Monday, July 30, 2012

Wet Ice!

Foggy Manorburn

Despite the rain there is still ice on Coalpit and the Lower Manorburn.  Coalpit is about half covered and 80mm on the shady side.   Lower Manorburn has ice in a lot of the middle basin - skate-able in Rush Cutters but not sure how much further out.
Despite the water it was a smooth skate on water covered ice. Weather does not look promising though....
Coalpit still going.....

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Wing

Yesterday I was lucky enough to get a bit of wind on Poolburn at the end of the skate.  Was good to
finally get the Kitewing out for the first time this season

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ice under pressure...

GPS Track of the first loop today - 21km
Poolburn turned on a big day today.  Headed up there early today - just a light frost.  There was more ice than two days ago - locked in and thicker around the edges.  Had a fabulous skate on hard, slightly bumpy ice.  Initially the pressure cracks were safe to cross but on the way back on the first big loop I had to walk around one that had begun to thaw as the temperature rose.  It was the first time I have observed a thaw - lots of noisy cracking and pieces breaking off as the ice became unstable around the crack.  I finished the last hour with the kitewing as the wind had come up.  Temps were up as I left and the ice surface was starting to soften and crackle.  May be the last for Poolburn this season.
Pressure cracks
Barbed wire can't hold back ice...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ah the best.... Poolburn sensational again....

I have been watching the weather closely for the last two weeks hoping that Poolburn might get a refreeze.  Based on all I had observed I decided today would be the day to check it out again.  I thought some of the ice pack would be there but trying to calculate when the edges would come back was the tricky bit.
Managed to organize a couple of free hours and got away very (very!) early this morning (I must thank my wife Christina for being so long suffering with a skating fanatic......) and was pleased to find Poolburn was skate able again.  There had been a big thaw at the edge (2m out) but enough frost to lock it in.  Had to pick an entry point carefully (not the usual spot) but once on the ice... what a skate!  Round the island(s) and into the long arm.   Hard ice and only slightly bumpy in places.  Again Poolburn turned on a fantastic skate.

If you are heading that way go early and skate with the frost but check the ice carefully first.  Ice pack - approx 80mm - edges (to about 2m out) vary from 10mm -50mm (ish). Take something in case you need help to get onto the ice (and safety gear).  Keep clear of rocks and edges - the thaw spots. Days are warmer and the ice changes quickly as temps get up.  There are a few pressure  cracks that can be crossed if you pick your spots.  Road is dry it with the frost but getting quite rutted at the top.

Might be the last we see of the ice.......
Lovin' it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Nice to get to the Lower Manorburn early this morning to find the ice reset over night.  Able to skate further out on smooth hard ice.  The ice was still creaky and felt 'old'
Great to have an early morning shmooze around on the ice (can't think of a good word to describe that  smooth feeling of lazily skating in arcs on smooth ice!).
Weather cool and foggy with only a mild frost - not good for the ice.

Ice as yesterday - but more water appearing at either end of the basin and from the middle to the other side The skating area is getting smaller - some part have ice but is not safe at all.

Skating area shrinking fast - some places unsafe

Monday, July 23, 2012

skating away...

Left very early for Central this morning and due to low temps (as low as -5.8) decided to check Coalpit and was treated to a good skate on hard dry ice - bumpy in places but great!   Water showing on half the pond.
Struck thick fog at Wedderburn which made for slow driving.  Had a look at Idaburn - not for the feint hearted and tricky to get on (but hey had to have a wee skate...)

Headed to the Lower Manorburn tonight and was surprised to find thick ice in Rush Cutters.  Quite a bit of water showing in the basin but after a careful step onto the ice I had a good skate on firm but wet ice.  Did not venture out too far because of the water and creaky ice - and gathering dark.

A couple od good frosts and the ice will be on again.... here's hoping.....
Creaky Idaburn
Lower Manorburn

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tasman Skate Video

After warm weather (and a bit of rain) for the past week it looks like the natural ice has gone for this year. A good but very short season.  I don't remember a season finishing this early for a few years.

The highlight for me this year was skating Tasman Glacier Lake - a great experience .  This is a bit of video I took at the time - the ice - the bergs and the color - just great!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Edgy ice...

Water in the Gorge
Woke up to a good frost in Alex this morning so shot out to the Lower Manorburn for a look at the ice and ended up have a great skate over the main basin. Was a bit tricky getting on the ice as (rain) water had refrozen around the edge leaving a water filled ice cap over the ice pack but good hard ice away from the edge.

Ice - 100mm+ in Rush Cutters out to 60mm on the other side.  Water at both ends of the main basin.  Dry and hard but windy by the time I left.  There is a line of weed under the ice out from the big viewing rock - need to watch.  Needs frost!  (was 13 deg this evening in Alex - won't last if this keeps up!!)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Still ice!

Was surprised to see so much ice still around after the last few days of rain and warmer wind.
Coalpit had 80mm plus on the shady side and out to the middle.  Ice was hard but wet and in some places beginning to creak in the warmth.  Wind blown debris on the surface with some wind thaw holes starting to appear.
Hoffman - gone off around the edge.
Idaburn still had good coverage all over - up to 100mm.  Was starting to creak in the main basin but solid in the first half of the gorge  and ok to the dam.  Had a good skate in the gorge on hard ice.
Will break up fast if we don't get a frost or two.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Fresh blades

A skim of water but smooth as..
For a skater there is nothing quite like freshly sharpened skates on smooth ice.  Idaburn was that for me today.  The ice was smooth, solid and hard with water on top and made for a great skate. 100mm+ thick right to the dam and still locked in despite the warm weather.  Rain and wind due today so not sure how it will last.  Frost please!

Solid to the dam

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tasman Lake!

Today I skated Tasman Glacier Lake.  What a great experience.  Although only a third of the lake was frozen and only the jetty end really safe it was fantastic to skate around the part melted ice bergs that had calved of the glacier.  Thick green ice to skate on - rough in places - but lots of variation. The bergs looked small from the shore but a lot different once onto the ice and the skate-able area was quite large.  Well worth it and a fantastic skate.

One the way to Tasman I stopped at various places including Fraser Dam.  The dam water level had dropped quite a bit and left sheets of ice up the side. An interesting skate.

One the way home through Dansy's Pass the river was frozen over in several places. Although a bit risky, I just had to stop and have a skate!  The ice was thick enough - clear and hard  - weird skating over moving water and hearing the rapids either side of the good ice.
Tasman Glacier Lake
Fraser Dam

Frozen River!

On the river

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Local Thaw

Mahinrangi melting fast
Just a quick visit to Mahinerangi today to see how it was faring with the warmer wind.  Unfortunately it was thawing fast.  Had a skate on hard wet ice with thaw holes beginning to appear.  Be the last here I think for this year.
I did see something that I had not noticed over the last few days - a small river completely frozen over on one side of a concrete bridge and flowing hard on the other. I could stand on the ice near the edge.
Frozen river

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Poolburn again!

Today our family and our friends (the Pasks) headed up to Poolburn for a day out.  We travelled up through fog and burst through to clear sky and another great Poolburn day.  We managed to get everyone geared up with an assortment of skates and a great day was had  skating to the dam and picnicking on the ice (despite one mishap resulting in a sore head).
It was great to meet the friendly group from Canterbury and good to finally meet Clive who runs the Aardwolves Web site with those all important ice reports.
The Pasks the Youngs and the Canterbury team
Heading to the dam
Always something to see...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Dam Fine!

Headed off to check the dams near Alexandra today. Was treated to a rare full skate on Butchers Dam - hard smooth ice all over and skate-able to the edge of the dam.
Had always wanted to skate Conroys Dam and today was the day. Good hard ice and an interesting skate among the trees around the edge.  Please note: This is not a skate recommendation as Butchers and Conroys are not known for good ice so check carefully before venturing out and skate at your own risk.

Finished with a skate on the Lower Manorburn. All basins with good ice but dodgy between. The neck was just ok but not enough safe ice in the gorge. 80mm plus in places

On the way home I had my first skate ever on Munroes Gully pond. Good ice but warming in the sun.
The ice at the Lawrence pond was unusual. About 20mm of ice then 12cm of water over another layer of hard ice! I think that the pond must have frozen before the last big rain. Then the rain filled over the top and froze. The pond water level is very high. Unskate-able at the moment.

Conroys Dam

Upper Basin

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lake Bed Skate

Had another good skate at the Mahinerangi arm this morning.  The good ice was mostly thick - 60mm plus.  An interesting skate as the level falls and the lake bed is exposed with plenty to explore.  Also skated in the enclosed area below the huts.  Great ice - but care is needed as it thins out at the stream end and can be tricky getting on due to the dropped edges.

The enclosed area

water level dropping
The lake bed

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mahinerangi - armed and dangerous!

Early this morning I went to check out Lake Mahinerangi arm and was pleased to find ice thick enough to skate.   Had a good skate on mostly smooth hard ice and great as it is so close to home. The first good skate there for 3 years.  Varied ice but a rewarding fun skate (ever skated down hill...........)

Skaters there need to be extremely cautious as Mahinerangi arm is a tricky place to skate - and dangerous if you are not prepared.  It needs hard frosts and the ice changes rapidly as the lake is well exposed to wind and sun (the wind farm is nearby).  The lake level constantly falls over the winter period and creates dangerous ice shelves around the edge - and these create thaw points for the wind. The lake edge can be very muddy if there is no hard frost.
Lake level dropping
Ice edges shelve and break

Ice Update

I have heard from Dave P that Idaburn, Coalpit and Manorburn are all skate-able.  Coalpit has black ice near the edge and frost effected ice further out,  Idaburn good to the dam and middle basin is all good on the Manorburn.  Check Aardwolfs for further info.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Gooder than 'As Good as it Gets'? :-)

Last year I did a post entitled 'As Good as it Gets' about a skating day on Poolburn Dam. Today went one better!  Four of us left early for Poolburn and were treated to amazing thick black ice covering the whole of the dam except for  the long tail area where a steam comes in.
We had fabulous skating on fast smooth dry black ice - I have not personally skated on such an immense area of such ice. Wow.  We explored new bays and islands created by the high water.
We also skated into the long tail and had fun forging as far upstream as we could until we came to running water.  Gooder than as good as it gets.........
Ice 60mm + over the whole lake - smooth and locked in.  Road - good with some snow on top.  Make sure you have safety practices organized as you can get a long way (and well out of sight) from your vehicle.
Ida Burn Dam - 60mm + locked in - good skating - smooth ice.  Skate with the frost.

Can it get better....
Round a new island - and a fence!

Time for a short break
Skating the stream in the tail

The Stream

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Black Ice!

After 2 hard frosts Dave P and I headed to Central looking for ice.   Idaburn had 30-40 mm of black ice in the main basin.  We had a good first skate on smooth glassy ice on the hut side then packed up and headed for Poolburn.
Poolburn turned on a spectacular day - perfect weather and 30-40mm of fresh black ice.  The ice was a bit thin in some places and the day was warming so we skated near the edges for safety.  Fabulous ice - clear and smooth with lots to see.  The water is 2 metres higher than last year and has created new islands and bays. We are looking forward to skating the whole area once the ice thickens. Road is in good condition with some snow at the top.  Best time to skate - early morning with the frost.

At the dam
Smooth ice - the best!

Ice Patterns
Prairie Skating