After spending two years scuba diving in the warm waters of Thailand, I was very intrigued to see if I would hold up under the ice in conditions that were very new to me.
The snow had managed to hold off for the morning and the sun was trying to make an appearance as I made my way down to Le Lac in all my thermals and warm socks. When I arrived by the edge of the lake, we were met by someone who would give us our safety talk and tell us all the do’s and don’ts about ice diving. Once clued up, we started getting in to our gear, the hardest task of the entire day. Leaving all our thermals and socks on, we wriggled and stretched the dry suits on until we were covered from head to toe and could barely move. We then attached gloves to the end of the dry suit and we were good to go.
By the edge of the lake they have cut out a big hole where you enter and descend under the ice. Sitting by the edge of the hole they place a BCD with a tank on your back, put the mask and regulator on your face and fins on your feet, making sure that there are no gaps for water to sneak in. They then lower you in to the water making sure that everything is where it’s supposed to be and you’re ready to go! I was amazed by how warm I felt. I was expecting the shock of the water to take my breath away but once in it wasn’t even something that crossed my mind. The instructor is already in the water and is adjusting everything so you can move around easily once you descend. As you only go down one at a time it is just you and the instructor, making you feel very safe and in good hands.
Being under the water and breathing from a tank is second nature to me and I don’t even think about it anymore however the whole experience was so different to what I was used to that it made it all the more exciting and new.
Under the ice you see a whole new world of air pockets and incredible walls of ice. You feel like you have entered Narnia or a scene from Frozen. The peacefulness of diving and being the only people there really relaxes and calms you. My favourite part is watching your air bubbles hitting the roof of ice at the top and slowly working their way towards the opening in order to escape in to the outside world.
With the water being so cold you can only stay down for around 20 minutes before you start to loose feeling in your fingers and toes. My whole time under the ice, my dive leader did not leave my side once, he had hold of me the entire time and was constantly making sure all my gear was in the right place as he guided me through the water.
Evolution 2 made my first ice diving experience truly unforgettable. From the ease and helpfulness of booking it to the experience itself, I enjoyed every second and constantly felt that I was in good hands.
Even though I am an avid diver and enjoy being under the water more than on land I would recommend this activity to anyone. It is definitely something to experience if you come to Tignes and it will leave you wanting to do more. I have already booked on to do a second ice dive! So if you maybe want a day off from skiing and feel like adventuring out of your comfort zone to experience a whole different world then this may just be the thing for you.
What to wear: Ski thermals and warm socks however nothing with a hood as it will obstruct the dry suit.
Timings: You can book on the diving at any point through the day however it is very popular and so I would recommend booking at least 2 – 3 days in advance. The whole experience takes around 1.5hours however this can vary depending on how many people are in your group.
Where to go: Evolution 2 have 2 main offices, one in Le Lac and one in Val Claret. You can book your dive at either place. The diving takes place in Le Lac right next door to the ice rink at the side of the lake.
Cost: €95 for a day dive and €130 for a night dive.
Tignes lake is covered for 6 months of the year by ice and under the surface you can explore the surreal and beautiful environment, accompanied by a professional diver. Ice diving is accessible to all, for complete beginners who have never dived, as well as those with previous experience.
To be able to dive participants need to be at least 1m45. You will be equipped with a full dry suit. Come wearing base-layer/thermals (nothing with a hood) and ski socks to help keep you warm.
- Ice Diving