While most dads might be content to help
their kids build snowmen, Utah father Brent Christensen builds ice castles.
In search of new cold-weather activities
for his children, Christensen decided to build a fort made completely out of icicles,
complete with tunnels, caves and a slide. The castle attracted so much
attention from neighbours that the local Zermatt
Resort in Midway, Utah, asked him to build one for them for the 2009
to 2010 season.
His castles have grown in scope and
ambition every year since. This year, both the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, and the Steamboat Springs ski resort in Colorado
have a Christensen icicle castle to
call their own. The Mall
of America castle covers a parking lot more than an acre wide and stands 30ft high, with 15ft-wide ice
towers, tunnels and throne rooms that visitors can explore. The Steamboat Springs castle stands 40ft high, but is more
compact than the one in Minnesota, with small courtyards and ice
tunnels that illuminate at night with light.
Unlike other castles built from solid ice
blocks, these are created only
with icicles. Builders run
water over custom-built racks and harvest the frozen pieces to apply them to
the growing structures. About four million gallons of water were used to build the castle at Mall of
America. The building teams continue adding icicles throughout the season to
replenish melt-off and keep the exterior looking fresh.
Both castles are expected to stay open
through mid-March, as long as the weather cooperates. Admission is $12 at the Steamboat location and $10 at the Mall of
America. Visitors should wear warm clothes and winter boots to keep from
slipping on the frozen floors.