Building a Snow Sculpture
Published on 2/17/2007
Winter Carnival at Michigan Tech is one of the biggest festivals in the U.P. The university has a site dedicated to the carnival at http://wintercarnival.mtu.edu. Up until recently, snow sculpting in Houghton was a student activity. For the past few years, there has been interest in the community to partake in the icy construction.
This year, Ingrid, our friend Ryan Brayak and I helped Pat Coleman of U.P. Engineers & Architects build an ice pyramid. Michigan Tech's Blue Key Honor Society sets the carnival to a theme every year. This year the theme was "Ancient Worlds Come to Play in Snowy Drifts of Modern Day".
Ryan and Pat are planning a large scale construction project called Winter Village. A lot of preparation and planning is required for a project of this size. If all goes well, the Winter Village will make its debut at Winter Carnival 2008.
First the ice had to be harvested. Roger Tourangeau and Ryan cleared off a pond at Ryan's workplace, fired up a chainsaw and cut 55 blocks of ice at 175 pounds each. Each block was approximately 24x24x9.25. It took them 5 hours on Thursday to harvest the 9,625 pounds of ice.
We built the pyramid during the first weekend in February. I think it was the coldest weekend of the year. We drove through a snowstorm to arrive in Houghton Friday night. We started building Saturday morning at 9:30. The hi in Houghton that day was 1 degree. I think the wind chill was -20. We worked outside for 8 hours. Sunday wasn't any warmer. It was -1, but we only worked for 5 more hours and finished the sculpture. The snow wall behind the pyramid actually has real heiroglyphics on it. When translated, they read: Everyone go forth and ski like the Egyptian king.
We didn't have the people or the time that the fraternities have to build a great statue, but we think that our pyramid, with each block being close to 85 pounds, is just as awesome.
You don't need to wait for a special occasion to build a snow sculpture. All you need is a place to build, some basic tools, warm clothes and, of course, snow. Most importantly be safe and have fun!