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MIT student blogger Melis A. '08

The Abominable Snowman by Melis A. '08

If you can't see the Yeti, make the Yeti.

At MIT, we think big. We apply engineering principles whenever possible. We build snowmen so large that they require the use of ramps, ice skates, and a team of friendly tourists. My friend Julia ’08 shares her IAP snowman experience below: (Note: I promise that I have a non-snow related entry in the works, for those of you who are sick of hearing about it.)

On Sunday when I heard there was going to be yet another snow storm hitting Boston, I called up my friend Dan ’10. “Did you hear about the snowstorm tomorrow? You know what this means….Battle #3!”. Dan and I are in the midst of a multi-part snow battle. The first two battles involved grape throwing, running around the basements, playing in the secret ninja courtyard, and most importantly lots of snow! By the time I woke up the next morning 6 inches of beautiful packing snow graced the MIT campus – ready to be made into snow fighting artillery. When I met up with Dan in Killian court we decided to make a giant snowman in front of the great dome instead. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into.

First, we had a little competition to see who could roll the bigger snowball. Then we teamed up to roll the base which Dan insisted had to be at least as tall as me. To my surprise, creating this giant snowball was just as exhausting as a snowball fight! There we were, in t-shirts, sweating and struggling to push the giant ball back towards the center of Killian. We were getting pretty tired and literally losing momentum. Sometimes the ball would roll back over me after we attempted to budge it from rest. Luckily, a large group of Korean tourists ran out into the courtyard to enjoy the snowy scenery, and a few even lent us their strength to push our snowball base.

The next task was getting the middle portion of the snowman up on top of the base. After several failed attempts to lift the beast and attempting to create a snow staircase, we realized that we were going to need more helping hands. I pleaded with random people walking through lobby 10 for help, and ran into my friend Marie ’11. While I was off rolling the snowball for the head, Dan and Marie came up with an ingenious idea. There are these tall and thin green stakes connected by ropes surrounding Killian court. Using just three stakes, we built a makeshift ramp on the side of the 5 feet tall base. Using our engineering skills and atlas-like strength we finally managed to push the middle snowball on top of the base. None of us could believe that it actually worked, and more importantly that it stayed!

Ghassan G, who stopped by earlier to take some pictures, returned and helped us stick the head on top of the now 9 feet tall monster. How did we get the head on? Simple, Ghassan stood on a chair. Finally, Marie’s friend, Eva ’11 helped us shape, decorate, and put the final touches on our giant snowman! After 3 hours of intense working out, some thinking, and plenty of fun we had just made the biggest snowman of our lives.

Julia ’08 and Dan ’10 roll their massive snowballs across Killian Court.

Marie ’11 hands Ghassan G’ some rocks for the snowman’s eyes.

Dan ’10, Julia ’08, Snowman, Eva ’11, Marie ’11, Ghassan G.

The final product.

27 responses to “The Abominable Snowman”

  1. Edgar says:

    “…for those of you who are sick of hearing about it.”
    I don’t think anyone could ever get sick of them. Snow is so much fun! =)

  2. karen says:

    I saw you guys! I mean, I didn’t know it was you, but I definitely remember seeing someone in a t-shirt (!!) rolling a HUGE snowball

  3. Snively says:

    OMG! I was walking back from lab and saw that thing, it was amazing! My partners and I had to go outside and have an impromptu photo shoot with it, it makes for some great pictures. It’s so awesome that you made it, we were wondering who may have.

  4. Paul says:

    I also saw the bottom part of the snowman sitting in Killian Court, though apparently I missed the other two phases. Finally, the mystery is solved! Well done. This belongs on the MIT main page, in my humble opinion. :D

  5. *stands and applauds*

    I absolutely love this–pulling off some awesome feats with perseverance, ingenuity, and the help of some random tourists. I really want to make a giant snow angel now. But alas, no snow currently graces the fields of Pennsylvania.

    By the way, how did you make such round snowballs? When I get into that size range, my snowballs always end up more cylindrical than spherical.

  6. Libin Daniel says:

    Awesome work..Beautiful..Hey, I know you all are exhausted but why not make an igloo or something in the background. Would be picturesque! Great work..I love MIT..I love it. What ya gonna name it wink

  7. Akshay says:

    It’s INCREDIBLE!!! Totally love this snowman.

    You just wrote something which comes on SAT CR section. You are given a blurb and then a reading. This reading is perfectly in sink with the blurb. And the pictures just give the extra edge to it. I just love this post.

    And now I go speechless.

  8. Libin Daniel says:

    I wonder the confusions that would have been there if Massachusetts Institute of Technology had a V in it’s Just kidding.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Is it gone? I can’t see it anymore.

  10. Leko says:

    The Yeti is in Boston and people are seeing UFOs here in Texas. Its pretty funny to see my hometown on the news for UFO sightings…..i think they’re after the milk (being a dairy county).

  11. Isshak says:

    Oh my gosh this is huge ! Great job Melis (and her friends) !
    I always knew that engineering was fun-useful !
    Lol funny to see how many people saw it and were astonished !

  12. Melis says:

    Isshak: Sadly, I was not a part of the snowman building team. It was built by Dan ’10, Julia ’08, Snowman, Eva ’11, Marie ’11, Ghassan G.

  13. Isshak says:

    Melis: Yeah, but still thanks for reporting !
    And I wanted to ask you what was your camera, I think I read somewhere it was a reflex.

  14. Melis says:

    Sorry, I meant to tell you about my camera! It’s a Nikon Coolpix P4. It has a nice panoramic feature, which is how I take them. Otherwise, it doesn’t do a very good job with portraits, especially if they’re taken inside (the flash is really bad, with a slow response time.)

  15. Vytautas says:

    Edgar said “I don’t think anyone could ever get sick of them. Snow is so much fun! =)”.

    Tell it to an eskimo :D

  16. Lauren '12 says:


    I am going to Hayden library tonight, I think…

    I am totally going to check out that snowman while I am at it.


    Very cool post.

  17. Isshak says:

    A coolpix with a panoramic feature ? That is worth buying it ! It is so complicated usually, you need a trepod, a reflex camera, a stabilizer ! Could you take a panoramic of the Killian Court and around ? Or of a building having a view of Killian Court, that would be beautiful !
    Hope we’ll see you next time building an even more enormous snowman !

  18. Hawkins says:

    Sweeeeeet. That is the best snowman ever. I agree, it belongs on the main page. =P

  19. Melis says:

    Actually, I have already taken a panoramic picture of Killian Court! It’s here: Court Panoramic small.jpg

  20. Isshak says:

    Wow it’s great ! Although I wonder how it would feel with snow. But it’s a great picture ! so symetrical…
    Is there something you can’t do ? ^^

  21. carmen says:

    omg..that is an enormous snowman! i wonder if it might have broken some record

  22. Noelle says:

    With absolutely no snow ever here in Florida, I’ll read as many snow blogs as you guys would love to write smile

  23. Piper says:

    I LOVE SNOWWWWW!!!! I’m so happy it snowed =P

  24. Chris T. says:

    Hey Melis,

    Nice snowman, however it not abominable. It’s cute and happy. Good job!

  25. Aditi says:

    i LOVE the snowman.
    name him =)

    i want to make one too!

    but i have to live with silly hot tropical climate and no snow.ever :S

  26. Judy says:

    Let’s name him Fred!

    We just got tons of snow here in MD

  27. R.J says:

    Wow you guys must be freezing cold!!! I love the cold but hate the blinding effect on the snow. It really hurts… well that looks like fun especially the snowball fight… smile