Ice Castles Coming to Green Mountain Falls/Lower Ute Pass

Rick Langbert

It is now official and move over Ouray.

Ice Castles, the iconic, Disney-like ice attraction, which generated amazing interest in Cripple Creek last winter, is expanding its focus and will make a 2024/2025 extended visit to Green Mountain Falls and the lower Ute Pass.

Only this time, the Ice Castles venture is mainly geared toward the adventurer and progressive rock music lover, with plans for 100-foot solid ice wall expanding from Gazebo Lake Park to the Green Mountain Falls Skyspace.  Those that make it to the top will be greeted by a new live revival of the Wall musical masterpiece, with a three-dimensional audio/video recording of the acclaimed late 1970s Pink Floyd album, accompanied by a special light show developed by James Tarrell himself.

“We won’t disappoint the fine folks of Green Mountain Falls,” said veteran Floyd rocker Roger Wattars, who has signed an exclusive deal with Green Box.  “We know how you like iconic light shows in Green Mountain Falls.  We do too.”  “Maybe ‘Mother’ will finally allow the ‘Wall’ to get conquered,” he quipped, in reference to one of their more unusual songs on the Wall album that even certain staffers of TMC can’t quite figure out, even after digesting special magical herbs.

But musical joking aside, making it to the top could pose quite a challenge with skilled ice climbing required to make it to the pinnacle. In some ways, it will rival the ice wall caverns displayed in the town of Ouray, which do a special festival in the wintertime to honor this ice farming and climbing tradition.

The project is being described as a joint venture among Green Box, Ice Castles, the town of Green Mountain Falls, the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation, the Ute Pass Chamber of Commerce and the new Building Ute Pass Community, and a number of local businesses.

“I told you this was going to happen,” said an ecstatic Nick Dongello, a  member of the GMF board of trustees.  “This is my parting gift to the town,” said Dongello, who is stepping down from his role as a trustee and will be directing special projects and emergency preparedness exercises. “With all the nonprofits we have, this is a great winter project.”

Special climbing instruction is being provided by Erik Wallkman of 315 Surviving Now and GMF’s own town clerk Boi Ayadd, who has scaled some of the toughest mountains in the world.

The idea of an Ice Castles venture in Green Mountain Falls was briefly unveiled at a previous trustees meeting. Dongello outlined the positive response he received from Ice Castles personnel in doing a project in a more populated area that didn’t have quite as many weather challenges as the site in Cripple Creek.

Brant Christansen, founder of Ice Castles, confirmed last week that negotiations are proceeding on schedule. But he stressed that the project won’t replace the one in Cripple Creek, which was well-received other than problems at times in having enough food options for customers.

“We always liked the idea of a giant ice wall for the more adventure-like climber, with our same Technicolor features. He sees the GMF stint as extending for possibly five weeks.

In fact, Colorado author Jon Krakerer, who penned the famous “Into Thin Air,”  real-life tragedy on Mt. Evererest, has been invited to the opening ceremony, featuring an ice climbing obstacle course. “We don’t have to worry about anyone getting lost here, but they are definite problems that must be overcome,” said Krakerer, who has scaled his share of icy peaks around the world.

“This is just what we need to stimulate our winter economy,” said Green Mountain Falls Mayor Todd Dixon.

If the project works next winter, the Floyd’s Wattars confirmed he may reunite with his former bandmate David Gilmar, for a series of shows at the 2025 Green Box Arts festival.  The two rock legends, though, have not spoken in 30 years.

But Ice Castles has a way of patching up past feuds.

Happy April Fools Day!