Monday 21 January 2013

Cairngorms Filming with Igloo

Strath Nethy Igloo

The first igloo and first camp of the year plus the first filming for the Cairngorms in Winter project  all occurred in the past two days. TerryAbraham had already been out for several days filming in pretty severe conditions when we met up in Aviemore. As the forecast was for more stormy weather with high winds and snow we decided on a low level forest and moor route rather than venturing on the high tops.

Terry filming at Lochan Uaine

We also combined our filming trip with an igloo building one consisting of outdoor writer Phil Turner, owner of a brand new Icebox, Helen and Paul Webster from Walk Highlands and outdoor blogger David Lintern and Tanya. The prospects of building an igloo didn’t look good as we wandered through Glenmore Forest past frozen Lochan Uaine to Ryvoan Pass, as there was less snow than expected. 
However when we reached Strath Nethy we found a good flat area for the igloo and soon realised that the snow in the surrounding heather was quite deep. We just had to get it to the igloo site. This was achieved with the use of survival shelters, a really good idea (not mine I must admit). 

Terry's camp
I’d not built an igloo on just an inch of snow before – and I was the only person there who’d ever built an igloo. All previous igloos had been on deep snow. Making a door would be interesting, I thought, as this would have to go through the igloo wall rather than under it. First though the igloo had to be high enough to need a door. With five people intending to sleep in the igloo it needed to be big (Terry and I were camping). And big it was, growing upwards and upwards and upwards. Soon even the six footers amongst couldn’t reach into the Icebox to make blocks. A rubble sack full of snow solved the problem though standing on it did require good balance as it slid around on the icy ground. Falling through the igloo wall would not have been popular. 

Tanya and Helen making blocks
As the igloo extended into the sky night fell and with it came wind and snow. Headlamps flashed, warmer clothing appeared and still the igloo grew. The time came for a door to release Phil from the inside. I extracted the snow saw conveniently located in the handle of my shovel and carefully cut a small door, cautiously pushing out little blocks of snow. The igloo stayed intact, a great relief.

The igloo rises in the snow and the dark
The igloo was finally completed in a rather unorthodox manner by Paul and Phil, who were, unfortunately for them, the tallest amongst us and thus the only ones who could reach the top even with the aid of the rubble sack. At one point Paul was holding up the Icebox with his head. Finally the last snow was patted down. The igloo was complete. And it wasn’t even midnight. A quick celebration inside with some nice whisky then it was time for a very late meal followed by welcome sleep.

Big tents, little igloo?
The snow had faded away as the igloo neared completion and little fell during the night. The lowest temperature in my shelter was -2.6C. It would have been warmer than that in the igloo. The sky was patterned with layers of cloud which hid the highest summits. A chill wind swept the campsite. The igloo five set off for a forest walk. Terry and I headed back to Ryvoan Pass, discussing filming to come. It had been an interesting two days.


  1. It would be good fun to have a camera set up to watch for the reactions of passing walkers later on!
    Good effort!

  2. Great tool for making a igloo do they sell them in the Uk Chris

    1. No one sells them in the UK but you can buy an Icebox direct from Grand Shelters in Colorado. They are wonderful.

  3. Very nice, Chris. You are getting a lot of varied experience building the igloos that will come in handy when needed. Your love of the wild and the igloos makes me happy.

  4. Looks like a winter storm is coming your way.

    1. Been snowing all day. But it's meant to warm up with a thaw the next few days. This weekends igloo building has been cancelled - planned for next weekend now.