Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Ice Castle Surprise

Towering two or three stories high....

Right there on the side of the road...

I had never seen anything like these forms before.

What on earth???

How did they form?

Why were they there???

A landscape of the towering ice was taking over an area in front of the Zermatt Resort in the small town of Midway.

At first I thought I would just take a picture from the car window. Then I decided I would get out to get a closer view.

Quickly I realized that would not be good enough! I commanded Bernie to pull our car into the hotel's parking lot so I could get a closer look.

A picket fence was between a side walk and the massive forms, and a gate.

A sign on a tiny booth said it would cost me two dollars to go inside the gate. I got out of the car again, and I motioned to Bernie to join me on the path through the ice.

He waved me on; I kept going, leaving him to enjoy his nice warm car seat.

Each form was so unique!

Every direction I turned afforded me another breath taking view.
The center castle in this picture is three stories high!
Some forms were powdered lightly with snow. The forms were a pale blue, the natural shade that you see in cracks in glaciers and snow crevaces.

Coral...moss...sand castles...stamen...forests

My brain kept searching for just the right word to describe what I was seeing.

About a quarter way into the area, I met Brent Christensen, the creator of this frozen masterpiece.

He briefly told me how they were created: PVC pipe grids were used to grow icicles, which were then harvested each day. Each icicle was then "planted" and sprayed with more water. The structures have been "growing" since December, adding about three feet in height a day. The ice forms are solid ice. No internal structures are used. Brent climbs up the structures to add more and more icicles to the design.

His blog site had pictures of the project since day one. The forms really did change every single day! The night time pictures are especially wonderful. What an amazing place it would be for a wedding!

He and his family and friends tend the creations on an average of 16 hours a day. The Zermatt Resort has given him and his wife a room to stay in while the forms are being made. He and his wife are the parents of six children, ages 6-23, and this has been the first time he has ever created his forms in public. "Today" he told me "is the last day the forms will be maintained". They will now begin to slowly melt away, lasting probably until May.

How did he learn to do this?

He said he used to create them in his own backyard for fun around a small skating rink that he had made for his kids.
Next year he hopes to do it again, only with LED colored lights instead of halogen colored lights illuminating them from inside at night. And if I was in the area, I was welcome to return at dark and see the forms again for free.

Oh gee....how amazing would that be?

This is definitely on the calendar for next year!

I've walked on glaciers, flown over glaciers, and even walked THROUGH glaciers in Switzerland.
This was even more beautiful than what I had seen made by nature.
It was kind of funny; when I was first walking the pathways through the forms, I kept thinking "This couldn't have just been made by nature"; and sure enough, I was was right.
There actually was a "creator" involved.
(If you want to do a moment of deep-ish thinking, consider this fact and compare it to evolution and see what thoughts you think...)
(The ice castle actually looked better without me in the scene, but I could imagine how cool pictures of kids could be on this bench!)

The path wound through narrow passages where the ice was deep blue. Brent assured me no dyes were used; that the blue was the natural color of water.

What was more interesting: the close up view of individual icicles...

or the distant view of their towering elements?

In the center of it all: A natural hot spring fish pond, with a school of brilliant orange fish swirling like embers amidst the colorful aquatic plants.

The night time reflections on the pond must be stunning.

They had ski poles available to aid visitors footing.
I didn't grab one, it did require careful walking on the frozen pathway.
The view back to the hotel.

Next year Brent wants more to add more ice caverns to explore.

Frankly, I hope next year he can franchise this idea so EVERYONE everywhere can enjoy such a fantastic exhibit.

The caverns were amazing too...wish I could have also gone through them at night.

Capturing the height of these forms was a problem.

I wound up holding my camera above my head and clicking away at random.
Just water...slowly poured and freezing naturally. Apparently the forms change daily as the icicles form and reform with the weather.

Wish I could have seen them on a night with a golden and pink sunset!

And then there was a bit of artistic whimsy as well.
It was hard to walk away from the Land of Castles of Ice.
I meandered back to the car and to Bernie...
Bernie had indulged in a bit of whimsy himself: while I was gawking at the ice castles, he had walked over to a Swiss pastry shop and purchased a fresh strawberry studded cheese danish, and a flour-less chocolate mocha treat.

Does this day just keep getting better and better or what?

Just one view of the Swiss Zermatt hotel. It has a killer great spa too.

The bell boy was awfully cute in his traditional Swiss costume. Look at his adorable grin.

Down the street was the Blue Boar Inn, a place where I want to go to dinner some day.
(I've seen the menu: mega yum!)
Midway, a town that I plan to explore more this spring.
I've got a feeling it has a lot more surprises to be discovered.
I am still just amazed at the surprise that it had for us on Saturday. What a bit of serendipity that Bernie had chosen to drive home a different way than before.


ellen b. said...

Oh My Goodness! This is the most amazing thing I've seen! It looks so surreal! Boy I would have screamed STOP too!!
How cool that you met the artist. What a great surprise indeed.

Vicki said...


Uh...I'm at a loss for words!


Sara at Come Away With Me said...

Jill, I am stunned and in awe! If I had been there you know I would have gone with you through that gate, camera in hand! Just wonderful shapes and so different and awesome...I can't say enough.

So, which pastry was yours and which was B's? Or maybe you shared them. (Mine would have been the strawberry, the Musician's the chocolate!)

Lovella ♥ said...

Those pictures are stunning. What don't you have there in your neck of the woods.
I am like Vicki. .I don't even know what to say.
Had you wagered on this one. .I would have never guessed.

L&D said...

I am speechless! In fact, those photographs took my breath away with their beauty. What an amazing exhibit to see!!!!!!!!!! I too wish he could franchise as I would love to see that in my lifetime. Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

myletterstoemily said...

thank you for sharing the most amazing
photos i have ever seen. it felt like ice

i have seen glaciers, too, and kept thinking,
"what? what?" until you spilled the beans.

what a genius!


Kathy said...

The ice sculptures form an incredible fantasy land. My jaw dropped. I can only imagine being in the midst of them.

Dawn said...

Wowee Wowee Wow Wow!

Incredible sight!

Taxi Driver said...

I'm stunned. Everything on this blog is overwhelming beautiful: the ice, the hats, the pastries! Thank you for sharing all of this!

And bless you for your kind words on my blog.


Marg said...

I need to ask...was it the boy or the ice? Yes, it's great what they can do..I have a few photos from the Olympics where they had a ice sculpture maintained in a case..at a certain degrees...
It was amazing..but your experience was far beyond.
And you met the artist...You are an Olympiad..at heart.

Anonymous said...

WOW! You find the most interesting places. I can hardly believe you didn't drag bernie back through them...although the pastries looked good enough to pass on a second viewing. Your pictures are incredible. I must show Scot. Kathy (MGCC)

Unknown said...

Wow! That was stunning to see. What a great eye you have for form and color.

Thanks for putting this up. What a wonderful surprise.

Virginia in Texas

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

WOW! I had to come over to last year's post to see more! They also looked fantastic in the daytime!

meacham said...

Man I use to live in West Jordan, wish this went on when I lived there. Love Love it. Going to have to get back and see it in person

Brent Christensen said...

Jill! Just stumbled on your blog again. Still probably one of my favs. Sorry to say we won't be in Utah again this year but we'll be in Steamboat, Breckenridge, and the Mall of America in MN. So if you make it by any of those spots check us out. Myself, I'll be most of the winter in MN so if you come by make sure to say hi.