Iced Out

One Bentley Continental GT, on ice, across the vastness of Sweden.

  1. At this moment, watching little puffs of breath condense into crystals of ice inches above my nose, I am very much questioning the value of an experience. If you give up halfway through an attempt at something, something that seemed very cool in concept and yet absurdly cold in reality, does it entirely overshadow the effort? Can you still brag about it later? I mean, come on, I’ve given it two hours. I have pictures. Is that wet reindeer I’m smelling?

    Here’s your snapshot: I am fully clothed, wearing long johns, jeans, a T-shirt, wool socks, and a silly Nordic hat with strings that dangle over my ears Pippi Longstocking-style. Around me is a sheet cocoon that opens only at one end, and on top of that a cold weather sleeping bag zipped to my chin. Only my face is exposed, staring up at a ceiling made of ice. Around me, walls of ice. Under me, a huge slab of ice covered in reindeer skins that, by their gamey funk, don’t seem to have been fumigated.

    I am in my $400 room at Sweden’s Icehotel and I am most definitely not sleeping.

    I imagine this is what being a corpse would be like, if a corpse were somehow still sentient, and really had to pee. You’re in a cold room cast in a creepy blue-ish light, lying on a slab, arms at your side, staring up, unable to move. There you wait until a guy comes in and saws through your breastbone, parting your ribcage to fondle your innards and seek out a cause of death—in this case, overenthusiastic wanderlust, causing delusion and loss of sa...

Originally published in MPH, April 2005