One hears a lot of legends about women who went to extraordinary lengths to go to mikvah in difficult times. One popular story is about a woman who would make a hole in a frozen river and tovel in the water. This story is told--usually by women to women--with great respect for, and endorsement of, the woman's deed. It is often told that she was blessed with numerous children as a result.
It would seem, though, that jumping into a frozen river through a hole in the ice is a huge danger to life and would ordinarily be forbidden as a sakone.
Is there any halachic justification to do such a thing? If not, why are this woman's actions celebrated even now?
BONUS: What would be the halachically correct thing to do in a situation where the only women's mikvah option is a hole in the ice?