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Ice diving in the Czech republic

Discussion in 'Central and Eastern Europe' started by Diver0001, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. Diver0001

    Diver0001 Instructor, Scuba

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    Just got back from my "winter sport" vacation in the Czech republic.

    We went to a place called "Svobodne Hermanice" to do an IANTD ice diving specialty. The group consisted (by the time we got there) of 4 students and the instructor.

    IANTD treats ice diving a bit like being in a cave or wreck so line (and team) technique are essential. We practiced using the "PADI" technique tying in directly to a line tender on the surface and the "IANTD" technique of laying line... Of the two methods, obviously, the method of laying line is much easier in terms of freedom of movement and range but you lose direct communication with surface support. The method of tying in to a line held by a surface tender maintains communication but you sacrifice in simplicity, freedom of movement and range. The line laying thing itself more closely resembles the wreck technique than the cave technique (single line, no branching, no line arrows, wider anchor spacing). We dove mostly just under the ice for taking pictures and we used glacier screws to create our anchor points.

    As with most of these kinds of things, the devil is in the details so I won't explain a lot about the course. If you're interested in ice diving, you'll need to take a specialty. What I can say, however, is that this particular location was very suitable for a course in ice diving. The quarry is about 600-800 metres long, about 200 metres wide and situated in a north/south direction. At the extreme north end is an easy entrance that is also easy to find back again if you happen to get disorientated and/or lose contact with your buddy and the line. There is a dive-centre in the village with accommodation for up to 12 and the area around the village is beautiful.

    All in all we did 5 dives in two days. The first day the weather was nice. Air temps around the freezing point and water temps in the 2C/36F range. The second day, however, we did the dives with air temps in the -17C/2F range with a force 3 or 4 wind by the parking lot (the quarry is in a depression and the wind was less noticeable at the entry point). Needless to say these are pretty extreme conditions for diving and we were fortunate to have our planning and logistics worked out that we got everyone in the water without breaking anything or anyone's gear freezing beyond being usable. It's an interesting experience to see steam coming off of water only a couple of degrees above the freezing point. It even felt warm getting into the water. After a couple of minutes of laying in the water letting all the bolt-snaps defrost we were able to go. One of the divers (the instructor) got a hole in his drysuit (it was a trilam suit and it got frozen and the crimping just ... broke it). Which causes some good laughs when he went to take it off again and his butt was frozen to the inside of the suit .... LOL. I had to orally inflate my wing for most of the weekend because I found out that my inflator can't take this temperature and one of the other students nearly lost his camera when it broke loose during exit. Surprisingly to me, aside from some broken clips and the crimped drysuit we didn't have very many equipment problems at all.

    All in all a very successful weekend and a lot of fun.

    Incidentally, if you happen to be traveling to Svobodne Hermanice from Western Europe, it's best to avoid driving through Poland. The Polish roads look much better on a map than they are in reality and the Polish authorities have a nasty habit of stopping vehicles with foreign license plates for what can only be described as intense curiosity, which causes significant delays and isn't nearly as much fun for you as it is for them..... I think the last 15km before the Czech border took about 90 minutes of showing passports, explaining what we were doing there and why we were planning on going to some place in the middle of no-where for what looked to them like no good reason..... The Czech border guards had also never seen a Canadian crossing at that point and it took them about 45 minutes to confirm that I did indeed *not* need a visa to enter the country after all..... But good. If you drive via Prague the route is a little longer but the roads are much better and the border crossings into Germany are a little more professional.

    R..
     
  2. nunomix

    nunomix Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Francisco, CA
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    Thanks for sharing your experience. Ice diving is actually something I would love to do but only when I have more experience. Still doing my first steps with drysuit diving.

    Finally got my drysuit by the way.
     
  3. Diver0001

    Diver0001 Instructor, Scuba

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    ah. did you get the DUI?
     
  4. nunomix

    nunomix Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Francisco, CA
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    Yes I did indeed. I am actually very happy with it, although I still only did two dives with it for the drysuit course.

    I am actually trying to look for a buddy to be able to dive regularly now.
     
  5. Marek K

    Marek K Loggerhead Turtle

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    Oh, man, Mania's going to get you for that.

    No, on the other hand, probably not. The Poles are the first to admit the same thing. They live here all the time, and are stuck driving these horrible roads.

    Which route did you take through Poland?

    I can't speak one way or the other as to your getting scrutinized. We've got plates on our cars that, um, discourage the police from stopping us spuriously.

    On the other hand, you wouldn't believe how many cars I see here in Warsaw, with invalid U.S. and Canadian plates. Stickers from 1999 or so; plates even switched front-to-back so the sticker isn't visible from the back. Almost all of them seem to be legitimate expats; they drive late-model American-spec cars, in any case. Cars have to be registered here after a month, yet I'm seeing the same cars for years.

    Problem is, Polish plates (unlike say the Germans) don't have a validity sticker on them... which probably explains the police proclivity to pull cars -- not just foreign -- over to check their papers. Car theft is much less of a problem here since Poland started securing its eastern borders, and particularly since EU accession. But still... maybe that's why you were being scrutinized, with (I assume) your screaming-yellow Netherlands plates?

    When they see those silly small North American plates, though, I suspect the police just don't bother... and a lot of expats here take full advantage of that. Grrr...

    --Marek
     
  6. Diver0001

    Diver0001 Instructor, Scuba

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    From Berlin via Wroclaw to Opole and then to the right.

    Could be. What I've heard is that most cars stolen in the Netherlands make their way to eastern Europe before they're pawned off. In any event they weren't unpleasant about it....they just take a *reaaaallly* long time checking things. There's going to be a big market for automation in the Polish government once the EU subsidies start to flow ....

    Well, given the hassles we had, I wouldn't blame them. :)

    R..
     
  7. Marek K

    Marek K Loggerhead Turtle

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    Well, you saw one good stretch of Polish Autobahn, between Wroclaw and Opole, right? They can do it... it's just tough, with the back-biting and corruption that are still around... infrastructure like that requires a long-term, consistent commitment.

    The Czechs can certainly do it... I'm amazed in the highway-construction progress I see there from year to year. But then, they're quite different nations!
    Yeah, and/or they used to keep heading east... but like I said, that problem has really, really gone down in the last few years. Most cars stolen in Poland these days are just chopped locally for parts, because of the improved border security.
    That's actually a good thing. A lot of Westerners here (and Poles) sense that the police are just looking for bribes, but I personally have never seen that.
    Oh, yeah... there hasn't even been a centralized auto registration system... I'm pretty sure that's being fixed now.
     
  8. Diver0001

    Diver0001 Instructor, Scuba

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    I think if it were dry it would have been but we got stuck in an ice-storm. The whole front of the car had an inch of ice on it, including the windshield wipers. We had to keep stopping to whack the ice off so we could go the next 20km and the left lane was 1/2 covered in something I didn't dare try driving on without 4 wheel drive and better tires ..... Basically we we reduced to driving 70km/h and most of the distance we were sandwiched between transport trucks....

    R..
     
  9. mania

    mania Cousin Itt ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Warsaw, Poland
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    First of all - YOU WENT TO HERMANICE WITHOUT FIRST LETTING ME KNOW???????
    Diver0001 - I don't know if I can forgive you this. With whom you did your course????
    How thick is the ice?

    Now - the roads - Marek what can say. He is right. Our roads are disaster and there is no way to pretend it's different. But it's not our fault the ice storm - in these conditions every road is a nightmare (I once remember being caught in snow storm in Austrian highway - it was a disaster).
    As for the authorities stopping foreigners - well it's exactly the same for us in Chech Republic - police is looking for any excuse to give a ticket to Pole.
    Stolen cars - well now they go to Russia, Ukraina and this direction, less and less here because now Poles can buy used cars for almost nothing and bring them home.
    But on the other hand Diver0001 - you have to come for some wreck diving and to visit Poland - despite the horrible roads the country is beautiful and some good diving.

    Mania (*still angry at you*)
    :D
     
  10. Diver0001

    Diver0001 Instructor, Scuba

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    I'm Sorry. I actually had no idea where it was until two days before we left. I did look how far it was to Warsaw but it's 400km, which is about a 10 hour drive in Poland.... :wink: It never occurred to me for a second that you would actually make that drive....

    How about if I beg... :)

    Pim Pols. IANTD. He literally wrote the book.

    I uploaded a picture. The rope is standard 10mm climbing rope.

    I know what you mean. I actually think that Austrian highways *cause* snow storms... LOL

    You can't blame them. They probably think that anyone who drives on Polish roads is crazy.

    I actually got invited to go wreck diving in Poland for 10 days later this year. Apparently there are some war wrecks that have been opened up for limited diving and we have some good connections. I don't konw if I'll go yet. I have to go to Canada this year so my vacation time will probably be too limited.

    Don't worry Mania. We're bound to cross paths at some point.

    R..
     

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