Friday, December 21, 2012

Cracks In The Ice

Me and my buddies scuba year round. At one point I dove every weekend for almost 7 months.  Some years I get 20 to 30 ice dives but dive ice every year even if it's 3. This year is at 1 but the first and the last of the year are always the best. You dive less and play more. Like you see in the Norwegian Hot Tub 

The best part is playing on the thin ice. You can cut holes very easy so you move around a lot. It's common to cut 5 or 6 holes on normal ice but thin, you cut 2 or 3 at a time. I even get cut out at the end of the line to save the swim back.
We tow sleds but with wet ice it's effortless.

The ice is maybe 3 inches. I know I can walk on close to 3/4 of an inch but you need to keep moving and if you retrace your steps you fall through. The reason is simple, the cracks that formed on the way out fill and melt a bit of the ice and open up when weighted a second time. Closer to 2 inches and you have a little more freedom but you're still likely to fall in at some point.

To the right, that's close to 3 inches.

The video below is closer to 1.5 inches.

 Obviously I really need to take a second to say, I have a full dry suit and the 3 guys I'm with all have the same training and experience. I've been diving with them for years and we all trust the others will rescue anyone at a moments notice. We are not following ice diving rules but we never do anything that would cause harm today. You can clearly see divers under the ice and we can cut a hole in 30 seconds or less and pull anyone out. Hell, even without a saw we can jump on the ice and fall through. Lets watch Terry fall through.

Some time after this I cut a huge hole and use it as a swimming hole. It's very popular. You know your around good friends when you can't soak in ice water without all your buddies crowding you out.

We actually get around to diving and clip into an 'ice line' and set the belay and follow them around. Everyone is doing their job and it's all eyes on the safety of the diver but this is not instruction and plenty of untrained divers, including instructors, have died because they didn't get trained, so, again, this is for your entertainment, don't go do this unless you're trained. (the ice line is anchored through the ice, not the wagon)

It looks something like this from the surface. Terry has a free flow, meaning he is losing his breathing gas and signals he wants out. We can see the bubbles when he gets close so we know what's going on.

You may think we should be more excited to get him out of the hole but we've each taken to pulling the other out for lots of reason. Mostly recovering things like anchors so we'll pull the diver out many times in a days worth of diving. I've been pulled out 15 times on a single dive. It takes 60 seconds to pull someone out so it's rarely a panic. We also can feel the 'bite'. If it's real hard, you pull with everything you have!

Last video is a little long but I put all the parts together over the last few days to give you a sense of what an ice dive is like. It's quite playful. I spend about 25 minutes diving but much of the time is trimmed out because I'm searching the bottom and it's all rocks.

That's ice diving the fun way. Now that I'm past the video editing issues I can cut up a fun little trash dive from last weekend and then a brand new wreck from the 1900's. That should be great. I dive it tomorrow.

This was a bit too much video but I think it was required to really show the day. I'm still working on that skill so please excuse the mess at times and on that it's time to chill out.

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