A quinzhee is a temporary snow shelter made by piling up snow, letting it set, and then hollowing it out. Temperatures inside a well-made quinzhee can exceed 45º once people are inside, and if the door is blocked or positioned opposite the wind, it can also be a significant wind block, which is handy when the windchills get dangerous. For the last four years, I’ve started a tradition of building a quinzhee every year when we’re up north for Christmas or New Years. It’s a good work out, takes about a full day, and gives you a good excuse to warm up by the fire, plus it’s just kinda fun to pile all that snow and dig it out.
Quinzhees can be slept in, and I did sleep in one during a winter camp outing many years ago. But we prefer to sleep in the warm house a few steps away. Maybe some year we’ll get one built in time to prepare an outdoor sleep. Typically, our quinzhees are for cocoa breaks and to warm up when we’re playing outside, and that’s how we like ’em. Here are the quinzhees:
This may be the best quinzhee we made so far. This one was big enough to have a whole breakfast in, and we did.
Exterior, 2021 quinzheeDanielle relaxing after hard work digging the quinzhee.László getting ready for cocoa.A dog “helping” by bringing sticks to throwAnother dog “helping” dig the quinzhee.We had some canine helpers for 2021. Dolly (bottom left) and Gus (bottom right) are the dog in-laws and really enjoyed the big pile of snow we made for them. Dolly also hid some toys in the quinzhee.
A quinzhee is only as good as its door.László helped do some of the digging out this year.More canine helpers, this time Zoli got in on the action.Dad and LászlóMom and LászlóThis year a combination of a lot of distractions and less time made our quinzhee-making a bit less than we’d hoped. We also got walloped with above-freezing temperatures which make the structure unstable going forward. Still, it was fun.
We can’t wait to see what kinds of quinzhees we get into in 2023! Happy New Year!