Simon Beck rises early on drawing days. He collects his gear, bundles up, straps on his snowshoes, and treks up a mountainside until he reaches his canvas. He will spend the entire day there, walking through the snow. By sunset, Beck's tracks will resolve into a spectacular, ephemeral work of art.
“It started as a bit of fun, but gradually it’s taken over my life,” Beck tells Great Big Story in the video above, filmed near Powder Mountain Resort, Utah, 8600 feet up. In his first 10 years of snow-stamping, Beck created more than 175 snow drawings. He has since started working with beach sand as well.
The murals’ massive scale requires not only methodical footwork but also a great deal of exertion. A large drawing may take up to eight hours and 40,000 steps—that’s about 20 miles of walking. In the snow. On a mountain. Still, in a 2014 interview with mental_floss, Beck said the snow drawings are “… less strain on your body than running or even walking.”
Like Tibetan Buddhists’ sand mandalas, Beck’s drawings are all the more moving for their impermanence. Snow melts, and new snow falls upon it. And then there are the skiers. Most people are conscientious enough to avoid the artwork, Beck told mental_floss, but not all. He recalled one skier who deliberately aimed at one of his murals—and not once, but twice: “I just felt like poking his eyes out.”
Header image from YouTube // Great Big Story