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TheKiteMag 49 The Mission Ben Beholz by Fabian Gattlen 9 1200x755 - On Thin Ice

On Thin Ice

When Ben Beholz was invited on a photoshoot to capture Prolimit’s winter collection, he wasn’t going to let meter-thick ice stop him. He embraced the chilly temperatures and got fully immersed in the icy, alpine waters of Lake Silvaplana, Switzerland.

PHOTOS: Fabian Gattlen

When spring rolls round, sometime in April, expectations are high – the moment when the ice begins to melt, my excitement about shredding the lake again is palpable. It’s special to kitesurf at 1815 meters above sea level in the Swiss Alps – from the lake you can even see people skiing in the mountains. The ice on the lake is still about one meter thick while in the middle of the lake a large blue water hole shimmers in the sun. In recent years I’ve always kited alone at the ice hole, but that was going to change this year – Prolimit invited me to try their new winter collection to keep me warm. Followed by a camera team, I was going to brave the ice of Silvaplana. I also had more company with Juliano Wiemar on a windsurfer, Sarah Missiaen on a wingfoil, and Luigi Moretti on the bottle…

The first day at the ice hole was pretty chilly. We drove our vans to the edge of the water and tried to get our heads round the idea of ​​jumping into this freezing, ice cold water when it was still minus degrees outside. The wind hadn’t kicked in yet, so we were able to test the Prolimit dry suits on our SUPs. Hard to believe that after about five minutes we started to sweat – ice cold on the outside, warm on the inside, what a lifestyle! I must admit that I’ve never really been a fan of stand-up paddling. It always seemed to be somehow too boring to me. But when paddling through slush ice at altitude, the whole thing became much more attractive.

The thermal wind works up here even in spring when the lake is still frozen. So, it’s important that the landmasses are no longer covered by snow and can heat up. Punctually at 12 o’clock it was already time and the Maloja wind kicked in. In summer you can see the wind getting closer and closer in the form of a dark stripe on the water. Of course, if the lake is still frozen, this isn’t the case – the wind just kicks in all of a sudden. At first, Juliano was not really impressed by the idea of ​​going ‘icesurfing’ up there. For him, as a windsurfer, the ice hole was just big enough to get planing before doing a trick. He wasn’t feeling it. But then, when the wind picked up and the shimmering mirror-flat water of the ice hole started to shudder, I could see his eyes start to sparkle.

No time to lose, it was out of the dry suits and into our wetsuits. I was wearing the new Mercury Tie Dye which looked awesome in that environment. It was one big party on the water – Juliano did some serious world-class windsurf freestyle, Sarah had fun on the wingfoil and couldn’t stop cruising through the shimmering blue, and in between was me on my twintip jumping from the water to the ice and back – basically, like cross country on a kite. These extreme temperatures pose a great challenge for body and material – it’s not about trying new tricks, but more about the experience and the joy of the extraordinary.

Overall we enjoyed a week full of peaceful SUP and foil mornings, crazy views, good company, and a lot of wind to shred the ice in the afternoons. I am already looking forward to next year when the ice starts to melt and the Maloja wind blows like a hairdryer… ■ 

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