Intimate educational experiences with master storytellers from VII Photo Agency.
A SNOW CASTLE
A freezing wind blows through my frozen beard and bites my chin. The temperature is -27° Celsius (16.6°F), and wind makes it feel even colder. I’m standing on top of the gallery built of snow, on the shore of Bothnian Bay. The sea is covered in ice.
The engine of a tractor roars below as I watch a mass of snow flying from the snow sling at the back of it. Our work is to tamp the snow once it lands in the mold. The weather is frigid, but the physical work of tamping snow, lifting heavy tools, and cutting ice with big chainsaws keeps the body warm. Just as I’m about to run out of energy we finally have a break.
This is what snow castle builders do 12 to 16 hours per day for one month. The season will be over in spring.
The Snow Castle of Kemi is one of the biggest snow forts in the world. It is rebuilt every winter with a different architectural style. The tradition started in 1996.
The area covered by the castle has varied from 13,000 to over 20,000 square meters. The longest walls are over 1km. Despite its varying configurations, the snow castle has a few recurring elements: a chapel, a restaurant, and a snow hotel.
I was hired as a builder three years ago. Since then I’ve been documenting the life of the snow castle builders in this cold environment.