What it takes to build Midway’s Ice Castles

Local News

MIDWAY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – The Midway Ice Castles are under construction with one of the earliest construction date starts thanks to our early cold snap. It’s a complete turnaround from last year where a premature warm up in February forced an early end of the season.

“The early cooldown gave us what you see here. This is a really good thermal mass, a good base layer so we got a head start,” Billy Tiedemann, the lead builder in Midway this year, told ABC4 News.

Residents of Midway and Heber know the construction of the stunning ice castle really depends on cooperation from the weather pattern.

“The first year I wear here, the ice castles were sold out, the third year, it was the same kind of winter, and they were only open for three days,” said Judylyn Fanning, who moved to the backside of the Wasatch several years ago.

Many would think our recent storms are extremely helpful for ice castles builder, but that isn’t always the case. The Midway Ice Castle battles elevation challenges that result in sublimation, which is when solid ice skips the liquid stage and becomes a gas. Also, overnight temperatures have fluctuated and not been cold enough. Our last storm brought mountain valley rain, and builders know that means trouble.

“Rain is the comparison to acid for an ice castle. Obviously just the moisture, and it’s obviously above the freezing temperature and it melts what work we do do, and it leaves a lot of standing water,” said Tiedemann.

Three nights ago, Billy and his crew lost about 400 hours of work due to rain. The setbacks come, but the crew knows that’s part of the job. A shorter season means less money, but everyone is staying optimistic.

“Single-digit temps are perfect. If we could maintain single digits temps and not break 30 in the daytime high, that would be the go-to numbers,” said Tiedemann.

The Midway Ice Castles are aiming to open over winter break and hope they get an abundance of single-digit temperatures before the holidays.

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