Cold and Colossal Sculptures: Carve Tahoe

Teams head for Northstar to whittle away at the white stuff.

Carve Tahoe

EPHEMERAL BEAUTY: Naming a sculpture that's been around for 500 years or a painting that's been beloved for centuries isn't too tricky; we can all probably rattle off a half dozen. But what of those ephemeral artworks that we've experienced in passing? The famous sand castles near the Hotel del Coronado or the frosty here-for-a-winter hotels of Quebec City or even the melty ice swan that sits on the carving station table at the big brunch buffet down the street? How do we remember the art that only exists for a few hours or days? Well, cameras help, yes, and sharing the sight with friends (making it easy to discuss later). And maybe making a wintry trip out of admiring some ephemeral art is a good way to lock what you've seen in your brain. Should this be your solution, then best hit the road for Northstar California, where the whimsically competitive Carve Tahoe will unleash a number of out-sized sparkly wonders made of frozen H20.

FIVE DAYS OF COMPETITIVE CARVING FUN: Well, let's back up. The carving starts early on in the process, meaning that Tuesday, Jan. 28 is when the picks come out. Things'll really start to take shape on Thursday, Jan. 30, which is the first day that the Carve Tahoe organizers recommend coming up to see the scene, if you're interested in seeing the snowy artworks on their way to finished. The judging is on Saturday, meaning that Friday, Jan. 31 and Saturday, Feb. 1 will be prime days for admiring the sometimes surreal sculptures. Teams from around the world are expected -- hello Canada, Finland, The Netherlands, Japan, Czech Republic, and Germany -- as well as Team USA. So, yep, there's a bit of a convivial atmosphere -- call it a party atmosphere, if you like, and you should -- in addition to the art creations. Just remember to commit what you've seen to memory, because the snow wonders don't hang around for long. Not when the sun comes out to admire them as well.

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