Sea Kayaking & Touring

Bergy Business

by steve-ruskay
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
   Sea Kayaking & Touring
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Sea Kayaking amongst icebergs is one of the most humbling and awe-inspiring experiences any paddler will ever have. Icebergs are forever being shaped by the winds and waves. It takes some icebergs years to travel with the ocean currents, from the glacier where they were calves, out to sea. Some iceberg remain adrift for 15 years or more before they are completely melted.
Steve Ruskay
by Steve Ruskay

Steve has worked outside full time as a guide, instructor, photographer, avalanche forecaster, and ski patroller since 1999.

The shape, size, and color can tell you a lot about an iceberg. It is possible to relate what part of a glacier the iceberg came from, the approximate age, and likely behavior.

Greenland Icebergs
Greenland Icebergs

Let’s look at a few different iceberg shapes:

Blocky Icebergs
Blocky Icebergs

Blocky Icebergs are the youngest, and most stable. These are often found close to the glacier, in the inner parts of a fjord. Blockies tend to be well balanced, as they have had less exposure to currents, and wave that cause erosion. When the width of a Blocky is greater than 5 times the height, this is referred to as a Tabular Iceberg.

Domed Icebergs
Domed Icebergs

Domed Icebergs are aged Blockies. Over time, the icebergs become top heavy as the ice is melted faster below the waterline. This causes the berg to shift and even roll. By the time the berg appears ‘domed’, it may have shifted or rolled several times. The ‘domed’ side use to be underwater, and is the bottom of the iceberg that has been smoothed during underwater ice erosion. Domed bergs roll frequently.

Pinnacled Icebergs
Pinnacled Icebergs

Pinnacled Icebergs are the most impressive, but most unstable. Cracking, breaking and prolonged erosion create these ice art masterpieces. Pinnacled Icebergs are extremely unstable, and unpredictable. They have the ability to topple under their own weight at any moment, and cause violent rolling and breaking. When photographing these beauties, it is best to keep a distance of at least twice the height of the iceberg.

An Iceberg that is less than 5 meters in height, and 15 meters long is know as a Bergy Bit. An Iceberg that is less than 1 meter high, and 5 meters long is know as a Growler.

Tabular Iceberg
Tabular Iceberg

Icebergs should at the top of the list for any avid sea kayaker. Go with an experienced ice guide, and as always, make sure you have the right gear from Kokatat.

Steve Ruskay has guided in some of the most ice choked, and remote fjords of Greenland, Baffin Island, and the Antarctic. Follow his journeys: @ruskayvision


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