The ice castle in Ski Time Square is near completion, and builders said they hope to have it open for the public by New Year's Eve. They also said that such a creation never is finished and that they would be altering the design throughout winter.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

The ice castle in Ski Time Square is near completion, and builders said they hope to have it open for the public by New Year's Eve. They also said that such a creation never is finished and that they would be altering the design throughout winter.

Ice castle plans to open at Steamboat Ski Area base by New Year's Eve

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Cory Livingood builds on the ice castle in Ski Time Square. How do you build an ice castle? With icicles, of course. Where do you get icicles for your ice castle? An icicle farm. The icicles are grown on a nearby apparatus and then built into the structure, where they continue to grow thanks to the cold weather.

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Ice castle. Submitted by: Audrey Dwyer

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Ice castle. Submitted by: Audrey Dwyer

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Ice castle. Submitted by: Audrey Dwyer

— Of course kids will love the ice castle growing in Ski Time Square.

What about grown-ups?

“But when you’re standing next to a 50-foot icicle, you feel pretty small,” Cory Livingood said about the adults who will be dwarfed by the growing art piece at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

And the ice castle is a living art piece of sorts.

When it opens to the public on New Year's Eve, what visitors see will be unique to them because the castle continues to grow and change as winter progresses.

The castle should reach its peak during February, Livingood said, but work doesn’t stop till weather forces the issue and the ice returns to Burgess Creek.

Livingood said he expects the outside walls of the castle to reach 10 to 20 feet, and the inside towers possibly could hit 30 to 50 feet.

There’s a timelapse camera in a tree next to the castle, and Steamboat residents or return visitors will be able to witness the changes in the castle themselves during successive tours.

There are plans to offer a season pass for those who intend to make multiple visits, Livingood said.

As work progresses, trails still need to be groomed and lights installed in the towers — white lights for the outside towers and colored lights for the inside. Because of warm conditions at the beginning of winter, building only began in earnest Dec. 9, Livingood said.

“It definitely set us back a good bit,” he said.

And then it got too cold.

When the temperatures hit the negative 20s earlier in the month, Livingood said, he was knocking the ice off the inside of the door frame to get to work.

The ideal temperatures are in the mid-teens, Livingood said, and 17 degrees is just about perfect.

When the weather cooperates, icicles can grow 10 feet or more in length in a night down from the towers.

The initial icicles are grown on racks, then harvested and placed by hand in slush. Mist is sprayed on the icicles until the freestanding structures grow into place. The entire castle is a solid, unified piece of ice, Livingood said.

It’s been 12- to 14-hour days for the core, full-time ice castle staff since the weather began to cooperate, Livingood said. Now, it’s really growing day by day.

“It’s as close to a glacier you can get without actually being on one,” Livingood said.

Livingood asks visitors to refrain from climbing on the icicles when in the castle. He said they know people break off the low-hanging icicles, but it’s discouraged because they don’t grow back.

“It’s something we can’t really replace,” Livingood said.

Walk-up tickets for the ice castle will be $15 for adults and $10 for children. The hours will be noon to 10 p.m. during the week, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 7 p.m. Sundays, though Livingood said he’d like to stay open later on New Year's Eve if people still are going through the castle.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

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