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Winter Cold Plunge Cabin Retreat is Warmly Received by All Participants

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A hole in the ice for cold plunge is called avanto in Finnish

Finlanders cold plunge by jumping through holes cut through the ice with no more emotion than Americans collecting their lunch at the McDonalds drive through window. Some even swim around leisurely in the ice cold water. But 91% of Americans think jumping into a freezing lake is absolute insanity. Thanks to this weekend’s antics, we are happy to be amongst the 9% who think it is wonderful.

We drove North from Minneapolis 3.5 hours, skied over from the mainland and pulled up to the cabin with a smile on what turned out to be a perfectly cloudless, windless afternoon.

Lake Vermilion Cabin on a Winter afternoon

The January 2016 winter cabin cold plunge research retreat

I was joined by esteemed colleagues 612’er Kurt Hanson, a 50 yr. veteran of cold climate sauna, and Edina, Minnesota soft boy Steve who made up for hauling around his big red towel with good drink making and a kick ass version of Boneless Buffalo Wings on the grill. Here we see Steve gathering water for dishes, prep work necessary for winter cabin action.

5 gallon buckets are great for getting lake water for dishes and for sauna

Making the cold plunge.

We unpacked. We split up to get the cabin fire and sauna stove going. Then, we shoveled paths from cabin to sauna to dock and then to the cold plunge 40 feet straight out from shore. We shoveled off an area. Set a hole with the ice auger. Next, we used this ice cutting saw:

Our tools for making the cold plunge were basic: an ice auger and the hand ice saw. No chainsaw for us. No matter how much you think you have drained out the bar and chain oil, there’s still a good chance you’ll have an unwanted oil slick in the water and then on your body, a terrible non redeeming condition for what should be a wholesomely fresh cleansing sauna experience.

The making of our cold plunge took 20 minutes or so. It was fun and easy.

Three hand tools for making an avanto (hole in the ice): 1. ice auger, and 2. ice saw. 3. shovel.
a hole in the ice with ladder ready for ice plunge action
A wooden ladder is best deployed for the coming and going into the water (aluminum will ice up faster but we made it work).

 Once the hole was cut and ladder set in place, we were ready for action.

Three sauna rounds continues to be the charm

Day two was dig out the dock day, a 5 hour work project. I tried my best to tell the guys that this is part of the cold plunge research, and in effect it turned out to be. We learned the value of the sauna heat up and the ice plunge as extremely effective therapy for getting rid of major aches and pains. And three sauna rounds is the charm.

enjoying an ice cold lake plunge between sauna rounds
A Wim Hof approved cold plunge (full immersion).

That changes Everything

We were wiped out from ruthless necessary dock work. At least one of us wasn’t sure they were going to make it to sauna. But we all did. Round one was met with aches and groans. Then there was the lake plunge. “That changes everything” said Kurt. A man of few words nails it with those three. That changes everything:

  1. Aches and pains all gone.
  2. Completely recharged and refreshed.
  3. Super endorphin rush, feeling of a fresh new day.
Endorphin rush after cold plunge between sauna rounds
Endorphins rushing, and “this feels so good, it must be illegal.” Note: Crocs are very good for the coming and going.

“I’m not the first person to do this”

The Wim Method (of cold water therapy) was put into full test. Jumping through a hole in the ice, you have to be ready for this experience. It takes your breath away. Deep heavy breathing is good therapy and one is best assisted with a mantra of inspiration, whispered repeatedly while marching along the shoveled path from sauna to ice hole on the lake. My mantra was “i’m not the first person to do this.” And it worked.

it helps to psyche oneself up with voices in your head when doing the ice plunge

We cold plunged about a dozen times over the course of a few different sauna sessions. It became oddly addicting. It was a beautiful experience and we all look forward to doing it again.

The cold plunge awaits our return.

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6 thoughts on “Winter Cold Plunge Cabin Retreat is Warmly Received by All Participants”

  1. This is awesome – and your pics are incredible!!! I’ve been practicing the Wim Hof method… what temperature is the water in the lake?

  2. Man, it’s cold. Never put a thermometer in the hole in the ice… I’ve been doing the WHM for couple years now, too. It speaks my language, that’s for sure.

  3. The WHM and a hole cut in the lake all in one story! Thanks for sharing this Glenn and for hopefully helping increase that 9% to 10%! Were opening holes in the TCs, one lake at a time:)

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