heading back to the Sierras. Let me know if you're out in the Sierras, and I'll try to meet up with you there. (My parents live in Reno.) I am planning on another Mt. Shasta trip in April/May.
Last edited by firsttracks on Fri Oct 19, 2007 8:03 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby firsttracks » Fri Oct 19, 2007 7:53 am

Couloirman wrote:EDIT: damn, I just ordered one :D Looks lie your shameless advertising plug worked...


That's awesome. I promise you that you won't be disappointed. Your winter camping trips will be forever changed.

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Postby Igloo Ed » Sun Oct 28, 2007 6:38 pm

firsttracks wrote:We woke up so much more refreshed than any other climber.

Bingo, all the energy spent building them comes back to you by morning.
Solo Construction: I've built around four 7' igloos solo. My fastest time (with incredible snow) was around 1 hour.

Ah, you are young then.
Chimney Construction: I've found this to be essential! It is so nice cooking from inside a sleeping bag. To build a chimney, I first complete the regular igloo construction. I then dig out a trench between sleeping surfaces to give more headroom, and to make the entrance lower than the sleeping area (to conserve heat). Then, from inside the igloo, I poke sticks (trail wands, avy probes, etc) through the igloo, aligned with the width of the trench, at the head area of the igloo (feet go by the opening, opposite the chimney). The goal is to extend the trench through the wall of the igloo. On the outside of the igloo, I then cut away an opening by the sticks, and place chunks/shovel loads of snow around the opening to give it more height and to protect the opening. Does this make sense? Look at my third pic of me in my sleeping bag. The trench is below my sleeping bag, and the chimney is next to my head. In my first picture, the chimney is on the right side of the igloo. The entrance is just to the left of my climbing partner (Chuck), and between the pickets and snowshoes. (Yes, it's below ground level.)

As I mentioned before, just a small hole at the top. Any large openning other than the door creates a cross draft and you loose heat.
Are you using white gas stoves?
Long's Peak: I'm definitely planning on a Long's Peak trip. (I still haven't climbed Long's yet!) This could be a great place to get everyone out and build some igloos for fun. This would be really cool because the igloos will still be there for parties that follow us. No need for them to carry tents, either! I'm very flexible on this trip. Anytime, perhaps as early as next weekend (conflict with the Halloween climb, though), will work for me. Let me know who's interested, and we can try to coordinate schedules on this one.

The snow depth will be much better around or after Thanksgiving. There might be some deep drifts now but it wouldn't be guaranteed.
I also plan on spending several weekends in Silverton and Ouray this winter.

We built an igloo at the Ice Festival last season in Ouray. It might happen again this season.

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Thanks Ryan

Postby summitridge » Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:22 pm

Thanks Ryan for all your info about Denali. We are seriously considering using this tool next June for our trip. We are planning on a Longs Peak winter climb for training as well as a few other high peaks and would really like to try this tool out.
"What an odd sport we inhabit, where bits of obscure rock in remote locations are recognizable." — Richard Pawlowicz.

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Postby firsttracks » Tue Oct 30, 2007 7:03 am

summitridge: I'm glad to help out. Please let me know if there's anything else I can do for you. I'd be glad to join you on your Long's trip and bring the ICEBOX for you guys to try. Definitely practice building igloos with your expedition team several times before heading up to Alaska. I'm really jealous! I want to head back to the Alaska Range next spring for another climb or two.

Igloo Ed: I agree. Let's wait until after Thanksgiving for the Long's Peak igloo-making trip. I would love to join you up there to meet you in person. If both of us go, we could get several igloos going at the same time.

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Postby Igloo Ed » Tue Oct 30, 2007 12:37 pm

firsttracks wrote:Igloo Ed: I agree. Let's wait until after Thanksgiving for the Long's Peak igloo-making trip. I would love to join you up there to meet you in person. If both of us go, we could get several igloos going at the same time.

Sounds great Ryan, I did the north face in 92 and would enjoy that again. How about building on top!?

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Postby Skip Perkins » Tue Oct 30, 2007 3:53 pm

I got mine a few days ago and I've got 19 eager fifth graders who can't wait until we get snow so they can start iglooing. How long will it take with 20 people working on it?

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Postby mainpeak » Tue Oct 30, 2007 4:40 pm

I would love to participate in a Longs winter climb, as well as snowmass. Please PM me if you are looking for participants for any local winter 14er climbs , especially ones involving igloos.

I'm in love with the concept after testing out a snow cave twice last year. The first time was next to my driveway during the storms we were blessed with last year, and then I tried it up at Berthoud's. Lot colder there :-).

Anyway, I'm torn between tents and snow caves/igloos. It seems like a cave , definitely an igloo, is worth it if you are going to spend more than one night there. For trips where you are going to be setting up different camps, it seems like a lot of work ( ? ).

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Postby grizz » Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:00 pm

Some benefits:

1. Absolutely quiet (no flapping tents in the wind)
2. Surprisingly warm (never colder than +15F in my experience, with an outside temp of -30F)
3. More spacious than a tent (you can stand inside it, with crampons)
4. You can cook inside it, from the comfort of your sleeping bag (if you build a chimney to vent carbon monoxide)
5. Lightweight (under 5 lbs, similar to an EV2 tent)
6. Cheap! ($170 instead of $600 for an EV2)
7. Fun (earn extra style points from fellow mountaineers)


What are the cons when building with this tool and what sleeping setup do you use?

Looks like a lot of fun!
Colorado Native

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Postby Igloo Ed » Tue Oct 30, 2007 7:16 pm

grizz wrote:What are the cons when building with this tool and what sleeping setup do you use?

Looks like a lot of fun!

The cons... mostly it takes some experience so it is less work and also learning to pack the sugar [TG] snow.
Sleeping... here's a link to our manual page on the sleeping layout: http://www.grandshelters.com/igloo-man-p16.htm
I use a +15 f. Big Agnes "Lost Ranger" bag. I used that in Yellowstone last season when the outside temps got down to -32 f.
This season I'm going to try a quilt rated at + 40 with wearing my insulating layers of clothes and see if it works.
One of the biggest things is the trench in the igloo makes it so you can sit like a chair and it's way more relaxing than any position you can come up with in a tent. You can also leave your boots on and step outside any time you want to stretch and limber up or just look at the stars. I must pop in and out 10 or 20 times in a night.

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