An extraordinary project, known as the "Lakes at the Crown of the World", explores the highest situated lakes on our planet.
In their fourth ambitious expedition, a two-person team of Kamil Iwankiewicz and Bogumił Buczyłko ventured into the heart of the Himalayas to dive in two pristine lakes located in the Hongu valley: Hongu East Lake (5400 meters above sea level) and North Chamlang Lake (5270 meters above sea level). These lakes are nestled between the majestic peaks of the eight-thousander Makalu and the seven-thousander Chamlang, just a few kilometers from the summit of Mount Everest.
The modest team, aided by just a few porters, faced an almost superhuman effort, grappling with the enormous challenges posed by the extremely difficult terrain of the Himalayas. Since every piece of equipment was carried by the porters and the expedition members themselves, meticulous planning and selection of equipment were necessary. Despite the significant planned diving depth, the use of a twinset was simply not possible. The choice fell on a sidemount configuration, which at that time was used by a handful of divers in cave diving.
Amidst the breathtaking panorama of high peaks and icy vistas, the divers had to contend with piercing winds, which combined with temperatures dropping to -20 degrees Celsius and periodically falling snow, created extremely difficult conditions for trekking, not to mention diving.
Upon reaching the site where the lake was supposed to be, it turned out that the landscape resembled an icy desert with no reference points. The lake was hidden deep under the ice, and locating it required further exhausting trekking across the glacier. When a small opening was finally found in the thick layers of snow and ice, another bout of bad weather hit. While any winter under-ice diving can be called challenging, here all elements drastically increased the diving risk: a high altitude of over 5000 meters above sea level, very low air temperature and strong wind, zero visibility, unknown surroundings, and distance from human settlements, making any rescue operation impossible.
Despite the extremely difficult conditions, the dive went as planned, and Kamil Iwankiewicz reached a depth of 36 meters, thereby setting a record for depth in high-altitude diving.
To perform exploration and scientific deep diving in lakes at the highest altitude in the world.
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