Ice is Nice

Ice Diving

I've got a great local dive for you. The air temperature is in the mid 40's (which isn't bad considering it's mid-February), there's not a cloud in the sky and visibility is 30-40 feet. Oh, did I mention it's under a foot of ice?

This past week I had the pleasure(?) of heading up to Deer Creek Reservoir and making a dive with our annual ice diving class. I've gotta tell ya, it was one of the coolest (insert pun here) dives I've ever done!! Those of you who know me know I'm a big believer in drysuits. Those of you who really know me also know I've been plagued by a leaky drysuit for the last year. Well, at this year's DEMA show we picked by DUI, the makers of the best drysuits out there. We have some here in the shop and were going to get a few for our rental. Wouldn't you know it, the brand new rentals showed up the day before the ice dive. Time for a little field test.

First a little on ice diving technique. We used an ice-auger to drill three holes in a triangle in the ice. Next we used a chainsaw to connect the holes and pushed the ice block under the ice to the side of the hole. Gary Nielson, our intrepid Ice Instructor, then suited up with two students and prepared to dive. The three are connected by a line which runs back up to the surface to a line tender. By tugging on the rope, they can communicate back and forth. Thus the adventure begins. Once the diving is done, the block is pushed back into place and marked so some poor ice fisherman doesn't go for a dip.

Due to personal time constraints, I only had time for one quick dive. I didn't think I'd say it but I wish I could have made another. The vis was great, not that there was much to see under the ice except the ice itself. But that was the coolest part. To be able to look up and watch your bubbles hit the ice and move around, trapped under it. You could see the shadows of our safety divers where they were walking around. We had also used a shovel to make lines in the snow on the surface that pointed you back to the hole in the event you got separated and they stood out against the rest of the snow. It was definitely a really neat experience.

And I have a testimony of DUI drysuits. They worked great. They were comfy and easy to use and the fleece we wore under them really did the job of keeping us warm. Everyone had such a great time that we're thinking of going out again. Notice for idiots - As with any overhead environment, ice diving can be dangerous. Make sure you are properly trained in drysuit and ice diving before trying this on your own

Sand and sun may be fun, but under the ice can be nice.

Let's go diving!
Winter 2001

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