Thursday, February 26, 2015


You may remember my birthday weekend stay in a yurt.  If you look at the comments, Mrs. Bluefield wrote that I should stay in a quinzee sometime. You may not know what a quinzee is. Basically it is simply a temporary shelter made by hollowing out a pile of settled snow.

I like the idea of sleeping in a quinzee. I'm not sure it is a good idea to bring my wife and kids into the wilderness to sleep in the cold wintery snow. At the very least I thought I should try making one in a safer, controlled environment such as my yard.

One of the best things about living in the Denver area is that snow falls don't last very long. The sun comes out and even relatively large snow falls melt in a day or two. Unfortunately, this also means that snow doesn't usually last very long. Often when we get a decent snow fall it is during the week and so it is gone before I can play in it.

This past Saturday into Sunday, though, we actually got a decent snow fall of 8 to 10 inches.

When the boys got up Saturday, I showed them youtube videos of quinzee making. This got them pretty excited. It was not until pretty late Saturday that most of the snow came, though, so it was not until Sunday morning that we were able to construct our little quinzee.

The process is relatively simple.

Step 1: Pile up a bunch of snow.
Step 2: Let the snow sit and compress itself.
Step 3: Hollow out the pile of snow.

If you want more details and tips, there are a bunch of youtube videos that do a great job describing exactly how to go about the whole process.

It is simple, but very labor intensive. The three of us worked very hard Sunday morning for about an hour and a half before church to shovel a big pile of snow. And to be honest, it was not really big enough for us to make a quinzee big enough for all three of us to sleep in.

After church, we started hollowing out the pile of snow to make a little cave. Again, this sounds easier than it actually is. Between the three of us taking turns, though, we constructed a nice little shelter.

For what it is worth, it was significantly warmer inside than out. I do think that with sleeping pads, sleeping bags, and perhaps a little propane heater it would have been fine to sleep in.

It was fun to do, and it kept me and the boys busy most of Sunday. My youngest even spent a significant amount of time sculpting snow inside into a little mattress sort of structure.

As I mentioned earlier, one disadvantage of living in such a sunny area it that snow doesn't last very long. Our quinzee collapsed sometime Monday.

So, our quinzee is only a memory now. Maybe someday we'll use a quinzee to do some winter camping in the Colorado mountain wilderness.

We'll see.

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