Sunday 12 April 2015

Building an Igloo indoors.

I recently spent an unusual day down in Glasgow at the Snow Factor indoor snow slope to see if it was possible to build an igloo indoors using manufactured snow. This was for a proposed slot in a BBC children's programme. When the BBC first approached me I had to admit that I had no idea if it could be done as I'd never even been in an indoor snow sports place and knew nothing about what the snow would be like. So to find out I loaded the IceBox igloo-making tool in a pack and headed off on the train south.

The snow I discovered had a rather grainy sand-like quality and a dull finish with none of the brightness of the real thing. The nearest type of real snow would be wind-blown compacted powder. That wouldn't be my first choice for igloo building but it's not the worst type of snow either. Squeezed handfuls of snow made wet lumps so compressing it in the IceBox would, I hoped, provide stable blocks. And it did. Slowly. Once the first blocks were made I felt pretty certain an igloo could be built and once I'd started on the second layer and deliberately angled the blocks too much to see if they'd stay in place I was certain. After one and a half layers we stopped, the test complete.

Building an igloo in an indoor snow resort was a strange experience. The place itself resembles a large warehouse but with pictures of Scotland's actual ski resorts and trees and snow on the walls to remind you of the outdoors. Skiers and snowboarders and sledgers whizzed past our little fenced off corner and at times loud music bounced off the walls. Bright lights illuminated the windowless cavern. Concentrating on making the igloo I could ignore all this but whenever I stopped to look around it did seem quite surreal. When we wanted a break and a hot drink and a snack there was no need to get out the stove or dig a sheltered spot out of the wind. We just went up to the excellent cafe overlooking the slopes. I know which I'd prefer but if you're going to be building an igloo indoors you might as well have some luxury to go with the experience.


  1. The ice climbing down there is great fun too. Far too ideal conditions to be realistic (or so I'm told) but that's not really the point.

  2. That sounds really interesting. Did you end up doing the show for BBC? Well, I guess these kinds of places provide a way for folks who don't live around snow to get their snow fix, or to learn a little about it. I first became interested in ice skating when there was a rink in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It only stayed open a couple/few years, unfortunately. I didn't need any instruction for basic skating, but wanted to learn more. It was so cool to just start gliding across the ice. Later, I moved to Baltimore after college and signed up very soon thereafter for ice skating lessons. So, I can see how this could inspire kids or even adults to practice, get interested and then go out into the actual snow and ice when they (hopefully) get the chance.

    1. If dates can be arranged the show should be going ahead. Nothing definite yet.