You can’t dive higher, or an unknown expedition.
Underwater Himalayas – a phrase that at first glance seemed absurd, began to take on a very real shape and concrete meaning in 1999, when Andrei Andryushin (scuba diving instructor NAUI # 35685) traveled to Nepal in the vicinity of Anapurna, one of the eight-thousanders of the planet, with his friend and like-minded Denis Bakin. At one of the passes, Andrei learned from the Sherpa conductor that Lake Tilicho, the highest mountain lake in the world, is located near their route. As it was found out, the lake is located at an altitude (according to various sources) from 4960 to 5200 meters above sea level and has dimensions – four kilometers long and a half kilometers wide. A search on the Internet, and then a survey of local residents and guides, confirmed that no one had dived in this lake before.
As always, energetic people have one step from idea to implementation, so Andrei, upon returning to Moscow, suggested the President of the Octopus club Vadim Belenikin the idea of making the highest altitude dive in the world. He warmly supported this idea, and a group of like-minded people began to form around the project: Denis Bakin, Vadim Belenikin, Maxim Gresko, Pavel Ruslanov, Gennady Slobodanyuk, Dmitry Fridman and Svetlana Chistyakova. The result of the correspondence with the representative of the Guinness Book of Records was the refusal to register a record due to the impossibility of their representative participating in the project.
The lack of sponsors and the high cost of expedition costs also did not dampen the enthusiasm and desire to set a new World Diving Record. It was decided to organize an expedition at their own expense. The logistics of the expedition was undertaken by the Himalayan club with direct participation in the expedition of the President of the Himalayan club Sergey Vertelov. It was necessary to solve the difficult task of delivering more than half a ton of equipment, including a compressor, and expedition members to the inaccessible region of Nepal to a height approximately equal to the height of Mount Elbrus. Another problem was the lack of proven methods for calculating the time and depth of diving at such a height, as well as the impossibility of emergency evacuation and the absence of pressure chambers in Nepal and in neighboring countries. Atmospheric pressure at an altitude of Tilicho is about 0.5 atm., Which is much lower than in the cockpit of any aircraft in which (as any diver knows) you cannot appear immediately after diving. After approximate calculations, a maximum immersion depth of 25 meters was chosen with an exposure of 1 minute.
A flight to Kathmandu, then a local maize flight to one of the highest mountain unpaved airfields in the world near the small village of Manang (3550 m), a two-day adaptation, a training dive in the local lake and the blessing of the local llama were a prelude to a difficult two-day ascent to Tilicho .
On September 23, 2000, the expedition reached the lake, which struck with its pristine beauty and grandeur. On the absolutely turquoise surface of the lake, sparkling in the rays of the cold sun, dazzling ice floes falling into the lake with avalanches that descended several times a day from the western side, where there is a huge glacier. The camp was set up on the opposite side of the lake. GPS showed a height of 5,000 meters at the surface of the water.
Almost the entire team due to insufficient acclimatization at such altitude showed signs of mountain sickness, headache and nausea, but, nevertheless, it was decided to start the planned dives the next day. Sunny weather changed during the day to snow and minus 10 degrees. In the morning, using an inflatable boat, we measured the depths. The results were obtained that a small area of shallow water next to the camp is replaced by steep underwater cliffs and a depth of significantly more than 75 meters (the measurement limit for the existing echo sounder), strange formations were also observed at a depth of about 50 meters, in appearance similar to algae.
The Coltry Sub compressor barely filled the tanks with air up to 100 atmospheres. The weather began to deteriorate again, so they plunged right at the camp on the shallows with depths of up to 10 meters. This dive and the following night completely exhausted the team. Overnight was cold, a strong wind with snow tore 2 tents.
In the morning, Andrei Andryushin decides to achieve his goal, and on September 25, 2000, together with Denis Bakin, Maxim Gresko and sherpas loaded with equipment, leaves for the north of the lake, where the bottom profile and approach to the water allows for a record dive. Any movements at this height cause very severe shortness of breath, a person begins to suffocate and for a long time can not restore normal breathing. Two kilometers north of the camp, they chose a place convenient for entering the water.
Friends helped Andrei get dressed, and he began his dive. “I plunged along a rocky slope. It was dark enough underwater. Visibility was a maximum of one meter. The surface water temperature was plus six degrees Celsius. My computer switched to dive mode at a depth of about 5 meters.