BANFF – A woman is "quite fortunate" to be alive after falling through the ice into the frigid water of Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park on Saturday afternoon (Jan. 23).
The woman, in her 20s, was taken to hospital with mild hypothermia after being rescued at the popular recreation area where she was ice skating, said Russ Geyer, deputy chief of the Banff Fire Department (BFD).
"I would say she was very lucky," said Geyer. "They were skating way out into the lake and the female in her 20s certainly went right in. They were stranded out there on that thin ice for over 30 minutes – some of that she was in the water.
"Without knowledge, or knowing the ice conditions, you're always taking a risk."
The woman was skating with another female around 2:30 p.m. near where the Cascade River flows into Lake Minnewanka. Both ended up being rescued in a co-response by Parks Canada and BFD.
Geyer added the woman was conscious and alert when taken to Banff Mineral Springs Hospital.
"She was quite fortunate, I think, with the outcome today," he said.
According to Parks Canada, three other people fell through the ice at Minnewanka on Friday and Saturday and managed to self-rescue from of the freezing water conditions.
At this time of year, the partially frozen lake attracts skaters and those looking for some outdoor activities and eye-catching photographs.
“Ice skaters are reminded to check the lake ice thickness very carefully and understand that ice thickness may vary considerably over short distances,” wrote Parks Canada in a social media post.
“Having equipment available for self rescue (PFD's, rope, ice picks) can be very useful in areas with unknown ice thickness. The recommended thickness for ice skating is a minimum of 10 cm or four inches of solid ice.”
Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen took to social media to advise against skating at the tourist hot spot.
"Please don't skate on Minnewanka. As I understand it, two people have gone through today. Three yesterday. Extremely dangerous," she wrote.
Four people have fallen through the ice on Lake Minnewanka in Banff NP in the past two days. Three were able to self...Posted by Parks Mountain Safety on Saturday, January 23, 2021