Differences between a quinzhee and an igloo
The snow for a quinzhee need not be of the same quality as required for an igloo. Quinzhees are not usually meant as a form of permanent shelter, while igloos can be used for seasonal and year round habitation. The construction of a quinzhee is much easier than the construction of an igloo, although the overall result is somewhat less sturdy and more prone to collapsing in harsh weather conditions. Quinzhees are normally constructed in times of necessity, usually as an instrument of survival, so aesthetic and long-term dwelling considerations are normally exchanged for economy of time and materials.
Quinzhee are typically built on a flat area where snow is in abundance. Builders break up any snowdrifts or naturally formed piles to reduce the risk of collapse due to different amounts of sintering that can occur. Snow is typically piled 6 to 10 feet high then left for 3 to 8 hours to sinter. Quinzhees typically have an inside height after excavation which allows for sitting or crouching but not standing. Many builders insert small sticks of the same length, approximately 10 inches (25 cm), into the top of the structure to be used as a guide when digging out the interior.
Quinzhees can collapse from poor snow conditions, warm weather, construction problems (hitting a supporting wall), failure to let the snow sinter long enough, or from people climbing on it. Collapse poses a danger of suffocation.
- Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book: Traveling and Camping Skills for a Winter Environment, Allen O'Bannon, illustrations by Mike McClelland, Chockstone Press, 1996, ISBN 1-57540-076-6, pg. 80-86.
- Streever, Bill (2009). Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places. New York: Little, Brown and Company. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-316-04291-8.
- Houghton's Snow House
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