A “quinzee”, or snow hut, can provide vital warmth and shelter in the snow. It can also be a lot of fun to make.
Clear a circular area in the snow about 7 or 8 feet across.
Use a shovel or other digging tool to mix up the snow in the clearing, making sure to bring snow from bottom layers up higher and vice versa. Mixing snow of different temperatures will facilitate the hardening process, which is called sintering.
Make a large pile (about 6 feet high) of snow on top of the clearing and shape it into a dome. The snow should be heaped, not packed.
Allow the mound to sinter for 1 to 3 hours depending on weather and snow composition.
Begin to hollow out the mound once it has hardened sufficiently. Dig straight in at first to create your initial opening, then dig at an upward angle in order to make an elevated sleeping area. This will allow cold air from inside to flow down and out of the shelter.
Use the snow you dig out to make a windbreak in front of the entrance, or heap it onto the exterior of the shelter to thicken its walls and increase the available interior space.
Smooth out the interior walls and ceiling when the hollowed area is large enough.
Poke a ventilation hole through the top of the dome using a ski pole or long stick. Make sure this hole stays clear of ice and snow.
Use ski poles, sticks or other clearly visible items to mark the outside of the entrance in case it gets covered up while you're away.