In our first story a diver looses all his air almost a mile down a flooded passageway. At that moment life expectancy is zero but there is one man who can save him. Sheck Exley is regarded as the greatest cave diver of all. He still holds depth and distance records that are unimaginable to all but a few divers. Without a moments hesitation Sheck started to ‘buddy breath’ his companion to safety. Flying in the face of all Darwinistic principles Sheck ignored the temptation to leave his friend and put himself in grave jeopardy – it almost cost him his life. Sharing air for 4500ft was an act that almost defies imagination.
Story two tells about a South African diver called Peter Verhulsel. Peter went diving with two companions in Sterkfontein caves 80kms north of Johannesburg.
The geology is akin to a ‘Swiss Cheese’ – full of holes and tilted at 30 degrees. Where it submerges the holes fill with water. Leaving the guideline Peter wanders off to swim alone and discovers an unknown chamber. His curiosity drives him forward. When he has had enough exploring he returns but cannot find the entrance. He waits for a rescue which never comes. Peter lived for one month in this cave and our story tells about the extraordinary efforts, dilemmas, politics and even psychics that were involved in the search for this lost caver.
In this history of exploration and adventure it would be difficult to find two stories more frightening or more than harrowing than the man who lost his air and the man who lost his way.