A quinzhee is a great mount of snow that, after firming up, is hollowed out into a cave.
Building a quinzhee is a fun project for a home base or a fun weekend, but don't think you can throw one together at the end of a busy day. It can take up to 5 hours from start to finish. Think of them as a "fun project" rather than serious accommodation. Three Scouts standing on top of their quinzhee to demonstrate roof strength .
Click for larger image. 29k Quinzee making is based on the unique ability of snow to sinter, that is to firm up or stick together. What stops avalanche victims from digging themselves out, makes quinzees building a breeze. Sintering holds the quinzhee together while digging it out. True sturdiness comes from the snow absorbing moisture. There is a tremendous amount of moisture in exhailed breath. This is absorbed by the the snow and slowly turns your snow into ice. Look at the picture. After a one-night sleepover, you can see several good sized Scouts standing on the top of their quinhzee. It took the three of them jumping up and down several times to break it. Even then, they only punched a hole into it - it did not collapse. Well built, they can last weeks although they have the tendency to shrink over time.The average quinzee will hold 2 adults or three Scouts comfortably.
Cold tents are the only alternative for the truly mobile. Moving from place to place and setting up a new campsite every evening requires speed and simplicity.
Hot tents and a wood stove are probably the only realistic way of spending any semi-static and lengthy periods of time in the bush. True winter camping luxury is a 10x10 tent tall enough to stand up in and heated with a wood stove. The extra gear, however, add anywhere from 20 to 40 pounds to your gear.