|Note: I did this ice dive in 2003, and submitted this report to the Extreme Ironing Bureau. It featured in the Extreme Ironing record book.
This event combines the best of art, technology,
and extreme sport. I am spending this winter in Wisconsin, and so I travelled
north to a flooded quarry in a remote part of the state. The nearest
"town" is called Amberg. It lies at one end of the peninsular that
separates Lake Superior from Lake Michigan. There isn't much there until you
reach the Canadian border at Sault Sainte Marie.
my project has been to saw a hole in the ice, scuba dive under it with the
appropriate gear, harness, and surface support team, and iron my shirt on the
ice sheet above me. The iron was a Black & Decker Quick 'n' Easy 410, and
the board was a wooden frame around which the shirt was buttoned. Thus, when
placed against the ice above me, I effectively combined the ice sheet with
the frame into an ironing board. As you can see, this study makes the
artistic statement that the technology of ironing should meld with Nature
arriving at the quarry we cleared the ice of snow and commenced sawing a
triangular hole. An old-style lumber saw (here shown point first in the snow
behind the hole) was used for the first edge but we found it was much more
effective to use a chain saw, which we used to complete the other two sides.
We also shovelled some radial lines from the hole. This meant that if the
divers - myself and the photographer - became separated from our tether
ropes, we could see the bright lines above us and follow them back to our
Equipment included a vulcanised rubber drysuit
and gloves, thermal undergarment, buoyancy compensator with tank and
"pony" (emergency bail-out) bottle, harness and line, mask and
fins, shears for cutting away any entanglements, compass, hoses and gauges,
and 22 pounds of lead shot. Obviously there was no need for a snorkel.
Once in the hole I placed the frame, with the shirt around it, against the lower surface of the ice and commenced ironing. The fish above us are trout - there were about a dozen of them that were attracted by the activity. Our tether ropes are shown at right, leading back to the hole, and at lower right you can see the slab of ice that we cut out and nudged under the sheet. You can see it floating against the underside of the surface. I was careful to replace the slab afterwards, since deer are in the area and we didn't want them falling in. The ice is about 14 inches thick.
These pictures give a better view of the iron
itself. You can just make out the wooden frame inside the shirt. Visibility
underwater was crystal clear - you could see about a hundred feet.
|Brrr! This is the shirt after ironing. Due to the
rapid formation of ice crystals, the shirt freezes in a few seconds. If you
are quick enough you can stretch it into shape properly. I wasn't!|
Credits: Thanks to Kevin Beck for taking the underwater photographs; Green Bay
Scuba for organising the logistics and surface support at Amberg; The
Underwater Connection of Milwaukee for the practice ice dives at Lannon Quarry;
and the Urge to Submerge dive club and Diver's Delight of West Bend for the
test run at Wallace Lake
Get me out of here