Last Updated on May 22, 2023 by Jarda
My last article about ice skating in Stockholm got a lot of attention. I received many messages that my readers are interested to try ice skating on natural ice! I am very happy about it and I understand! It is the best experience you can do in Stockholm in winter! Besides that I got several questions about safety and the experience of falling through ice. Even though I said that falling through ice never happened to any guest of the ice skating company The Green Trails where I work, I would like to share my experience with you. I tried falling through ice during an Ice knowledge course in Sweden. It was such a cool and valuable experience that I decided to devote a whole article to this topic.
Let’s start directly with a video of my own experience when I fell through ice. It might look scary but I am very happy for such an experience. Even though I guide with huge respect for the ice conditions, this experience can be extremely valuable in case of an accident. During the Ice knowledge course I could try it in a controlled environment. There were experienced guides with us and they found the perfect ice conditions for us. We did our practice where ice gets thinner and thinner and we could test how far you can go as a skater. Thanks to this experience, I now know what to do in case of an unplanned fall through ice. It was also a great test of my equipment. Here is the short movie!
What do you think? Would you like to try this too? Cool, right? 🙂 Please, just don’t get too excited and never try this on your own. Even though I enjoyed this experience and it might look like fun, we had multiple lectures before to get ready for this moment. We were instructed properly what to do and there was also a safety boat with a diver in case of emergency.
As you can see in the movie, I still made some mistakes, even though I had multiple lectures beforehand:
- I had a bit small backpack which caused that even my head went under water. This normally doesn’t happen with a bigger backpack.
- I forgot to open the safety line before throwing it to my friends.
Otherwise, it went pretty well 🙂 I managed to get out of the water with the ice picks, I crawled enough to stand out on safe ice and the changing of clothes which you don’t see on the video went well too thanks to my friends.
How does it feel when falling through ice?
I always say that it feels like jumping into a frozen lake after sauna, just without the sauna. It means it’s pretty nice! The problem is that you don’t have the sauna nearby to warm up again. That’s why it is important to be ready for such an experience. Here are my tips:
TIP 1: Avoid risky ice conditions
Let’s start with the most obvious tip. Avoiding falling through ice is the best way to enjoy skating. Go on ice only if you have enough experience about the lake/sea and bring all safety equipment. Bear in mind that the ice thickness can vary on different places of the surface. If you don’t have enough knowledge, go to the ice with someone experienced or book a guide.
TIP 2: Learn about ice and ice conditions
Are you a novice when it comes to ice knowledge and skating? Then, the best way is to get a guide. Check out my article about skating in Stockholm where you can book even me as your guide. Can you skate, do you have your own skating equipment and would you like to go on ice with other skaters like you? Join SSSK club (Swedish language necessary) in Stockholm and join their organized trips. This is the best way how to learn about ice. This is also the place where I learnt most. You can join trips on both sea and lakes, always on the best ice in the Stockholm area. Besides trips, they also organize ice knowledge courses, like the one I did.
TIP 3: Prepare well for the worst
In case you fall through ice, you need great equipment. Be sure to have following with you if you go on risky ice:
- A partner – most important thing. Never go on ice alone. In case of an accident, you want someone to help you.
- Have proper rescue equipment with you when on ice: safety line, ice picks and a backpack with a strap between your legs which serves as a life jacket.
- Spare clothes in a dry bag – always have clothes ready in a dry bag in your backpack to be able to change in case of fall through. I have a hat, gloves, three layers for both upper and lower part of the body as well as:
- Extra tip 1: Seal Skinz socks – special waterproof socks which will help your feet to be dry even in wet shoes after you fall through.
- Extra tip 2: Dishwashing gloves – they will help your hands to keep warm when you wring out your wet clothes.
- Extra tip 3: Don’t forget a towel in your backpack to dry your skin before you put on dry clothes.
- Extra tip 4: Have a spare Gore-Tex jacket or some light rain jacket so your wet backpack doesn’t make your back wet when you start skating again.
TIP 4: Get organized help from your friends
Hopefully, you listened to my advice and you skated in a group. There are four important tasks when someone falls through. Divide the help effectively:
- Person 1: talks with the person in the water, helps with the rescue and helps to take off clothes
- Person 2: unpacks the backpack and dry bag and prepares dry and warm clothes
- Person 3: wrings out the wet clothes and the safety line and puts them back in the backpack
- Person 4: prepares hot drinks and food
- If you have a luxury of Person 5, he/she can make videos and pictures so you can share your experience with me and others on social media 🙂
TIP 5: Warm up after you are in dry clothes
Do you know what is the best way to warm up? Here are some of my tips:
- Drink something warm and ideally sweet. Liquids with sugar warm up body better than without.
- If you have some food, eat to get new energy.
- Move as soon as you can. To warm up, walking is better than skating since you will do better movements to warm up your feet and you won’t be so quick that you are cooled down by the wind.
TIP 6: Try a fall through ice in safe conditions
If you would like to prepare mentally for the fall through ice, try it in an organized environment. There are various courses enabling such an experience or try at least to take an ice bath before going into the sauna.
TIP 7: Avoid swimming and join a guided tour to enjoy skating
If you would like to skate on endless Swedish lakes/sea, I wrote a special article about that experience. I’m guiding trips around Stockholm and it’s so much fun. If you are interested, read more here.