Imagine you are a very experienced cave diver and you and your friends are attempting to set a new world record for the longest cave dive in a deep cave in Norway. And then imagine the worst scenario: two of your friends pin in the most narrow restriction down @ 130 meters (426 ft), drown and die in this cave. You have to leave them there and have to ascend without them. This is what Diving Into The Unknown is about.
This is what happened to the Finnish cave divers Patrik Grönqvist, Vesa Rantanen, Kai Känkänen and Sami Paakarinen when they had to leave their long term friends and dive buddys Jari Huotarinen and Jari Uusimaki down in the Plura cave system.
The Plura cave system is located in Northern Norway not far away from the town of Mo i Rana. The cave has two entrances: the Plura lakeside and the Steinugleflåget dry cave. The entire cave system is approximately 2 km (1.24 miles) long and the deepest point is mentioned 130 meters (426 ft). During the project the team had not only to fight large sharp rocks and extremely narrow restrictions but also very cold water with temperatures between 2 and 4 degrees celsius (~ 35.6 Fahrenheit).
After the Norwegian and British authorities called the recovery operation of the two Jaris off – because referred as too risky – the diving spot got closed by the authorities. But the remaining friends have a plan: against all orders they want to recover their buddys on their own.
Watch the official trailer of “Diving Into The Unknown” here:
Diving Into The Unknown
The title is chosen well, because the entire movie is not about the cave and all its restrictions and difficulty. It’s about the personal and mental difficulties which come with a project like this. Do I have the strength to dive to the place where my friends died? Do I have the strenght to face their drown bodies and how will they look like? What do we do, when we find them? And is this entire situation worth dying for? This all is “The Unknown”.
Every diver I know who faced a difficult and dangerous situation in his diving life had this question at least once after they passed something like this. What will happen when…?
Director Juan Reina and his team were able to create a documentary which – generously – lacks of any lurid presentations. They are more silent spectors and show how the remaining friends fight their own thoughts about the what and how and how they work together as a team to plan and organize the recovery. Without the sensational aspect the entire film let me take a sometimes too close look behind the masks. I feel the pain of thoughts and the contradiction of bringing their friends back to the surface while thinking of their own families and the risk of dying during this operation as well.
E.g. when Kai told the team during the dive in the cave that he has to leave and ascend to the surface. This was a perfect example of the inner conflict and the absolut valid resolution. During my Technical Diving training I learned one important thing: every diver can abort a dive for any reason. And Kai had a good reason: he was not 100% on the task. Therefore he could have been an additional risk. You need balls to understand this and cancel your attendance while working in a team.
I don’t want to spoil too much and won’t go deep into details. If you like to see more about pure dive planning, gas blending or logistics etc, this movie is not for you. Of course there’s a lot of tanks, scooter, CCRs but it’s more about the operation background itself. The long travel to the drown friends. The cave system which is sometimes big enough for a train and sometimes that tight, that I realized how I started to breath deeper to relax like the protagonists did.
The Operation itself took place in March 2014 and a total of 1.100 kg (2,425 lbs) had to be taken down to the Steinugleflåget dry cave.
It’s weird to watch them working on releasing the gear of their friends and after finishing the work asking for a break – at 120 meters depth. If you don’t know about saturation you must understand: something which is not endless down there is time.
The most interesting part of the operation is the reaction of the divers after the first successful day. How burden released after everything went well. Also when they called the police after finishing the project.
Diving Into The Unknown is nothing for adrenaline junkies. Cave Diving or in general Technical Diving is nothing for adrenaline junkies. The movie is a psychological or sociological study of cave divers in general and the extreme operation in particular.
I extented my personal range of knowledge by watching the mental stability, teamwork and the approach how to recover the friends.
It’s absolutely deserved that this movie collects awards all around the world:
Warning: if you have claustrophic tendencies this video might not be for you!
Runtime: 85 minutes
Production year: 2016
Production country: Finland, Norway
Language: Finnish, English, Swedish, Norwegian
Subtitles: English, Finnish and Swedish
You can also watch the movie or order the DVD on Amazon: