British Columbia

Cold comfort: expert shows how to build an igloo in Stanley Park

Meet a Vancouver man who loves the snow because it gives him the rare chance to build igloos in town. And, no, he's not trying to creatively beat the red-hot housing market.

Michael Harding normally only builds igloos while leading wilderness expeditions

Michael Harding shows off his work on an igloo in Stanley Park, about 20 minutes into construction. (Jason D'Souza/CBC)

Snowmen and snow forts are so 2016.

With all the snow that's hit Metro Vancouver in recent days, Michael Harding, with outdoor recreation company WestCoast Adventures, has decided to build an igloo instead.

Harding regularly builds igloos for work on expeditions near places like Whistler, but it's pretty rare to get the chance to do it in the middle of Stanley Park.

"Going to a pristine snow meadow and building a little house is something so far away from the world most of us live in," he told On the Coast's Jason D'Souza.

"To do something in this area where all you can hear is the snowshoes against the snow, and the sparkling light against the snowflakes … it's really magic.

"And once you've built it, you have this marvelous thing. And if you can build it in the side of the mountain, where there's shade, it could be up for months."

There are a few basic steps for building an igloo, according to Harding.

Use a snow probe to find thick snow. About a metre is good, but you can pile up snow to add thickness.

Then, walk in a circle for about 15 minutes to pack down the snow.

Then, take out your trusty tools: a small shovel and a saw like a snow saw or a pruning saw. Use the saw to carve out bricks, and ease them out with the shovel.

"Then you place it and hope it doesn't fall in," he said.

If you want to give it a shot yourself, Harding says the snow Metro Vancouver has been getting is "fantastic" because it's so moist. It can take as little as an hour and a half.

Harding says there's a lot to love about the art and science of igloo building.

"It's just beauty of being out in the snow and building something that's one of the most ancient architectural forms on the planet," he said. "It's peaceful, makes you feel good and it's a great workout. So it's got everything."

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Cold comfort: expert shows how to build an igloo in Stanley Park