References to Motown pop culture aside. Learning to dig a snowhole is something any and every stripe of skier/boarder or cold weather nutter should learn to do. 
 
Back country skiers are never without a roof over their heads, and parents stand a pretty good chance of being the ‘BEST PARENT EVER’- after they build their sproglets a cool new den!... So without any more ado (Just in case you’re reading this on your smart phone, lost in the middle of a dumbfounded, frostbitten wasteland.) I’ll get on with it.
 
Site selection for your snowhole is a priority...
 
Don’t build your shelter slap bang in the middle of avalanche country, or on or too close to a ski run. In fact don’t build anywhere seeing high traffic; lest some impractically baggy ski-suit-wearing show-pony mistakes your homely mound for a jump. Try and select a site that is North-facing, (the sun won’t weaken the snow that way) and keep your intended entrance out of the wind. 
 
To start with, you’ll want to grab your shovel and start piling snow in a big mound before digging a tunnel into it; this’ll serve as your entrance, and when you start hollowing it out- your sleeping/survival/sproglet den area.
 
Doing this on a slope (slope as in hill, NOT as in ski run!) will give you a far better result. The angle of the entryway will give you a more spacious living area and serve as a bit of a wind break.
 
Cave architects. Photo courtesy of Christian Nesset on flickr.
Cave architects. Photo courtesy of Christian Nesset on flickr.
 
When you’re hollowing out your living area (walls and ceiling shouldn’t be thinner than 1ft), leave a bit of tunnel at the entrance, slightly wider than the intended occupants. Aside from lending the place a bit of panache, it’ll help shelter you from any wind and help with the snowhole’s integrity.
 
As for the main space, build some raised sleeping platforms with a large trough dug somewhere into the floor below foot level. This is for the cold air; since warm air rises, the cold air sinks into the trough away from the occupants. When you’re happy with your home away from home... away from home, pile some more snow around it to thicken up the walls and improve its structure.
 
 
A good, well-constructed snowhole has an ‘indoor’ temperature of 0°C or warmer when occupied, even in temperatures at -40°C! I once slept in a snowhole in Canada in -30°C to get first dibs on powder tracks. Sheepishly, I admit to having a therma-rest and sleeping bag. Even so, I wasn’t uncomfortable in thermals and fleece outside my sleeping bag. Going to the loo was an entirely different ball game though...
 
A snowhole sleeping arrangement. Photo courtesy of Laurel F on flickr.
A snowhole sleeping arrangement. Photo courtesy of Laurel F on flickr.
 
When in your snowhole, there are some golden rules. Firstly, make sure the roof is domed, that way water won’t drip on you. Secondly, seal the entrance to conserve heat. Third and most importantly, create ventilation via a small airway in the roof or entrance (Personally, I opt for leaving a ski pole sticking out of the entrance. Hole gets blocked with snow? Give it a wiggle).
 
Another very important consideration is to scrape the walls once a day. The condensation can cause the walls to ice up, limiting the oxygen-porosity of the snow.
 
So there you have it. Impress the kids, get first tracks while those other chumps have to wait for the lifts to open, or just a cool place to have some après beers with your buds. Snowholes. We salute you.