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Paul Zizka | Facebook

Snapping the Cold: Paul Zizka Freeze Frames The Rockies Wild Rinks

Join an award-winning local photographer as he shares expert tips and jaw-dropping photos of wild ice skating

As winter blankets the province, some of us are bundling up cozy inside, while others throw caution to the cold, cold wind and head out to enjoy the natural wonderland.

Across Alberta, if you’re willing to brave the temperatures, adventures abound.

Frozen lakes and secluded mountain ponds transform into wild ice rinks if you have the know-how to use them!

Paul Zizka is one Banff local who knows how to skate on frozen lakes but selflessly shares the possibilities with the public.

“Skating on a dream. This is what wild skating is all about for us. It’s one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had in my life,” he said.

When he’s not skating, Zizka is an award-winning professional photographer who captures the beauty of these untamed areas in stunning hi-definition.

Zizka’s images often look completely otherworldly, even if they are taken alongside the road!

Wild skating photos by Paul Zizka
A combination of jaw-dropping scenery combined with the athleticism of models and stellar compositions make Paul Zizka’s wild skating photos one-of-a-kind | Paul Zizka | Facebook

Zizka’s images have graced covers and pages of everything from National Geographic, Globe and Mail, Wall Street Journal, Alpinist, Maclean’s, Canadian Geographic, Islands, and Outdoor Photographer.

A prolific adventurer, Paul’s explorations have taken him to all seven continents. Still, the Rockies hold a special place in his heart, and he’s well-versed in navigating them.

“I get asked for tips a lot on where and when to go to catch that “fresh ice.” The simplest of answers is to just go see for yourself.”

He says this sometimes means driving or hiking out to the boonies without knowing if you’ll actually be able to hit the ice once there.

“A lot of the “luck” comes in just going after it and seeing what comes of it. The key is to catch ice that is thick enough but also snow-free.”

Luckily, this year has produced a lot of snow-free ice to explore.

Wild skating photos by Paul Zizka
Although many of the places Paul Zizka makes images are accessible to anyone, some locations are only for trained professionals and Paul and his team come away with ground-breaking images from these rarely seen locales | Paul Zizka | Facebook

Seeking adventure doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind, though. Paul and his teams have some standard procedures to ensure ice is thick enough to skate on.

“[We test] the ice thickness with an ice screw and carry the proper gear when we first venture out – life jackets (we wear these while testing and skating over ice we’re not certain of), throw ropes, extra clothes etc.”

He simply said, “If you’re not sure, don’t venture out.”

But, as long as you’ve done your safety checks, fortune definitely favours the bold when it comes to wild skating.

“Keep safety front-of-mind, but also be willing just to go and see,” said Zizka.

For more safety tips see our previous article on Wild Skating.

Wild Skating - Zizka
Dramatic light, peak action, colourful models all combine to make memorable images | Paul Zizka | Facebook

If you’re interested in learning more from this local adventurer, on December 7, Zizka is hosting a night of storytelling at artsPlace, Canmores Community Arts Center.

The event will take you on a visual journey to remote landscapes around the globe.

“From the icebergs of Antarctica to the crystal waters of Polynesia, the rugged coastlines of Greenland to lesser-known corners of our own mountain national parks.”

The evening will be an excellent opportunity to get together with like-minded, adventure-seeking people. There will be a slideshow presentation, audience questions, door prizes and more!

You can get the full scoop on tickets and everything else you need to know here.

Can’t make it that night but still want more inspiration on braving Alberta winters and seeing all our province has to offer? You can check out Zizka’s Facebook or Instagram for more know-how, tips, and some ridiculously jaw-dropping photos that will motivate you to get off the couch and into the cold!

To see how Paul makes his stunning winter skating images be sure to watch the video below.

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