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Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2001
Hi, JMD asked me in a private message about freediving under ice last year. I dove in a wetsuit, JMD, not a drysuit.However, I have freedived in a drysuit.
I was working on the west coast of Canada on a liveaboard dive boat and was a hard core deep scubadiver with all the gadgets and gear that tech divers use. Twin steels, isolator manifold, lift bag, reel, and a compressed neoprene drysuit. I had been interested in freediving since I saw "The Big Blue" a few years before that, but had never tried. I got sick of hauling all that gear around, espacially beacause I had to be on the dive tender to help divers in and out of the water, etc. If I wanted to dive, it had to be after all the divers went in, and my dive had to be over before the divers got back. Up here, we dont lead divers around like they do in warm water places. We're more like a ski-hill service...get you to the site, help you into the water, then help you out.
Anyway, I decided that I would try freediving in my drysuit, since I did not own a wetsuit. I did it, but I had to wear a 30lb belt, was limited to about -40', and came out of my suit covered in whip marks from the squeeze I would get at depth. Oh yeah, I also used scuba fins. I'm surprised that I survived!
This winter I will be ice-freeediving again, with my Picasso suit instead of my old wetsuit, and you're all invited....any takers?
Cheers, Erik
40' is pretty good. I could never make it past 25' in my Viking or 30' in my DUI TLS drysuit. THe suit squeeze was always to great.
I do most of my freediving in Lake Michigan. I haven't quite gotten up to trying it under the ice. Any time I usually get under the ice I normally have students to train. Maybe this winter I'll give it a shot. How do you run the safety lines?
I totally understand about wanting to get rid of all the extra gear. I dive the same- plus a stage bottle or two and a camera. Freediving is so much easier and liberating.


Hi Jon, the first dive I did, I lay on the ice to do my breathe up, then slid like a seal head first to the bottom, which was at 10 metres. I looked around, looked up, and realized that I couldn't see where the hole was. I was directly under it, but could not see it. The ice was so clear, with no snow on top, that the sun shone through bright enough that there was no distinction to the edge of the 6' triangle we had cut. I swam up slowly, because previous experience on scuba told me that the bottom 6cm of ice is invisible until you are about 15cm away. I had bonked my head in the past. I came to the underside of the ice, about a metre away from the hole, then worked me way over to the exit, which I could distinguish at that point.
Scuba divers were out of the water, so there was no line going into the hole to help show it's position. My idea was to secure the line end of a wreck reel to something on the surface (in this case a chair), and throw the spool into the water. It sank to the bottom, and I dived in after it. The vis in lakes is usually at its best in wmter, so I could easily see the line from over 10 metres away from the hole horizontally. I though about carrying the spool and unwinding as I went further, but got a little freaked out by the thought of getting tangled in a reel while under the ice. I dived consevatively, and stayed within easy sight of the line going to the surface. It was a gorgeous day in December, sunny,10C, with good friends and hot coffee. Needless to say, when I changed out of my suit, bare white ass standing on the lake, my heartless wife laughed and pointed in astonishment at what happens to men after being immersed in 1C water! Followed by equally emasculating guffaws from my "friends".
Cheers, Erik:(
Hey Erik,

I can't wait till Ice Diving this winter, so I geuss I'm your first taker!!! I picked up my Omer Tunas today as well as a 3mm wetsuit (I know its not enough but it was on sale), any chance that will be warm enough for the summer? Once we get up there and settled I'll pick up a nice 5 or 7 mm for ice diving this winter.

Although I think I'm going to have to insist our wives turn their backs while were changing to avoid being ridiculed for the "turtle" effect!!!

See you in August.

Safe Diving,

James Dahl,
Soon to be Calgary, Alberta
3mm Suit

Hiu James, your 3mm suit should be ok for the summer, especially if it has an attached hood. The surface temperatures are 16 to 18 Celsius in the lakes right now, which is not too bad! At depth some of them are friggin cold, though. I actually went out in a 3mm suit last week, just to see what the difference would be for deep diving with 5 lbs instead of 9 lbs of weight. Diving was much faster and took much less effort, but I sure missed my Picasso. I had on an Oneill 3mm suit, with a seperate hood. After one dive, the suit filled with water, and I pumped fresh cold water through the suit with every dive. I spent half an hour doing that before I came out and changed into my 5mm suit.
If your suit fits you very snug, and you have more body fat than me (most people do), then you should be fine for the summer.
Incidentally, I'm planning on ice-diving at Minnewanka on the flooded dam site with an Edmonton store that goes out every year. I have never ice-dived there, but I have seen pictures and video where the vis is over 30 metres horizontal. Should be awesome. They usually have a warm tent near the hole, and food and coffee.
My wetsuit doesn't have a hood but I have plenty of seal blubber to keep me warm ;) , I figured if I cooled off too much I would throw my 3mm shorty overtop.

That sounds good for icediving, I'd feel better if there was plenty of people around and hot coffee is always good. Are there any tentative dates yet or is it TBA?
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