Author Topic: Free Diving  (Read 1134 times)

Offline thehungrytroglobite

  • player
  • **
  • Posts: 105
  • Newcastle Uni Caving Club
Free Diving
« on: October 17, 2021, 12:00:52 pm »
Helloooo darkness-dwellers,

I've never done a free dive before, however it is becoming more and more evident that I will need to if I want to do all of the caves that I want to do!! I was wondering if anyone had advice on how to start free diving, where is best for the first time, etc etc.

Thank you!
Anna x
full of whimsical ideas

Offline marysboy

  • obsessive maniac
  • ***
  • Posts: 359
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2021, 12:36:53 pm »

Online Ian Ball

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1263
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2021, 02:29:29 pm »
Enjoy it, I found the feeling of floating through the Rowten long duck and free dive exhilarating, loved it.




Offline David Rose

  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 808
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2021, 05:13:44 pm »
Sump 1 in Swildon's. You really can't go wrong. No need for weights or other faff. Just a wetsuit. 

Offline paul

  • Global Moderator
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 4758
  • Orpheus CC, NPC
    • Orpheus Caving Club
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2021, 05:45:54 pm »
Or Lake Sump in Peak Cavern, which has a short but dry alternative route if you son't fancy returning via the sump.
I'm not a complete idiot: some parts are missing!

Offline Tomferry

  • obsessive maniac
  • ***
  • Posts: 450
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2021, 05:55:46 pm »
I have only ever done sump1 Swildons , I would recommend it stay carm and a deep breath !

Offline D.Send

  • newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 21
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2021, 08:24:14 am »
Hi Folks,
Our group prepared to do the first free-diving round-trip in Swildons back in the early seventies.

We started by following the US Navy seal's diver's preparation instructions, and trained over one year to swim two lengths of the Plymouth swimming pool along the bottom on one breath.... (100 yards) so as to be sure to have plenty of spare capacity. This done, we started by free-diving sumps accompanied by divers who had checked them for any obstructions and laid ariadné's handlines for us. Finally we did the round trip perfectly at ease, then later the Rowten-Kingsdale sump etc. That is, if you free-dive, make sure you are properly trained beforehand...

D.Send.

Offline Badlad

  • Administrator
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2340
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2021, 09:52:13 am »
One of my early caving mentors, Charlie Povey, told me he trained for a Swildons 1, 2, 3 trip by crawling around under the furniture at home, from one wall to another, holding his breath.  This was much to the amusement of his wife.

Offline A_Northerner

  • stalker
  • ***
  • Posts: 275
  • SUSS 'til you die (Also BPC + CDG)
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2021, 10:44:46 am »
Lake Sump in Peak should be sumped now, it has airspace periodically but you can still treat it like a full free-dive in that case.

Go into Valley Entrance and do the first free-dive to Rowten (Usually 2m long, but again I've seen it low enough to be a duck)

Neither of those will need any lead, or even a mask.

Then I'd say you need to invest in a mask, some lead (1x 2kg block will probably do to get you neutral/negative, they thread onto a standard caving belt. Ask a cave diver if they have any spare, you might be in luck  ;) ), and possibly a neoprene hood.

Once you're comfortable in the water you're probably good to do the second sump from KMC to Rowten, and if you take that in your stride you can commit to the final 8m one - be warned there have been reports of debris in there after big floods. I've been in 3 or 4 times in the past couple of years and not seen any obstructions myself - though on my first attempt I did turn around after being spooked by a big trout swimming into me! It's handy to get a diver to check for you beforehand, or ask someone that's been through since the previous flood event. It isn't any more hard or technical than the previous one, but it does overstay its welcome so you just need to keep a level head and trust that the rope you're pulling along does eventually surface to air again!

Other good free-dives to tick are the Old Ing ones, which have a more technical profile - I think one is 2m long and 2m deep, and the second is 1m long but 3m deep underneath an archway, which is quite scary on a single breath! Obviously there's ongoing access issues at the Birkwith Caves, so keep that in mind.

Then of course there's the infamous Langstroth free-dives. They're very close to the bottom so you can try them out before doing the full through trip. Last August I helped re-bolt and re-line them with SRT rope, last month I did the through trip and the lines are still pristine. Be aware of the small airbell between the two most downstrem sumps, if you've not read any incident reports of the fatalities in there then it's probably best to familiarise yourself with the risks involved with the accumulation of CO2 in that airbell if it's been travelled a lot. Many people doing the trip treat the two sumps as a single dive and don't surface in the airbell, and some just take a single breath before moving on.

All of these won't require any specific free-diving apnea training, I'd say the main obstacle to overcome is just keeping calm and being comfortable with being underwater (and cold!).
Sweet is the sound of the pouring rain,
And the stream that falls from hill to plain.

Online Ian Ball

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1263
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2021, 12:40:51 pm »
I thought the Old Ing dive is 2m, deep but 200mm long.  (1st one going from Old Ing to Dismal Hill) 

That 2m is something of a consideration to me. Comfortably getting down that deep in a caving suit might be problematic but I doubt my aging Duo would like it.

Offline langcliffe

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2774
    • Caving Routes in the Northern Dales
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2021, 12:55:53 pm »
I thought the Old Ing dive is 2m, deep but 200mm long.  (1st one going from Old Ing to Dismal Hill) 

No - if I remember correctly, the first one is fairly shallow and about 3 metres long, and leads into a fairly large air-bell. The second starts two metres down and is 60 cm long. It's basically a duck-dive down to an arch, and then straight back up on the other side.

Offline Tomferry

  • obsessive maniac
  • ***
  • Posts: 450
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2021, 01:07:11 pm »
Wow that sounds tricky !! For the one beneath the arch would you use any AIDS ? Weights ? Also does it have a guide line ?

Offline Dickie

  • addict
  • **
  • Posts: 149
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2021, 01:38:16 pm »
Don't do the Langstroth sumps till you are completely confident in your abilities.

We did them the weekend after they were first lined for free-diving and stuffed a diver in first from Langstroth Cave. He reported they were OK so we did the pull-through trip down the Pot.
Several years later, we made the mistake of doing the pull-through on a Sunday afternoon as a nice finish to a weekend; the middle air bell (a bit like an upside-down toilet bowl) was completely devoid of breathable air so you just had to keep going. Apparently, this can happen if several parties go through in a weekend and it takes till next week to replenish through aeration or something. I'd always take a mask and a wetsuit hood (brain freeze!) for anything except the short ones.
Amazin Razin rools OK!

Offline A_Northerner

  • stalker
  • ***
  • Posts: 275
  • SUSS 'til you die (Also BPC + CDG)
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2021, 01:53:59 pm »
No - if I remember correctly, the first one is fairly shallow and about 3 metres long, and leads into a fairly large air-bell. The second starts two metres down and is 60 cm long. It's basically a duck-dive down to an arch, and then straight back up on the other side.

That does sound closer to the profile than what I said, though I do remember checking my dive bottom timer and it saying something like "2.9m" in the second one.

Wow that sounds tricky !! For the one beneath the arch would you use any AIDS ? Weights ? Also does it have a guide line ?

All tourist free dives should have a guide line that is strong enough to be pulled on, like SRT rope on bolts, as opposed to cave divers' lines which tend to be a thinner visual/tactile guide only and normally aren't used to physically aid progress underwater. I'd never really expect to "swim" a free dive in a cave. I'd say the Old Ing deep one almost certainly requires lead, or a heavy slab of rock from the streamway, to get you down there.
Sweet is the sound of the pouring rain,
And the stream that falls from hill to plain.

Offline A_Northerner

  • stalker
  • ***
  • Posts: 275
  • SUSS 'til you die (Also BPC + CDG)
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2021, 01:58:00 pm »
Don't do the Langstroth sumps till you are completely confident in your abilities.

We did them the weekend after they were first lined for free-diving and stuffed a diver in first from Langstroth Cave. He reported they were OK so we did the pull-through trip down the Pot.
Several years later, we made the mistake of doing the pull-through on a Sunday afternoon as a nice finish to a weekend; the middle air bell (a bit like an upside-down toilet bowl) was completely devoid of breathable air so you just had to keep going. Apparently, this can happen if several parties go through in a weekend and it takes till next week to replenish through aeration or something. I'd always take a mask and a wetsuit hood (brain freeze!) for anything except the short ones.

It's really changeable, when we re-lined them last year a member of our party spent some 10-15 minutes placing a spit in the airbell whilst breathing the air inside and it was totally finee (we were in dive kit, so at a moment's notice he could switch back to a safe air supply). It's better to be safe and treat them as one sump if you don't know how many people have been through recently, or even safer just take a dive bottle in the bottom and purge it in the air bell.
Sweet is the sound of the pouring rain,
And the stream that falls from hill to plain.

Offline nobrotson

  • Wob Rotson, ULSA
  • stalker
  • ***
  • Posts: 272
  • This not bono. Why the plastic fruit?
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2021, 05:08:00 pm »
My Dales favourite is definitely 68 series sump in Sleets Gill, it's probably the only sump I've ever actually enjoyed. You can actually see even without a mask if you're the first through and it feels very spacious and comfortable compared to Hydrophobia before it (nasty rocky crawling in fast flowing water).

The Friday 13th Sump in Penyghent is also a comfortable dive compared to the passage before and occasionally has a useable airspace, though vis is not good.

Rowten 8m sump is long and scary. Don't do it when hungover, you will hate it. Definitely wear a mask.

Never done Langstroth or Old Ing sumps.
the man is mentally ill. I have seen him eat a plastic pie.

Offline Pitlamp

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 6215
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2021, 05:17:06 pm »
Regarding: " I'd say the Old Ing deep one almost certainly requires lead, or a heavy slab of rock from the streamway, to get you down there." - I'd suggest caution with this approach. At the downstreanm side you surface in a deep canal which involves swimming some distance. Swimming whilst holding a large rock is far from easy and if you drop it, how will you get back? How will you pull efficiently on the line with both hands whilst holding a gert big slab?

Old Ing is a high energy sump in flood, with a greater possibility of abbraided / weakened lines than some other examples suggested above. It's also more challenging than most of the other suggestions. There isn't much margin for error when free diving; I'd advise having the proper equipmend to keep you warm, neutrally buoyant and able to see well underwater.

Offline A_Northerner

  • stalker
  • ***
  • Posts: 275
  • SUSS 'til you die (Also BPC + CDG)
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2021, 03:58:42 pm »
Regarding: " I'd say the Old Ing deep one almost certainly requires lead, or a heavy slab of rock from the streamway, to get you down there." - I'd suggest caution with this approach. At the downstreanm side you surface in a deep canal which involves swimming some distance. Swimming whilst holding a large rock is far from easy and if you drop it, how will you get back? How will you pull efficiently on the line with both hands whilst holding a gert big slab?

Old Ing is a high energy sump in flood, with a greater possibility of abbraided / weakened lines than some other examples suggested above. It's also more challenging than most of the other suggestions. There isn't much margin for error when free diving; I'd advise having the proper equipmend to keep you warm, neutrally buoyant and able to see well underwater.

When I say a "slab of rock" I'm not talking about anything torso-sized. There are good rocks in the entrance series that are flat, wide, and heavy enough to stash down an oversuit, or tuck down a belt. Then you can dump it once you surface in the canal, which is wide enough to bridge across while you sort yourself out post-dive (this is for a through-trip to Dismal Hill where you have no further need for the weight, or you can just return through the blasted crawl). With all free-dives (especially less visited ones) I'd always say ask a diver to recce first, or ask around and see if anyone has an idea of the condition, just like if you're planning to use any fixed aids in a cave. When it comes to lead, you're a bit better off because you have discrete units of weight and can work out what makes you neutral before the dive; the swim will be tough still, but manageable.

I'm not suggesting throwing caution to the wind with these ideas - I'm suggesting them as options I've done myself, and seen/heard others do, but also with a cautious approach.
Sweet is the sound of the pouring rain,
And the stream that falls from hill to plain.

Online Ian Ball

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1263
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2021, 04:44:07 pm »
How dense is rock?  It seems to be you need a significant size rock to make a difference.

Offline langcliffe

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2774
    • Caving Routes in the Northern Dales
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2021, 04:49:05 pm »
How dense is rock?  It seems to be you need a significant size rock to make a difference.

Was it John Southworth that tried to dive using rocks picked up at the sump  rather than lead taken in, with very little success?

Offline grahams

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1224
Re: Free Diving
« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2021, 04:57:17 pm »
How dense is rock?  It seems to be you need a significant size rock to make a difference.

The Mafia seemed to think that a bucket of cement was sufficient for a deep dive.
Sceptics wanted!

 

Main Menu

Forum Home Help Search
SimplePortal 2.3.5 © 2008-2012, SimplePortal