The Record is Broken! Q&A with Artūras Artiušenka
We announced earlier this week that the world record for the deepest cave dive has been broken. It was a huge achievement for the team, which faced various challenges, from losing valuable team members due to illness during the expedition, to treacherous mountain roads, broken-down vehicles and dangerously heavy rains in Abkhazia, where the Krubera-Voronya cave is located. Luckily for everyone, nothing serious happened, well, except when a member of the team, Ukrainian cave diver Genadij Samochin, set a new world record.
When introducing the expedition over a month ago, we explained why Adform decided to sponsor this brave mission to the centre of the earth. It wasn’t just because one of us Adformers was among the participants; it was equally important goal-wise. Pushing the boundaries, breaking records, setting new targets, always being the first – it’s something we feel we do in our business every day.
Now that it’s all done and dusted – we spoke to our colleague, Artūras Artiušenka, about the expedition, the challenges, his experiences and the other exciting things that happened during the journey to the centre of the earth and back.
Welcome back, Artūras, and congratulations to you and the whole team for setting a new world record! How do you feel about it?
Thanks! Thanks a lot – we made it! We faced many difficult challenges during this attempt, but we still managed to accomplish what we went for – breaking the record. I’m extremely happy with this achievement.
The record was not broken by a large margin, only 7 metres. Does that mean it will not last and a new one will be set soon?
In fact, I think it is the other way around. It might be a brave statement, but I believe this record is going to last for quite some time now, and I mean at least several years. I don’t think anyone is going to attempt to break it anytime soon.
To descend these extra 7 metres into the cave vertically, the diver had to tackle nearly 150 metres of narrow corridors of cave horizontally, while being over 2000 metres below the surface and underwater, of course. It is an incredibly challenging environment and you really need to be well prepared. It’s no place for bold attempts by just anyone – it’s a professional business and that is why I believe our record is going to last.
Inside the Krubera-Voronya cave
This expedition wasn’t your first journey underground. Did you reach your own goals in this mission?
That is an interesting question: yes and no, is probably the best answer I can give. I achieved a personal depth record by descending to the bottom of the Krubera-Voronya cave, from where, if you want to go deeper, there’s only one way – to dive, which I don’t think I’m experienced enough to do just yet.
On the other hand, I was responsible for photography inside the cave, and sometimes things did not go as well as planned. It was a challenge at the beginning of the mission, because some members of the team fell out just before we started, which meant only one thing for the rest of us – more work transporting food, equipment and establishing over- and underground camps. The more time you spend on these side tasks, the less of it you can dedicate to photography. I had to balance things as much as I could, but it got increasingly difficult on descending deeper into the cave, where the temperature averages 7°C and the humidity is a constant 100%. These conditions make photography a real challenge, both technically and physically.
We know that the weather conditions during the descent were far from favourable. How did it affect your progress?
Yes, showers, even though not common during this time of year in the region, do still happen. And we were (un)lucky enough to get a couple of them while inside the cave. Heavy rain and thunderstorms are one of the most dangerous things that can happen to speleologists and cave divers. As a result of them happening even close to the site of the expedition, the caves can be flooded very quickly and believe me, no one wants to find himself a couple of hundred metres underground with water rapidly flooding the chambers of the cave.
Basically in the middle of the expedition, a storm destroyed the communications cable with the cave, and a special phone, which was used for worldwide telephone calls. It caused a temporary loss of connection between the surface camp and the cave. We could hear the sound of water rushing deep from various ends of the cave, which is usually the first sign of a coming flood. A combination of an oncoming flood and no connection with the outside world is deadly dangerous, but it ain’t over till it’s over, they say. We managed to fix the cable, re-establish communications, perform all the planned biological research and even, as you already know, break the world record.
Inside the Krubera-Voronya cave
Often, at the end of one vacation, we start planning the next. Are you also planning a new challenge?
This was a very rewarding, yet incredibly challenging expedition. Despite that we have already been invited to work in Morocco, the Caucasus Mountains and elsewhere; I haven’t set any plans yet. I need some time to understand what this expedition has given me and then I can make some decisions for the future. I’d love to visit the caves of Papua New Guinea some day!
Congratulations with this marvellous achievement once again, and thanks for the interview!