To build a snow dome, you’ll need thirty 10-inch sticks or dowels painted black on one end, a sturdy shovel and some patience. Begin making the snow dome by shoveling a mound of snow about 6 feet high and 10 to 12 feet in diameter at the base.
If you’re at home and have a snow blower, this can be done very quickly. Simply start walking in a large circle, gradually blowing all the snow to the center.
Once the snow is all piled up, push all the sticks (painted end first) into it at about 18-inch intervals, pointing toward the center. Let the mound set for at least 2 hours, though overnight would be better. This will allow the snow to settle and consolidate.
Using your shovel, cut a 2-foot-high entrance to the mound as close to the ground as possible. Start hollowing out the mound, piling the snow at the side of the entrance as a wind barrier. Continue digging until you see the ends of the sticks. You should now have a roomy, peaceful shelter.
A second type of shelter you can build is the snow cave. It uses the same principles as the snow dome, except that it is built in deep drifts or steep, stable snow slopes. If you decide to build this type, however, please be aware of extreme avalanche danger.
Begin by digging a tunnel in the drift, angling it upward several feet. Excavate a dome-shaped room at the top of the tunnel following the same techniques as for the snow dome, using sticks pushed into the drift to indicate the thickness. Smooth the curved roof to remove sharp edges that may cause moisture to drip on you.
Before you sleep in your snow dome or cave, follow these safety precautions:
- Punch out a few holes at a 45° angle to the floor with a ski pole or long stick for ventilation. Occasionally check to make sure these holes are still open and that drifting or blowing snow has not blocked them.
- Never burn a stove or lantern inside as many give off poisonous carbon monoxide gas. Also, they use up available oxygen. Do all of your cooking outside.
- You may use candles inside your shelter for light and warmth.
Well, there you have one of my favorite adventures. My snow dome lasted all winter and did not go away until the spring thaw.