Columbia Valley Search and Rescue announce designated swimming holes in Lake Windermere

A light-hearted look at the holes on Lake Windermere

By Michael Power

Columbia Valley Search and Rescue

For those of you who are already tired of all these skaters going on and on and on about how good the ice is this year and wish for a more liquid form to their H2O, we have an alternative: “Lake Windermere Ice Hole Plunging”. This shocking new recreation attraction takes place in our all natural ice holes (no ice was harmed in the creation of these holes) with wonderful views of the Rockies and Purcells from each of our four locations (more to come). We have marked these holes at their north side with a small tree. That is towards Invermere for the directionally challenged. (Unfortunately I am one of you, which has made my life with Search and Rescue rather difficult as I keep getting lost and you know that gets rather embarrassing…)

Please refer to the map to view our premier locations; Hole #1 has a lovely ambiance, and is suitable for one person if you are a thrasher or two if you like to share your pain. Hole #2 is actually a group of six or seven small holes, which are suitable for the first time plunger, allowing the submersion of just an arm or leg to get a feel for plunging before you try the complete near death experience. Hole #3 is strictly a single use hole and if you keep your arms extended you should only plunge to your armpits thus enhancing the claustrophobic effects. Hole #4 can accommodate parties of up to six as it is the largest of our venues and reservations are recommended for this location.


As with any new form of recreation “Ice Hole Plunging” comes with its own set of hazards, one worth considering is death. Death can occur in a number of ways such as:

Heart Attack: Warm-hearted people seem to be more susceptible to this, so you may wish to recommend this new pastime to your cold-hearted friends.

Drowning: Interesting fact, drowning only occurs in liquids. This is where the skaters may be on to something, no one has ever drowned on top of the ice. I have this handy mnemonic “On top of ice; Good, Under ice; Bad”.

Hypothermia: This can occur on the ice or under the ice but being wet does seem to speed up one’s susceptibility. Counter to some opinions, hypothermia is not infectious, so be warm and caring towards your hypothermic friends.

This brings us to the serious side effects of “Ice Hole Plunging” which we refer to as MASS (male appendage shrinking syndrome). We kindly request the public to avoid the designated Ice Hole Plunging areas as they may encounter a male with this condition which usually leads to fits of hilarity and as dangerous as that may be, it can lead to the more serious condition of MASST (male appendage shrinking syndrome trauma). A support group is now underway and notices of meetings to be announced.

Required Equipment:

As in all new sports some equipment and planning can make your “Ice Hole Plunging” much less lethal. Strangely it takes very little equipment or ability to start your ice hole plunging experience, generally you just slip right in. The equipment question always seems to arise when you would like to end your ice hole plunging experience. Some suggestions: For the lone plunger some like to carry a pair of ice picks strung on a cord over the neck for easy access while some can use small knives similarly strung. If you happened to leave your ice picks in your other jacket and your knives in the car and the yelling and screaming has attracted no help, taking an article of clothing and throwing it onto the ice (within reach of course) and waiting for it to freeze to the ice and snow may allow you to pull yourself out. For those of you who are more social in their plunging needs, a length of rope will probably suffice and for those with a penchant for sophistication, the addition of an Ice Screw as an anchor will wow the crowd.

We, with Columbia Valley Search and Rescue and other members of the public will continue to mark more of the hazards on the lake, but by no means will get them all, so please be cautious. Although somewhat counterintuitive, many of the hazards are close to shore where rivers and even small creeks enter and leave the lake, and by their flow cause open water and very thin ice all winter (Windermere Creek being one of the most notorious). These will not be marked so please be looking for these if you are close to shore and give them a very wide berth.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you

all a very merry and safe holiday season and if perchance you have a mishap that requires assistance, please do not hesitate to call 911 where your call will be directed to the Emergency/Rescue Department most suited to your requirements.

If you would like to join our team at Columbia Valley Search and Rescue, please visit us at where you will find contact information and if you are lucky, people somewhat more serious than me.

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