Ice Diving, March 6, 2010

Posted on 06. Mar, 2010 by Greg Mossfeldt in Ice Diving

After ice diving yesterday we made our way to Caribbean Dreams Diving Centre in Calgary to top off our tanks. This is a new dive store lead by Calgary retailer John Harcus.

While we were filling our tanks some of us meandered around the show room of this new facility going through their mental grocery list to see if they could fill the cupboard with any new dive gear from John's facility.

While at the store I asked him if he would like to join us for some ice diving the following day. John was eager to join with the experienced group so was contemplating his tank and gear situation for the following day.

That evening Ken, Greg, Leigh-Ann, James, John and I had a barbecue with Gwen helping out on the side dishes to make the dinner a success. After we had quenched our appetites it was time to swap dive stories and prepare cameras and our gear for the following day under the ice. It was early to bed Saturday night for the early morning looming the next day.

Both Ken and James drove up to Minnewanka the next day from my house and we planned to meet John Harcus there at 9:00 AM. John was waiting for us when we arrived so we began taking our gear down to the dive site at the bottom of the rocks. Descending down the jagged rocks with heavy technical dive gear for this untethered overhead experience is quite concerning. It would be a very helpful gesture if a set of stairs someday found their way to the exact area, I understand this has been proposed.

The fellows began setting up their gear but the focus was soon brought to John Harcus as his equipment configuration assembly was somewhat construed to the make up of the team. Greg McCuaig noticed the anomalies with John's kit and offered suggestions to a safer, cleaner set up. John took Greg's suggestions well and the duo went through the re construction of the configuration.

When working in a higher than normal risk activity it is pertinent to have the proper training, parallel mindsets and gear configuration in order to medicate perceived risk. John is very new to Technical Diving as we perceive the endeavor so the only responsible action was to follow his system routing and suggest changes and also verbally share experience with him as to the situations he may encounter and offer safe solutions. The group was somewhat concerned about introducing him to overhead untethered ice diving at this point but he was very cavalier and wished to press forward as he was confident in his systems and experience.

We explained some of the basics with very cold water diving such as minimizing tasked breathing on the regulator and either not mechanically inflating the Buoyancy control device, lightly adding air or orally inflating this kit. It was then under the ice we went with anticipation of the great dive coming up ahead. We weren't down more than a couple of feet when John H's BCD inflator began to freeflow so James Dixon was quick to step in and lend a helping hand to assist in sorting out John's systems. John H. had a few other problems that his buddy Guntram Weisbrich attended to but we found our way to the 1912 Dam area nonetheless. Ken Thate filmed our diving with his High Definition video camera so we were able to go over the dive in detail at days end. It did prove a great assistance as we could understand visually any short comings in regards to our skill along with the fantastic arena of our dive ambiance.

John Harcus was again having difficulty with his choice of harness size and buoyancy control device so I made the decision it was time to abort his dive and took him back to the ice hole. I went back along our line after John Harcus was to the safety of the surface and met back up with the team. By this time the cold had taken it's toll so we all began our way back to our exit and hopefully another dive proving less problematic.

Gwen had made sandwiches for the guys that stayed at my place so we had our lunch, warmed up and began to get ready for another ice dive.

Brian Nadwidny was out with us from Edmonton with his KISS closed circuit rebreather and had a great time with Greg McCuaig on the first dive. It was good to be back out sharing camaraderie with Brian and I am looking forward to more adventures with Brian on an upcoming Port Hardy trip in April.

James Dixon, Greg McCuaig and I were a team on the second dive with John Weisbrich and his pink cave line he obtained from Mook in Thailand. John was responsible for running the highly decorative line to mark our path in this overhead environment. I must say this pink line was incredibly easy to see and acted as an immense safety with it's visual effect. John had a previous line set in place from the first dive which we followed to the 1912 Dam on the second dive. We had decided in our surface dive plan to go over to a foundation near the 1912 Dam and then to the old water well so extra line would be required. John had his cave reel in hand for this and may be viewed in the images associated with this report.

Our group made it's way over to the foundation successfully and came back to the 1912 Dam to see a couple of enthusiasts diving on tether with the Adventures in Scuba group which was right over top of us in our contingency hole :)

The day was sunny and not to cold so all in all the gang had a great time on the weekend and we are all looking forward to our next outing.


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