Skating on Wild Ice & A Reader Survey
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Skating on wild ice at Spray Lake on December 3, 2024
Somehow, this is the 101st entry of Go Outside! That’s 101 posts about the great outdoors we’ve written since launching in September 2020.
In honour of this milestone, we’re launching a Reader Survey. Please, please, please take three minutes out of your day to let us know what you think of Go Outside. We would really appreciate it!
You can access the survey here. We’ll use the results to help inform our content in the coming year.
This week, we’re asking you to lace up your skates! It’s Wild Ice Time!
While neither of us are big skaters (in fact, it is by far Annalise’s most disliked winter activity) we have many friends (like the one pictured above!) who absolutely adore it.
Sure you can skate on city and backyard rinks, but have you ever tried skating on what’s known as wild ice?
Early winter offers an unforgettable opportunity to skate on newly-frozen and snow-free mountain lakes. Wild ice skating is a picturesque activity that has blown up in popularity in recent years.
There are multiple Calgary and area Facebook groups dedicated to the endeavour (like Wild Ice Alberta and Bow Valley Wild Ice 2.0) , and as is the case with many outdoor activities, the hunt for the perfect location and conditions are part of the adventure.
While conditions were great last weekend at Spray Lake Reservoir, this week’s warming may affect the ice this weekend. It’s important to note that skating opportunities can change day to day, depending on the temperatures and snowfall.
The short (and unpredictable) season is part of the sport’s charm, and sites like AllTrails and Facebook groups can provide needed information on what others are experiencing in the locations you want to visit before heading out.
That being said, like other winter activities, safety must be top of mind. Water can be extremely dangerous. The Canadian Red Cross recommends only skating on ice that is at least 20 cm thick.
Just because you see a bunch of other people on the ice, doesn’t mean its safe! It’s recommended wild ice skaters use an ice screw and drill into the ice to check its thickness. Thickness can also change throughout the lake, so just because conditions are good in one area, doesn’t mean they are everywhere.
Safety specialists also encourage wild ice skaters to wear life jackets, carry ropes and have ice picks in case of emergency.
In terms of where to go, there are several options near-ish Calgary. We’ve seen stunning photos in years past from Barrier Lake, Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes, Spray Lake Reservoir, Gap Lake, Lake Louise and Peyto Lake.
As we say, the search for that perfect spot is all part of the adventure! Happy skating!
⛰️🥾️ Go Outside is written by Annalise & Cailynn — writers, outdoor enthusiasts and sisters who’ve been hiking, biking and skiing near Calgary since childhood and continue to be happiest outside.
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