The Incredible Iceman Of Amsterdam

“Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control. Its presence is an indication of ripened experience, and of a more than ordinary knowledge of the laws and operations of thought.” —James Allen, “As A Man Thinketh”

In A Nutshell

Wim Hof’s nickname is “The Iceman” because of his extraordinary abilities. Using only a form of meditation, Wim Hof has proven himself capable of withstanding cold temperatures that would quickly kill most humans. Unlike many people who claim such things, he has invited scrutiny from scientists and journalists alike—he believes anyone can do what he does and wants to teach the world his methods.

The Whole Bushel

Wim Hof is a unique man because he can withstand freezing temperatures that would make most of us run inside to layer up with anything we could find. In fact, Hof daily withstands freezing temperatures and swims in freezing water while wearing nothing more than a pair of shorts.

He started getting really into his iceman hobby after his wife, who had been on a lot of mental health medications, tragically committed suicide. It depressed him greatly, and after a lot of soul searching, he went looking for ways for humans to take back control of their bodies. He found that spending time in freezing cold waters made him feel good, so he began developing his own methods for handling the cold.

Hof is a Guinness World Record holder for the longest stay in a tub of ice water, where he lasted 112 minutes. Despite the doctor on site recording his body temperature as dropping fairly significantly throughout, Hof’s body was fine when he emerged and he showed little to no stress over the stunt.

He is also documented as climbing Mt. Everest wearing nothing but a pair of shorts for protection from the elements. As far as most people would be concerned such a feat is utterly impossible, but Hof not only did it, he believes he can teach others to do it as well. In order to prove himself to science, he allowed himself to be injected with an endotoxin that is usually used for testing immune system responses; he managed to suppress his.

Doctors at first believed this might be isolated to something special about Hof, until he had them test 12 of his students, who repeated his feat.

Vice is known for investigating strange stories like this one, and so they reached out to Hof. He was happy to talk to their journalists and even offered to teach their team how to use his methods so they could see for themselves how well it worked. Hof teaches many people now, because he wants everyone to be able to use his methods, but he provided some extra hands-on training for the Vice crew.

He taught them a form of breathing involving self-induced hyperventilation by having them take in more breath than they let out. The Vice crew reported feeling a very tripped-out sensation akin to being on drugs after he coached them through his breathing methods.

Despite being skeptical at first, after only a few short days training with Hof, the Vice crew was able to climb the tallest mountain in Poland while wearing only shorts and was able to tolerate freezing water for a significantly longer amount of time than before.

It’s hard to say for certain how it works on a biological level—scientists are still trying to puzzle it out—but they believe that by using his forced hyperventilating, he is somehow managing to get a certain amount of control over his autonomous nervous system, something that scientists previously believed to be impossible.

While science may not be sure of all the subtleties involved here, there is already evidence that others can learn his methods, and with Hof gladly accepting scientific scrutiny and tests, this may teach us all kinds of new things about the human body in the near future.

Show Me The Proof

Featured photo credit: Aad Villerius
ABC News: Iceman on Everest: ‘It Was Easy’
Huffington Post: Wim Hof, Dutch ‘Iceman,’ Controls Body Through Meditation
Vice: Inside the Superhuman World of the Iceman (video)