Ice Dipping - could I be THAT stupid twice?

>> Monday, 10 February 2014

Three years ago I wrote the post below.  Tomorrow, I may repeat the experience and throw myself into the same frozen lake (duck poo on the bottom, and all) again.  Just for, you know, fun.  Husband thinks I'm insane.  He may be right - although of course, this time I plan to be better prepared.

This time, I am taking a flask of hot chocolate.

Ha!  Yes, that will definitely do it...

(Oh, and Heather - I will also take the flipflops again.  Top tip, that one.)

Here's my post from 3 years ago...

This is an e-mail I got on Tuesday night, from a friend who organises a cross-country ski group that meets a couple of times a week near our home.

Hi Ladies
Today was the first day of spring and the forecast is for more sunshine tomorrow!
It is also my birthday and I was hoping to go into the "icy pond" by the lake today but have delayed it until tomorrow and so the plan is to warm up with a ski and then I ( and anyone who would dare join me) will dip. I have ordered some limoncello and so will take it along for you all to enjoy.


I read this and laughed. My friend had been threatening to do exactly this for a while now, but I never really thought she would get round to it. Climb into a frozen lake, in the middle of the day, sober? And then ski home? Was she crazy?

But then, completely unbidden, the thought came to me; 'Why not do this with her? No. No! Don't be an idiot, PM.


am in Russia. I am relatively young, fit and healthy. I would never get the chance to do this in the UK; ski through a forest, take an ice-dip, and ski home again.

So I did what any self-respecting woman would do these days; I asked Twitter. The overall response that came back was unsurprising; what the hell would you want to do something like that for? That should have put an end to it of course. But funnily enough, I found that I didn't like that answer very much ('what's wrong with me?'), so I asked around some more. I asked Heather from Lapland, who encouragingly told me to wear flipflops going into the water (how practical, not something I would have considered myself), and I e-mailed a friend who's lived here for while. Her response?

'My husband did the ice dipping and got double pneumonia shortly after... but otherwise apparently it makes you feel great!'

Definitely not a good idea, then.

But you know what?

Yesterday morning I put my swimsuit on under my ski clothes, skied for an hour, stopped by a frozen lake, got undressed, and my friend and I jumped in.

Well, when I say 'jumped', what I actually mean is that she bravely waded into the water and spent a minute in there, whilst I gingerly climbed in, dipped once, and climbed straight out again (putting my flipflops on as I did so - such a good tip, Heather, thankyou!).

Was it cold? Hell yes. So cold that I lost the ability to speak whilst I was in there. The water smelt, a little, but then since the lake is essentially a large pond it was always going to do that. And I have to say taking my swimsuit off and replacing it with dry underwear whilst standing on a snow drift in -8degC and in full view of the anyone who cared to look was not something I had planned on, but the changing shed by the ice hole was locked so there was nothing else for it (skiing home in a wet bathing suit under my snow pants appealed even less than the thought of flashing a boob as I struggled into my bra under my thermal t-shirt, for some reason...).

But, it was a beautiful day. The sun shone so brightly on the white snow that it was like standing inside a light-bulb. I had worked up some heat during the ski there, so my circulation was buzzing, and admittedly the adrenaline of 'what on earth are you doing?' might have helped bring on a bit of a sweat. And standing on the banks of the lake afterwards, wrapped in towel, wearing a swimsuit and flipflops and nothing else whilst I knocked back a shot or two of limoncello in celebration, I didn't feel the chill at all.

Husband, when I spoke to him later, was amazed; he never thought I would do it. The Russians I've spoken to about having done it have been uniformly confused. Why would I do such a thing? They know I'm not an Orthodox Christian (for whom this is religious cleansing experience), and I'm not a health nut, so clearly the only explanation is that I am certifiably insane.

They may be right.

But as Husband said to me, over the last two years my boundaries of what I will and won't do have expanded considerably*, and whatever else I may feel about Mother Russia, I have to give her a lot of the credit for that.

Ultimately though, my motivation for doing this probably idiotic thing was impulsive; 'Fxck it. I can do it, so I shall. Life is for living.' And if there's one thing that doing that dip made me feel, it was ALIVE.

* extreme waxing, going blonde, bungy jumping and throwing myself out of airplanes are still off the menu, by the way...


Iota 10 February 2014 at 18:54  

But you only did it for the blog's sake, so I'm puzzled... Exactly why are you contemplating it again?

Not From Lapland 10 February 2014 at 19:05  

Ha ha ha I think its ace that you are going again. Hot chocolate is definitely a good idea!

Melissa 10 February 2014 at 22:30  

Once - definitely. Twice - I feel that the ice from last time may have frozen your brain- like childbirth. You don't remember how godawful it is until you do it again. Best of luck

Tracy Enright 11 February 2014 at 07:54  

I hate to say it but I think there is a degree of insanity in there, not to mention bravery. Speaking as someone who stands up better in ice skates on carpet than ice and can't get into a cold shower, I admire you.

Perhaps a little brandy in the hot chocolate though? Plum works well, so so I'm told.

Michelloui | The American Resident 11 February 2014 at 09:26  

I know why you're doing it a second time. The first time is the dare, the 'when in Rome', the 'why not?' The second time is to know if you've got the bottle to do it even though you know full well what you'll be getting into, and even though you have no need to tick the first three boxes again. Go for it! I love that you're doing it again :)

DD's Diary 14 February 2014 at 14:19  

Hmmm, good luck with it all! Definitely rather you than me - though I am quite partial to limoncello ;)

MsCaroline 17 February 2014 at 05:05  

I can hardly stand to get out of bed on a cold morning, so the thought of willingly throwing myself into freezing cold water doesn't even bear contemplating. I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself, though: if not during, then probably afterwards. I've tagged you in one of those linky things over at my blog if you feel like joining up. It was actually a nice surprise to have a post more or less already written for me.

Iota 22 February 2014 at 09:25  

Well... Did you do it? Don't keep us hanging.

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