New Years Day Igloo — 2018 on Hollyburn Mountain

A decade ago my teenage daughters and our friends loved building igloos. I was surprised when I was requested to facilitate an igloo on New Year’s Day. Eight of us worked all day to build a 9-foot inside diameter igloo on Hollyburn Mountain, at 3020 feet, just up the hill from West Vancouver. Dave took a time lapse of the construction.

 

In the week that has followed, the weather warmed and there was lots of precipitation. Because of a local inversion, the temperatures at the altitude of the igloo meant that it rained… and then snowed. Today, January 9, I was in town, drove to the trailhead, and walked into the site of the igloo. Here is what I found.

 

The igloo was a blocky mound in the snow. The catenary profile was gone.

When I arrived, all I could see of the igloo was a blocky mound in the snow. The catenary profile was gone. Had the igloo collapsed?

The top of the igloo looked very low. The door looked okay.

The door and tunnel was in good shape, and the ‘foundation’ had not sagged. But the top of the igloo looked very low

Cleaned up the igloo doorway in preparation for entering

I cleaned up the doorway in preparation for entering. Note the size of the shovel compared to the height of the igloo.

Igloo entry tunnel - the roof of the igloo had not collapsed

As I crawled through the entry tunnel, I could see that the roof of the igloo had not collapsed

The igloo is slowly collapsing, like a balloon deflating

When I tried to sit on the floor of the igloo, with my legs in the entryway, I would bump my head on the roof. When the igloo was built, the top of the roof was 170 cm above the floor. Here, I cannot stand my shovel, and it is about 40 cm long. The igloo is slowly collapsing — like a balloon deflating.

The collapsing walls are restricting the size of the floor

The collapsing walls are restricting the size of the floor

There is a post about the plan for this igloo, and reports of our earlier igloos on the local hiking forum: Clubtread. Scroll the three pages of that thread for more details. The tool we use to make the igloo is Grandshelter’s Icebox®. We’ve made many igloos since we acquired it in the year 2000.

At this low altitude site, which is only a few hundred feet above the snow line, we don’t expect the igloos to last long. In a shady spot above 5000 feet, we might expect these structures to last for weeks or months.

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