Olkhon Ice Diving Safaris. Season 2019
It’s been a long time since we last published our news here. It certainly does not mean we have no news to share, we are just a bit overloaded with work and have no free time for writing. Even if we do have some free time, we sometimes feel like having rest. Yet again we invite to work with us those who wish to have nice dives in the Baikal (in the framework of dive safaris or courses) and plus to that make good money. Our professional requirements are very high, because diving is a BUSINESS. It can be “favourite”, “not really favourite”, “for the sake of getting experience”, “for money reasons”, “combined with getting your kicks of the process”, “just work”. But this is - WORK!!! It goes without saying, that in every field it is pleasant to deal with professionals. We do not favour candidates who give courses or make dives without proper attention to detail. It is not merely unprofessional, it can turn really dangerous for clients. We do not want to work hand in hand with the people who are not serious about what they do, thinking that diving is for amusement and working in diving is not prestigious.
So, back to our muttons - the news.
2019 diver year started for us with two dive exhibitions. The first - Salon de Plongee in Paris. It was interesting to see where the French divers come from. We saw it - a big interesting exhibition. The Paris exhibition resembles that one in Moscow in terms of organisation. Salon de Plongee was like a briefing for us - we met some of our old friends, made some new friends. Our main exhibition this year was Messe Dusseldorf - we had our small information booth as part of our partners’ information booth. Messe Dusseldorf - is a big, no, a huge exhibition with a lot of interesting contacts, interesting experience of a 9-day non-stop exhibition work.
Right after our coming back from Dusseldorf we started our famous programme Ice Diving Safari. During the 2019 Olkhon Ice safaris season we welcomed 5 groups - 5 different and unique weeks. Every week had its own charm and peculiarity.
Week 1 - It must have been the coldest safari in our history. We started safari season in the beginning of February for the first time. We used to make them in the beginning of March, then shifted to the middle of February and now we are starting in the beginning of February. During this safari we experienced as low temperatures as -35 Celsius at night and -23-30 Celsius in the day. This made us recollect our previous trips (when it was -22 Celsuis, wind and no sun) with a feeling that those seemingly harsh weather conditions were a laughable absurdity if compared to what we faced this year. However, despite the objectively reasonably lower temperatures we subjectively did not feel really cold. Most probably, that was thanks to the warm mobile mini-houses, thanks to the sun shine and thanks to everybody’s positive emotions, supported by wonderful underwater landscapes, which can be said every year - the Baikal ice is gorgeous and unique.
Week 2 - We used to prepare for the season in this time of the year, used to go on scouting trips. There usually aren’t any cracks in the ice in this time of the year, so we were worried we would have to spend a lot of time looking for good dive sites (they are always there, it is just that one has to look for them). Luckily, we had no problem. We found our cracks fast. This year was unique in terms of the ice transparency and torosy (ice formations on the ice surface). Middle of February - we found huge cracks, under-the-ice canyons, cracks, grottos. The Baikal is, as usual, unpredictable.
Week 3 - Yet again we are looking back - this time of the year used to be the starting time for our ice safaris. It was cold and everybody opted for March - for the spring sun. This year on February 23 we saw open water in Kobilya Golova, all the icicles melted and the wonderful ice grottos on the surface started losing their ice. -4 Celsius at night 0+3 Celsius in the day. In these conditions the ice remained uniquely transparent. We consider it to be the most transparent ice for the recent 20 years. 2-3 layers or torosy do not keep the divers underwater out of sight for those watching them from the surface - i.e. the ice is transparent through 2 meters of torosy.
Week 4 - Well, this is just fantastic!!! Huge underwater chunks of ice combined with the lasting transparency of ice!!! 4-layer cracks; huge (even for the Baikal scale) grottos and tunnels under the ice!!! To sum it up, we are enjoying the change of landscapes from safari to safari. From transparent ice to fresh cracks, and then to the growing number of ice formations and their multi-layer characteristics. It should be noted that the Baikal is constant in one of its characteristics: every year the ice is unique and beautiful.
Week 5 – Finishing. Not the warmest safari, despite the fact this is the end of season and the dragon is getting ready to fly away. Up to -10 Celsius and a breeze, sometimes even wind. Some dive sites look unusual. Yelenka crack turned into a strip of open water. As a result we made a fabulous voyage under the ice - ice, an underwater tunnel, a channel, a tunnel again, a grotto and the way back. Some area locked from all sides, still it was not dark, it was even somewhat shimmering in the bright sun through the transparent ice.
The safaris were fully booked. We dived with the Poles, French, Chinese, German, American. We are fighting the unfair treatment of our country by telling and showing to the world how beautiful it is!
A popular topic - Ice Diver courses in the Baikal. Who can think of a better place to take an Ice Diver course than in the place with the best Ice Diving in the world! And surely with the best ice diver instructors. So we made a gap in the programme of Jeep Ice Diving Safaris - March 9-17 - to give the courses. Unfortunately, we can not put trust in almost anyone to deliver them, that’s why we make every effort to teach ourselves, because we are for the quality and interesting course programmes. 9 days of ice diving courses in Listvyanka. If you add to these the March 25-31 timeframe, then we get 15 days of ice diver courses non-stop. Some come just for 3-4 days, some get ready for the safaris to follow… Russian, Chinese and French divers booked their visits in these dates to get their Dry Suit and Ice Diver certificates issued by BaikalTek (and recognised in the diver community as very honourable), and, of course, knowledge and skills in the field.
The are closing the season in the middle of April this year, and right now we are diving on!
We planned to finish mounting a new engine and generator on our safari boat Valeriya. The testing was complete, State Ship Register seriously examined all equipment and approved of its operation, so in the third decade of May we started our first safari. This safari was only for BaikalTek members, as no matter how State Ship Register is strict, our BaikalTek testing is still more important.
I always wanted to see an iceberg. I thought an iceberg is as beautiful underwater as it is above the water… So, I went to Antarctica. I made a dive and I was disappointed – there was just some indistinct wall to see.
A few days ago, the Baikal Ice Jeep & Diving Safari finished. April. “Barguzin program». I have seen my ‘dream iceberg’ in Lake Baikal! The picture was a 100% match!!! I have never seen anything like this before, in no safari
Week 1 - It must have been the coldest safari in our history. We started safari season in the beginning of February for the first time. We used to make them in the beginning of March, then shifted to the middle of February and now we are starting in the beginning of February. During this safari we experienced as low temperatures as -35 Celsius at night and -23-30 Celsius in the day. This made us recollect our previous trips (when it was -22 Celsuis, wind and no sun) with a feeling that those seemingly harsh weather conditions were a laughable absurdity if compared to what we faced this year. However, despite the objectively reasonably lower temperatures we subjectively did not feel really cold.More...