Monday, February 11, 2008

A Winter Night on the Mont-Royal

Last sunday I went again the the Beaver Lake on the Mont-Royal to attempt the construction of a new igloo. The old ones have melted away without any traces left. The snow was a bit disappointing - since the temperature went several times above zero, its structure was not homogeneous and the blocks tended to break at first. What I finally did, was to cut the blocks larger along the surface, since I would only get 10cm in depth, that worked better.

I was getting quite hot when I started out in the afternoon but when I finished the sun was already setting and it got much colder. I tried to make photos in the extraordinarily beautiful sunset, but unfortunately after this first one, where the igloo is a mere shadow in the background, the battery went dead (it seems not to work well in sub-zero temperature). If you happen to pass the igloo, please send me a photo if you can :-)

So when it got dark, I got some hot wine and take-out from the chalet, went back inside the igloo, lit the candles and called my girl-friend to come for dinner. It was incredibly romantic and cozy with the storm coming up outside and after an hour it was getting relatively warm, the snow walls were already getting soft and transforming into ice.

I noticed that it's good to bring something to isolate the floor properly though (sleeping mats, although fur would be ideal and more appropriate) and wet clothes (from the construction) are not the best thing to wear when it's warming up due to the cooling effect from evaporation

Since this time nobody was able to join me, I'd like to go back another time to build a bigger one together with other people (this one has 1.5m diameter and height, and is very comfortable for two people).

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Igloos in Austria

It looks like the recent snow storm dumped enough on Montréal to make it possible to try building a new igloo, once the snow has settled down, probably next week-end?

In the meantime I found some links to sort-of-igloos in Austria:

There is an Ice Camp in Tyrol, at 2500m above sea-level on a glacier. You can stay over night in the pre-erected buildings with a shape similar to igloos, but constructed in a different way. The construction and maintenance crew publish their own blog from up there (it is quite heavily corporate sponsored).

A secondary school in Mauthausen, Upper Austria decided to let students choose if they go to the usual ski sports week or do alternative activities like igloo constructing instead. The rising costs of skiing (rental or purchase of gear, chairlift passes) apparently forces parents to consider letting their kids go skiing, even if there are some subventions from the government. I remember learning downhill skiing off a little hill in the neighborhood and then had a proper class when I was six years old. I then went for ski sports week three times, from age 12. Two or three people from our class had to take classes but the rest already knew how to ski.