Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sunny skate

Went by the Lower Manorburn today on the way home and although it wasn't the best time (afternoon, sunny and warm) I had a skate in the main basin on bumpy hard ice.  Thick in Rush Cutters and thinning out into the middle.  Bit creaky in the sun.  Finished off with a good skate  in the  gorge (near the neck) on hard, smooth solid ice - but had to keep to the shady side as there was water further out!

Decided to have a look at Poolburn Dam to see how it had survived the snow and warm temperatures over the week. The track was fairly muddy in plsces and definitely need 4wd slthough would have been better when frozen. Was surprised to find so much ice still there. The ice was snow effected and was rough in places.  Had a bit of a skate but  care was needed as the ice had holes with water showing through. Variable depth but solid enough considering the conditions.

Good to skate though!

Manorburn in the sun

Poolburn - bumpy
Manorburn ice

Water holes at Poolburn

Friday, July 29, 2011


Checked ice on way to Queenstown this arvo. Coalpit - snow ice on clear ice. Has a bit of a skate but surface soft. Idaburn - a bit of ice floating in water. Lower Manorburn thickish ice in main basin. Has been curling. Had a good skate on hard bumpy ice. Curlers had cleared lanes. Will be good if frost comes but lots of wind on ice. Emailed from night ski chairlift.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Icy Plunge at Ida

Usually I would explore the ice fully before skating but not last week at Lake Ida - to my peril! - I just went off for a circuit and ended up skating into the only thin ice and going through.  I was wearing layered clothing and the cold shock was not as bad as I had imagined. With out thinking I turned back the way I had come and leaned on the ice while kicking my feet to keep my body up (wet through to nearly chest level). Leaning on the ice with my arms, the ice broke until I reached solid ice.  Then I used ice claws to pull myself up onto the surface. I was holding a camera on stick and ended up dropping it in the hole - water about 5m deep.  A skate back to base and a change of clothes!  Time seemed to go very slowly during this incident -  I was skating with others and they seemed to take forever to come closer.
At this stage I considered the camera lost but Dave (P) thought he could retrieve it.  Dave has been doing a bit of cold water swimming in ice to practice rescue techniques and he had his wet suit in the car.
He managed to successfully retrieve the camera with a rock and some rope!  Video below.  Thanks Dave!!  There is some great footage of Dave under the ice at the end..... beware if ever trying this!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

As good as it gets!- 23rd July

Up early on Saturday morning and headed up to Poolburn to meet up with Dave, Ryan and Eddie who were camping there overnight....brrrr!  Poolburn turned on a spectacular day - solid hard ice over the whole lake and beautiful weather and surroundings. Able to skate around any parts of the lake including around all the rocks.  As good as it gets!    A fabulous skate although I did manage to find the only bit of thin ice by trying to take a new short cut in a shallow part of the lake. Wet boots! (snow is due so we may have to wait for a while to get out again)

After a cold night....

Skating one of the creeks

Sunday, July 24, 2011

More dam skating! July 22nd

Big Ice - Poolburn

I did a post a few days ago with the title 'Last Dam Skate' thinking it might have been the last on the Lower Manorburn as the ice was melting.  How the weather has changed!  Dave P and I headed out there again after a string of good frosts.   Ice had formed over the middle basin and lower basin with water in the connecting gorge.  We had a great free skate over most of the main area without having to worry about ice thickness.  We then headed to Poolburn Dam in the hope that the frost had formed ice there.
Wow - ice had formed over the whole lake and we were treated to a few hours skating over the whole area.  Smooth hard ice ranged from 80mm down to around 40-50 - which did creak a bit as it warmed in the sun.  Due to the height of the water (higher than last year) the bays were different and we were able to explore some new parts and skate into the far tail of the dam where water comes in.
Sensational skating on Poolburn made more picturesque with snow on the hills and rocks.

Frozen stream in the tail of the lake

Icicles on Poolburn

Publish Post
A break - a long way from the car

Ready for the Manorburn

Poolburn Rocks

Hard Water!

Idle at Ida? - not so! 21st July

After a night at Clearwater we were disappointed not to get a heavy frost but headed down to the lake and had a short skate over a limited area.  Dave P and I decided to head for Lake Ida.  On the way we stopped by Lake Evelyn where we had an enjoyable - if somewhat creaky - skate amongst the tussosk at the end of the lake.  Great fun.
We then drove to the inside gate at Lake Ida and walked in where we met up with Alan K and his friends Eki and Helena. The ice on Ida was superb - although a little wet in places.  A great skate which unfortunately included me going through on the only thin ice on the lake.  After a self rescue and Dave P's amazing  retrieval of my camera from under the ice we finished off and headed back to Otago.  Will talk more about the dip through the ice in a later post (along with a bit of video) and apart from that the lasting impression of skating on this day will be the clear nature of the ice over the whole lake - like skating on clear glass - fab!
Lake Ida

Lake Clearwater


Checking the ice on Lake Camp

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I see clear water -20th July

A lot has passed ice-wise since I last posted!  This is the first part.  Last Wednesday Dave P and I made a 'leaning on the car talking' decision and decided to head to Canterbury to check out the ice and catch up with Alan K .  We left Dunedin after lunch and made Lake Clearwater after dark.  Alan (and two of his friends) made us very welcome at his bach.

Alan and Dave accompanied me down to the lake and I had a creaky night skate in one area of Lake Clearwater.  (no photo!)

Our plan was to skate Clearwater in the morning after what we hoped would be a good frost, and head to Lake Ida the following day.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Last Dam Skate for 2011?

Headed to Queenstown today for the snow and on the way checked for ice at any spots I could find.  No joy in the warm temperatures.  On the way home in the evening I dropped into the Lower Manorburn Dam just for a look.  Found a patch of ice that was thick enough for a skate!  Surface was smooth and hard in the shade.  Had a skate in a limited area - enough for a few turns and a bit of a glide around.  The ice seems to be on its last legs with big patches of water showing - and this may be my last skate here this year unless we get some cold hard weather.

5.00pm - Looking down to the middle basin - water on the left.

Last time for 2011.......

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bubble time.....

Woke this morning to the sound of rain (after frost last night) but decided to head out to the Lower Manorburn any way for a pre-work skate.  Light sleet was falling.  The ice was fall of air bubbles but seemed safe enough for a skate - although very noisy!  Skated from just below the neck down into the gorge next to Rush Cutters.  Good to have a big area to skate on but the ice seemed a bit fragile from all the air bubbles.  Fresh snow on the hills will hopefully keep temps down.

Fresh snow on the hills

Monday, July 11, 2011

By the light of the silvery moon.....

One of the small pleasures of life is walking off the ice in the moonlight after a skate. Visited the Lower Manorburn tonight and was pleased to find skate-able ice as the end of the day - especially as it had been a warm (for winter) windy day.
Skate-able ice in Rush Cutters corner - around 50mm thick but creaky out into the basin. Found good hard ice in the gorge to the right of Rush Cutters and had an enjoyable skate as the sun went down and moonlight took over. If you pick your spots there is skating to be had but the ice needs careful checking. Will last with a frost or two and the snow on the hills should help bring temperatures down. (hopefully!)
Moonlight on the Manorburn

Friday, July 8, 2011

You're on thin ice....

Last Saturday at Poolburn we were pushing the boundaries a bit by skating on thin ice.  We managed for a bit because the ice was frozen hard but eventually Ryan broke through.  You can see in the video how flexible the ice was and we had to skate quite carefully (in shallow water)  trying not to put extra pressure on the ice. A wrench for Ryans' shoulder but apart from that he is ok.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cruising the Manorburn!

Headed out to the Lower Manorburn early this morning  to find good smooth ice all over the central basin! Great  skate over the whole main area.   Ice thickness ranged from 50mm+ out to around 40mm on the far side and was locked in. Too thin either end to go further.

The bad news! - dropped by on the way out of town in the evening and the ice was covered with water and creaky.  Warm temps and wind during the day had knocked it back.  Hopefully a few frosts will rebuild.



Monday, July 4, 2011

Making Ice!

Dropped into the Lower Manorburn tonight to see how it is after the weekend.  Has made ice since we visited yesterday morning.  Had a relaxing evening skate on hard smooth ice - and great to be skating freely on the Manorburn! What a great way to finish a days work!
Ice depth in Rush Cutters 35-40 mm - getting less as you get out of the bay. Safe but creaked a bit due to the weakening effect of above 0 deg.  A few stones and things on the ice but easily avoided. Should be great after a cold night and a good depth to build on through the week.  Did not check other areas due to fading light.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ice Hunters Day 2

Good frost in Alex this morning (Sunday). Still on the search for ice we headed to the Lower Manorburn Dam at 7.00.  Ice still too thin in the main basin but we managed to get a skate in a couple of shaded areas.  Around 25-30mm of hard black ice - and able to skate as it was freezing hard.  Good to get on the Manorburn finally although the ice is still touch and go. We then headed to Poolburn.  Beaut day again and a bit more ice. We skated around some of the edges on clear hard ice - great view of the rocks underneath. Thickness - 30mm in places down to nil. More frost needed. Idaburn had around 30mm and maybe would have been skate-able first thing in the morning but too soft when we visited.  Around 10-20 mm on Coalpit.
Ryan and Dave P

Safety Drill.....

Ice Hunters! - Day 1

Dave checking the Manorburn
 After watching the weather for a week we set of ice hunting.  Dave (P) and Ryan joined me on a trip around Central Otago to look for skate-able ice.  After an early start on Saturday morn we stopped in at the Lower Manorburn.  Around 20mm ice - not enough in the fog.  Soft surface.  Headed to Poolburn and a beautiful day but same again - around 20mm ice.  We managed a creaky skate on the north edge anyway - on probably what is the thinnest ice I have ever skated on. Dave (P) went for an ice swim - a keen man! From there we headed to Idaburn and checked out any pond we could find - but like the Idaburn not quite enough ice!
Ryan on the edge

Ice Man Dave

Clear enough to see through - but not to skate

A cracking time!