The pursuit of Records in Diving (depth, etc)

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Tortuga68

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Guns do jam sometimes.

It was the rhetoric I objected to. Anyone with a modicum of common sense knows diving record attempts are extremely dangerous & potentially deadly.

I expect there were many observers - maybe even the majority - who said "You're gunna die!" every time Gabr, Gomes, Shaw, Bennett, Bowden, Exley, Ellyatt, van Schaik et al attempted a record dive. Sometimes they were right, sometimes they weren't.

Only 4 people are known to have successfully dived recreational SCUBA below 300m - more people have walked on the moon.

I'd much rather hear what people have to say about the motivation, psychology, preparation & execution of the people who attempt these dives (van Schaik's own book was quite revealing) than an unnecessary & at-best-unproven Russian roulette analogy.

Some people are asking "What's the point?" of these dives & wondering if they're a result of hubris motivated by ego. I'd ask the same question of saying "I told you so" in whatever way people choose to phrase it.

The Germans have a word for it: Schadenfreude
 

boulderjohn

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My thoughts, on my blog:

I liked Andy's post a lot. It echoed the thoughts I had about the role of everyone else surrounding the start of an event. I want to give two examples to illustrate what I believe is a very common issue in almost all areas of life.

When I was a teen, my Boy Scout troop took a trip to a site that included a swimming area with a cliff on one side. Swimmers would climb up to various ledges and jump off. On occasion, we would see some hearty soul take a path around the back to the very top and take the crazy leap from that height. I wanted to see what it looked like from up there, so I climbed the path, looked over the edge, and saw that terrifying view of the swimming hole so far below. I was just about to turn and leave when I heard the shout. I had been spotted. My fellow Boy Scouts were pointing up at me and calling out for others to see that I was about to jump. Soon all eyes were on me. How could I walk away now? I went to the edge, looked back over my shoulder so I would not see down, and leaped out. I was in stark terror all the way to the water. Once in the water, I was swarmed by those congratulating me and, of course, urging me to do it again. I ended up doing the leap 8 times that day, and I was just as terrified on the 8th as I had been on the first. There was, however, no way I had the personal courage to stop the jumps and disappoint my fans.

A biography of of Jim Morrison, lead singer of the Doors, showed a far more pathetic version of the same issue. He arrived at a dinner party being thrown by one of his entourage. When they sat down to eat, the host proudly set a bottle of Courvoisier (cognac) in front of him, clearly indicating that it was solely for his use. By the end of the evening Morrison was passed out, and he urinated in his pants. When he finally regained consciousness, he vented on his host. By putting that bottle in front of him, he had said, "You're the drinking man," and he had conveyed the message that Morrison was expected to live up to (or down to) that reputation. He had not had any intention of going beyond light social drinking that night, but once the expectation of the group had been made clear, he was unable to overcome that peer pressure. He had to finish the bottle or pass out trying.

Brett Gilliam told me that when Sheck Exley died, there were some who flat out accused him of murder--using that word--because of the belief that he and others who were doing the really deep dives in those days were responsible for pressure that pushed Exley to take unnecessary risks in order to meet the expectations of that group.

So how much of that was going on in this case? I don't know. Just looking at what little I do know, however, I suspect that once the whole machinery of this process was set in motion, it would have taken unbelievable courage on the part of "Dr. Deep" to change his mind and walk away.
 

DoNotDstrb

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There is something here I don't get about this particular mentality...... I do "get" people climbing Everest..... Although it's been done a couple of times, you cannot routinely fly a helicopter to the summit. If you want to get there, only your own two feet can take you....that's it! No other way....... Of course, you need the right gear.....

Diving to over 1000' on open circuit SCUBA? Why? There are a dozen perfectly safe ways to get to 1000'..... open circuit SCUBA is NOT -- repeat-- NOT one of them.... Whoever compared it earlier to attempting to reach orbit in yoga pants hit the nail right on the head. Someone explain to me why someone would think its OK to engage in any extreme activity while PURPOSELY choosing a technology that is WIDELY recognized as inferior to the task? The analogies abound.... Play in an NFL game wearing a bicycle helmet? Run a marathon wearing $2 flip-flops from Walgreens? Cross the Atlantic in a jon boat? I could go on and on....

Less than 600 total dives? Diving less than 4 years? Wow..... This part really astonishes me... its one thing that he and his insanely massive ego thought he was ready to do this.... it's quite another that the dozens of people around him did not tie him up and beat him like a piñata until he regained his senses.

I do feel horrible for his family..... but wow....
 
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drrich2

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Everest has been mentioned as a useful analogy, but there's a critical difference. It has a summit. For practical purposes, depth does not. However deep someone goes or whatever record is set, there's always the option for someone to try and exceed it by just a little. I wonder how many deaths it will take to stop that, and at what depth it will be?

Had this guy lived, wouldn't we be having this conversation about some one else trying to beat his record before long?

Richard.
 

DoNotDstrb

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Everest has been mentioned as a useful analogy, but there's a critical difference. It has a summit. For practical purposes, depth does not. However deep someone goes or whatever record is set, there's always the option for someone to try and exceed it by just a little. I wonder how many deaths it will take to stop that, and at what depth it will be?

Had this guy lived, wouldn't we be having this conversation about some one else trying to beat his record before long?

Richard.

While I agree with you that Everest does have a summit and thus limits the stupidity of those that seek to conquer it, I do not agree that if Doc Deep had survived we would be gleefully discussing the next attempt...

Perhaps some people would be discussing that, but I venture that many... myself included, would be saying how amazingly lucky Doc was and how the next guy that tries this will probably die.
 

Hetland

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What I know is that Dr. Garmin was not a big-ego pin chaser as many here suggest or assume. He was a good, dedicated, extremely well prepared diver and his dive team outstanding. He had a big dream and he dared follow it. He gave hope and inspiration to so many people who truly need it in the community. He was NOT -as someone wrote - just a doctor with too much money. Of course he knew that this was one of the possible outcomes. This was not a fly-by-night undertaking. He and the team has all my respect. Please people, there are many people in mourning right now. Your knee-jerk false assumptions and "analyzes" and self righteous comments don't helt help anyone. If you have any shred of decency in your body, this is not the time jump to baseless conclusions, but the time to show some respect, both to Dr. Garmin, hiimself and to his family, to the dive team, to the st. Croix dive community, his friends, and everyone who has supported him, love him, and/or been inspired by him. Thank you.

Are you talking about the guy they called "Doc Deep"? I probably would not do a recreational dive with someone that allows themselves to be called "Doc Deep". Perhaps THE most important element of technical diving is temperament. From what I've been able to gather, my opinion is that a number of people involved in this "record" attempt lacked the temperament to qualify as a buddy/team member on technical dive.

Also, what we all know now is that someone died. That's all we know. I know Guy wanted the information released about this dive but honestly, the vast majority of people on this thread haven't shown the maturity level to be given this information. I for one vote that it isn't released. Not that my vote matters.

Sterling, if someone as beloved in the community as Sheck Exley receives harsh criticism about his dives that eventually killed him, do you really think Guy is gonna get treated with kit gloves?

The best thing that can come out of this whole mess is a detailed analysis of his dive computer and the video from his gopro. As morbid as that sounds to watch him die over and over again, letting people see exactly what happened to him physically start to finish will at least give those who think this kind of dive is anything less than roulette a stern warning about what will await them. Just as Dave Shaws video does.

Attempts were made (in vain) by divers with far, far, more training and experience to dissuade "Doc Deep" before this happened. This behavior has been seen over and over again. "Doc Deep" was very successful in not killing himself, until he wasn't. Other divers have walked the same path, and there's not a thing anyone can do to convince them they're headed for disaster. About all we're left with, is ridicule. We ridicule divers like this to dissuade the next person from committing suicide. They SHOULD be ridiculed, ESPECIALLY when they ignore long-established guidelines in pursuit of a meaningless goal. We want to keep the persons that worshiped "Doc Deep" from following him into the grave.
 

scagrotto

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Yesterday's "impossible" is tomorrow's liveaboard. ... Consider Everest.

There's some validity to comparing Everest to deep diving, but that comparison only goes so far.

People certainly knew it would be difficult, but I don't know if anyone who actually knew anything about mountaineering ever thought it would be impossible to climb Everest. George Mallory was the first documented person to actually try to reach the summit in 1924, and he believed he would succeed (the discover of his body provided some evidence that he actually may have been successful). Unlike deep diving, the actual climbing of Everest is relatively easy. It's easy enough that people with minimal experience can do it when they're being baby sat by people with real mountaineering experience, but even then enough people make mistakes that your chances of dying as a result of a summit attempt are significant. Unlike deep diving, the climbing itself is the same regardless of altitude. Like deep diving, there are physiological issues that make it much more difficult to perform any particular task, and to maintain good judgment.

Everest has been mentioned as a useful analogy, but there's a critical difference. It has a summit.

That's an extremely important distinction between Everest and deep diving.

The significance of the summit is that no matter how experienced, motivated, ignorant or brave you are you can only climb to the top. Until somebody dives to the bottom of the Mariana Trench you can always (try to) dive deeper than the maximum depth anyone has ever reached. It's commonly thought that if Everest was just 1000' higher it would indeed be impossible to climb, even with supplemental oxygen. Even if another 1000' isn't enough to make it impossible, a few thousand feet certainly would.

If Everest was 35,000' high I'm sure we'd have seen just what we see with deep diving. Nobody would have made it to the top, but whatever the highest elevation reached was, somebody would come along and try to climb just a bit higher. Maybe people would stop trying when one or two or three dozen people had made it past 30k or 31k and every one of them died as a result, but even if people kept on trying there would be an ultimate goal that's "not much" higher than what somebody has done before. The ocean is about 36,000' deep. At 1200' even the deepest unsuccessful scuba dive was only 3.33% of the way to the bottom.

In deep diving there is no realistic final goal. There's only deeper, and that's going to be true forever.
 

The Chairman

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I know the thread was split up into several segments, but it's my opinion that this is the most important of the three. The pursuit of the deepest record has claimed many, many divers. How do we discourage this as a community?
 

TSandM

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I don't think you can. No matter what area you choose, there are those who want the "-est" -- deepest, longest, further, fastest, highest, whatever. In any activity where there are risks, things sort out over time to define "generally regarded as safe", or the limits where most people of average abilities and experience can participate without undue likelihood of harm. Beyond that is a region where only the unusually talented, unusually well-trained or unusually lucky can go . . . and at the far reaches of that area are the records. No matter how dangerous the attempt, there will ALWAYS be "the guy" who has to try, and for those folks, often, the burned hand doesn't teach. (How many bones did Evel Knievel break over the years?)

I read the account of Ahmed's dive, and he recognized that the HPNS symptoms were becoming debilitating, so he grabbed the depth marker where he was and turned back before hitting his goal. BUT he had already set a record; I wonder if his approach would have been as prudent if he had been just a few meters above a record setting depth.

The desire to be special, to be recognized, to be admired is pretty endemic in our species (and FB "likes" really ARE a manifestation of this). Some people will take what the rest of us view as unconscionable risks to accomplish this. It's who we are.
 
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