Darrell unzipped the tent with his gloved hand and entered gruffly and stood above him….”You’re up…” Bob couldn’t believe it was already his turn. Bob rubbed his eyes fearing the moment, the voice and the words that were uttered to him… Bob’s eyes were wide, fearful and looked as though he had seen and heard the most feared person in his life….
It would be his first time and although experienced in other settings this new situation was absolutely confronting as he felt apprehensive, fearful and scared more than he had ever experienced before…He began shaking uncontrollably and his breathing was fast and shallow and his heart rate was racing. He felt as if he would experience a panic attack and botch the whole thing….”Calm down, just calm down”.
He dressed layer upon layer until he was fully kitted. He exited the tent and was confronted by the piercing cold on his face. He waddled out of the tent, looking more like a Michelin man than an experienced scuba diver with hundreds of dives to his name. He sat at one corner of the triangular hole cut through the icy lake to the water below. The ice was over a metre thick on the frozen lake, fed by glaciers. His instructor sat opposite carefully perusing the wide eyes, a tell-tale sign of an anxious diver.
His tanks, belt and regs were thrust onto his body and the final signals were rehearsed. “Don’t breath from the regulator until you are under the ice, otherwise you will exhaust your tank in seconds”. Bob responded with a shaking ok hand signal. He was submerging slowly attached to his instructor via an umbilical rope. He submerged moving awkwardly under the ice, forgetting most of what he had been taught. He calmed as he saw his breaths of air expelled to form mercury like bubbles under the ice. He moved his fingers through the bubbles and they followed his finger in a trail. His instructor gave him an OK signal and Bob smiled….causing the icy water to trickle down his neck under the drysuit neck seal…..
This short story examines a novice ice diver as they attempt to control their fear in submerging under ice in the Canadian Rockies.