Do not back down before any challenge for you Scuba People reader, this time ended the tropical waters, Mauritian or Balinese to 28 °. It will be 2 ° at 1064 m altitude at Lake Montriond let's go for ice diving in Haute-Savoie.
It is on a beautiful sunny day in March, with only 7 ° outside, and yes it remains the mountain, that we find the Aquaventure ice diving center managed by Jean-Marc BEL assisted by his two instructors Stéphanie KOCA and Eric MOCELLIN.
A first look at the lake, stretch of ice and snow at the foot of Chablais massif a few kilometers from Morzine and Avoriaz, from the premises of the center equipped with changing rooms, toilets and showers.
Aquaventure an atypical center
With 22 years of experience Aquaventure is one of the 5 centers in France to offer this winter activity between December and March. Baptism accompanied by a qualified instructor is possible from 16 years old. But who would have believed it… 8 out of 10 baptisms are carried out by diving novices attracted by an "extreme" activity close to paragliding, parachute jumping or even bungee jumping! Enough to spice up a week of skiing between two descents to discover this frosty adventure ...
Aided by the staff, it is in a friendly and friendly atmosphere that we equip ourselves. There is no shorty or combination 3 millimeters, it's heavy and it's not just an image. Protected from the feet to the head with waterproof suit worthy of the name and in perfect condition, through the fitted hood, not to mention the protection of our little fingers with under-gloves fleece and clip-on gloves to prevent any entry of water.
We are totally waterproof!
Our bottle equipped with his vest and regulator (anti-frost that goes without saying) awaits us with the rest of the small equipment in a sledge all red (no it is not that of Santa Claus). Then place at the briefing, ultra-professional, on the conduct of the dive.
Ready for adventure
Ready and like pretty penguins strolling on the ice floe, we tow our sled on a 40-centimeter layer of ice towards the lake where four holes are waiting for us, spaced 6 to 20 meters apart, linked together by a breadcrumb trail. Sitting at the edge of the hole, thanks to the friendly instructors, the equipment is like a letter in the mail: fins, harness, block and mask. Everything is controlled!
Launch and there… not even cold and dry!
Weight test: one or two more weights in the pockets of the BC, some are less dense than others, especially after a Savoyard fondue… unless it is also the air added to the suit!
Mask on the face, regulator in mouth, carabiner end attached to the line of life and connected to the bottle, we start the short descent.
Immersion to less than 2 meters ... no need to go deep if you want to enjoy the show.
Life is present in the lake, but today perch and pike have decided to remain invisible. It does not matter even if it is not the colors of the Red Sea, it is a completely different atmosphere that is offered to us. Our air bubbles bounce, draw curious geometric shapes and sculpt different reliefs under the ice. The play of light alone is well worth the detour.
No apprehension the next hole is already visible and only the sound of our breathing accompanies us in our journey. After 15 minutes the last hole appears, well of light bathed by the sun still present.
Like a sea lion or any other animal without two legs, the exit of the water is done gently on the belly ... Back to the center and not even wet there is nothing to do but put on our ski clothes!
Diver or non-diver to discover this unusual activity and try the experience of underwater diving with a very professional team and particularly a great kindness.
And you who are part of a diving club, it's also a great idea for a weekend outing!
Read our article ice diving at Lake Baikal.
Jean-Marc BEL for the photos under ice
Isabelle ARDOUREL for terrestrial photos
Text By Isabelle ARDOUREL and Nomad's PQ