Of the Baker City Herald

Dolan and Cody Crompton saw a perfect opportunity during Monday's snowfall with the wet, heavy snow that graced their yard.

So they started rolling and patting and shaping snowballs, preparing to build a snowman. And they kept gathering snow and adding layer upon layer until the snowy figure stood 10 feet tall.

Dolan, 12, Cody, 10, and their father Don worked for 2 hours, using a cross-cut saw and a five-foot ladder to build the behemoth.

Their yard, now mostly devoid of snow, provided all the material they needed.

andquot;This is a real wet snow, so when you roll it, it compacts really well,andquot; Don said.

However, the snowballs proved too large to lift.

andquot;We couldn't lift it so we had to cut it up,andquot; Cody said.

That's where the saw came in. They rolled the snow into huge balls, and then sawed it into pieces that were easier to lift. All three took turns climbing the ladder to add another layer to the snowman's body.

The arms made of sturdy tree limbs they found in the alley behind the house stick out about seven feet above the ground.

After the shape was completed, a plaid scarf was wrapped around the neck, and Don climbed the ladder to spray-paint a face and buttons on the front.

andquot;We used coal last year, but when it gets warm it falls out,andquot; Don said.

Now a smiling face greets passersby, looming high above whoever takes a closer look.

They beat last year's height record last year their snowman was nine feet tall but haven't seen enough snow yet to build a fort.

In last year's construction of a front-yard fort, the boys packed snow into large plastic bins, then added water to freeze them into cubes. They made the roofless fort igloo style by stacking the blocks on top of each other, with four-foot walls that were about a foot thick.

While snow provides great building opportunities during Baker's winters, the Crompton's construction expertise doesn't end there.

Don's parents live on the California coast, and when Cody and Dolan visit there, they arrive fully prepared.

With the abundance of wet sand, the boys have created crocodiles, alligators, tortoises, mermaids, castles and starfish.

andquot;(The starfish) was a whole lot bigger than the original,andquot; Cody said.

They even made a fort on the beach, placing logs over a depression in the sand, then mounding more sand over the logs. This secret space was invisible to all but those who were privy to where the entrance was located, Don said.

andquot;These guys don't bring their plastic buckets to the beach, they bring full-size shovels,andquot; Don said.