Frozen Day 11: The Music of Great Slave Lake

Temperature: -23 degrees Celsius

Feels Like: -31 degrees Celsius

Wind: ENE 10 km/hr

The sound of a rainstorm fills my ears, like when I was young and used to sit next to the open kitchen window while gigantic raindrops pelted our front porch patio after a long, dry spell. A petrichor fragrance almost seems to rise up out of the dull smattering, but then I am back in the moment and the rain isn’t really rain; it’s the sound of a sea of mittens clapping, trying to draw Terje Isungset out onto the snow castle stage.

The castle is packed wall to wall to wall with people, shifting their weight from foot to foot in an attempt to keep their toes from freezing. Their breath puffs out in long, excited streams of frozen air and then, after a long wait, we are all rewarded. The musician steps onto the stage and begins to play the ice of Great Slave Lake. 

Simple notes ring out as he drums his hands and fingers along large pieces of ice and I can feel that simplicity more than anything. A woman’s voice accompanies the sound and the combination is ethereal, yet beautiful. The castle is silent, but for their sounds and, like the instruments themselves, it takes me away to where there is nothing but nature. He moves around the stage, creating sounds from crushing ice, tapping ice blocks – each releasing their own unique music – and blowing through ice-sculptured horns with frozen lips.

“The instruments belong to you, to Yellowknife, to nature,” he says between songs and when the night comes to an end, he lifts each instrument into the air and passes it to the crowd, giving it back to this place. It’s a remarkable sight to see someone so easily let go of their creation, to accept the transient nature of the tools that give them their life, to fully believe that nature is the true owner of all things.


As I leave to go home, the chill has set in my bones but it feels quite alright. I can’t think of a better way to finally be ahead in the Frozen 31 Challenge than by listening to the frozen whispers of Great Slave Lake ring out amongst a crowd of Yellowknifers between the snow castle’s walls.

Time: 11:59 am – 1:01 pm and 7:41 pm – 9:45 pm

Today’s Minutes: 186

Total Challenge Minutes: 1340/3720

Ahead/Behind: +20 minutes

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