Surviving Bitter Cold on a Frozen Canyon Adventure

Three brave (crazy?) souls climb down frozen waterfalls and swim through icy pools in Switzerland.
By Corinna Halloran

When you've discovered much about your abilities after pushing yourself through amazing challenges in nature, it's inevitable that you'll really start testing your limits. Deep in the heart of Switzerland, three adventure "soul buddies" with a larger-than-life passion for winter did just that, hatching an idea that most of us would turn down in an instant.

Scaling down frozen waterfalls and plunging into ice-filled pools, Laso Schaller, Ines Riepl and their cameraman Matteo Attanasio traversed through Switzerland’s Gletscherschlucht Rosenlaui canyon to bring you some of this winter’s most epic footage, which you can see above.

“At first [when jumping into the water] it was a brain-freeze and then it’s just like swimming in an outside pool,” Schaller explained.

Sure, just like a pool — except there’s ice, snow, a bitter wind and things can get critical if you’re out for too long.

Watch this short video explaining the adventure by the numbers:

The team's gear froze often but the adventurers did not. They wore normal 4/3 surfing wetsuits that stretch, with a layer of Gortex to be protected from the wind. Sometimes they covered their faces with protective cream, however even the cream froze.

Frozen gear presented a whole new level of challenges and forced them to improvise when possible. The secret to keeping the gear in working order was to wait in the water to thaw it out, however counterintuitive that might be. Most of the time, the equipment froze while Schaller and Riepel waited for the camera to be set up.

“You have got to keep moving," added Schaller. "When we were moving it was easy to keep warm, but if you’re waiting for more than five to ten minutes you start losing energy and getting cold.”

Aside from video, team member Matteo Attenasio captured a few epic stills:

Surprises lurked around every corner for the gang. Riepl explained how mental the climbing was, because you could not get nervous.

“You always need to be looking around and listening," she said. "You’re constantly watching out for each other. You can hear crashes in the distance and cannot calculate ice in a canyon.”

However, Riepl (who has been described as "being the mountain") added, “I was surprised how you can click out of your head, even when you cannot feel your head, hands, and feet, but you can still enjoy it.”

This is a team that constantly pushes themselves to the next level — watch Schaller plunge nearly 200 feet off a cliff — and this is certainly not their last test.

Once you've thawed out from this adventure, see what it's like to freedive or BASE jump and then get wedged between rocks far below the Earth's surface.

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