Quinzhee is a Dene native word; the Dene live across a large portion of Canada’s subarctic. It’s no surprise that the quinzhee is the ideal survival shelter in these regions. But building a snow cave is a good skill to have in your arsenal if you’ll be traveling in any snowbound region. They provide insulation and protection from the wind plus, they are easy and fun to make. Just like building a snow fort when you were a kid except, you know, practical.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Shovel and mound of snow big enough for you to lie comfortably inside. The heavier he snow, the smaller your pile of snow has to be, but the tougher it’ll be to dig out. Take your time. You don’t want to build up a sweat.
2. Gather a bunch of sticks and break them into foot-long lengths. Insert them all over the mound, about 8 or 9 inches deep. They will ensure that you leave the walls thick enough as you dig from the inside.
3. Dig an entrance that’s just small enough for you to crawl into. A small shovel works best, as it’s easier to use in the small space and less likely to carve away too much from the walls. Stop digging when you see the sticks. Roll a big snowball to use as a door, or just use your backpacks. Poke a hole through the roof for a chimney, and enjoy the warmth.
This shovel should be an essential for any back country adventurer weather traveling by snowmobile or on foot. The collapsible design allows for easy, quick stowing and it can move plenty of snow. It’s great for digging out your snowmobile when stuck, making quinzhees, and digging away show when setting up your tent.