50 shades of Baikal ice
Winter is coming, so it’s the time to plan your trip to the capital of Eastern Siberia – Irkutsk, as this city is a gateway to Baikal. We welcome you to join our winter Lake Baikal tour to see one of the marvels of the world – Baikal ice.
What is it so unusual about Baikal ice that makes thousands of people from all over the world come to see it?
Baikal ice is pure magic.
The lake gets covered with the ice just in January because it takes a long time to overcool that really huge water body of the lake.
The thickness of the ice is incredible – it can reach up to one meter and a half. Through the frozen surface of the lake, you can see the bottom in great detail, while the water at a huge depth acquires a rich bright blue color, and this beauty can be admired endlessly. The sunrays penetrate into the water column that is why life under the ice cover does not freeze – algae and zooplankton develop underneath. They paint the water of the lake green. When you walk on ice, the illusion arises that under your feet is the finest fragile glass. This unusual experience on the verge of extreme attracts travelers from all over the world. One of the occasions to visit the lake is the annual Baikal ice marathon 2021, which will take place on the 28th of February.
However, Lake Baikal ice is so strong that cars can drive on it, and in 1904 even trains used to travel from one shore to another along a specially laid winter railway. Because the icebreakers Baikal and Angara couldn’t break the enormously thick ice of that year.
Winter Baikal is a fantastic sight: bizarre cracks appear on transparent turquoise blue ice, and the entrances to numerous grottoes become safe. In recent years, many tourists began to come to see the lake in winter. Photographers and artists come here at this time, striving to capture spectacular ice landscapes with blue and turquoise hues on the chips of ice blocks. When the sun rises, its rays are reflected in icebergs, shimmering in pink and orange glare, and these colorful views resemble Arctic landscapes.
Walking on the ice you will come across some amazing white bubbles.
These balls are frozen methane bubbles.
About 800 tons of methane is dissolved in Baikal. The greenhouse gas, which is rising from the bottom, has no time to get to the surface and instantly freezes into the ice. If you pierce such a bubble and set it on fire, light and almost non-smoking flame will flare up.
The ice on the lake is very diverse in color and texture. In some places, it is so smooth that you can enjoy the reflected colors of the sky and rocks.
When the weather gets frosty, intricate patterns of cracks appear across the ice surface. They are called permanent gaping crevasses. Sometimes these cracks can reach several meters wide.
On such cold frosty days, you might hear thunder and a roar of artillery over the lake. Stay calm, the permanent crevasses are closing up and opening and the ice is breaking. Inexperienced travelers could feel scared of hearing such sounds, and they will run to the shore in search of a safer place.
Ice-covered Baikal is called the largest ice rink in the world. So don’t miss a chance to go ice-skating on Baikal. It’s going to be the best experience ever.
Baikal starts to get free from ice by the end of April. In the northern part of the lake even in June, you can see floating ice.
They say that in winter the beauty of Lake Baikal reaches perfection.
What would you say?
P.S. How many shades of Baikal did you come across while reading?
Written by a local guide, Marina