The Lakes around Atlin are a big part of how we get around to different alpine areas. So it is important to be aware of the risks involved when going out on the water or ice.
The summer information pertains particularly to the larger lakes around Atlin like: Atlin Lake, Surprise Lake, Graham Inlet and the Llewellyn Glacier Lake.
These lakes are dangerously cold even in the middle of our long summer days, Atlin Lake might reach 10 C (50 F) on its hottest day. With such frigid waters, to capsize anywhere farther then a 10 min swim away from shore you would be looking at a frigid watery grave.
One of the most over looked dangers is the weather, in particular on Atlin lake. Often (particularly on hot summer days) Atlin Lake will experience Katabatic Winds (a generic term for downslope winds) flowing from the glaciers down and across the lake. These winds can whip up very quickly in the afternoon, so if you are far from shore you could be in serious trouble very fast. It is typical that winds die down later in the afternoon, so it pays to find a sheltered spot and wait it out. Atlin experiences long summer days and paddling in the midnight sun is a great northern experience. It pays to budget extra time for your trip in case you have to wait out some inclement weather.
Hypothermia is not something anyone wants to experience
In Winter there are several things that one must keep in mind.
First of all and most important is to know how well the lake is frozen, each year is different, talk to the locals to get an idea and then go and check it for yourself.
Once it is established that the lake is properly frozen then it is important to know there are certain situations where you could still get wet:
Overflow is a condition where there is water that has found a way onto the ice and is kept liquid by an insulating snow layer above it. If you come upon some turn back and if you are on a snowmobile whatever you do, do Not let off of the throttle.
Pressure Cracks a long fissure where the ice has buckled under the extreme pressure developed by the expansion of the ice. Be extra cautious if you do attempt to cross because there is a chance of having some open water.
Currents such as river mouths and shallow areas where there might be lots of moving water, these are places to be avoided at all times because the ice is always changing and is often very thin.