Strange weather indeed, this dry Winter. Though temperatures have been more or less normal thru December, the emblematic laguna of the Sierra de Guadarrama, la Laguna Grande de Peñalara, typically frozen over from early December to late March or even into April in cold years, remains completely devoid of ice this January. Nevertheless, barely 100m higher up, the similarly sized Laguna de Claveles has a covering of ice 20cm thick.
You wouldn’t think there could be so much difference in 100 vertical meters, but apparently there is..the Laguna Grande at 2020m has no ice, while the Laguna de Claveles at 2119m is completely frozen.* What’s also curious is how the level of the water in the lake has dropped since it froze over, probably in late November or early December. The near total drought of the last month combined with freezing conditions has meant that the lake receives less water than it loses, so the thick layer of ice is almost a foot lower now than when it originally formed..as evidenced by the obvious collapse all around the lake’s perimeter.
Of course we had to do a little testing out on the ice..or was it Inuit style fishing? Making a hole was not easy, chipping away at the thick ice with an ice-axe took its time, and we were able to open it up a bit with the snow-saw..but the fruit of our efforts over 45 minutes was barely 10cm in diameter.
Well, we had some fun anyway..and the fact that no fish live in this small mountain lake which often dries up in Summer made the size of our hole somewhat academic.
*Also frozen is the third significant Peñalara lake, Laguna de los Pájaros, higher still at 2170m.