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Saturday 8th January 2005 - Saturday 8th January 2005 - View the entire paragliding news archive

Happy New Year

No flying to report

I built an igloo today. It was a pretty good effort, even if I do say so myself. This is about the fourth I have ever attempted to build and by far the best one yet.

I saw some guy on the telly trying to build one and making a right pigs ear of it so I thought I would have a go.

The secret to success is a saw and an organised approach. The blocks should not have right angles. You are aiming for a dome not a tower.

This is my guide to building one on your own. First you need the right kind of snow. Soft powder will work just fine if you roll some massive snowballs with it. Around 5 waist height snowballs are needed. Your saw needs to be thin and you need to be just as careful removing the saw as you were cutting the blocks. Cut the sides of your snowballs so that they resemble cubes. Pile the odd fragments to one side, these will be used later to fill in any gaps and even out any irregularities once the main structire is built. You will also need a great big pile of soft snow. This will act as the 'mortar' between your 'bricks'. Cut all of your low level blocks first, making sure they are slightly wedge shaped but NOT too severe. Each snowball should be cut into slightly shorter blocks than the preceding one. The last snow ball will be used to make the special shaped roof pieces that will be a little more wedge shaped.

Mark out a clear circular area to build your igloo. Start arranging your blocks in a circular pattern. You should try to shape the ends of the blocks so that they fit together nicely. Dust the first row with a light sprinkling of soft snow. Now build the second layer. It should be offset from the first row and with slightly shorter bricks. Repeat the process until you are almost unable to step out of the igloo. At this point the igloo should be high enough that you can cut a very small hole at the base of the igloo. It should be big enough to slide through. Now you will have to slide in the bricks and build from inside the igloo. It might be a bit tight for space. Carry on building up the structure row by row until you have an open dome.

The last pieces are a bit tricky and should be carefully shaped first and put into place from inside the igloo. If everything has gone to plan the opening will be covered. This is the hardest bit and takes experience to perfect. Now collect up all the little odd shape bits and poke them into any gaps breaking them into smaller pieces if necessary. All you have to do now is cover the inside and the outside with soft snow to make it wind tight. Smooth it all off to ensure that any drips run along the wall not off it.

There you have it...your first igloo. If you do all of this in less than 3 hours you are doing very well. I will post pictures of my handywork when I get them developed (no digital shots).

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