Sunday, January 22, 2012

Great Lakes Ice Dunes

Ice dunes...

I admit I feel a little silly about this but when I first read the word "Ice Dune" in an article, referring to ice dunes along the shores of the Great Lakes, I thought "Wow! Something new! I've never heard of those!" And here I thought I knew a fair deal about the Great Lakes. But ice dunes! That was new to me.

I started reading more about them, seeing more pictures of them and realized "OH! I know those!" They pile up along Lake Michigan, but I never called them Ice Dunes. I've always just called them Piles Of Ice or Ice Ridges.

An ice dune (also called an ice ridge or an ice foot) is a formation of ice that accumulates on the shores of many arctic beaches and is also common along the shores of the Great Lakes during the winter.

They form along the shores as ice is pushed up and freezing water splashes onto the shore and turns to ice. They get quite large. And some completely insane people sometimes seek out ice ridges that have broken off and move boats up to them and fish off of them........

I don't know where this picture was taken, but this is a decent picture of a standard ice ridge along the Great Lakes in the winter and gives a decent perspective of what's going on.

Here's what they kinda look like from the shore

This winter when the snow has had a longer amount of time to pile up I'll go down and see if I can get some good pictures of these ice ridges or ice dunes.

As a general rule, climbing on them is not advised. Neither is fishing from them. They can be wicked dangerous (wicked...that's a word my three year old son has discovered and now he has me saying it....I admit I feel pretty good when my son tells me " are TOTALLY WICKED!!!")

Don’t climb the ice dunes, warn the rangers and the signs. Yet danger seemed remote as I scanned the serene frosted landscape near the entrance to Presque Isle State Park, a seven-mile spit of land arching into Lake Erie from Pennsylvania’s far northwest corner.

Nevertheless, locals share tales of daredevils who’ve attempted ice dune ascents only to crash through and break an arm or a leg on ice jags, or succumb to hypothermia, or risk drowning in a frosted tomb. Then there was the woman stuck on a dune that broke free and drifted away from the shore.

Glad to say I've learned something new today.

Honesty I've marveled at these formations and have **cough** climbed on them, but never really put much thought into them as a formation relatively unique to the Great Lakes.

1 comment:

DWD said...


You probably know of me, but do not know me.

I am semi-frequent contributor to "As the Public Sees It" in the Chronicle.

A life-long resident of Muskegon, I am a retired Muskegon Heights Teacher and writer.

I enjoy your pieces and read them frequently.

I have a couple of pictures of "Ice Dunes" taken at the curve a couple of years ago.

They are located at:


You are certainly welcome to use them.

Keep up the good work,

Bob (DWD at Eschaton)