When it comes to the definition any dive 300m higher than sea level is considered as an altitude dive. However, living in an alpine country such as Switzerland we redefine this a bit.
Otherwise any dive in our lakes would be an altitude dive. Around here we agree on 700m + higher than sea level in talking of an altitude dive.
All the big training organizations offer special training for altitude diving. The diving itself maybe is not that different to any other dive in a lake but there are still a few important things somebody needs to know. The meaning of participating in such a course is not only learning those things, it is much more a guidance in planing altitude dives and organizing such dives independently.
If we stick to theoretical aspects we will have to cover the influence of the decrease of the atmospheric pressure once we go higher up. This can be done be calculation with dive planers and tables or by setting up your dive computer. Diving with the computer will be the way you want to choose, but it still helps to understand the theoretical aspect. At the same time we also learn about slower ascent rates and different depth levels for safety stops all in connection with the surrounding pressure.
Altitude Diving means cold water diving! Be aware of very cold water and choose the proper equipment. If not in a dry suit (special training needed) make sure you have a thick neopren suit (maybe you need some extra weight since the lower surrounding pressure will expand the air bubbles trapped in your neopren suit) and warm booties, gloves and a hood! Beside that you will need ¨independent¨ regulators: that means we will always use two separate first stages connected to each one second stage. In case of a freezing regulator our buddy can shut down one valve of the cylinder and we still can make it safely to the surface with our second regulator.
Be aware that you might be in very remote areas. Mobile phones don’t necessarily work in the mountains so have your emergency plan ready!
Why going altitude diving?
Diving in a crystal clear mountain lake, surrounded by white peaks in beautiful nature can be as breathtaking as an amazing coral reef.
Contact a local dive center and try it yourself!
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