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Saturday, February 22, 2014
ICE DIVING TRAINING AND TECHNIQUES – STRAIGHT FROM A PRO
Diving Training and Techniques – Straight from a Pro
on: February 18, 2014
As I write this
article, I am comfortably sitting in my office in sunny South Florida. The
weather is quite fair, around 75 degrees with a light wind, a few harmless
clouds but mostly sunny. The water temperature recently has been in the mid to
high 70F degree range; I consider a 5mm wetsuit to be adequate for my ventures.
Diving other parts of the nation in mid February will have far different and
most certainly more extreme conditions though, involving the much more
technical aspects of scuba diving.
blankets of snow, frozen water, and wind chill factors require a different type
of dive plan. When I think of this type of training and diving (ice, rescue and
technical training) the first name that comes to mind is Hank Woronka and all
the guys over at Lake County Diver Supply out of Hobart, Indiana. Hank has been
diving for over 50 years and ice diving in particular for over 34 years. When I
had questions concerning diving these extreme environments, Hank would be the
gentleman to answer them. I had the pleasure of speaking with him recently and
inquire about some of the equipment requirements, planning, and execution for
such intense diving and rescue training.
Of course, a great
deal of training and education is required before attempting any sort of cold
water dive and especially ice penetration, thermal conditions and over-head
environments could pose a great threat to those inexperienced. This article
will simply touch on some of the basics and techniques shared with me. Special
considerations for equipment are a crucial topic when dealing with extreme
climates. Exposure suits, full face masks, and thermal gear are all of course
vital instruments to take into consideration. Every piece of equipment must be
designed with special regard when the surrounding environment is at literally
freezing temperatures. In particular, first stages, regulators, primaries,
secondaries, inflation hoses, gauges etc. must be able to withstand freezing
temperatures to prevent malfunction.
Training for buoyancy
control, harness, weights and ropes, communication techniques and equipment
malfunction or freezing is also advised when diving and especially in the
mentioned environments. Ice conditions are also a critical variable: ice forms,
depth of ice, and site preparation all account for performing a successful
operation. When cutting (with the use of an ice saw or chain saw) into the ice
when deemed acceptable conditions, a 6x6ft triangle is cut to allow easier
entry and extraction from the ice hole. The closer angles of a triangle shape
allow the diver greater capability hoisting him or herself (with help from the tender)
out of the ice hole and onto the solid ice surface. Every aspect of diving must
be scrutinized and carefully adjusted for these sub-zero conditions, there is
truly little to no room for error. The effort and training for ice diving is
Hank recounted from
over the years countless victims, cars, and evidence retrievals from frozen
lakes and ponds. The importance of proper ice training is significant for
everyone and everything involved. It has become a crucial aspect of scuba
diving worldwide, whether it is for recreation or for rescue/recovery attempts.
He mentioned in our conversation that ice diving and rescue/recovery is a huge
process, one that consists of a well prepared and well trained team. Each
member performing a task for the overall safety of everyone involved. Working
as a team in this type of environment is essential for the overall success of
the dives. Ice diving is a true test against the elements; success is
accomplished by those who are willing to put the time and effort into learning
such a technical aspect of the field.