Wild Ice Skating
Here in southern Alberta we’ve been locked in a deep freeze for what feels like the better part of a month now. Thankfully, that must mean we’re due for a chinook and with it, warmer temps that’ll allow us to escape our homes and head out for some much-needed wilderness therapy. Despite what it sounds like, wild ice skating is not girls gone wild on ice...although that might be a million-dollar idea! To put it simply, wild skating is just skating on a natural body of frozen water, as opposed to your community rink.
Here in the Canadian Rockies, a trifecta of optimal conditions are needed to make that perfectly smooth, crystal clear ice that skaters desire. Several nights of below zero temps, no wind, and no snow are what’s required for this ideal ice to form. Whether the science interests you or not, I think we can all agree that skating on a glassy lake beneath majestic mountain peaks is a classic piece of Canadiana.
Skating on frozen lakes and other bodies of water can be a dangerous activity. Each year we hear about individuals who have fallen through the ice, so we wanted safety to be the focus of this post. The Canadian Red Cross recommends ice be a minimum of 15 centimeters thick to support a single person and at least 20 centimeters for groups. Always check with local authorities before venturing onto the ice.
Here are some more safety tips about wild ice…
-Avoid ice that is near open water or located at the inlet/outlet of streams
-Be extra cautious on river and stream ice as it can vary in thickness and strength because of temperature,
water current, springs, snow cover, and time of year
-Look for signage warning of thin or weak ice, especially on lakes undergoing aeration projects to minimize
winter fish kill
-It’s also a good idea to avoid stormwater retention ponds in you community as water level and ice thickness
can change rapidly
If you happen to fall through the ice, follow these steps…
-Proceed to the ice edge and break your way to ice that can support your weight
-Crawl on your belly up onto the ice, distributing your weight as widely as possible
-Once out of the water, immediately find a warm place to remove wet clothing (and get into a dry martini)
-Remember, time is of the essence as hypothermia can set in quickly, complicating the situation
We hope you can get outside and experience wild ice skating this winter. There are numerous options just a short drive from Calgary. Remember, the thing about ice skating, no matter how good you are, the hardest part is always your nipples!