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How to escape from a frozen lake

Step one: Stay cool

How to escape from a frozen lake
14 February 2011

Even the most deftly footed among us can’t be sure of crossing a frozen lake without taking an icy plunge into the inhospitable waters below. So, if it happens, who better than explorer extraordinaire Bear Grylls, whose iPhone app The Bear Essentials is available now, to show us the way out?

“Turn around to face the direction you came from as soon as possible. The way you came in is the only place you know there’s ice that will support you. And control your breathing; a lot of people who die in frozen lakes die of ‘gasp reflex’. Take off your rucksack, skis or any items that will weigh you down — if you’re crossing a frozen

lake your rucksack should be over one shoulder and with all straps undone, so you’re fully prepared for a fall. Wriggle your items off but keep your head up.”

“Position yourself next to the piece of ice that you think is most stable and, more importantly, reachable. Thump the top of the ground with the bottom of your hands so you dent the ice, then dig your hands in as far as they’ll go. Use your body weight to really force them in.”

“Keeping a low centre of gravity, pull yourself up. You don’t want to climb out and stand up, though. Stay on your belly and wriggle like a seal until all of your body is on the ice.”

“At this point you can monkey crawl — wriggle on your front using your arms and legs to keep spreading your centre of gravity — until you are completely sure the ice underneath you is solid.”