when i woke up yesterday morning, my phone was telling me it was -16ºC. i wasn’t sure if i wanted to get up, get kitted up in a wetsuit and jump into a frozen lake. however, the mountains were glowing in the early morning sun, so i didn’t have an excuse like “snowstorm” or “too freaking freezing” readily at hand.
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by the time i got the station of the wasserrettung, it had warmed up considerably:
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more after the break…
we put our equipment together in the warmth of the station’s garage to keep our fingers from freezing at the lake—in hindsight, this made things a lot easier once we got there.
just to show how easily equipment can freeze up in these sort of temperatures, here’s a tank that andi emptied for it’s upcoming annual checkup:
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(yes, those valves are covered in ice).
once we got to the lake, first job was to cut a hole in the 10-15cm ice, shovel some radiating lines (more on them later) and move the ice-shelf out of the hole:
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the ice-shelf cut out is secured with an ice-screw and rope and then pushed under the ice. two reasons: it’s too heavy to lift out and it’s used to close the hole again later.
there were four experienced ice-divers and four of us who’d never been under ice, which made teaming up quite easy. i went diving with hans as the second team. fun and games at the surface, my inflator valve had frozen up (for non-divers: you have an inflatable jacket to regulate your bouyancy underwater, i.e. sink or swim). bobbed around in the water for a few minutes until it decided to work again, and then we were off:
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the water was actually quite warm. the first trickle of water down the neck of my wetsuit was really cold, but it was bearable after that. underwater, it was really light, my lamp was totally useless. 😉 in this picture below you can see the hole about 10m behind us as well as one of the ice-shelf cutout off to the right:
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the radiating lines tom and andi shovelled in the ice are quite handy underwater:
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you can see one heading up to top-left. basically, if you lose the guide-rope, you can look up, find a radiating line and follow it. if you end up in shallow water, you turn around and swim back the other way and you’ll end up at the hole. such a simple principle.
one of the best views was looking up out of the hole to a differently coloured world:
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we surfaced after a 10 minute dive around, and then went back for another 10 minutes. the second dive was definitely more relaxed than the first time, i even managed to get a halfway decent picture of hans:
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when i got out of the water (helped aground like a broaching whale), first order was to get out of the wet kit. the fact that the sun was out was nice, but you don’t stand around half-nekkid for long in these temperatures, sun or not:
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three layers of clothes later and some tea, i was feeling warmer, so i wandered back out to the hole to get some pictures of the last teams to dive:
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all in all, it was an fantastic morning out in the sun. diving under the ice is so different to regular diving, but i’ll definitely be going again. next time, maybe in a dry-suit (yes, i’m slightly jealous of my dry-suited wimpy friends :P)—the turnaround after the dive is so much more comfortable…
if i had to give out recommendations, ice-diving gets a full five stars. if you’ve never done it, and you dive, try it out! 😀
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this time, i’ll try this style of album embedding—one picture that opens the album in a lightbox. which do you prefer? check saturday’s post for the alternative or click on the album title to bring up a dedicated album page.
if you got this far and are wondering what camera(s) i was using:
the ixus is 7 years old this june and still in perfect working order. needs new batteries, but that’s the only problem…