VIDEO: Ice skating on Lake Louise a cool alternative to snow sports

‘One of the best times to go … is at sunrise or sunset against the breathtaking mountain backdrop’

Hockey players make the most of the fading daylight as they skate on Lake Louise, Alta., Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Don’t ski? Snowshoeing leaves you cold? How about gliding on the jewel of the Canadian Rockies?

Whether it’s a bluebird day or weather like a shaken snow globe, skating on Lake Louise in Banff National Park is a Canadian postcard experience easily accessible from the visitor parking lot of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

With Victoria Glacier as a backdrop, hockey games spring up organically. Some people just skate around with a hockey stick in their hand for the fun feel of it.

A little lake shinny is irresistible to the world’s top skiers in late November and early December when World Cup downhill races are held across the valley at the ski resort.

In its 2016 list of the “world’s most dramatic water-walking spots,” CNN ranked Lake Louise No. 2 behind the Tower of London Ice Rink and ahead of the Eiffel Tower Ice Rink in Paris at No. 3.

If the surrounding peaks of Temple, White and Niblock weren’t picturesque enough, Lake Louise’s Ice Magic Festival ups the selfie stakes Jan. 17-27 when an ice-castle sculpture adorns the rink.

Weather dictates the length of the skating season at Lake Louise, but from roughly December to April the lake ice nearest the hotel is cleared of snow daily and lit for night skating.

“One of the best times to go skating is at sunrise or sunset against the breathtaking mountain backdrop of Lake Louise,” says Chateau senior manager of marketing James Fraser.

“An even better time to go is in the evening under the stars and moonlight.”

Bring your own skates, hockey sticks and helmets or rent a package. Skate rentals are $20-$30 for adults and $10-$20 for children. A hockey stick is $5. A helmet is complimentary with a full package rental of skating gear.

Be aware Louise’s ice is created by Mother Nature and not in the controlled environment of an hockey arena.

In the event of heavy snowfall, it can be difficult for plows to keep up and there may be rough patches and bumps underneath the snow.

Once the lake surface begins to freeze in the fall, the hotel’s grounds team regularly tests ice thickness.

“They use an ice auger to safely drill through the ice surface and have measuring tools and an ice tracking document to monitor and record the ice thickness at various spots around the lake,” Fraser says.

“The standard measurements are three inches of ice for a single person to walk on it, eleven inches of ice for it to support the machinery to build the ice rinks, and twenty inches of ice for it to support the ice castle that is built every winter, just before Christmas.”

It’s a skater’s bonanza when freezing temperatures provide the requisite ice thickness before the big snows arrive.

Those conditions open up more skating terrain on a lake that reflects the surrounding peaks like a mirror.

READ MORE: Calgary man narrowly escapes from avalanche while running at Lake Louise

“This is a rare occurrence, happening usually once every three or four years” Fraser says. “The conditions have to be just right, and Mother Nature needs to co-operate.”

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

134 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday

First day over 100 cases since July 31

330 km walk for charity stopping in Sylvan Lake

Chris Sadleir, 45, is walking from Calgary to Edmonton to raise money for the Lung Association

School curriculum to focus on basics, says LaGrange

Minister Adriana LaGrange, MLA for Red Deer South, said it will ‘unleash student potential’

1 in 7 Albertans have been tested for COVID-19

56 additional cases Thursday, 1,107 active cases remain in the province

Sylvan Lake man’s documentary getting limited run in Alberta theatres

Scott McDermott’s documentary will be in 14 theatres, including Sylvan Lake and Wetaskiwin

Protestors for Indigenous Lives Matter gather in Wetaskiwin

Protestors gathered along 56 St Wetaskiwin, Alta. August 4, 2020 for Indigenous Lives Matter.

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

13-year-old charged in death of boy, 10 in Maskwacis

The RCMP Major Crimes Unit have laid a manslaughter charge against a 13-year-old boy from Maskwacis.

‘Caught up in the frenzy:’ Oilers 50/50 draw breaking ticket sale records

Previous record was held by Toronto Raptors fans when a 50/50 raffle reached $2 million

Alberta jury trials to resume next month at offsite locations due to COVID-19

About 12 locations across Alberta may host the trials in halls, hotels and community centres

Alberta school curriculum to focus on basics, keep out political bias: minister

NDP education critic says the kindergarten to Grade 4 changes should have been implemented a year ago

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Walmart to make face masks mandatory for customers across Canada

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

Most Read