Meet the Man Who Makes the Lake Louise Ice Castle
Ice sculptor Lee Ross shares how he creates his masterpieces, how much ice he needs and what some of his biggest projects have been.
For more than 30 years, ice sculptor Lee Ross has sculpted beautiful frozen creations for businesses and special events. Ross owns Frozen Memories, a Calgary-based ice-sculpting business whose clients include Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Acura and the Calgary Stampede.
The self-taught artist has competed in international sculpting competitions, crafted pieces for the Prince of Monaco and, since 2007, has created Lake Louise’s seasonal ice castle, currently on display during the annual Ice Magic Festival. Using 150 blocks of ice, each weighing roughly 300 pounds, Ross and his team create a crystalline, three-sided castle with turrets, windows and archways that visitors can skate through from December until it melts away.
Many of the tools Ross works with, such as ice chisels and heat guns, require a delicate touch, but most pieces call for heftier equipment to get started.
“[I’ll] use the chainsaw first to block out the rough shape, then use ice chisels and picks to get details and proper angles,” says Ross. “I’ll brush it off and use an iron or heat gun to get it crystal clear.”
One of the largest orders he has completed was for an ice-themed wedding at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. It required $50,000, or 67,500 lbs, worth of ice that Frozen Memories transformed into a full-sized sleigh for photo ops, two 20-foot ice bars, ice curtains, archways, centrepieces, plates and glasses. Other big jobs Ross has tackled include a bucking bronco ice sculpture for the 1988 Winter Olympics and an ice castle set for The Bachelor TV show.
With nearly three decades of impressive ice to reflect on, what does he make of all his accomplishments? “I guess I’ve done some neat stuff,” Ross says.
Lake Louise’s Ice Magic Festival runs Jan. 16 to 25 as part of Banff National Park’s SnowDays, banfflakelouise.com.