January 31, 2010

Alstereisvergnügen 2010 (sort of) and means of Transportation across the ice

The Alster is open to walk on - sort of!

This lone buoy is frozen in the ice
Photo taken with a Canon 5D MK II

While officials decided that it is not safe enough to officially open the ice for an Alstervergnuegen on Friday, tens of thousands were not able to wait any more and started to "flood" the ice. On Thursday it snowed again heavily and the ice is covered 15cm of snow (6 in). While this is not a perfect condition for ice skaters it enabled many to "safely" walk on the ice.

When the Alster is frozen the regular means of transportation across the Alster such as the Alster Ships, Sail- and Rowing boats are obsolete.
Besides walking there are many other ways of getting across the ice and here are a few that I captured:

Many are playing ice hockey on the Alster
Photo taken with a Canon 5D MK II

Ice skates are the most obvious things to bring to a frozen lake. And to play ice hockey with a few friends on the weekend instead of soccer is a nice change. You have to clear your own field with a snow shovel - a perfect warmup and maybe more of an exercise than the game itself.

Kid is being pulled on a sled across the ice
Photo taken with a Canon 5D MK II

Many kids brought their sleds and their parents pulled them across the ice.

Kid is being slung around on a plastic pad.
Photo taken with a Canon 5D MK II

A modern alteration of the classic wooden sled are these plastic pads that are light and a lot of fun if you are being slung around in circles.

Fire fighters sitting on their rescue dinghy.
Photo taken with a Canon 5D MK II

The fire department is present around the lake to help out if someone breaks through the ice (remember, the Alster is not officially opened and close to bridges the ice is very thin). They have a special construction of a rubber boat with skids. This way they can safely approach the spot where the ice broke and the boat will keep them floating if they break in themselves. Fortunately, I did not see them having to rescue someone, yet. And they seemed pretty relaxed.

Small kid rides in a hi-tech stroller across the Alster
Photo taken with an iPhone

Small kids are being pushed over the ice in their strollers.

Man pushes his bicycle across the ice
Photo taken with a Canon 5D MK II

Others pushed their bikes. It was too slippery and too crowded to ride them across.

Man cross-country skiies across the Alster
Photo taken with a Canon 5D MK II

I have seen Cross-Coutry Skiing around the lake before. But skiing across it opens an incredible obstacle-less area. Probably the best you can get in the middle of a metropolitan.

Picnic utensils are pulled in a plastic sled
Photo taken with a Canon 5D MK II

And this is the best way to transport your picnic utensils (Glühwein, Coffee, Tea and Cake).

Man rides on a Segway across the Alster ice
Photo taken with a Canon 5D MK II

And as always, there is someone that takes it over the top: A Segway on the Alster - come on! ;-)

January 22, 2010

Alster Ice 2010 - What a tease!

This week we've had it all: Snow, rain and freezing sunny days.

Drained canal connecting the lake Alster with the Elbe river.
While the water is gone, the ice plates now cover the ground.
Phote taken with iPhone

Rain is a clear indication of temperatures above freezing and we've had two of those days last week.
You can imagine what this does to the much anticipated ice thickness growth of the lake Alster...

Rain on the Alster
Photo taken with iPhone

This weekend the thermometer should not go above -7°C (19°F) so we are back in the "ice growth" stage. But it seems like just when we are close to hitting the magic 20cm to officially open the ice for the "Altervergnügen" (they put stands selling Bratwürste, Waffels and Glühwein - that is hot red whine with spices) the weather decides to push the temperature just a notch above freezing and that sets us back a few centimeters. What a tease!

On my lunch break today I came across one of the oddities caused by this kind of cold weather. A fire truck was in action in front of the Sofitel luxury hotel and a fireman was carefully kocking off icicles from windowsill. There must have been a water pipe ruptured on the top floor of the hotel and the pouring water instantly froze. Falling icicles of this size can cause quite a threat to ones health if you are hit by it.

Fireman knocking off icicles (the white areas) outside of
the SOFITEL Hotel in Hamburg
Photo taken with iPhone

January 14, 2010

Frozen Alster Update and Soccer Season 2010

Many of us are very anxious about the beginning of the second half of the Fussball Bundesliga (Premiere Soccer League) season starting on Friday. Hamburgs Premiere league team "HSV" is ranked 4th after the first half of the season. And Hamburgs team in the second Bundesliga "FC St. Pauli" is currently ranked 2nd.

Photo taken with a Hasselblad 500 c/m medium format
film camera and scanned

I feel equal excitement amongst Hamburgians about the chance to go skating on the ice of the frozen lake Alster. Forecasts at the time of my last post were predicting a possible official approval by this weekend. A little bit warmer than expected temperatures during last weekend crossed those plans though. The thickness of the ice had actually decreased a few cm. We need a constant thickness of 20 cm or 8 inches for the ice to be cleared by officials. Today we are at about 11cm or 4.3 inches.

HSV Stadium - HSH Nordbank Arena
Photo taken with an iPhone

The weather forecast predicts continuous temperatures below freezing for the next 5 days. There is still a good chance for ice skating soon but a 100% chance of the Bundesliga to start this weekend :-)

January 06, 2010

Winter has a pretty tight grip on Hamburg these days. Tonight we are expecting -10°C / 15°F. If it stays this cold we might be ice skating on lake Alster within 10 days.

I remember that we walked on lake Alster almost every year in the late 70's *note to myself - I'm getting old*. The last time we were able to go onto the lake was in 1997, so everyone keep your fingers crossed.

But for now, let's take a photo winter stroll around the lake...

Click on the image to view it larger

Some take the stroll around the lake on cross-countrie skis.
Although, this is not a common sight ;-)

Race rowingboats tightly stowed fot the winter at
Rudergesellschaft Hansa.

Abandoned pontoon

The Alsterdampfer stopped their regular scheduled service.
They will go out on special tours as long as the ice thickness
is below 10cm or approx. 4 inches.