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Ice Diving - Scuba Diving Under the Icy Cover into Frigid Water

Chop a Hole in the Ice and Go Scuba Diving for a Frozen Thrill



Ice Diving in frigid waters

PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors

Diving under the ice with a tether

PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors

Ice Diving. It's not quite as simple as chopping a hole in the ice and jumping in. Hopefully, you are wearing a dry suit (or a thick wet suit) and following a Scuba Divemaster experienced in ice diving.

The thrills are different than scuba diving in warm weather locations. One of the best is "Wearing a dry suit, turning upside down, and inflating the suit so that gravity is up.  I do this, and then place my feet against the ice above me and walk around. After a little while it feels perfectly natural."  says Bill Matthies, Master Scuba Diver Trainer, PADI Instructor #79 and owner of the Minnesota School of Diving.

"Imagine, if you can that there is no snow on the lake and the sun passes through the ice to give off a glow similar to indirect lighting. When the bubbles hit the surface of the ice, they take on shapes. Sometimes they look like schools of manta rays scurrying around, looking for a way out."


Questions To Ask Before Ice Diving With a Dive Company

Is the dive master who is going to take you into the water under the ice a certified PADI Special Instructor, with specific training in ice diving?  Get details about how much experience the instructor has had leading divers under the ice.

Matthies says that divers "Can feel safer knowing that their dive instructors use the following:

  • A portable fish house with a heater inside for students to dress in, and for tenders, the people on top of the water who monitor the health and safety of the diver, to stay warm
  • Either wet or dry suits, as long as a wet suit is at least 7mm and fits well
  • Ice screws to fasten into the ice, which helps hold the rope in case a tender lets it slip
  • A shovel. If there is snow on top of the ice, we shovel paths from the hole beyond the length of the safety line in many directions, so if a diver should ever lose his rope, he can look up and follow one of the paths of light back to the hole


What Training is Needed for Ice Diving

Matthies, says, "If a student is eager or excited about it, then being a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver is enough. If the person is apprehensive or feels claustrophobic, they should partake in enough open water dives to feel confident in their ability to handle diving under ice. Divers  who want to learn more about ice diving can take an Ice Diver specialty course.


Where to Go Ice Diving

They know how to play in the winter in Minnesota. You can go ice diving with Matthies'  Minnesota School of Diving.  Both the Minnesota School of Diving and Aquaventures offer PADI ice diving courses.

You could experience diving an iceberg with Tropic Ice Diving in Greenland.  The company, which puts together small group trips, has Greenland itineraries that include ice diving (you may see seals underwater), dog sledding and snowmobiling.

Would you go ice diving in the Antarctica?   If so, Dive Adventures will take you there.  These trips are for experienced divers (with Open Water Advanced certification), who must be familiar with cold water diving and dry suit diving. Details are on the website.


More Places to Go Diving

If you're a warm weather diver, you know there are spectacular choices all around the globe.  

Here are few suggestions:

You can dive in a crack between two continents in Iceland.

Here are the best islands where you can walk off the shore and dive into coral canyons.

Go nose-to-nose with sharks while scuba diving in an aquarium.


Videos of Ice Diving

Here are some videos to tempt you into trying an ice dive.

Ice Diving in the Antarctica

Ice Diving in Square Lake, Minnesota

Wreck diving under ice

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