Quinzhee Snow Shelter

Winter is here. For some of you it is here with real gusto.  Growing up in Missouri and being sent out to ‘play’ no matter what the weather or who was around I learned a lot about how to entertain myself.  Snowfall in the Mississippi valley could be heavy and wet throughout the winter and was a great medium for construction snowmen, fortresses, and quinzhees.  Of course, we didn’t know such an exotic word at the time but we did learn good tricks and techniques for safety later in the Boy Scouts.

Image from Boy's Life magazine. Click for the link.
Image from Boy’s Life magazine. Click for a short “how to.”

I’m certain there are no photos of the sometimes elaborate, and often not so elaborate, snow shelters my friends and I built as kids (I don’t think parents played outside with kids in my era).  I was reminded that we had our own photos of one built with my daughter several years back.  We were staying with a friend in the Sangre de Cristo mountains for the holiday at about 8,000 ft AMSL (ca. 2,500 meters).  The snow was perfect and wet so we couldn’t pass up the chance for a little shelter building.  “Teachable moments” surround us every day.  It’s up to us to take advantage of them.

Working on the wind wall.
Working on the wind wall.  If you look closely, you can see the miniature chimney and rain shield on top.

The snow wasn’t deep and we weren’t intending to spend the night inside so it was kept pretty small for ease of construction.

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View into the vestibule. The opening was kept narrow for warmth.

It was a chance to talk about safety, collapse, and fresh air exchange.  Valuable information for later in life.  Ours faced south.

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The dog was, of course, a great help, mostly chasing snowballs.
Testing out the fit.
Testing out the fit.

It was definitely kid-sized but an adult could squeeze in more-or-less comfortably for a while.  The dog was not enamored with the confining space.

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Enjoying the evening by the warmth of a candle.

It was just another fun day, experimenting with the gifts that nature provided, and passing on knowledge to the next generation of wilderness lovers.

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