A breath-taking documentation presented on Dailymotion – “The water under the mountain”, cave diving under the Mescla from April 2016.
For this expedition the divers were equipped with BONEX Scooters to discover the caves.
Located in the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France, the mescla is the area where the rivers Verdon and Artuby flow together, which is subverted by impressive caves.
The lesson in clear: Very worth seeing!
In August 2014 Peter Goosens and Jolanda Spronck – two cave divers from the netherlands – participated in an international expedition into the cave Pozo Azul. The Pozo Azul is a giant underwater cave in the north of spain, where you have to dive more than 10 km in it, to reach the end like it is known until now. But there is more to discover!
Peter and Jolanda accompanied the exploration team as support divers.
The expedition photographer Peter taking high quality pictures and Jolanda writing the texts for numerous famous magazines in the trade press they are working as a successful team since many years.
On the expedition in north spain the team was endued with BONEX Reference RS scooter as the main equipment – furthermore they had 2 BONEX Discovery RS scooter as Back-up-device.
Orininally the Pozo Azul was discovered by spanish cave divers in the sixties. In the year 1991 the end of the explorations was reached with a distance of 1780 meters and 39 meters depth, because the equipment was not that good at that time to penetrate deeper without taking a high safety risk.
The exploration of the Pozo Azul went on in 2001. Jason Mallinson, a passionate cave diver, who already discovered and extrapolated several french cave systems in the nineties (like the Emergence du Ressel), travelled to spain to explore the unknown cave system. As equipment he already used for the french caves a big, fast Aquazepp underwater scooter and a CCR Rebreather, which gave him the possibility to make longer and deeper dives.
Year after year he travelled back to spain with better equipment and the help of a growing team of Spanish and British support divers, to continue the exploration of the cave.
The years before he always worked alone as a cave diver. But now the risks raised – he was alone diving for hours in the cave systems, only equipped with 1 scooter, 1 Rebreather and 1 Back Up Zylinder. It was time to adapt constellation and equipment to the conditions.
As a first step they put the exploration period exclusively on the end of the summer, because many times the expeditions failed due to bad weather conditions.
As a second step they put in the caves on the beginning of the second swamp a habitant, where the diver could do his last, long decompression stop on the way back.
The advantage of this constellation was, that the tired and subcooled diver could rest partly over water when he was finishing his decompression stop. Moreover he had the possibility to take warm drinks and food during his stay.
As the last step the team initiated a second scooter: until the last border the diver used a big mounting-scooter, which he deposed on arrival at this border line. From there he used the second, smaller and lighter scooter to go on. This enabled the best adaption to the conditions.
Starting 2009, the existing exploration team was extended by Rick Stanton, John Vonlanthen and the dutchman René Houben. Also the support team was grown in quantity and quality. Meanwhile around 25 Spanish, British and Dutch cave divers were involved in the project and took care of organization, equipment transport and logistics. And this was necessary, because often it was very exhausting to bring the equipment to the place of exploration. Furthermore it was important to take care of the physical and mental fitness of the cave divers, so that they were able to do the following dives safely. There was at least one person who knew all equipments by heart and could help the cave divers to fix everything on the right place.
In 2009 Rick Stanton dove with a back- and a side-Rebreather as Back-up, a big mounting-scooter, 2 BONEX Back-up scooter and a 20 liter-Trimix-cylinder into the cave. Finally he reached the end of the second swamp on a distance of more than 5.160 meters from Burbuja, and therefore more than 6 km away from the entrance. By this time the dives took around 6 hours including the decompression and the laying of new diving cave lines. The new discovered gallery was named Tipperary, derived from the song the team was singing alltime: “It’s a long way to Tipperary, It’s a long way to go”. And that was definitely the truth! When Rick Stanton took his first breath of fresh air after the transition, he was under earth for around 18,5 hours.
From that time on the team build upon his experience, because they had enough practice now to conduct additional long dives. The way through the swamp was intimate terrain and they did not need guiding lines anymore. The dry Tipperary cave was used as a bivouac-area to take a rest before the further explorations.
In 2010 they find the almost 3 km long third swamp and reach a new world record with that. At that time this was the longest cave dive ever made.
This success continues in 2011, when the team discovers a new dry cave and a fourth swamp directly following. The transition of this dry path (called Razor passage) is quite dangerous, because it is covered by numerous cutting edges. The risk to destroy the dry suits is high. Considering that they were around 10 km from the entrance this would be a catastrophy and had meant the end of the expedition.
After a small expedition in 2013, the explorer team visits the cave again in summer 2014. This time the three cave divers Jason Mallinson, René Houben and Rick Stanton will prope into the cave until the end and go on exploring. They discovered a further dry path behind the fourth swamp (Razor ll).
But the prepartions are not going on like planned – several equipments seem to be damaged:
Jason´s scooter is not working and has to be repaired, his dry suit gloves are not waterproof and Rene´s suit heating gives up in the night before the big dive.
Rick Stanton has to go back, because the engine of his mounting-scooter breaks-down unexpectedly. Luckily the team can default to his two BONEX Back-Up scooter and Rick can return safely.
Despite of all this dysfuntions, Jason and Rene reach Tipperary, where they take a rest. Shortly afterwards they continue to explore the dry galleries. In consideration for all the exertions before they find around 2 km new way.
After a good sleep, Jason and Rene continue diving and protude until the end of the third swamp. Here they change their dry into wetsuits and go on diving through the fourth swamp until the dry cave Razor ll. Here, around 10 km away from the entrance, where 9,5 km are made underwater, they discover waterfalls, which they climb up and finally find a fifth swamp.
With the two small cylinders, which they brought especially for that, they dive through the fifth swamp and arrive at an active river. Rene leaves the water and attains a visibility of hundreds of meters. But he returns back to Jason, not to take anymore risks.
Euphoric because of all the discoveries they made, but also confused how to proceed, the team celebrates the return of the divers after 3 days. The explorers now confer about the benefits of going on exploring: Does it make sense to do a second bivouac-area more inside the cave? Do they need more support divers? How can they optimize the preparations?
For the expedition leader Jason Mallinson, who spend around 2 weeks under earth, the exploration has not reached its end yet. Driven by his inexhaustible spitrit of exploration the plannings continue and all doors for coming discoveries are open…
Pictures: Peter Goossens
Text: Jolanda Spronck
An Interview with cave diver Jolanda Spronck you find under the following Link:
On 06th and 07th of november a BONEX scooter (DPV) seminar took place in the austrian city Feldkirch, organized by the dive club TC Vorarlberg. During the 2-days-lasting course, 15 participants had the possibility to live and learn the world of DPV-diving!
And it was a great success!
Under the guidance of CMAS 2 Star Instructor Marcus Bauer, the divers learned everything about construction, handling and functionality of BONEX DPVs.
Following they could train their knowledge in a nearby lake and practice several skills.
On 7 BONEX Scooters the participants could put into practice what they learned before. During the training they also received further instructions how to use the equipment in perfection.
The seminar was such a great success, that there is already planned a following event for 2016.
We are very happy that this workshop met with such a positive response!
© Images: Courtesy of Wimmer Gerhard
Online-Magazin “Tauchjournal”, 24.11.2015: Bonex Scooter jetzt auch in den USA
Online-Magazin “Sea Star”, 23.11.2015: Bonex gewinnt Sub Gravity für den Vertrieb
Online-Magazin “Tauchjournal”, 29.04.2015: Bonex Scooter zum monatlichen Schnäppchenpreis
Online-Magazin “Taucher.Net”, 26.03.2015: BONEX bei der Sound & Silence Tauchsafari 2015
Magazin “Unterwasser” Ausgabe 4/2013: Firmenporträt Bonex
Online-Magazin “Taucher.Net”, 06.02.2013: Bonex beim internationalen Weltrekordevent 2013
Magazin “Duiken” Ausgabe 2/2013: Duiken 2/2013
Magazin “Nereus”: Nereus 2013
Online-Magazin “Unterwasserwelt” 2013: Unterwasserwelt
Magazin “Tauchen” Ausgabe 7/2012: Tauchen 7/2012
Feature written by Pedro Balordi
Last spring Sebastian Kuster and I wanted to dive into the siphon 6 and check out the south aisle. Markus Schafheutle told me a lot about this passage and asked us to measure these unexplored passage in case we would go. As it had always fascinated me, to go further than the “mandatory bivouac-hall”, I was looking forward to the dive. Unfortunately we had to cancel this but shortly before surfacing in S1 due to technical problems with Sebastian’s rebreather.
Shortly thereafter, Rick & John explored exactly this aisle until the non-traversable end. They have stayed twice overnight in the cave for this exploration. The way it looked, the Ressel was now fully explored. Still, I was tempted by the Ressel and I really wanted to dive at least once to the end and have a look into the south aisle. Somehow it never worked out either due to time restrictions or lack of available buddies. Since our projects in the “Sorgente Bossi” and in the “Covol di Veci” were to start again, I decided at short notice to pack up my gear and go to France on my own.
On Friday, August 17th I started early in the morning. After arriving in Marcilhac-sur-Célé it went straight to the Ressel to see if there were any divers who could tell me something about the conditions. Result: Water level in the Célé is good and visibility in the Ressel until the big funnel very murky.
The start on Saturday was very early. The first step was, of course, to carry the the diving gear down to the Célé. At exactly 08:14 clock, I started to dive down into the Ressel and press the trigger of the Bonex Discovery RS. With plenty of thrust and superb visibility from funnel onwards, I dash along the aisle. As you ascend in S1 I see on the left side a scooter at about -34 meters labeled “MAX”. Oh, apparently I meet other divers in the bivouac hall…
Already after 54 minutes I’m at the 6 meter stop of S1. Since up to now everything has been running without any problems, I decide to dive all the other spots as well. These are “Lac Isler” and “Lac Boulder”. Then back into the bivouac hall. Fortunately, the water level is good and I can scooter through the „Schikanne“ slowly. And again I thank Fritz…
After 120 minutes, I ascend in the bivouac hall and deposit and all the material in the pot. No one answers my calls. With the device on the back I get out of the water and sit down on a large rock. Now comes the trickiest moment, is it possible to breathe the air? Yes it is, but for a 100 meter sprint, the oxygen level is probably not good enough…
Nonetheless I go straight to siphon 4, in my suit and with the equipment on my back.There, I deposit the device at the entrance to the water and go back. Now I take off the suit and find out that the right leg is totally flooded. But since I did not have any problems with being cold that does not stop me yet. So I put on my neoprene socks and sandals that I had in a grinding bag attached to the bottom of my KISS with Snoopy loops. In underwear and t-shirt I now carry the remaining material to S4. Only the Bonex scooter I used to get in remains at S3.
I now put the suit back on and continue. S4 is so short that you almost do not notice it. Now comes the long lake which I usually cross by scooter on the surface. After about 8 minutes I have crossed S4 & S5 and I ascend in the cathedral of the Ressel. Again in a suit and with the device on the back I now climb up the steeper slope and down on the other side of the dome rather steeply. You have to be really careful here. I depost the gear by the edge of the water and start the same game as before. The dry tube stays behind. But first I eat one of the energy bars I brought along. Suit back on and let’s go!
After a short time I see the an aisle to the Northward side and have a quick look inside. Then continue with full throttle. If you only want to dive along full lines, now would be the point to return. Since emerging in the S1 from about -50 meters, it is now down to fragmented line-hopping … but with the rebreather, no flow and visibility of more than 20 meters, this is no problem. I arrive at the junction
where it goes on the right side to the credit hall and on the left diagonally into the south aisle. I go first into the credit hall and look around for a bit. Since I only carry a 2 lt argon bottle, I decide not to ascend here and scooter back to the junction in the south aisle. At the bottom is an empty reel. Actually, I don’t think old metal should lying around here…
Since I can’t see an outgoing line but clay, lots of clay, I attach an arrow on the leash to the exit along with my reel. Slowly I swim up the clay slope. The ceiling is coming down more and more and obscures the view inevitably. Then the ceiling goes up again but shortly afterwards there are a lot of plates on the ground that narrow the passage to about a height of 1 meter. Slowly, I force myself with scratching my back and stomach over the plates. Although the passage continues well in the distance, I decide to return after a quick look back. With almost zero visibility I reel back to my arrow. Actually I wanted to go to the end of the South aisle. But with a flooded leg, and as now it is getting cooler, and knowing that Rick and John had mentioned something about sidemount and a dangerous boulder choke told at the end of the aisle, I put the reel a side and scooter back.
After 75 minutes, I’m already back in the cathedral of the Ressel. Business as usual. I take a few photos before I scooter back to the bivouac hall. This time, I pass through both siphons already in 5 minutes and shortly thereafter ascend in S4.
I am vey content and get ready in S3. Slightly surprised that I have not met “MAX” anywhere. But as a friend told me afterward, the scooter was already lying there in June…
So probably flooded or otherwise damaged. Seems that the Ressel is getting crammed. Luckily, I have nothing to fear something like this thanks to my Bonex scooters.
Since I want to break the “old” record with the Silent Magnus scooters from the penultimate year, I decide to give full throttle. I dive down and continue with half speed through S3, Schikane and S2 until it goes deeper. From the last junction I go to full throttle and don’t let go of the trigger. I leave the scooter of MAX to the right left and dash down the corridor until the funnel and down at full throttle. Awesome! With continuous pressure compensation I arrive at the horizontal passage and fly along the line.
After 39 minutes I am already in the funnel at 30 meters and hang in my first decompression stop. I smirk, knowing already that I have broken the record…
After 74 minutes I surface in the Ressel again. Exactly 10 hours later I see the sun again. Can’t imagine that the guys from Italy match this time with their “world’s best” scooters…
GO FAST – GO BONEX
Now need to carry all the material back to the car myself since no “sherpas” are available. An arguable pleasure at still 34° Celsius. On the other hand, the heat makes the equipment dry almost during the transport. After a short night’s sleep, I am up early the next morning, then back on the way home. The day in the Ressel was exhausting. But every pound that I had to carry alone between the siphons have been made up for by the beautiful cave passages. Flying through these aisles with the scooter is a unique experience.
Diving Distance + / – Scooter Distance: 8.780 meters (excluding south aisle)
Dive Time + / – Scooter time: 4 h 43 min (with deco)
Stay in bivouac Hall & Ressel Cathedral: 5 hrs 17 min
Siphon 3 – river Célé
Back unit: KISS 14/69
Bailout: SMIR-01 14/68
Argon: 2 liter steel cylinder
Suit: Otter trilaminate with wet gloves
Scooter: 2 x RS Bonex Discovery
Dry Tube (not used) with 3 kg lime, pharmacy, camera, repair kit, nasal spray (much needed), energy bars, Gatorade
KISS: Diluent 85 Bar / 3 Lt (290 bar), oxygen: 110 bar / 3Lt (245 bar)
Argon: 255 Bar / 2 liter steel (290 bar)
SMIR-01: Diluent: 90 bar / 1.7 Lt (290 bar), oxygen: 0 Bar / 1.7 Lt (280 bar)
© Images: Courtesy of Pedro Balordi
Rick Stanton, a renowned British cave diver and explorer, has a passion for exploring caves in France. One of the caves that repeatedly draws his attention is the Emergence du Ressel in Southern France, in the department of the Lot.
In 1998, he commenced a long term exploration project at this cave. Several dives into the system followed over the course of the years, these eventually included overnight stays in a bivouac chamber. Then, back in 2000, he believed to have reached the end point of the cave; this has probably seen fewer people than supposedly were on the moon. Eventually Rick found a side tunnel which was previously unknown and started to explore it in 2011. On that expedition he laid 805 metres of new line in one go; an incredible achievement. This year the team returned there & laid a further 75 metres of line to reach a series of gravel squeezes which they believed to be too dangerous to pass through because of the high risk of an avalanche entombing them in there for ever.
This most recent exploration dive started at 3 pm on April 14, 2012 and would keep Rick and his partner in this venture, John Volanthen, in the dark and cold – both air and water temperature were around 13° Celsius – for nearly two days, they returned to the sunlight on April 16 at 1 pm with new mapping data, collected by a device invented and built by John.
From the total distance of 4,6 kilometres into the cave system, the Bonex Discovery and Discovery RS scooters were a critical part of the equipment. While the first 2,35 kilometres are travelled with the support of larger scooters from another manufacturer, the Discovery models are the preferred choice for the last 2,3 kilometres into the cave. “We have to carry the all our equipment over two boulder piles and the big scooters weigh 60 kilos each, there is no way you can carry those in a dark, uneven and slippery environment,” explains Rick and continues: “Furthermore we rely on the Discovery models as a backup for the main scooters in the unlikely event that those should fail as the Bonex scooters would still incredibly have enough range to cover for this as well, so they give us the best of both worlds. With our air supply, we follow a similar concept by the way. We go into the cave system with a big rebreather and then switch to a smaller sidemount rebreather at the camp site for all the diving beyond.”
It is only on the recent two trips that Rick has ever taken scooters beyond the Bivouac Chamber, prior to the availability of the lightweight, high performance Bonex scooters all previous dives to the end were made by swimming.
© Images: Courtesy of Rick Stanton
Okay, es gibt sicher exotischere Reiseziele mit farbenfroheren Tauchgründen, wärmerem Wasser und klarerer Sicht. Aber Tauchen hat auch in deutschen Gewässern seinen Reiz. Man muss zwar auf Haie verzichten, aber ein stattlicher UW-Wald mit Jungfischschwärmen im dichten Kronengeäst ist auch nicht zu verachten.
Unsere „Herrentags“ – Tauchbasis befindet sich unmittelbar an der Zufahrtsstrasse zum Ferropolis-Gelände am Gremminer See bei Gräfenhainichen. Dort haben wir alles vorgefunden für unseren Weg in die Schwerelosigkeit, nette Crew inbegriffen.
Für Scootertaucher ein absoluter Geheimtipp, Natur pur und Tauchstrecke so weit der Accu reicht. In dem ehemaligen Braunkohletagebau Golpa-Nord gibt es noch eine Menge zu erkunden. Die Uferlänge des Sees beträgt 14 km, die größte Tiefe liegt bei 33 Meter. Darüber hinaus ist auch Höhlentauchen (und Ausbildung) möglich, da sich im See ein fast 200 Meter langer, parallel laufender Eisenbahntunnel befindet.
Unsere Bonexscooter waren uns verlässliche Zugpferde. Große Stecken konnte erkundet werden ohne lästige Schweißperlen im Trocki zu entwickeln.
…und wir kommen wieder und unsere Scootertester auch!
Ein dickes Dankeschön an das Basisteam Manfred Erhardt und Frank Kleeblatt und ein ebenso herzliches Dankeschön an die Fotomodelle und Scootererprober Natalie und Florian, Jens, Robert, Andreas, Heiko und Henry.
Das BonexTeam LST-Hamburg Sascha & Anja