Sebastian Naslund

Highest and deepest - An altitude challenge

Annelie Pompe (Sweden) is challenging the freediving and mountaineering communities with a new record category. Climb as high as you can (without oxygen bottles), dive as deep as you can (freediving, without airtanks).

She has already climbed up to nearly 8000 meters, and has a world record I variable weight freediving to 126 meter. But she has her aim set higher (and lower). In may 2011 she is attempting Mount Everest without using oxygen, only a handful of people has done it without oxygen. In freediving she already have sponsors enough to attempt at 160 meter + freedive.

There are some obvious links in between the two sports.

- They work on a vertical scale.

- They involve great strain on the body in relation to low levels of oxygen.

- They are very mental since they include great risks.

- They may seem individualistic, but you will not get very far without buddies.

- They both involve ropes.

- And of course they both generate a breathtaking nature experience.

To be able to compare depth with height, a factor is needed. I have come to the conclusion that x50 is suitable. That means that a climb of Mount Everest (without oxygen supply) equals a 176 meter dive done on one breath. Of course the the freedive is most easily done in the No Limit discipline. Weights down and air filled balloon up.

As an comparison my numbers would look like this:

101 meter No limit x50 = 5050 points

Imja Tse, Himalaya 6005 meters= 6005 points

DepthAltitude points= 11.055 points

Annelie Pompe most likely is already world champion in this discipline.

7895 meters Shishapangma, Tibet North summit = 7895 points

126 meters VWT world record x50 = 6300 points

DepthAltitudePoints= 14.195 points

This concept has been tried before by Jantoon Reigersman but he walked a simpler road and used trimix diving tanks down to 156 meters.

One step, one breath away from catastrophe

This record category (Depth-Altitude) is most likely one of the most dangerous activities in the world if taking it to the extreme. Annelie Pompe has the ambition to beat Tanya Streeters absolute depth record in No limit 160 meters. Only five people have been deeper than 160 meters (Pipin Fereras, Audrey Mestre, Loic Le Ferme, Herbert Nitsch, Patrick Musimu). Le Ferme and Mestre died during No limit attempts. That means that 40% of the people that has gone below 160 meter has died.

Climbing Mount Everest (Chomolungma) has become more and more safe due to the “infrastructure” and expedition services available to the numerous climbers waiting for weather windows at base camp in autumn and spring. Ropes, ladders, oxygen, beaten paths and of course strong Sherpa support climbers that make Everest possible to many climbers.

Still mountaineering is extremely dangerous. So far 1 in 15 climbers of Mount Everest has died. Usually during descent. As in freediving the risky part is at the end of the performance.

The really deep freediver does not only run risk of deep black outs, busted eardrums, squeezed lungs, one of the main risks are DCS (bends). Nitrogen bubbles that may expand and get stuck and damage the neurological systems in the body.

The alpinists run risk of AMS (altitude sickness). The body reacts to height and blood values change and can kill you within hours. Among acclimatized climbers this is uncommon. Alpinists mainly run the risk of avalanches or falls. Falling and hurting yourself on mountains in the death zone may lead to death since rescue operations on this heights are most often impossible. In the death zone the thin air (oxygen levels are 25% of normal sea level values) lead to the slow death of the body, muscles and brain are damaged. Read article about freedivers at height

Read more about Annelie Pompes DepthAltitude project.

Annelie Pompes Home page

Depth Altitude record list -a first draft (more information needed)

- Annelie Pompe, Sweden.
Shishapangma, North summit 7895m + 126 meters VWT world record. = 14.195 DAP

- Sebastian Näslund, Sweden.
Imja Tse, Himalaya 6005m + 101m NLT (Bahamas 2009)= 11.055 DAP

- Alon Rivkind, Israel.
Bolivia-illampu 6,368m + 90m apnea = 10.868 DAP

- David Tranfield, UK
Mount Everest basecamp 5360m + 70m = 9.160 DAP

- Alexey Potapenko, Russia
India, 5200m + 50m apnea = 7.700 DAP

- Filip Zoltan Schagatay, Sweden
Cotopaxi 5897m +35m apnea = 7.647 DAP

Straight thinking

This new category of course opens up for some discussions, the main one being: how to verify meters.

Height often is verified by altitude meters, these are not as accurate as depth meters. High and low pressure weather systems have a greater impact on altitude meters.

No limit apnea diving is not a competition discipline and thus is not as easily verifiable as competition dives.

Also one could argue that a 100 meter freedive is way harder to attain than a trek to Kilimanjaro at about 5000 meters. I would say that a 40 meter freedive would correspond better to a 5000 meter trek. The real expert levels would start around these numbers a 6000 meter climb and a 50-60 meter freedive. From there on, comparison is more logic.

The real challenges involving more serious Depthaltitude activities is about having the gear, the team, a professional organization around you. And depths below 100 and climbs above 6000 are expensive. And of course the obvious: a findive to 100 is a whole other ballgame than a No limit ride down and up from 100. As is a 6000 meter climb with fixed ropes and no technical climbing way easier than a technical of the route climb on a 5000 meter mountain.

I suggest the following standards:

Depth Altitude Points (DAP)
1 point per meter altitude
50 points per meter freedived

Mountaineering DAP rules:
- No oxygen breathing during base camp-top-base camp.
- From base camp, you carry your own gear (exception to tents/food acceptable)
If not summiting, height is verified by:
Topography map or GPS
Independent witnesses
Calibrated altitude meters (preferably many).
Climbing partner witness

Freediving DAP rules:
- All categories applicable
- No oxygen/air breathing from surface-bottom-surface
- Meters verified by:
Competition results
Record result
Rope measured and retrieved tag
Depth meter and two independent witnesses.