Today we get to learn an essential skill for the Arctic, how to build an igloo!
Humans, even those that have been in a freezing environment for thousands of years, are not too great at adapting to such extreme conditions, nor are they quite as flexible as most animals. Instead humans use their inventiveness to cope, using as little energy as possible to survive in a ‘comfort zone’. The igloos are one such way of coping with the extreme climate.
Although it will take about 6 hours to complete one, the value of the igloo should not be underestimated - the Inuit in Arctic Canada use igloos for much of the winter season to keep warm. The dome structure of the igloo creates good stability and means as small an area as possible of the surface is exposed to the Arctic winds, providing an excellent shelter. Any ice that melts due to heat from the inside runs to the sides of the igloo where it refreezes, adding to its strength and keeping those inside comfortable. In the evening we'll sleep in the igloo, with overnight snow acting as an extra blanket to keep us snug.
If the weather proves to be too cold for the igloo option, we will be able to stay in a turf kata, a tent shaped building made from round birch and turf, which works in a similar way to keep us warm.
Earlier Marcus, on of our guides, who has a fantastic dry sense of humour, told us how to build igloos.
"What if we die of hypothermia?" we asked. "
You'll be dead but please die with your arms by your side. Otherwise, when we take you back on the snow mobile we'll break your arms against a tree" came the reply.
Igloo building - the method
After 6 hours of digging - Serbo would be proud of me - the final igloo is built. The method is as follows.
Build a 3 metre high mound - expertly jumped on by Jenny, Nick and me, then dig out till the walls are half a metre thick.
Simple as that.
It didn't go too badly in the end. Here I am in front of my igloo. Unfortunately, it eventually fell in from the top.
Another Labour landslide...