Building and sleeping in a Quinzhee you and your friends created is certainly an exciting experience. You get to sleep in and see the final result of all the hard work you have done. Like any project, there were some things that my group did well, and some things my group could’ve improved on.
One thing my group did very well was evenly balance the work on building and the quinzhee. We were fortunate that we had 2 members of the group in each afternoon outdoor ed class. Both groups of 2 worked evenly. It was really nice to come out the next day to see a large amount of progress already made on the shelter. Another thing our group did really well was meal planning. Everyone pulled their own weight and brought what they needed to bring, and it worked out really well when we cooked our meal. The turnout made all the work worth it, as it felt good to eat some hot food after finishing your quinzhee. A final thing I feel that my group did really well was to make sure we put a little extra height in the ceiling of the platform. When I first went into my quinzhee, I did feel a little bit claustrophobic. When we finished the quinzhee, we had a decent amount of room to sit up while on your platform. This small adjustment went loads to making crawling in and sitting on the platform much more comfortable. All in all, our group did considerably well in the execution of all our planning.
2 things that our group could've planned a bit better was the starting of a fire and also the length of our sleeping platform. The construction of the fire was a long and frustrating business, as it was snowing quite hard and also was fairly windy. We either couldn’t get the fire going, or couldn’t keep it alight. Everyone became tired and hungry. We could’ve thought ahead to this, and build a small wall of snow about a meter or so away from our firebox, to block the wind. However, we were so focused on building the quinzhee that we didn’t really consider this part of the camp. I feel it would make the camp a much nicer experience. The length of our sleeping platform was adequate, except part of our sleeping bags and legs were pushed up the wall. This meant that our sleeping bags got soaked, which isn’t really too fun to wake up to. If we had dug out our wall about half a foot more, our bags could’ve been a bit dryer. This is a small adjustment and didn’t affect us too much, but it put me in kind of a bad mood when I woke up in my quinzhee and had to pack up a soaking wet sleeping bag.
The 3 things I would tell someone building a Quinzhee for the first time: More snow is better than less, you can afford to pack a bit more clothes than usual, and to plan where and how high your platform is. When building your quinzhee, we figured that it would be much easier to have to take away snow later in the week then to need more the night before. When usually camping, you want to pack light. When sleeping in your quinzhee, it’s nice to have a pair of clothes and gloves that are dry for you to change into to sleep in. Our group didn’t really plan too much about the height of our platform, and in reflection it could’ve been a bit higher. I slept closest to the entrance, and sometimes I woke up and was cold from the draft coming in the door. If our platform had been a bit higher, than I could’ve been a bit warmer. Building, hollowing out, clothing and cooking all need to be carefully planned out. If you can follow your plan, then your experience will be perfect. For all the good and bad things, the winter camp was an exciting experience I will remember for a long time.