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Save a life! How can you tell when river ice is going bad???

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  • Save a life! How can you tell when river ice is going bad???

    I looked all over the forum and most that i could find is about lake ice. I suppose that the best way to check the condition of ice is to auger through it and check its true depth?

    But me being a green horn and all, i was wondering if somone had some good advice, i know some folks could easly look at a river and tell whether it was safe to run on. Seems like of the two years i have been up here, some poor soul always dies, and that signals the end of people going on ice.

    What are some indicators of bad river ice? No recent tracks? Obviously open water is a bad sign... Is there any way to tell if there is water under the snow? All advice here i know is to be taken with a grain of salt, no matter what is said we are all responsible for how we choose to live and putting 100% stock in something that is said ends up killing us, well, we should have been smarter.

    Thanks for any and all input!

  • #2
    Drilling a hole won't really tell you much of anything. The ice can be 2' thick in one spot and 2" thick 5' away. It mostly depends on the current. If there is moving water, the ice will be much thinner and will open up earlier. Just watch for color (dark is bad) and observe where the current "should" be, like on the outside corners and such. When running rivers, I always try to stay on the insides of corners and close to the shallow side bank if I question the ice thickness.
    AKmud
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    The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....

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    • #3
      There really is no way to truely tell. Like AKmud said dark is bad. I find it helpful to know the river in the summer. Some of the sloughs don't have much water in the summer and are mostly dry in the winter and know where the main channel runs helps. Watch the frieghters they are out there most days and know the river better than most "I think". And if the river asks you to hand over your wallet then it has definetly gone bad.

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      • #4
        Or just stay off of it since it is 30+ degrees in the afternoons now? IT is pretty common sense if everything else is dripping and melting away so is the river ice. I really dont feel sorry for the people that go through in the spring time common sense should tell you to stay off. If you have to question yourself as to if you feel it is safe or not it probably isnt.

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        • #5
          When the water begins to flow off the hills it is time to stay off the ice. The smaller streams will trickle first, overflow will become apparent, and begin to work on the larger bodies. As the rivers begin to fill again, the hydraulic pressure will push up through the holes and cracks, and begin to weaken the ice around. Overflow in the spring is the thing to really begin to watch for, it will freeze over at night and leave pockets and holes of water, and in some cases be several feet thick in layers. Open water in any area of course will continue to expand and undercut the ice banks.
          squab (probably of Scandinavian descent; skvabb, meaning "loose, fat flesh") is a young domestic pigeon or its meat

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          • #6
            Good advice all around guys, keep it coming! :topjob: Really good advice about hugging the inside corner, even if you go through the ice there, hopefuly it will be shallower than the main channel. When you cross the river from inside corner to inside corner, is there anything to be wary of? Should i just be standing up and looking for "black ice" or "open water"

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            • #7
              Think about how you would run it in a boat (the river banks most times tell the story) then do the oppisite. When in doubt... Go really really fast or better yet don't go at all.
              "If your not the lead dog.... the view never changes":cool:

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              • #8
                If you are referring to the Chena which I am sure you are I would stay off it all together. The Slough in town should be fine but there are WAY too many open leads and high overflow throughout town especially from university bridge all the way to the airport it is almost completely open except near the pump house but there are dark spots. I was XC skiing that way last week and I didnt feel safe on it with skis on much less on a snow machine.But hey you can do what you want If not we will probably read about you in the news miner. It is suppose to be 40 above today it isnt worth it.

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                • #9
                  absolutly. That part of the chena, from what i have heard, has warm water being dumped into it from a power plant. It has been getting REALLY warm lately so extreme caution will be used. Hope no one else tries it either!

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                  • #10
                    I travel on river a lot for work and just having fun, It takes experience and lots of time on the ice to get a "feel" for it. Some rivers are warmer than others and will have more open spots. I tend to stay away from the banks, groundwater input can make them soft and open. Also you will find open leads where there is current mixing causing turbulence. Also open water over shallow riffles. The shallow riffles are generally fine to cut across if you know how deep it is and there is no Ice ledge on the other side. I would definitely not ride on any rivers on or after the second week in April, unless your on the slope then make it 1st week in May.

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                    • #11
                      When in doubt, don't slow down!

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                      • #12
                        Running a river and being safe is more than just reading the ice. If you’re going to run rivers or lakes in the spring you are going to get wet its just a matter of time. If you see an area that is questionable I would walk the area and use a ax to test the ice before crossing. The best time to run a river is in the morning, there is two reasons one the river is stronger the second reason is you have all day to get out if you fall in.

                        If you do fall in and you will, how will you get out ? I carry ¼ nails to use as ice picks to get out. I also carry ice anchors and a com-a-long. How are you going to get dry, do you know how to make a fire with no wood?

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                        • #13
                          Good stuff guys! Keep it coming! How do i make a fire with no wood? Assuming the snow machine is under and i have my pack, I would try to remember back down river, to a point with no brush. Can i walk that far? IF no, i dig through the snow and hope to find some grass i can burn... Do you have a better idea Rutting Moose?

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