If you want to build an amazing sculpture or fort and you don’t want to spend a lot of time doing it, here is the ultimate method. I have built several snow shelters having lived in both Colorado and Idaho for over 17 years (as of this writing). I also have five children who love playing in the winter snow as much as they love swimming in the hot summer weather.
Here are the needed tools: a five-gallon bucket, a snow shovel, a person with a big foot, and as many hands as possible. As a father it was imperative to get a snow structure up quickly so the kids could play and this was the best way we found so far.
The concept is simple; fill up the bucket with snow and stomp it solid with a big foot. Dump the compacted snow cylinder out and place it where needed. The buckets we use are plastic and tend to be narrower at the bottom so dumping out the packed cylinder is very easy. We like to lay the cylinders on their sides and stack them like logs. Because one end of the cylinder is larger around than the other, you can use this geometry to help construct different contours and really put some creativity into your sculpture.
Team up the cylinder manufacture and keep making them as fast as you can. Get as many buckets as possible because when one is full someone can haul it away allowing you to start on the next. Keep the system moving until you almost fall from exhaustion which is a great time for a break with warm cocoa.
Pack snow filling the hollow spaces as soon as a cylinder is placed tightly against the previous. Snow has an interesting characteristic; once disturbed it locks tightly and becomes relatively strong making your walls amazingly sturdy. The time it takes for the snow to lock depends on how well your snow is packing so be careful and have patience when creating overhangs and ceilings. When it is time to arc the ceiling, start off-setting the cylinders moving them in about 1/3 each layer.
With eight neighborhood kids, six buckets, and four shovels it didn’t take too long to make a snow shelter having three rooms and an 8′ long entrance tunnel. The main room’s ceiling was about 6′ high. The fort’s exterior walls were so thick the kids were able to carve steps in to get to the top and up there they built more walls resembling castle bastions.
So there you have it; a method to build a huge sculpture or fort very quickly. Because of the size and thickness, our big fort lasted into the season where new grass was coming up for fresh spring growth!