Something that frightens many but in the same time attracts few very brave divers is diving under ice.
Diving under ice is one of the most extreme conditions that a diver can face. In most cases there is only one hole in ice where a diver can enter or exit. An ice saw or a chain saw is used to cut a hole in the ice. That’s why whole ice diving experience is an extraordinary chance to see the ice from a different perspective, and cold water itself is a one more challenge which requires special diving equipment that’s been used in cold water such as dry suits to avoid hypothermia, regulators designed for cold water use, etc. Besides the experience, divers have to be certified in order to use this special equipment.
Because of the water temperature that ranges between 4°C and 0°C in fresh water, and approximately 1.9°C for normal salinity sea water it is mandatory to use dry suits, gloves and hoods. Nevertheless the risks of hypothermia and freezing are significant. It is equally important to be protected also at surface, because the dive sites are usually very cold and windy.
Ice water has a huge effect on a diving regulator. It is necessary to have two first stages that are attached separately on close valves because even non-freezing regulators can go free flowing. That’s why one should keep second stage dry and should not breathe through it until it touches the water.
What is it that attracts adventurists to dive under ice? Not just the fact that it is a winter activity and gives you a chance to dive all year round, nor chance to see spectacular ice formations. Most of all it is a chance to see surreal landscapes with crystal clear visibility and a possibility to meet creatures that live in cold water like whales, leopard seals or penguins! So around the world, from pole to pole, from Lake Baikal to the shores of White Sea… countless number of divers will ignore high cost of equipment, training and accept the challenges that may come and immerse themselves in that fantastic frozen world.
WORD By Ivana Orlovic and PICTURES By Ivana Orlovic, Janez Kranjc, Vladimir Mladenovic