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Ice jump with the Latvian National Guard

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Ice jumping is a military exercise conducted by troops serving in cold weather conditions across NATO. It requires soldiers, in a controlled environment, to jump into a hole in an otherwise frozen lake so that, if it should happen during training or operations, the soldiers will have already experienced the shock and will know how to get themselves out safely.

To give a layman’s perspective on the ice jump exercise, Jake Tupman, a video producer for NATO, tests it out. Hosted by the Latvian National Guard, many of whom will also jump, he goes out into the Latvian forests to see what it feels like to plunge into icy cold water.

Footage includes various shots of video producer Jake Tupman conducting the ice jump exercise with the Latvian National Guard.


What’s it like to plunge into ice cold water in the middle of a lake in Latvia during winter? NATO video producer Jake Tupman finds out, so you don’t have to.


Jake Tupman, NATO video producer
“I am here at Ādaži Military Base in Latvia and today I’m going to do something that I’m really dreading and that’s plunge into ice cold water.”
TEXT – JAKE TUPMAN, Video producer for NATO
Jake Tupman, NATO video producer
“These are the guys I’m going to be jumping with today, this is the Latvian National Guard. Guys, just say hello.
Latvian National Guard members
“Hi. Hey there.”
Jake Tupman putting on snow trousers
“Ah, that’s the front, ok.”
“Nope, that’s the back.”
“It’s a shame I need so much help to put my trousers on really.”
Jake Tupman, NATO video producer
“We’re going on a 7-kilometre (4.3 miles) hike to get to where the hole in the ice actually is.”
Jake Tupman and Katrīna, member of Latvian National Guard
TEXT - KATRĪNA, Latvian National Guard
Jake – “How are you feeling about doing this ice jump?”
Katrīna – “A little bit nervous because I’ve never done this before. I mean just jumping, and I don’t know how my body will react to this.
Jake – “Yeah.”
Katrīna – “And, we’ll see.”
Latvian instructor talks to National Guard
“The next person should already be coming forward to avoid unnecessary delays.”
Jake Tupman, NATO Video producer
“This isn’t just something that’s done here in Latvia. I mean, all of the NATO troops that are part of the enhanced Forward Presence also do this type of winter training. So we’ve had the Brits do it and we’ve had the Americans do it a couple of years ago, we’ve seen a number of nations doing it. And the point is that if this should happen on an operation or in training, if they’re walking along and they should fall through the ice, they’ll have experienced it before, they’ll know what to do, and they’ll be able to get themselves out safely and securely.”
“Really not looking forward to it at all.”
Instructor talking to Jake
Instructor – “Ready?”
Jake – “Ready.”
Instructor – “Let’s go.”
Instructor talking to Jake
Instructor - “Breathe, breathe, breathing. Your backpack, backpack, put out. Here. Yeah, breathe, breathing, breathing.”
Jake – “Ah that’s cold.”
Instructor – “Breathing, that good? That good? Breathing. How feeling?
Jake – “Cold.”
Instructor – “Cold?”
Jake – “Yeah, very cold.”
Instructor – “Where are you right now?”
Jake – “Latvia.”
Instructor – “Latvia?”
Jake – “Ādaži.
Instructor - “Ādaži?”
Jake – “In a freezing cold lake.”
Instructor – “Ok, get out.”
Instructor – “Yeah, good. How you feeling right now?”
Jake – “Cold as hell.”
Instructor – “You do this.”
Jake – “Thank you very much.”
Jake Tupman, NATO video producer
“Nothing prepares you for the absolute cold as it takes your body. It’s extremely constricting. Freezing. You can’t think properly, and even when you start to slow your breaths down, you have to fight really hard in your mind to try and overcome the cold. It is absolutely freezing. These guys sign up knowing exactly what they have to do and you know, I’ve got nothing but respect for them. I’m glad I did it, but I’m also glad it’s over.”
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