Ice Diving Conditions and MethodsIce Diving Conditions
The White Sea freezes from December until April-May. The main ice diving period here is from the second half of February till the first half of April, because any earlier or any later there is no guarantee of solid ice to get to the best dive sites.
- Water Visibility: 15–50m.
- Water Temperature: from -0,5°C on the surface to -2°C at depth
- Air Temperature: +5°C to -30°C
- Thickness of Ice: up to 1.5m
- Water Salinity: 27,5-28%
- Diverse Underwater Terrain: vertical rocky walls or flat bottom areas
- During periods of severe frost, dives can be made from a heated compartment placed over the maina (ice hole)
Ice Diving Schedule and Arrangement
- A mobile diving camp with heated cabins on diving sites
- Diver transport to diving sites by snowmobile
- Diving in pairs through the maina (ice-hole)
- Safety ropes are used according to PADI standards
- Other pair acts as tenders on the surface
- Special diving technique and equipment - Dry Suit, Dry Gloves, two unfreezing regulators
- Comprehensive pre-dive briefing
- Two dives per day are offered
- Average dive time is 30–40 minutes
- Maximum allowed depth is 30 metres
A mobile diving camp is set up on diving sites. Heated wooden cabins on sledges are transported to the diving site in advance to provide shelter for changing and drying of equipment. One cabin typically houses a team of four divers. We also provide a common room module for comfortable lunch and socializing at the diving site, and a separate WC-cabin equipped with a chemical toilet. A heated wooden shelter can be placed just over the ice-hole (maina) for those who prefer to stay in a heated space between dives.
The day schedule begins at 8 a.m. with a substantial breakfast to provide divers with enough energy for the day on ice. A comprehensive briefing is conducted after the breakfast to provide information on diving sites, current weather conditions, water temperature and visibility, etc. After a break, all participating divers take snowmobile transport to the ice camp. Depending on the current location of ice camp, this journey may take from 20 minutes up to one hour.
Dives are made in pairs, with one pair of a four-person team diving while the other pair act as tenders on the surface. The first pair of divers usually enters the water within 30–40 minutes of arrival at the ice camp.
Dives are conducted through the maina (sawed rectangular or triangular entry hole in ice). Construction of the maina is the first task upon arrival at the camp. Dive centre staff usually prepare the maina, but divers taking the PADI Ice Dive Course must be able to construct it themselves.
Diving is performed in Dry Suits using a special diving technique. Safety ropes are used according to PADI standards under the guidance of experienced instructors and dive guides. The divers tie a safety rope around the waist and hold it in their palm after wrapping it around their hand. The tender person holds the rope at the surface while the other end of the rope is fixed to an ice-screw.
Around 2 p.m. lunch is delivered to the ice camp and everybody retreats to the common room module to eat and relax, and to share thoughts and impressions. The second diving session is scheduled for the afternoon and the return to the base is usually around 6 p.m.
The Arctic Circle Dive Centre offers 3 variants of ice diving arrangement:
1. Diving in pairs for certified ice divers, accompanied by a dive centre guide. Certified ice divers are paired up to share a dive, and two pairs make a group of four for mutual co-operation and safety. The first pair is diving under the ice being attached to the safety rope, and the accompanying dive guide is attached to another rope. During this dive, the other pair of divers on the surface acts as tenders for the ones below, keeping the safety ropes of the first pair and the guide in their hands and exchanging special sygnals with them. After the first dive, the pairs replace each other.
2. Ice diving with the dive centre instructor within the PADI "Ice Diver" course, for certified divers who don't have the "Ice Diver" specialization. You need to be at least 18 years old and to have the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification level or equivalent to enroll to the course.
3. Introductory ice dive with a dive centre instructor, for certified divers who don't have the "Ice Diver" specialization and don't plan to take the appropriate course to get the specialization mentioned above, but want to try ice diving. Requirements for participation - to be at least 18 years old and to have the PADI Open Water Diver certification level or equivalent.
Description and Demonstration of Ice Diving Methods Practiced at the Arctic Circle Dive Centre
2. Demonstration of Check-Stop Procedure practiced in Ice Diving.