Michelle DeRoche, Contributing Writer
With the wintry winds and ice that recently stormed into Dallas, inclement weather seems to be on every person’s mind. Although at first it may seem to be treacherous and, quite frankly, a bit annoying, ice is actually a commodity when it comes to winter recreation. For some extreme sports gurus, ice means it is time to bring out the ice saws, drysuits and under-ice harnesses. That’s right; it’s ice diving time!
Similar to scuba diving, ice diving requires specialized training and certification. It is more dangerous than your typical scuba adventure, however, because there is usually only one entry and exit point in the ice. Divers must learn to recognize safe ice conditions and, more importantly, to cut a proper hole in the ice. Most ice divers prefer to go out only when the ice is at least two feet thick.
For safety’s sake, ice diving is a team sport. All ice divers are attached to a “safety diver” who stays on the surface of the ice. The divers must learn to communicate with the other members of the diving team by tugging on their ropes. There are many different types of tugs to communicate different messages, so the team member on the surface must be especially observant.
Divers say that the water is clearer during ice dives than in a typical scuba dive and that the underwater creatures are not the same, either. It’s a completely different world than usual with a “ceiling” of ice above one’s head. Diving itself is a thrill, but real adrenaline junkies sign up for an ice dive in order to be able to swim under miles of ice.
Some of the most popular places in the world to ice dive are Alaska and Antarctica. There are even ice diving cruises. So what are you waiting for? Christmas break is just around the corner. Take the plunge, and try ice diving this year!