Deux plongeurs sous glace à Tignes entrent dans l'eau

French Ice Diving: A Chilled Underwater Adventure

I embarked on a French ice diving adventure, plunging into the frigid waters of Tignes in the High Alps to explore its hidden underwater wonders.

During the winter when waters are frozen, why not trying the adventure of an ice-dive?

Ice diving is an obviously wonderful experience to have once in his life as a diver.

But what are you going to see during ice diving?

The main interest of French ice diving is. The ice precisely 😉 The magnificent play of light that you will be able to see and the air bubbles that dig furrows in the ice are undoubtedly what will amaze you the most.

Beware, an ice diving can not be improvised! You do not have to experiment without digging a hole in a frozen lake. Practice your first ice diving with experienced professionals.

When I experienced ice diving

At the beginning of March, a few years ago. I organized a surprise weekend for Didier my partner in life and diving buddy. I took him in Tignes for a weekend. (from my  small Belgium, it’s far off the road but it will surely be great !). For the occasion, it is the ice diving school of Tignes in France that will welcome us.

We arrived Friday night and found the meeting point the next afternoon. A tiny cottage on the edge of a flat and snowy lake. But yes, it is the lake of Tignes, unrecognizable when under snow.

All around us, skiers evolve in the very nice snow and the chairlifts are always full. We take knowledge of the peculiarities and rules to respect for ice diving and start to equip ourselves.

Of course, the cold water and dry suits that we rent are business as usual (we are Belgian divers 😉).

The French ice diving adventure can now begin.

Here no unnecessary effort

The team helps us to put on our suit. I admit that it makes me smile because I know from experience that I am not sensitive to the altitude but they insist on the fact that we are at more than 2000 meters above sea level.

And we must avoid being out of breath before diving. I obey even if, as expected, I do not feel the effect of altitude. Didier will tell me later that he could feel this effect.

Once equipped, we go to the middle of the lake. The snow begins to fall, the mountain disappears slowly to our eyes under a curtain of snow.

The material is transported via a snow scooter

We sit on the edge of one of the holes dug in the ice and note that here too no effort is tolerated before diving. The team puts our fins on us and attaches our full face mask. A bit strange I must admit

After a few brief reminders, we go to the water with our instructor for an ice diving just the three of us. We go very quickly under this thick layer of ice and, I confess, I feel somewhat anxious.

In addition, I feel that I do not know how to breathe well with this full face mask.

And I think that, never mind, I’ll go out and let the other two enjoy their French ice diving.
Finally I watch my partner and decide to continue the dive and focus on this funny regulator.

I understand quite quickly that with the full face mask it is not easy to breath in if the head is extended upward.

But it’s upwards that the show goes on.

I adjust my breathing accordingly

And then enjoy the ice diving. Games of light in the ice (despite the snow that falls over the lake), air bubbles that sneak on furrows, my buddy that starts to walk upside down on the ice, … we are moving with pleasure in this very unusual environment.

When we surface some 40 minutes later, the snow falls again and makes this moment particularly magical, unreal and out of time, … in a word EXTRAORDINARY

The experience is interesting and I would do it again with great pleasure. I liked less the idea of ​​not being able to come out immediately in case of problem, however, during the debriefing, the instructor asks me the question of whether I dive sometimes to – 40 m.

Of course it happens to me more than sometimes and then I realize that reaching the surface from  – 40 m is obviously much longer (since we must respect a certain speed or deco stop, …) than kicking fast to one of the holes in the ice in case of trouble.

And going to – 40 meters for me is common unlike diving under ice.

So finally, with the explanation of the instructor, these French ice diving seems to me actually secure 😉
In the meantime, it seems useful and pleasant to finish the day with a grog on the terrace of a pub before returning to my small country 🙂

What are the points of attention to be taken into account?

  • Cover yourself before, during and after the dive (the cold is the enemy of the diver)
  • Do not make any effort (if altitude lake) to avoid shortness of breath
  • Choose a diveshop that respects the rules of safety: several holes to exit, divers attached to a lifeline, adapted material, experienced instructors, …
  • Ask all your questions during the briefing (it does not matter to look like a novice)
  • Keep in mind that the interest of diving is in the first few meters => no need to go deep and therefore no worries to get out quickly (no stops, …)
  • Stay attached to the lifeline under all circumstances because the real danger of ice diving is to get lost!

Afterwards, enjoy and take a lot of pictures in your eyes.

Why not finishing with a good “fondue Savoyarde” after ice diving for a good moment of friendliness and sharing experience?

Have you already tried the experiment or thought about a French ice diving? Tell me this in a comment below (yes, yes, below this post⬇️⬇️⬇️ , lower 😉 ), your opinion will not be lost on social networks and I will be happy to exchange live with vous👌🏻

And most importantly, … do not forget to be happy 😀