Braving the icy waters of the Ririe Reservoir for the fun of it

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Under the ice | Courtesy Benjamin Hadfield

IDAHO FALLS — It’s time to add ice diving to Idaho’s list of winter sports.

Divemaster Benjamin Hadfield said he tries to dive, at least, three times a month, but Saturday was his first time diving under the ice.

“Ice diving is the second most dangerous type of diving you can do, with cave diving being the most,” Hadfield told EastIdahoNews.com.

Hadfield joined Idaho Dive Pirates’ Brent Olsen and Bret Stewart at Ririe Reservoir to take turns going under the ice. It was an experience that required specialized equipment and a good deal of training.

“We all had to wear what’s called a dry suit. In a dry suit, everything is sealed except for hands and everything above your neck,” Hadfield said.

Preparing the ice. | Courtesy Benjamin Hadfield

Wetsuits keep a layer of water between the suit and the diver’s skin. That water warms with the diver’s body temperature, keeping the diver warm. Once water gets too cold, wetsuits stop being effective.

Dry suits, on the other hand, keep water out, protecting the diver from the cold.

Hadfield explained they also used specialized regulators, devices that allow divers to breathe from their air tanks. Standard regulators can freeze when used in frigid temperatures.

Getting ready to take the plunge. | Courtesy Benjamin Hadfield

“I’ve got regulator setups that are designed for warm water only. If you put those in cold water they immediately freeze, and that’s not good because you’re not able to breathe anymore,” Hadfield said.

Once the group got all their gear ready and cut a hole in the ice, they each took turns diving under the frigid surface.

They each had a safety line and a safety diver ready to go in case of an emergency.

“It’s just a very different dive. The cool part was that none of us were cold. Even getting out and standing being the safety diver,” Hadfield said.

He explained that they stayed close to the ice while diving. In other dives, people like to see what they can find, like fish, coral and underwater wrecks.

However, with ice diving, the most interesting sights are just under the ice. Watch the video above to see what Hadfield and the others saw.

The frozen resevoir | Courtesy Benjamin Hadfield
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