Not Warm: Surfing Lake Superior At 30 Below

Photography by Devon Hains

On the day these photos were taken, the temps got down to -30. Which just sounds like a number. Once you get below zero and people talk about windchill and whatnot your eyes glaze over like an icy windshield. But the true force of the arctic temps can be felt viscerally in Devon Hains’ photographs from a bright sunny day this January on Lake Superior.

Their 9mils kept them, let’s not say warm, but…alive.

Dan Schetter and Allen Finau surf Lake Superior year-round, whenever some solid waves come in. They weren’t deterred by the temps going through the bottom of the thermometer. Their 9mils kept them, let’s not say warm, but…alive. The guys spent about four hours out there, ice building on their beards and caking the suits.

cold water surfing in Presque Isle

A 5-gallon jug of hot water also helped. Dan and Allen would pour it in their boots and, at one point, the hot water came in handy when Dan had to thaw his surfboard to go back out and catch more waves.

“I got the call from Dan right after he scoped the shoreline at Presque Isle Park, at one of his spots, telling me to gear up the waves are pumping and the conditions are beautiful,” says Devon. “I got psyched soon as I pulled up and saw these nice swells moving in with the sea smoke, the sublimation of water into fog due to the extreme temperature difference between the water and the air. The sunlight and large waves just made for such an epic photo shoot.” The tridents also did not hurt.

Like ice? Make sure you are following photographer @devonhains, and surfers @allenfinau and @upsurferdan.