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Frozen Fort Shelter

A quinzhee is a basic snow shelter made by hollowing out a mound of snow. Building a quinzhee can be a lot of fun, but knowing how to make one is also an important winter survival skill. Try building your own quinzhee and sleeping in it overnight!


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Materials Needed

  • Snow (lots!)
  • Snow shovel
  • Measuring tape
  • 4 large sticks

Safety Tips

  • Test the stability of your quinzhee structure by jumping on the roof to make sure it is solid.
  • Building a quinzhee will make you sweat. Prevent hypothermia by changing into warm, dry clothes after you finish building your shelter.
  • Be sure to destroy your quinzhees after your adventure so that no one gets hurt playing in them.


Building Phase (1+ hour):

  1. Build a snow mound that is about 2 metres tall and 3 metres across.
  2. Shape the mound into a dome and allow it to sinter for 90 minutes, minimum.
  3. Hollow out the mound (from the top, down) and stop digging outward when you reach the sticks.
  4. Use the last foot of snow to make raised snow beds. 
  5. Dig a narrow trench between the beds all the way to the ground. This allows cold air to flow down and out of the quinzhee.

Assembly (30 minutes):


  1. Once you’ve finished the interior, smooth out the walls into a dome shape.
  2. Remove a couple of the sticks andleave the holes as ventilation for fresh air and to release carbon dioxide.
  3. Light a candle in the middle of the quinzhee, on the floor, to “glaze” the interior walls for 15-20 minutes. This strengthens the stability of the structure and prevents water from dripping on you while you sleep.



Congratulations, you’ve completed your quinzhee! After trying it out for a day activity or an overnight sleep, take a beat to reflect on the activity—what worked, what didn’t, and were there areas for improvement?


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<i>Photo Credit: 163rd IIT Scouts</i>

Photo Credit: 163rd IIT Scouts

Winter Survival

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