Free enamel pin when you buy any two Atlas Obscura products. Shop now.

Watch an Artist Walk Thousands of Steps to Create Wolves and Leaves in the Snow

These intricate pieces of art are only temporarily preserved.

In February 2015, skiers and visitors at Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada may have spotted a man in a pair of snowshoes trudging back and forth though deep snow. The footprints he left behind made up detailed shapes of a howling wolf, a maple leaf, and a massive snowflake on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains. They are three examples of Simon Beck’s “Snow Art”—temporary geometrical masterpieces that can only be fully appreciated from above.

This video, produced by Banff & Lake Louise, shows a cinematic montage of Beck’s process. It was his first artistic venture on North American snow, having left behind other fractal art in snowy fields of the French Alps and Norway. He’s even made pieces on sandy beaches.

Previously an engineer and mapmaker, Beck goes to extreme efforts to execute these complex, large-scale pieces. He uses a map drawing of the design, a baseplate compass, a prismatic compass, and dons warm socks, boots, and snowshoes. A single creation could take about 11 hours, thousands of steps, and total up to 25 miles of walking, according to Slate. At the 50-second mark, you can watch a time-lapse of Beck stomping out the outline of a wolf. The approximately 1,500-foot snowflake (his largest-sized drawing at the date of the video) took Beck over six hours of trekking through snow. 

Beck has completed 240 drawings in the past 12 years, reported AccuWeather in 2016. While these intricate images in the snow are beautiful, there is also a deeper meaning within his work. “There’s also an environmental message,” Beck told AccuWeather. “Snow is beautiful; we need snow. We need winter and we shouldn’t wreck it too much.”

Every day we track down a Video Wonder: an audiovisual offering that delights, inspires, and entertains. Have you encountered a video we should feature? Email ella@atlasobscura.com.