Lunatic Fringe: Surfing Lake Superior In The Dead Of Winter…Seriously
Minnesota is probably the last place you would think of surfing, but a group of diehard surfers is making it happen on Lake Superior in the freezing winter, when the waves are biggest.Minnesota-native John Hayne captured the chilly scene last year and shared some photos here.
Most surfers go out to Lake Superior to surf, two and half hours from Minneapolis
Picking which day to go is the trickiest part. In order for there to be good waves, there needs to be a very specific type of wind blowing, which usually happens around strong weather systems like snowstorms.
The weather can be so unpredictable that surfers will see an ideal wind forecast the night before a trip and then wake up in the morning to find out that the wind changed and everything is calm.
there are usually about ten surfable days each month. On the best days, there can be as many as 30 people in the water.
January to March are the best months to surf, but they are also incredible cold. Haynes says that, when he went, the entire shore was completely frozen over and surfers had to occasionally navigate around ice blocks the size of small cars.
The surfing can be pretty solid. Waves often reach 10-12 feet in height and they do get the occasional 30-footer.
“The majority of the surfers are mid-40s career guys,” Haynes told Business Insider. “It’s guys that are high enough in their job that they can take the morning off, surf until 11, grab some lunch, and be back in time for the 1pm meeting.”
Despite the cold, surfers usually stay in the water for anywhere from 4 to 8 hours.
The water is actually warm (yeah…Right), relatively speaking. The air temperature gets into the single digits, while the water temperature can be as high as mid-30s.
Haynes got in the water to take some photos, but couldn’t stay in more than an hour before he started losing mobility.
“It’s exhausting,” says Haynes, of swimming out to the surf area.
The hardest part is keeping your face warm. Many of the surfers had icicles coming off their hair and beards.
Surf shops have opened up in Minneapolis, offering special surfboards that are designed to take the weight of the extra-heavy wetsuits they wear.
The surf scene is extremely amateur, but its starting to get bigger.