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RedMan
11-04-2006, 04:40 PM
Has anyone here used or witnessed the use of one of these ICEBox Igloo forms?

From what I can tell you build an igloo with 3 people in 3-4 hours with just about any snow condiitons.

I'm tried of freezing in tents all winter.

http://www.grandshelters.com/index.html
http://www.grandshelters.com/images/backcountry-skiing-snow-shelter-sm.jpg

goofball
11-04-2006, 07:31 PM
or build a quinzhee or dig a snow cave. both just as effective as an igloo just constructed differently. just google both and you will get some good info.

Scott P
11-04-2006, 08:29 PM
I've found that snow caves and igloos do not work in mid-winter in Utah, at least at high elevations. The snow is too powdery to compact. Not so in late-winter spring, but in mid-winter in Utah or Colorado, I gave up on snow caves and igloos years ago. Trust me, the snow is just too light and powedery for them to work in mid-winter.

RedMan
11-04-2006, 09:56 PM
I read quite a bit of the info. They claim that because you are working the snow during the shoveling and packing process that virtually any snow will work.

Scott Card
11-04-2006, 11:10 PM
The trick with soft powder is to find a drift and tunnel in. Then get out a candle or two and ice the roof. I made several of these up at elevation in the Sinks in Logan Canyon, Sundance area in Provo Canyon and other places. Snow was soft but if you light a candle inside after digging it out and get the ceiling to start to drip then let cold air in it freezes solid. At my age I prefer a cabin. :haha:

Scott P
11-06-2006, 09:03 AM
They claim that because you are working the snow during the shoveling and packing process that virtually any snow will work.

Don't believe it, especially at high altitudes in CO and UT in December and January. It won't hold together, neither will digging in a drift.

Low altitudes or February-March, maybe, but high altitudes in December or January, no way, unless after a warm spell.

jumar
11-06-2006, 10:15 AM
Don't believe it, especially at high altitudes in CO and UT in December and January. It won't hold together, neither will digging in a drift.

You can do snowcaves and igloos in Utah mtns because I've done both, but I agree it's very difficult to do with this dry snow. I don't really believe their claim that you can do it with ANY snow either.

But if you can get them built, I like igloos better than snow caves. At least compared to the small snow caves I've slept in.

It would be fun to try this out somewhere though...

Scott P
11-06-2006, 01:16 PM
You can do snowcaves and igloos in Utah mtns because I've done both, but I agree it's very difficult to do with this dry snow.

What elevation by chance? I won't say you can't all the time, but most of the time you can't at say 11,000 feet or so (and at 12,000 or 13,000 feet, it's a lost cause almost 100% of the time), and sometimes you can't do it even at 9,000 or 10,000. As you say, even at 8000 or 9000 feet it can even be difficult an at 12 or 13,000 feet, it's a lost cause 100% of the time, and still most of. A tent is so much easier unless it's late winter or early spring, or if you aren't at high altitude. Not worth it otherwise, and just as you say, the claim that it can be done at with any kind of snow is BS.

jumar
11-06-2006, 02:58 PM
The highest I've done igloos/snow caves is up near Guardman's pass, whatever altitude that is, 8 or 9k I'd imagine. Not easy, that's for sure.

Iceaxe
11-06-2006, 03:54 PM
I've had good success with snow caves in the Wasatch. Usually built between 6 to 9,000 feet. When I was young we used to build a nice one around mid-December and use it several times through the winter. Just find a nice drift and experiment with different construction techniques. They do take a while to build.

:nod:

RedMan
11-06-2006, 07:01 PM
Well they have a testimonial on the website from a Denali team that made a successful igloo at 14,200 feet on Denali.

They did not use it at 17,000 because of a lack of snow.

From their manual

Types of Snow

Sugar/TG snow is old snow. It has fallen early in the fall and has been heated from the sun or from the heat of the ground below. The fingers of the snowflakes don

Scott P
11-06-2006, 09:16 PM
Well they have a testimonial on the website from a Denali team that made a successful igloo at 14,200 feet on Denali.

Yep. just about everyone uses a snow wall on Denali. Most tents will not stand the high winds for long and if they do, they will flap like heck all night.

Of course Denali is much different than Utah powder. Of course, you will have to try it out for yourself to make a judgement.

stefan
11-07-2006, 06:55 AM
Powder snow still has fingers on the snowflakes. These fingers and facets help lock the snow together so handling the form is not so critical. Igloos made of powder can last until spring if built correctly and the snow is gathered with the sweeping technique covered below. Powder layers are sometimes thin and laid over a layer of sugar snow. When these two layers are mixed together, the mixture is a little harder to use than the powder alone, depending on the mix ratio.

powder snow? ... now clearly utah is famous for its powder ... but so is just about everywhere in the western united states. the sierra nevada boast incredible amounts of powder every year. some storms are amazingly strong. but their powder is naturally (on average) quite a bit different from our powder on average. water content would seem to play a large role, as would temperature in building these igloos, and in these different regions the water content of snow and average temps are quite different.

california-oregon-washington fresh powder lies somewhere between 5%-30% water content. utah lies between 3%-20% (but occasionally reaches 30%+). alta's average water content depending on the month (at 9600) sits at about 7-8% water content, with the top exposed layer lighter snow, than the denser beginnings of storms. some areas of colorado wyoming get even drier snow than utah with much colder temperatures. (utah's secret by the way is not complete dryness but having a gradient from denser to very dry). temperature can affect how snow binds together.

of course how the snow sits on the slope before it's used i imagine also plays a role ... how cold it has been, how much sun it receives, how much wind has blasted it :blahblah:

i guess my point is that just because it says it works for "powder" doesn't mean it will work for ALL powder ... as scott seems to be suggesting.

Brian in SLC
11-07-2006, 10:55 AM
Well they have a testimonial on the website from a Denali team that made a successful igloo at 14,200 feet on Denali.
Yep. just about everyone builds an igloo on Denali. Most tents will not stand the high winds for long and if they do, they will flap like heck all night.

No they don't.

What, over a 1000 folks a year attempt Denali? Can you imagine how many igloos that would be?

My guess is less than 1% of folks build or use a snow cave or igloo on Denali. There's a semi famous snow cave at 1 7K that gets recycled every season, it seems. Read Krakauers Eiger Dreams, story Club Denali (hilarious!). Dick Danger and the Throbbing Members.

No snow at 17k on Denali? You must be readin' the "Cook book" on the heaven swept granite, 'cause, they're always snow up there. Plenty to build an igloo or snow cave with. Most folks don't bother 'cause its too easy to just pitch a tent.

You "might" see a single igloo at 14k, and maybe one at 11k (and sometimes KIA but these melt out pretty fast and don't get rebuilt). Mostly you see huge snow walls around the tent sights though. And, folks only build them on rest days 'cause they're bored and need something constructive to do.

Snow caves and igloos are pretty poor living in not stormy conditions. Clammy. Not so much cold, but, humid and drippy. And the ceilings start to sag almost right away. However, I'd take either over a tent in bad storm conditions (and have). I think they'd be almost mandatory for a winter attempt on Denali, though (see Art Davidson's book on the first winter ascent of Denali).

All snow, even up high in the Wasatch, can be turned into igloo or snow cave fodder. Dig in some avy debris sometime... Work it girl, work it.

Friends used to have a snow cave up high in the Wasatch, by Snowbird, every season. Got quite huge later in the year, 'cause everytime they visited, they hogged out another room for it. Was at around 9800 feet, give or take. They'd go up with light day packs and bags on a Friday night. Then bag turns right at dawn, which, after the lake effect snowfall from the night prior, always tended to blow the minds of early ski tourers the next day, getting there and finding their power stash all tracked out.

Brian in SLC
(7 trips to the Alaska Range)

Scott P
11-07-2006, 11:21 AM
My guess is less than 1% of folks build or use a snow cave or igloo on Denali.

My mistake and you are right and I should have said snow wall. How about this: Most people use a snow wall on Denali. True or false? I can only get time off in winter, so obviously haven't climbed anything in AK, at least yet.

That wasn't my point though, I was just pointing out that Denali and Utah are completely different, and so is the snow. Wouldn't you agree?

I agree with most of what you said, but see below:


Was at around 9800 feet, give or take.

9800 isn't very high, but in you opinion what would it be at 11,000 feet? How about 13? It may work sometime, but I disagree that they would always work (maybe even at 9800 feet). Also, how long did it take, even at 9800? I assume way more than it would take to pitch the tent. What month did they start it?

You may have done more many winter ascents than me, and are obviously more experienced, but I have done 145 in Utah and Colorado and I can say that I've seen many people try and dig snow caves and they couldn't pack them on several occasions. Last time was on Holy Cross last January at 11,300 feet or so. If you can pack a cave in such conditions, I will believe you, but most people can't.

Maybe you should come with us next time and show us how it's done. :nod: Our next trip is sleeping on top of Sherman (14,036 feet) on December 22-23 and you are welcomed to come.

Regardless if you could pack a cave, I still think it is not worth the trouble in December or January, at least at where the snow is extra powdery.


However, I'd take either over a tent in bad storm conditions (and have).

I would too, but only assuming that you could build one. I don't know if it is a good idea to ditch the tent in stormy conditions in powdery conditions because you think you can just dig a snowcave. Squeezing between boulders or at low altitudes, under trees is a more viable alternative when the snow is extra powdery.

One reason that the others decided to ditch the Holy Cross ascent last January was because we had ditched the tents. After we discovered the shortage of tents (none) and with a storm due to arrive, most people wanted to turn back. At first someone thought we could dig a snow cave. It was tried, but quickly abandoned.

Some of us had bivi sacks and my idea was that we could just squeeze between the boulders and be perfectly safe, but due to this and other reasons I was outvoted and we turned back. If we could have dug a snow cave in the powder, I bet we would have been successful on the climb and no one would have giving it a second thought

Either way, my advice is still the same. At high altitudes (and sometimes lower), in Utah, and in December and January, bring a tent or bivi sack. You cannot always build a snow cave or igloo. Maybe Brian can, but I can

Brian in SLC
11-07-2006, 01:11 PM
My guess is less than 1% of folks build or use a snow cave or igloo on Denali.

My mistake and you are right and I should have said snow wall. How about this: Most people use a snow wall on Denali. True or false?

100% true! Folks that don't lose their tents.

I find a double wall, well spaced and in a tear drop shape, with the walls not too high, and plenty of room to walk around the tent and shovel, works best. A small wall out front bucking the wind works very well. Collects all the blowing snow before it hits home. Handy.


That wasn't my point though, I was just pointing out that Denali and Utah are completely different, and so is the snow. Wouldn't you agree?

Not really. They get similar snow, in terms of the type of snow that falls. I've skied Utah powder on Denali, for example (can you say, "whoo hoo!"). I'd say every type of snow I've seen in Utah, I've seen on Denali or in the AK range. What Utah doesn't get is sustained high winds that blows the snow off to reveal bare, rock hard, glacier ice...(ok, maybe some times).

Dry, wet, with wind, wind affected, cold then warm, warm then cold, sustained exposure to cold, clear skies, Utah and AK see both.

See Tremper's book Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain for example. Bruce is from Montana, spent a significant time in AK, and has been here in Utah for a long while. He doesn't really differentiate between the different areas having different snow. Sure, the snowpack can behave in a more typical way depending on location. But, you should anticipate all types of snow conditions no matter the location.


9800 isn't very high, but in you opinion what would it be at 11,000 feet?

It is for the central Wasatch. There's only a few, select locations above 11k here, and, most folks wouldn't put in a camp there.


I assume way more than it would take to pitch the tent. What month did they start it?

Of course it takes longer, which is one of the downsides to building one in the first place. They start it in "early season". Ie, when there's enough snow to ski.

Ran into a gal a couple years ago that lived the entire ski season in a snow cave. Saved on rent! Hard corp!


You may have done more many winter ascents than me, and are obviously more experienced, but I have done 145 in Utah and Colorado and I can say that I've seen many people try and dig snow caves and they couldn't pack them on several occasions. Last time was on Holy Cross last January at 11,300 feet or so. If you can pack a cave in such conditions, I will believe you, but most people can't.

Nah, you probably have bagged way more peaks than I in the winter (cool you know the number!). Way more. I mostly ice climb and ski non summit type things, and don't winter camp that much (no reason to here, access for day trips is way too easy).


Regardless if you could pack a cave, I still think it is not worth the trouble in December or January, at least at where the snow is extra powdery.

Sure, harder to do with less than optimal snow. Takes a ton of time. Time better spent skiing, enjoying the scenery, hiking, climbing, quaiffing a beverage, quickly setting up a tent, or hiking back to the car.


I don't know if it is a good idea to ditch the tent in stormy conditions in powdery conditions because you think you can just dig a snowcave.

The choice may not be yours! Ha ha. When your tent collapses from snow load, or, it schreds and blows away in the wind, then you'll take whatever shelter you can get. Seen a number of these kinds of data points...some personal...(lost my tent in a storm on Mount Logan in Canada).


Squeezing between boulders or at low altitudes, under trees is a more viable alternative when the snow is extra powdery.

Sure. So's a tent, if you have one. If you don't, you might need a snow cave to stay warm enough to survive the night, depending on your situation.


One reason that the others decided to ditch the Holy Cross ascent last January was because we had ditched the tents. After we discovered the shortage of tents (none) and with a huge storm due to arrive, most people wanted to turn back. At first someone thought we could dig a snow cave. It was tried, but quickly abandoned.

How's that go? Learn to run away and live to climb another day?

Why folks even bother to go out and test their mettle on bad weather days in the winter is beyond me. Goes for pushing on in bad conditions, too (snowshoers on Nebo comes to mind).


Some of us had bivi sacks and my idea was that we could just squeeze between the boulders and be perfectly safe, but due to this and other reasons I was outvoted and we turned back. If we could have dug a snow cave in the powder, I bet we would have been successful on the climb and no one would have giving it a second thought

"Huge storm coming in". Hmmm. That's a tough roll of the dice. I'd have you ask my friend John, who was similarly equiped, but, he's dead. He lost. Game over for him. Wife and kids at home. Sound familiar?

[quote]Either way, my advice is still the same. At high altitudes (and sometimes lower), in Utah, and in December and January, bring a tent or bivi sack. You cannot always build a snow cave or igloo. Maybe Brian can, but I can

Scott P
11-07-2006, 01:51 PM
It is for the central Wasatch. There's only a few, select locations above 11k here, and, most folks wouldn't put in a camp there.


If you ever traverse something like the Timp Ridge, American Fork Canon to Provo Canyon, you just might. Agreed that 99% of people won