Two of the igloos constructed on Bilbo’s Bog have been a popular attraction in the Larch Hills cross-country ski area. (Lizzy Mair photo)

Column: Igloo construction catches on at Shuswap’s Larch Hills

Trail Tales by Marcia Beckner

By Marcia Beckner


After missing out on the opportunity to help build the igloo on Bilbo’s Bog a couple of weeks ago, we got our chance when the call went out to help build a second one near the first.

On Sunday, Feb. 9, Jim and I, plus Eleanor Marshall and Pat Danforth, took up the challenge assisting Peter Mair and Hermann and Louise Bruns in all phases of igloo construction, a craft which Peter learned while in high school in Prince Rupert.

Blocks were cut out of an area packed down by the tracksetter, and sized appropriately for the walls of the igloo using snow saws. After the diameter of the igloo was determined, the blocks were laid one by one in a spiral shape along the perimeter. The blocks were not light, but Pat was up to the task, bringing over which ever block Peter felt was the correct next one. Each block would be trimmed by saw and angled slightly inward.

As the igloo progressed, Peter and Eleanor stockpiled blocks inside so they could continue to build from the inside and, ultimately, place the keystone at the top. Any cracks and crevices were packed with snow and/or slices of block from the outside. In the meantime, Hermann, Jim and I built a passageway to connect the two igloos. Guess we could call it an igloo duplex!

The entrance to the new igloo was carved out so two builders trapped inside could exit. Stepping back and viewing the fruit of our labours, all were pleased with the result. Another igloo of many made in the Larch Hills over the past few year. I’m not so sure I could build one on my own but we helpers certainly learned a lot about the craft.

Read more: Column: Tireless effort of volunteers critical to successful Shuswap loppets

Read more: Column: Chalet like a home for Larch Hills skiers upset by break in

This past Sunday, as we were skiing across Bilbo’s Bog, we saw great activity at the igloos. A third igloo was underway! Peter and Lizzy Mair, with their daughter Kiro and partner Aiden, here from Calgary on the Family Day long weekend, were busy cutting blocks and making this third one happen.

Lots of skiers were coming by to crawl into the igloos. Thanks to Peter and his initiative for this unique Larch Hills attraction!

So cozy are the igloos that Hermann, Louise, Peter and Lizzy celebrated Valentine’s Day with a cheese fondue inside the igloos, and then played Wizard. An amazing photo of the igloos at night which Lizzy took can be viewed on the LHNS web site,

Last Saturday, a group of 12 from Seattle came over from their three-day stay in Kamloops to ski Larch Hills. Their leader tells us he has skied everywhere and Larch Hills beats all of them. So enthusiastic about the trails, the tracksetting, the setting, the friendly folks. Nice to get such accolades from visiting skiers.

The Junior Race Team has a few final competitions on its schedule. Coming up are the BC Winter Games in Fort St. John, Feb. 20-23. Kaden Baum, Taylor Parker, Hilary Vukadinovic, Frankie Ayotte and Johnathan Breugem will be on the Zone 5 team. Concurrently, the Teck BC Midget Championships will be held at Stake Lake, Kamloops, Feb. 22-23. The Teck BC Championships, held in Kelowna March 6-8, will attract skiers from around the province. Then the National Championships at Sovereign Lake, March 26-April 2, will attract skiers from across Canada and into the U.S. We have a large contingent attending the Nationals. Best of luck to all the LH Junior Racers in all these competitions.

Fabulous conditions in the Larch Hills. Ski on!

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Peter Mair, Eleanor Marshall and Pat Danforth position a snow block on the igloo wall in Bilbo’s Bog on Feb. 9th, 2020. (Marcia Beckner photo)

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