January 16/09

Posted on 16. Jan, 2009 by Greg Mossfeldt

We have had our share of snowfall this past December and beginning of January so when the weatherman peered into the future and projected some sunny and warm days it sparked the interest of our group of divers. We planned on heading out on Friday, January 16th which is today and began our process to get the gear together for the adventure. A number of hardcore enthusiats had been contacted to make it out for Friday but seeing it was a normal work day some had to work it while others had Friday off and were keen to enjoy the camaraderie of the ice diving and the warm weather we are now experiencing. John Weisbrich and Greg McCuiag met me a my place on Friday morning for the car pool up to the lake and we planned on meeting Steve Aaen, Jeff Damberger and Dave Elia up at Minnewanka. Permits for the chain saw, and restricted activity were in place so the logistics with the Park Regulations were in place. John, Greg and I made our first stop near the +0012 sign in line with the 1912 Dam and began transporting our gear to the site.

Today was Greg McCuaig’s first day ice diving with us so he cut the ice hole which was his inaugural exposure to our team environment. Now he will be able to leave his Cowboy hat and whistle up at the truck and observe the next newest team member swear their oath LOL. There was discussion on how to do things properly and what works putting the blocks under the ice or pulling them up on the surface. Age old philosophy where one method is the best one day but not the next depending on the resources the team has on hand and weather/water conditions. I have seen this hashed out on forums many times along with should or shouldn’t divers be on tether … blah, blah, blah.

Dave Elia and Jeff Damberger were first into the water today and enjoyed a lengthy dive under the ice, checking out all the structure had to offer. Next in line was Steve Aaen, Greg Mossfeldt, Greg McCuaig and John Weisbrich. The triangle was cut large today in order to accommodate the larger group and allow the divers in the triangle to move unrestricted.

The process utilize by our team involves securing an ice screw on the surface and running cave line down to the structure. The divers are very familiar with the structure of the 1912 Dam and easily navigate the surroundings and then come back up to the surface with line reference. The divers that come out with us are trained in either cave or wreck diving procedures so are quite comfortable about lack of tether attached to their person.

My glove on the right side was leaking today and I tried three times to get it to stop but to no avail. On the last attempt to secure the seal I had began a descent but realized it was not yet secure so motioned to my buddy I was going back up to the exit to try again to fix it up. My buddy waited for me under the water and the idea was to get pictures of the divers so I was anxious to get back down. Greg McCuaig and I carried on with our descent at that time and saw John and Steve around the pumphouse area as our entrance was almost right on top of the pumphouse. The fellows were relaxed and waiting for us to begin the dive. We went down the outside of the pumphouse and then the fellows made their way back up so I could get some shots of them coming through the conduit at the bottom of the structure.

John, Greg McCuaig and Steve stayed down for some more exploration while I made it up the line somewhat quickly and worked with Jeff Damberger on the surface to manipulate the settings on my camera for some underwater ice hole shots. The shots turned out satisfactory as Jeff and I simultaneously took pics of each other trying various positioning effects.

Dave Elia was busy on the surface augering the ice surface so we could place a barrier at the end of the adventure and I tried to get images of the process. We have a number of days we could work on this so the right time will come for the shot. I am thinking of buying the Tokina 10 - 17 mm Fisheye lens so this one may do the trick for the shot.

We all have problems with various gear before dives and no one is immune to a catastrophic equipment failure. Today it was John Weisbrich's turn with his Evo eCCR. First of all to compound the stress of the possibility something malfunctioned in Johns CCR he was going to High Springs Florida the next day for a sizeable cave diving trip. When John turned on his rebreather it told him one of his controllers was a problem but to go ahead and dive anyway. Sooo John wasnt feeling to good about that and was quite anxious to figure out the state of the unit. It turns out the batteries needed some attention and he is off to Florida right now and we wish him the best in his cave training adventure.

I am sure I missed some of the details in this adventure but to summarize: Dave Elia, John Weisbrich, Steve Aaen, Greg McCuaig, Jeff Damburg and myself could certainly agree it was a fine day ice diving.