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Re: The Ice Beard Cometh

The Ice Beard Cometh
March 09, 2019 12:53PM
Trident-weidling surfers ride Lake Superior waves during Polar Vortex

By Brandon Champion

MARQUETTE, MI – Sub-zero temperatures couldn’t keep a pair of well-known Michigan surfers from catching a wave on Lake Superior.

Photographer Devon Hains captured a slew of frozen photos featuring Daniel “Surfer Dan” Schetter and Allen Finau surfing on the Great Lake in Marquette County amid the polar vortex that swept Michigan last week.

Hains said surfing in the minus-30 windchill and temperatures below zero is nothing new for the duo.


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Michigan's 'Surfer Dan' loves his ice beard, winter surfing Lake Superior

By Tanda Gmiter

MARQUETTE, MI - When Dan Schetter saw how the weather was shaping up on Christmas Day - below zero temperatures and a wind chill hovering around -25 degrees - he knew it would be a great day for surfing a blustery Lake Superior.

Even better, they were fantastic conditions to grow his signature ice beard.

The frigid spray didn't disappoint. When Schetter walked away from the lake that day, his winter whiskers had icicles hanging down to his chest.

Those who know Marquette's "Surfer Dan" understand he's serious about riding the waves year-round. But the beard? That's become a bonding point for the surfing community.

A couple years ago when Schetter joined Facebook, he was fascinated to see other surfers showing off pictures of their ice beards - a quest he'd already been on for many years.

The Christmas Day photo shoot was part of that fun, allowing him to share the photos and grow the legend.

"It's not like we're trying to out-ice beard each other," he said of other surfers. "I just happen to have the biggest ice beard."

The recipe for frozen beard success: Plenty of open water, a stiff wind and bitterly cold air temperatures.

Mother Nature obliged with this week's Arctic snap.

Devon Hains, a freelance photographer whose pictures of Schetter have inspired a photoshop battle on Reddit, said he wasn't surprised when Schetter called him for the holiday photo shoot.

"Every year he tries to beat the size of his beard," Hains chuckled. "He knew that day would be a great day for it. The wind chill really helps that ice build up."

To withstand the cold while he was shooting, Hains layered up. He added a face mask, and several pairs of gloves stuffed with handwarmers.

"I had to pop back in my car a couple times just to warm up," said Hains, 24, a student at Northern Michigan University. "And there was Dan, he was just paddling back out."

Schetter, 39, said he's careful about his winter gear. He was wearing a 9mm XCEL wetsuit, with 8mm boots and gloves.

He cautions others about the big lake conditions. Even though he makes sure to prepare, it's still dangerous. Lake Superior's surface temperature that day was about 36 degrees.

"Even though I know what I'm doing, it was still difficult," he said. "My board and body iced up. I had to thaw out underwater."

A Marquette native, Schetter has been surfing Lake Superior for more than 20 years.

He's lived abroad, surfed in Japan and Hawaii, but is happy to call The Great Lakes his home.

He's caught waves on Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and even Teal Lake - a 460-acre expanse in the Upper Peninsula's Negaunee. With a stiff wind, Schetter laughs about how you can have a good surf even there.

So if you see Surfer Dan, ask him about Teal Lake or another one of his adventures. He's proud to be a Yooper and always has a good story to tell.

Michigan's "Surfer Dan" loves his ice beard

by Tanda Gmiter

Dan Schetter tries to get his best ice beard each winter by surfing in The Great Lakes.

Wind in the Beard
Dan Schetter says it takes the right air temperature and just the right amount of wind to grow an ice beard while you're surfing.

Encased in Ice
Dan Schetter wears a wetsuit, boots and gloves for winter surfing.

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There are lots of photos by Devon Haines in the above articles, some of which I've posted in the gallery and linked to with thumbnails below.

Here's a brief YouTube snippet of Dan:


Click on the thumbnails below, then click again, to see the full-sized photos.

Enjoy, preferably with a hot mug of coffee, tea, or cocoa.

--Tom W.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/09/2019 01:03PM by TomW.
Re: The Ice Beard Cometh
March 10, 2019 12:26AM
That's just AWESOME!
Re: The Ice Beard Cometh
March 10, 2019 08:15AM
I go running in below-zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures, with wind chills in that -25 and more range, and my mustache and parts of my beard get iced up quite solidly. But nothing near like in those pictures of the surfers. WOW! That's crazy! A very interesting look, though, that's for sure!
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