- by Scott Parent

rescuersI’ve often been approached as a local guide by folks as well as other local operators to lead ice explorations along the North Shore of the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula, specifically the Grotto Area. For numerous reasons that all stem from my own life’s worth of experience on the frozen inland sea and specifically that location, I have drawn a hardline.

The dramatic circumstances that occurred yesterday, when two people were dismissed from shore on the ice floe and sailed out 3 km or so off coast, were entirely predictable. Furthermore the limitations of what our specialized ice and rescue techs are permitted and not permitted to do in terms of response left them shore bound and unable to act. The helicopter rescue that followed only further threatened to break up the floes the cast aways were stranded on. Imagine if this were a group of six or more.

If any of my experiences out there are worth any salt I am honest when I say that the floe detachment mechanism that occurs at that very location happens surprisingly fast. That floe can disband from the escarpment over 1.5 feet in one second and drift a further half a foot each minute or more. Also what happened yesterday is a best case scenario. Ever witness a spontaneous winter sieche? Safe travel on the ice must be earned, not assumed.

Job well done OPP on the daring rescue. And to my technician friends stuck on shore, I hope this informs your higher ups to listen to your experience. It was good you were there.

photos courtesy of Take-a-Hike Trail and Adventure Guide