Category — Stage Dive

Lelle’s Eurotrip – 2016 Part I (Finland)

Living in beautiful Tulum is a great thing. Having the closeness to all the caves and the Mexican way of life is awesome! But going back to the roots from time to time is equally awesome. This summer I headed back to Europe for some super nice cave and mine diving. This was not only some stunning diving but allowed me to dive something new and different from the diving I have been recently doing.  It’s important for me to keep the diversity in my own diving on a high level, as it adds to what I can bring back to share with my students and colleagues from an instructional and experience point of view.

Malmö, a southern town of Sweden is basecamp and ground zero, and center of the universe for all of you that did not already know. My journey started here with packing the car before making the 1102km (one way) trip to Lohja and Ojamo mine in Finland. Every time it’s time to do some traveling  you are always faced with the same fact, LOGISTICS… When you decide to make the journey by driving a car you think you are on the safe side and always stack a massive pile of stuff to bring, thinking there is lots of room in the car. And like a letter in the mailbox you are always faced with the same outcome, you need a larger vehicle, you can never ever have ENOUGH room…

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Well, after a few hours of  logistical magic it was time to head off! Now this trip involves a ferry crossing from Sweden to Finland, where you catch the ferry from Stockholm to Åbo during nighttime. This crossing alone could have probably been an article by itself , however let’s not go there this time!

So, once setting foot on Finnish soil very early in the following morning, arriving to a very sleepy town of Åbo, there was not a single person in sight in any direction. So with sleepy eyes disembarking from the ferry, what better way is there to wake up to some hardcore Finnish heavy metal music that is playing on the radio. And the singing which you can occasionally hear between all the screaming is of course in Finnish. If you are sleepy in the mornings, try this, it’s 100% going to wake you up.

Finishing the last leg of the journey, driving through a beautiful and sunny Finnish countryside which was almost deserted at this early hour. Heavy metal is pumping and the Swedish crew has high expectations and super eager to get to the mine.

Arriving at the destination Ojamo mine, we were greeted by some very happy faces welcoming us. It was an absolutely beautiful and sunny morning, and looking at the mirror flat surface of the small lake immediately just makes you want to jump in and dive. We were given a site and logistical briefing from the Finnish crew and then quickly started to dig out all the equipment from the cars. Finding everything and putting it together went fairly quickly, and voila, it’s time for making a dive plan. We studied the map of Ojamo, and listened carefully, getting all the information about our dive route. Once that was done, it was time to hit the water starting off by hauling down all the equipment to the platform.

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Scooters, stage and deco tanks were put in the water. In a logistical sense one can not ask for a better setup than this, the parking is more or less just next to the lake and the platform. In the water there is an additional platform lowered so you are standing in about waste deep water. There’s a strong wire running along the entire platform which makes scooter and stage/deco “parking” extremely easy.

The entire logistical setup in Ojamo is very well thought through and superbly executed. There are several points of entry to the mine which are located with big buoys attached to metal wires to the surface. Under water there is a very nice and solid deco station made by metal bars at 6M. There is also a very nice permanent deco habitat to sit inside when having a long final deco stop, this would be especially great during wintertime when the temperature in the lake drops to the chilly 3-4 degrees that the mine sports all year round. There are lines running in open water to connect all the different stations in the lake which makes navigating around the different points very easy. All in all, the logistics are like a gift from above!

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There is no better music in my ears then to hear the words “OK, let’s go diving” with the strongest Finnish accent you could possibly imagine. As mentioned the water temp sits at a fairly steady 3-4 degrees year round inside the mine. During the summer time the open water lake can get to temperatures up to 17-20 degrees. So you don’t really have to be Einstein to figure out what time of year is best for those deco stops that pile up when you spend some time inside the mine. Very nice to feel crispy and alive during the dive being so spoiled by Mexican temperatures, but at the same time, feels good to do decompression thawing back to life.

We spent a couple of days criss crossing through the various shafts and break rooms. I have to point out that having a scooter here makes for the best dives, as it allows you to cover some distance. It is an absolutely beautiful place with lot’s of nice old mining history. And everything is nice and intact due to the protection of the water.

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My hat goes off to the Finnish crew! In terms of hospitality, logistics etc. this was truly amazing!

For sure this is definitely a place to revisit for more awesome diving.  But for now, it’s time to continue the journey! Next stop, Molnar Janos cave in Budapest, Hungary.

 

To be continued…

 

Divers in Finland: Lelle, Aron, Andreas & Daniel

September 15, 2016   No Comments

CCR Cave Diving – Don’t believe the hearsay!

As an avid rebreather diver, and self-proclaimed cave geek, there is no better environment to combine both of my passions.

There are a lot of people who say that Mexico is not the place for CCR diving. They say it’s too shallow, too decorated, or even too small.  Well let me tell you right now, this is totally untrue!

As we all know, our number one skill when it comes to diving is “awareness”.  Add a touch of local knowledge to this skill, and a little planning.  You can have some of the best dives of your life, and you can totally use your machines to dive these beautiful caves.

When people tell me, it’s too shallow.  I always ask them to explain, and they tell me that diving in a 5m cave is too shallow for the rebreathers.  Well, if you have ever been to Nohoch Na Chich, or Dos Piso you will know that the average depth is 5/6m. With a low set point, and correct bail out planning, you can literally spend your entire scrubber floating around! You can take in the whole cave (in some caves) in one dive.  Doing this on open circuit, would take multiple days/dives.

When the “too small” comes up, I bring to their attention such caves as The Pit, Mayan Blue, Crystal and the list goes on.

Mexico, has an abundance of caves just PERFECT for our rebreathers. Just over this last week I’ve been “working” and spent many, many, MANY hours of guiding our customers on some bucket list dives.

One such dive springs to mind.  For anyone who has ever been to Dos Ojos cave system and seen the “Crocodile and Barbie” well this is the start of many potential EPIC dives.  The LSD section of the cave is as famous as the Dos Ojos system itself.

To even reach this jump is a multi-stage dive in itself.  It is about a 60 min swim or 25min trigger time on DPV. Once you pass the back to back arrows pointing towards Dos Ojos/the Pit,  the first jump after this you will find the LSD jump.

I first dived this line on my DPV user course in 2014, and I was hooked by the pure size and shape of the Cave.  It has the most spectacular rooms, colours and some breathtaking scenery.  Combine this with more jumps than I can count.  What do you have? Well you have the best dive of your life.

This passage (if you can call it a passage) is so big a plane could fit inside it at some points, it will blow your mind!

I’ve been down this jump line so many times OC, DPV with a ton of stages, and every time still not reaching the EOL (End of Line). I say to myself “next time I’ll do it” and never did!!!!

Then along came Henrik, long term guest, friend and CCR Diver. This was the perfect opportunity to use our machines for what they were intended for: cave diving and long run times!  We sat down, planned our bail out, planned our route. We even planned hydration and food breaks, as we knew it was going to be a long day.

We got to Dos Ojos very early and set up all our bail out tanks and the “mighty Meg, and Peg” as we called our units. After completing our in water checks, off we went.

We reached the jump in plenty of time, got into position, and connected line to line and ventured down the LSD passage!!!!

Let me just fast forward to the end of this story. The whole dive was awesome, it was every bit as good as I had dreamed and hoped for.  We reached the very end of line, well before it goes into sidemount passages.  We arrived to the T at the end of the main line in about 3 hours, maybe a little longer.  We celebrated with some high fives (for everyone who knows me, this has a significant meaning ha ha) and some hearty laughing into our loops.

We then started our long swim back, the cave looks different, however, the way home from the LSD section is just as amazing as the way in!

This is just one such dive of MANY that goes to show Mexican cave diving and CCR go hand in hand.  This dive is achievable on OC, however logistically we all know that CCR leads the way when it comes to gas logistics and LONG cave diving.

I will end this short story, and tell you. If you dive CCR and cave dive, then please combine them together and come out to Mexico. This is just one dive of so many I can talk about all day long!

I am happy to answer any questions you might have on this dive or any other, just email me at robprotecplaya@gmail.com

Some of your best dives, are just a click away!!!

March 16, 2016   2 Comments