December 10, 2016

The Great Pipestone River Ice Jam

We live about 50 metres from the Pipestone River.  Yesterday, in only a few minutes, the river went through a dramatic transformation: a giant battering ram of water and ice scoured the river clean. The force was enough to throw blocks of ice the size of pool tables up onto the banks.

Sadly, we missed the action.  I (Joel) went to the post office to get the mail at about 12:15 in the afternoon, and the river was hidden beneath a thick mass of terraced ice that had been growing since November.

Two hours later, Nadine went to the post office to mail a Christmas package. By that time, the pressurized ice flow had poured down from the Pipestone Canyon above town and done its work.

This has happened maybe three or four times in the years since we've lived in Lake Louise, and we're still waiting to watch the event with our own eyes...

Here's a photo montage telling the whole story. These are large files, so click on them if you want to get better resolution.

Before: The Pipestone River two days ago - swollen with ice terraces.

After: Exactly the same view (really!) of the Pipestone River yesterday
afternoon, with all the ice cleared out.
One of the side channels of the Pipestone, choked with ice.

The ice flow barely fit under the pedestrian bridge between
the village and the Post Hotel.

Telephone pole-sized trees along for the ride.

There are some pretty nice ice couches out there, if you want a winter picnic!

The view upstream from the village towards the Post Hotel.