Skier falls through ice

Feb 22, 2020

Helen Read was skiing with her friend Donald on the Pipestone River today, about 1.5K beyond the couch. Helen remarked…

“…Donald was victim to the trail giving way into the river. We thankfully were able to help him wiggle his way up and out pulling on my pole. He said by all means feel free to post this so others do not slip into the water. Thankfully, only his butt got wet and he was keen to ski onwards.”

Thanks to Jeff’s report, we know the  trails at Pipestone were groomed today after 3 cm of new snow overnight. That is, trails which are not on the river!

Other trails at Lake Louise which were groomed today included Moraine Lake road and Tramline. The Great Divide was done yesterday. 

Lake O’Hara fire road was groomed on Friday(a day later than usual). 


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  1. Regarding slamming in ski poles to test ice strength, you need to slam them REALLY hard. I fell into a creek up north once after testing it with my ski pole!


    Lets look at the mistake this skier made when skiing on this creek.

    If you notice in the photo there is a little dip in the undisturbed snow to the left of where the ice broke on the creek in which the skier fell through. This undisturbed snow dip is in the lower centre of the photo extending to the edge of the photo These little dips in the snow on top of creek ice generally indicate an area of thinner and weaker ice.

    Always look out for the dips in the snow on creek or river ice. Ideally never ski in these snow dip areas areas if non snow dip areas are present elsewhere on the creek or river.

    If you must cross a snow dip on creek ice, slam a pole or heavy dried solid tree trunk into the dip as hard as possible in numerous places to test the strength of the ice before proceeding forward. Continue to slam the pole or tree trunk as you move forward until you are in a safe area. If you can break the ice back off. Have any lighter weight friends follow the ski track after you have crossed if you were unable to break any ice.

    On major rivers it is a good idea to tie up with a rope to a tree or friend if you suspect weak ice.

    I have fallen through ice several times on major rivers and beaver ponds up north. It is scary as hell when you drop through ice. You immediately wonder if you are ever coming back up through the hole.

    You can never be sure about the strength of ice unless you drill test holes. If you fall through ice and get wet by yourself, you are at great risk of getting hypothermia and dying.

    If there are major ice chunks on the river ice surface, I do not recommend you go out on the ice. I know people that crossed such ice and hours later all the ice broke up and flowed down river. It really makes you think about how you gambled with your life in such situations.

    Please note that you will not always see snow dips on weak ice. Wind may fill these in. Crossing ice always involves risk and you must ask yourself “do you feel lucky punk?”

  3. Close one! Bridges were starting to sag a few weeks back when things warmed up. Lots of flow in spots. Needs some colder temps and another dump.

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