Ice Diving Tips and Techniques
Diving under ice might not sound like an attractive proposition, but it is a uniquely exciting experience. Visibility is typically excellent beneath ice, with soft light filtering through from the world above. Ice diving can also take you to breathtakingly beautiful parts of the world.
Ice diving can be done in the sea or in frozen lakes. The aquatic life you encounter will depend on where you are in the world and whether you are in a marine or freshwater environment. Visibility is often stunning; the ice provides a protective layer over the water, so it is not churned up by the wind, and low light levels under the ice also help to inhibit algal growth.
Knowing the Ropes
If you are planning to go ice diving, you will need to undergo special training. This will teach you not only the safety aspects of diving while tethered on a rope under ice, but also how to cut the ice hole through which you enter the water, and how to tend safety ropes for other divers while you remain o the surface in a support role.
Ice diving requires a minimum of four to six people per dive. There will normally be two divers operating as a buddy pair, and two people to tend their lines. It is advisable to have at least one extra person on standby. It is standard practice for each diver to be tethered separately, and it is not advisable to tether two divers on one line, because if anything happens to this rope, then both divers can be lost. Lines should always be tied using a bowline knot, which is very secure.
Signals and Safety
Signaling to your tender is an important part of ice diving. Since you are diving in extreme conditions, it is vital that he or she knows you are OK throughout the dive. You will learn about giving rope signals during training.
Apart from the obvious dangers of diving in an enclosed environment, you must also be careful to monitor your core body temperature. Repeat dives should only be undertaken when you are fully warmed up. You should also ensure that you eat high-energy, hot food to replace the calories you will burn during the dive and in keeping warm afterward.
Ice diving requires special equipment. You will need an environmentally sealed regulator set, which is designed to be less susceptible to freezing. You will be taught to submerge this in the water before diving, to acclimatize it to the temperature. You must only breathe from it when submerged, to reduce the risk of free¬flow (an uncontrolled release of air due to a frozen mechanism). It is also recommended that your primary air source and octopus are mounted on separate first stages to ensure that one will work if the other freezes. Your cylinder will need a special pillar valve to accommodate this.