Climbing Mt. Improbable

[Image: Matthew Putney, for the LA Times].

On the front page of the LA Times today, greeting the new year, is a story about a man with a plan in Iowa: “Surrounded by cornfields that stretch to the horizon,” we read, “in a place where molehills pass for mesas, avid outdoorsman Don Briggs has long dreamed of climbing a mountain. So he decided to build one.”

[Image: Matthew Putney, for the LA Times].

He’s not a geotechnical engineer, or some wildly charismatic salesman of earth-moving equipment; he’s just a man with a water hose and access to a few corn silos.
“Briggs spends most winter nights hosing down a quartet of grain silos on a friend’s farm – and relies on the Corn Belt’s frigid temperatures to transform the water into frozen walls of ice that tower nearly 70 feet straight up,” the LA Times writes.
“By the time he’s done, the ice encasing the outside of the silos is 4 feet thick in spots – and ready for the onslaught of ice climbers drawn to this strange marriage of farming and extreme sports.”

[Image: There would sometimes be “a heat wave,” Don Briggs told the LA Times, “when the temperature got up to 40 degrees or warmer, and all the ice would fall off the silos and we’d have to start all over.” Photo by Matthew Putney, for the LA Times].

The transformation of architectural structures into geological objects is something worth pursuing; in a way, it reminds me of a fairly minor pet peeve of mine, which is that people like Colin Farrell, or Lindsay Lohan, come out to Hollywood or move to Manhattan, and they make tens of millions of dollars… and they buy liquor with it. Or crystal meth and expensive dresses. Or whatever it is that River Phoenix did.
But when was the last time you heard about some hot young actor pocketing $20 million to star in a new Tony Scott film – then promptly disappearing into the plains of Iowa where he (or she) contracts out the multi-million dollar construction of a new mountain chain? Complete with manmade glacier?
Rather than buy Escalades, diamonds, and a few bottles of Courvoisier, in other words, why not compulsively build whole transparent cities of plexiglass, uninhabited in the mountains of central Idaho?
If you’re going to get addicted to something, make your addiction interesting.
Rather than donate all his money to Scientology, Tom Cruise funds the excavation of a spectacular series of show-caves, curling under the soil of Wisconsin. He sinks millions and millions of dollars into it, and dances on the couches of primetime news shows to sing the praises of subterranean topography.
Which is nothing compared to Robert Downey Jr., who is now rumored to have addicted himself to producing large-scale earthworks, made of polished obsidian, in eastern Washington state… He takes jobs in Uwe Boll films just to buy more rock…

(Thanks to N for the ice silo link!)

7 thoughts on “Climbing Mt. Improbable”

  1. It’s such a waste spending so much money on useless addictions such as these….especially considering so many people on earth are still in lack of the most basic necessities…

    Don’t people DONATE money to charities anymore??

  2. What a great idea shame none of my mates own a farm as it would be great practice before our ice climbing holidays we go on every couple of years. I wonder how long it took to get it like that.

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