Learn to Fly on Wild Ice

April 1, 2024

Kategorie: Outdoor-Lebensstil, Reisen

There’s nothing quite like skating on nature’s own ice rinks and wild ice enthusiasts tend to describe it as the closest thing to flying. From secret ponds hidden in tranquil forests to vast lakes reflecting snow-covered peaks, wild ice first gained widespread attention during the 2020 lockdowns. Since then, skating in natural locations has been steadily drawing an increasing number of participants who fall in love with beauty and adventure.

Some natural skating locations are better known than others. Lake Morey in Vermont offers (free of charge) the longest maintained skating trail in the US, traversing the entire lake. Similar attractions can be found at New York’s Lake Placid or The Ice Skating Trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park in Ontario which winds its way through a mile of dense, evergreen woodland. These carefully managed, accessible venues are perfect for families or beginners. 

Venturing further into the backcountry comes with more demanding requirements: the ability to hike in winter conditions, a strong sense of self-responsibility, and the experience necessary to assess wild ice. But it’s also extremely rewarding, offering a sense of remote adventure in some of nature’s most spectacular settings. As global temperatures are on the rise and wild ice becomes more and more of a rarity, social media helps “ice chasers” communicate about the best conditions. At the same time, hiking out in search of good ice is like an exciting treasure hunt. 

“A lot of the time you find nothing. But sometimes […] there’s just this amazing mirror, a sheet stretching between the mountains. And then it’s just incredible,” said Alaskan skater Paxon Woelber for National Geographic.

Last November, a period of particularly low temperatures in Alaska created “once-in-a-decade” ice skating conditions. Freezing unusually fast, the surface of Lake Rabbit near Anchorage created a so-called “ice window.” The sheet of perfectly translucent ice, scored only by the marks left by the skaters themselves, allowed visitors to see all the way to the lake’s floor. As word spread, cars filled the nearest car park, four miles from the location. On a sunny Friday, hockey players, figure skaters, and even families with children and dogs were all gliding across clear ice. The cold stint turned many smaller, more remote lakes into perfect ice rinks, creating an unusually long season. 

Colorado-based Laura Kottlowski, a former competitive ice skater who rekindled her love for the sport on wild ice, is on a mission to educate skaters about the dangers of this spectacular sport. Her mesmerizing photography and videos charm the Internet, and she’s using them to communicate an important message: to avoid a serious accident never head out on a wild frozen lake without appropriate safety gear and experienced company.

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