Another Winter, Another Ice Sculpture

Iceman 2016 008

The ice formation, viewed from behind. Above it is one of the four towers that sprays water to create the structure.

A European-style castle is being built a few steps away from my office. The building materials? The reddish brown water from the Duluth-Superior Harbor.

From the four blog posts I wrote last winter, you may recall “Ice Man” Roger Hanson’s adventures trying to build a world-record ice sculpture on Barker’s Island in Superior, Wis. (To read the posts, type “Roger Hanson” into the search box on my blog.)

Let’s just say he learned a lot from that experience, and is at it again. Roger has a contract with the City of Superior to provide ice sculptures as a tourism attraction for three winters, and this is his second.

Last year, Roger was going for height, but a February thaw and shifting ground toppled his world-record attempt. This year, he’s going for width and mass. Plus he has a heckofa large supporting ice base on his formation that looks like it might not melt until July.

Roger builds his creations with the help of towers that periodically spray water he pumps from the harbor. He controls the actions of the towers through a computer set-up he has in the trailer he lives in near the sculpture.

He plans to spray a ninety-foot-wide, seventy-foot tall, eight million-pound structure, complete with castle turrets and a doorway in the middle.

He had one small set-back a few days ago when high winds blew apart part of the formation. Roger has since recovered, and the structure is now sturdy and thick enough that winds should not be an issue. But it’s an El Nino winter, which typically means warmer temperatures for this area. The weather has been cold enough lately for ice formation. Who knows what the rest of the winter may hold?



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