Ice castle creates winter wonderland in Breckenridge
Breckenridge Ice Castle
Date: Open starting Dec. 26
Times: 2-10 p.m.
Cost: $10 per person; Tuesdays are $5 for locals
Location: Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave, Breckenridge
To learn more about ice castles and how they’re made, visit http://www.icecastles.com
That’s how many gallons of water will be used to create the ice castle that is rising in the corner of the Riverwalk Center parking lot in Breckenridge.
Upon first glance, it’s hard to believe that nearly the entire structure is made from icicles.
Summit County resident Jake Waldron — known to his friends as “Red” for the color of his beard — manages the construction of the castle, directing a crew of 10 in the placement of all that frozen water.
“We start by spraying water on top of the ground and it will gather,” he said. “We’ll get about a foot of ice on the ground and then we start placing icicles out from there.”
Waldron and his crew have what he calls an “icicle farm” — a series of racks where they “grow” icicles that they then break off and place on the structure. They start out with a blueprint planned out during the summer, then elaborate on that as they go.
One of the most notable features of the castle are formations that Waldron calls “jellyfish,” large mounds of ice with icicles hanging down like tentacles. Icicle spikes can also be seen sticking out at various angles on the top towers.
Waldron’s career in the ice castle business started two years ago in Silverthorne. He answered a flyer from the company Ice Castles LLC. for help building a similar structure.
“It’s the best job ever,” he said with a grin. Growing up in West Virginia, he would make snow forts and tunnels and snowmen all winter. In the summer, his job with a landscaping company isn’t all that different.
This year’s ice castle has a number of exciting features. An archway will grace the entrance, leading viewers around several turns before widening into an open area. This will be one of the best spots for photos, with mounds of ice lit up with colorful LED lights from within. There will be an ice throne to sit on and a fire pit for a quick warm-up.
“The flames against the ice are going to look really nice,” Waldron said.
From the open area, viewers can then walk into an ice maze, where the walls will close out the clamor of the crowd, the fairy-like lights will give out an otherworldly glow, and the only visible glimpse of the outside world will be the blue Colorado sky above.
One corner of the maze will feature an ever-growing tower, which is currently about 22 feet tall. Waldron plans to keep building it as high as possible. The record for highest ice town is 52 feet, he said, though it was built with a different method. He hopes that they can break the record with the icicle method. Now when building the tower, he and his crew strap on crampons and climb, adding icicles to the top and spraying them with water.
“We’re going to keep going up, up, up and up.”
Working with the ice castles has inspired Waldron to take up ice climbing. He had never tried it until he took the job in Silverthorne. Now, he’s making plans to head out to the Ouray Ice Park when he gets chance.
After a month and a half of work, Waldron and his crew are nearing the end of construction. The plan is to open the ice castle to the public the day after Christmas, Dec. 26. Depending on the weather, the structure will remain open until a week before Breckenridge Ski Resort closes for the season.
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