Monday, April 07, 2008

Dome Sweet Dome

We live in the shadow of mounains - when the sun is low in the sky and the clouds are missing, anyway. To our east is the Cascade Range through which cuts Stevens Pass. Because we don't have enough to do, someone invented skiing and put a ski resort in Stevens Pass. It's nice, but not crazy enough, so we go snowshoe hiking there. Lovely, hilly, with great views. It's nice, but not crazy enough, so I took a class in January and built an igloo in March. I would have built the igloo in February, but there was so much snow in the mountains that avalanches closed the pass and I couldn't get there. Building an igloo is nice, but not crazy enough, so I slept in the igloo with my co-builders.

We had a great time building the igloo and camping out there in the wild. We were fortunate that it was cold that night - I'm guessing around 20F or -7C for a low temperature - and that our igloo didn't drip.

There's a secret hidden in the picture. If you look closely at the photograph, I'm looking at a particularly bright spot, a hole in our igloo. For a number of reasons - just assume that they are good reasons and not merely poor construction techniques - we accidentally left a small hole near the top of our dome. Under normal conditions, an igloo dome should be intact so as to contain as much heat as possible. It's supposed to be warmer inside the igloo than outside. However, as we had three full-grown adult men in this igloo, there was plenty of excess heat. As a result of our little hole, we had a constant draft all night. I believe this kept our igloo from overheating and drip-drip-dripping on us all night. (Note to experienced igloo builders - another of our construction, uh, innovations was to forget to smooth the inside of the dome to eliminate drip points.) It was cold, but we wrapped up tightly. The other benefit of the hole was to help release the pressure of the combined snoring of three full-grown adult males and I think this helped protect eardrums. (There's no physics or medicine behind that statement, just a personal awareness of the power of the adult trachea.)

The blue is a little exaggerated. I used the "snow/beach" setting on the camera to adjust the exposure. The texture of the blocks is really there, and there's a distinct blue glow inside the igloo, but it's not quite what you see here.

Photo taken about 7:30am at about 4000 feet near Stevens Pass, Washington, in mid-March, 2008.

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