It was in autumn when I signed up for ice diving. I was fascinated by the idea of an extraordinary dive in a location where you don't just go diving every day. So the decision for the special course ice diving was made quickly.
The only idea I have of ice is from the film scene where the Titanic rams the iceberg and Leonardo di Caprio soon sinks into the depths of the ocean (hello hypothermia).
After a long period of anticipation, it's finally "yes we can". The weekend takes place. The adventure starts on Friday afternoon with a 45-minute climb from the car park on the Col des Mosses to the hut at Lac Lioson - ice diving has to be earned...;-). Fortunately, our luggage and all the diving equipment is taken up by the snow track vehicle. Anyone who has ever dived in our local waters knows the equipment battle. And for everyone else: It takes a whole lot of equipment for two nights in a mountain hut and several dives under the ice.
The ascent is exhausting but also very beautiful. At the top we don't see much more than a snow-covered lake and a few poles somewhere marking the ice holes. This is going to be exciting. The "Restaurant du Lac Lioson" normally seats about 100 people on the terrace and 80 inside, but we are a small group and strictly adhere to the Covid 19 regulations.
We end the evening with a delicious meal, great conversations and lots of anticipation.
On Saturday at 9:00 a.m. the time has come. The first group starts. With the warmest underwear, the thickest headgear, two first steps and enough rope, we make our way through the snow. It had snowed about 20 cm overnight. Ice diving wouldn't be ice diving if you didn't have to break through the prepared hole first. And what is the best way to do that? You put 3 TSK employees on the ice plate that was cut out with the chainsaw the day before, then they jump up and down like on a trampoline - et voilà - the ice is broken through and the three of them are up to their chests in the water. In a tight dry suit, of course :-)
To ensure that ice diving meets all safety standards, the diving team carries a line with them, which is secured to the surface by the line leader. In addition, a safety team is on standby.
Everyone is ready and it's the first time into the 3 degree cold water. "OK?" - "OK! Dive!". And wow, what a descent. The approximately 1 metre thick ice cover shows its best side and the different layers and structures are easy to see. After a quick check of the two regulators (they could freeze and blow off under the ice), the exploring, discovering and enjoying really starts. The visibility is crystal clear and as soon as you are under the ice layer, it gets darker and darker. I like the view from a distance back to the hole best, because only then do you really realise that you are actually UNDER the ice. The incidence of light makes the ice sheet seem even more magical and bizarre shapes are created by our air bubbles. It takes a bit of courage to turn upside down and touch the ice with your fins, just as if you were walking upside down on the ice. What a unique feeling.
Back on the actual surface, we take turns as a team. Once as a line leader and once as a safety team helping to pull the divers out of the ice hole. With the heavy equipment, this is not so easy and sometimes more like "pulling a whale ashore"...;-)
We can go into the water as often as we want, or as the cold allows.
In the evening we all enjoy the warmth in the restaurant and the delicious fondue. We are already looking forward to the second day. The night is an hour shorter due to the changeover to daylight saving time, but we are blessed with beautiful weather.
Even though it takes some time before the sun rises behind the mountain peaks at 8:00 a.m., I'm already jumping back into the water. It is colder than on Saturday, the water only 1 degree and after the first dive everything immediately freezes: the mask glass, the rope for the mount and even the wet diving suit. We are all the more pleased when the sun's rays finally reach us and we can dive in the most amazing light. Spectacular pictures are taken and we collect wonderful memories of ice diving in Lac Lioson. Simply magnificent!
After the obligatory group photo and a fun toboggan ride back to Col des Mosses, an unforgettable weekend comes to an end. The registration for next year is as good as sent ;-)
Many thanks to the TSK organisation team.
Photos: Maik / Manuel