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Standing in an ice door with a Cole Haan shearling motorcycle coat, chevron scarf, Loft jeans, shearlin booties and pom pom hat (all own)

Report about the BP Ice Classics where carver compete in making the most beautiful ice sculptures. See examples of single and multi-block pieces. Read where the ice blocks are harvested, how large the ice blocks are, and more.




Where Are the Ice Blocks for the BP Ice Classic Harvested?

In March, a big event is the BP Ice Alaska Classics. No, it is not a hockey game competition sponsored by British Petrol despite BP is one of several sponsors. On the contrary, it is an ice sculpture art competition. In February, sculptors from all over the world meet to carve huge ice blocks. The ice blocks stem from a nearby pond. The harvesting crew cuts these ice blocks being on the ice of the pond with chainsaws. They mount the chainsaws in a custom skid for precise cutting. The blocks have to be identical for the multi-blog competitions. After cutting, the crew pulls the blogs out of the water. It helps that ice has a lower density than water and hence can swim.


ice sculpture raw material - a giant ice cube more
Demonstrating the size of a single ice block. You don’t want that cube of ice in your drink, do you?


The size of the blocks, of course, depends on the onset of freezing and weather, for which it varies among years. This year, blocks measured on average 30 inch (76 cm) thick with 22-24 inch (55-60 cm) of clear blue ice that the artists use.



frozen pond for harvesting ice for the ice sculpturing competion
View over the pond where the ice is harvested


Recycling of Impure or Broken Ice Blocks for an Amusement Park

Sometimes blocks bear a surprise and have material inclusions like insects in amber. Such inclusions are due to debris that floated in the pond before freezing. Blocks that break or are of low quality or are only partly usable due to inclusions end up in the Alaska Airlines Kids Ice Park section of the Ice Park. They serve to build several ice slides, an ice-skating rink, an ice cabin, kids train, and other fun stuff kids enjoy. The kids’ section is not part of the competition, but for the entertainment of the kids while the adults walk thru the exhibition section of the park.


travel on the ice train thru Alaska
A train made of ice.


What Kinds of Ice Sculptures Can You See at the BP Ice Classic Championship?

The single blocks are located in a forest section. Unfortunately, it is too dark there to take photos during the day. At night, they are illuminated, but still hard to photograph in the Arctic. We did not wait until night fell because it started to drizzle and we feared that we would not get back home when it turns into rain. Rain falling on super-cooled roads turns them into dangerous ice roads.



Pumps, Coat and Alaska Lifestyle Motifs Carved Out of Frozen Water

Let me give you a tour of the fashion and lifestyle related multi block sculptures.


Alaska sled dog team with ice dogs more
Mushing a team of ice dogs.


The fragile sculptures are in the forest for protection from Sun light and wind. Their tiny and fragile surfaces make them more sensitive to sub-saturation and hence sublimation as well as to above freezing temperatures than the big multi block sculptures outside.


over 50 years old Alaskan style blogger standing in front of giant ice pumps


Would you wear that? They are way too big! This Alaska spring shoe trend will already be history before April. However, wearing it now will lead to cold feet within a minute. Did you know that there is a city in Alaska called Cold Foot? Don’t even think about it! They wear bunny boots and x-tra tuffs there like everyone else in Alaska. Some even wear them in their wedding photos.


fashion ice sculpture at the BP Alaska Ice Classics
Me posing with ice sculptures of a coat with ice fur and frozen hair.


What about this long coat? Well made from about 99.99% H2O. 100% moth safe! It will not take up real estate in your closet unless you store your clothes in a freezer.


Cinderella’s Castle, Igloos and Polar Bear Ice Sculptures

Alaskan blogger at the Ice Classics Championship waving from Cinderella's castle carved from frozen water
Me waving in style from Cinderella’s Castle.


Which girl never dreamed of having a new gown and new shoes every night when there is a ball? Welcome to Cinderella’s Castle!


Alaskan woman in front of a multi-block igloo
Me coming out of an igloo while a polar bear stands outside.


Speaking of lifestyle this post would be incomplete without wildlife and an igloo. No, Alaskans don’t live in igloos, but when having to camp outside in winter, one better knows where to find a cabin for survival or how to build a snow shelter. And yes, when you leave the house, you enter the food chain.

In the Fairbanks area there are no polar bears except for the Nanooks. However, there are black bears and grizzlies. Nanook means polar bear and is the nickname of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ athletic teams and the school’s mascot.


me sitting on camel sculptured from multiple ice blocks
Me riding on a camel ice sculpture in the kids’ section of the park.


Now let’s take a ride thru the cold desert in time. Did you know that precipitation-wise Interior Alaska is a cold desert? A local student found a mammoth tooth on the way home from school about a decade ago. How do you like this mammoth?


Nicole in front of an ice carved mammoth with other ice sculptures in the background
Mammoth ice sculpture with me on top.


Ice Sculptures Are a Big Thing in Fairbanks

They even build one of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor Walker and Mallott for their inaugural ball! Some of the decorations for a culinary arts scholarship fundraiser were made of ice.

Which ice sculpture did you like the best? I am curious.

P.S. Did you know that March is the best time to watch the aurora?


Photos: G. Kramm

© 2013-2023 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

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