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Posted by Jerome KONEN on 18/06/05 Photo  Homepage
Cave Diving - contradictory thrilling CAVING
Thoughts and experiences about cave diving.
Text by Jerome Konen
Photo by Jerome Konen
Cave diving in a slate mine.
Gallery >>
Cave diving is probably the most thrilling and challenging field of diving ever possible. This outstanding given fact should rather keep off sports divers and beginners than seduce these non initiated ones. The reality is quite alarming, lot's of sports divers - even beginners - trying themselves without any speciality certification in cave diving, risking their lives. On the other hand they wouldn't have started sports diving without a proper training and certification, but cave diving is done without any sought of safety measures.

Deceptive Underwater World

A certainly contributing aspect to this desolate situation was the heaps of articles in sports diving magazines about cave diving expeditions covering only the adventurous part but in no ways the hazardous undertaking.

Very often those articles do not mention the technical and physical enforcement these expeditions require but reduce on coverage illustration with nice, sharp and beautiful pictures of seamlessly clear waters giving absolutely no idea on how fast in reality the visibility can turn down to zero within seconds bringing the diving experience into an extreme stress situation, that if not handled with ability and skills, may turn out into panic leaving the diver's life as an open end.

Inspiring light-mindedness

The Luxembourg geological situation is not favourable for underwater cave formation. Although cave diving activities are technically possible in closed down underground slate mines (owner's authorization required to access). These mines offer some similar diving conditions as in natural underwater caves like tunnels, pits and large chambers in a dark light absorbing slate environment.

As a diving instructor and a fervent defender of diving safety and right gear configuration, I unfortunately identified some divers considering such a trip in the same way like a dive training session in the pool. I was wondering how light-mindedness some divers might get, forgetting all elementary safety procedures like if they were blinded by the thrill of the action.

Doing it the right way

Preparing a cave dive in such slate mining underground structures requires a very extensive technical preparation, right gear configurations and adequate training sessions with your buddy and surface assistance. Extensive preliminary briefings are necessary to avoid taking wrong decisions during your trip. Finally logistical organization on site must be guaranteed.

All galleries are filled up with clear ground water, but the bubbles crawling along the ceiling as well as the slightest movement above the floor whirls up slate dust and powder taking the visibility to zero. By that I mean really zero, you may not even see your own hand in front of your face anymore - then orientation becomes a major problem even with a proper reel safety line fixed, if you haven't indicated the direction on the safety line to find the exit of the gallery. Such risky situations can only be managed without stress and panic if an adequate cave diving training is absolved.

But even adequate training is no guarantee for safe returns as every tremendous situation under these conditions is a challenge for your mind strength and might end up in an overcharge resulting in panic, towards the deadly end of the trip. No place to prove yourself by taking risks in these waters.

Conclusion

Considering cave diving as an individual line, well trained and executed following all safety procedures, it delivers unique diving experiences, visual and psychological. But remember always that the on-site experience is only the fruit of long time training and preparations.
 
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· First published at Scuba.lu - Full report with extensive photo gallery.

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