Interview with Ghislain Bardout
- Is cave diving the best way to prepare for UTP III?
Cave diving is a technical discipline that requires heavy, cumbersome equipment, as well as a psychological commitment that goes beyond what you find in ordinary diving. It’s a practice that shares several common elements with polar and deep-sea diving. Additionally, it’s a discipline in its own right that allows us to approach our own limits quite rapidly and to therefore work on them and push them, but within the very secure framework of a training course. So by stepping outside of our comfort zone, we’re forced to question our knowledge, we build up our resistance to situations of stress, and we thus gain alertness and experience.
- Can you tell me a bit more about your trainer?
I met Frank Vasseur in 2003 during an advanced cave diving course. He’s one of the most experienced professionals in the field and, for that matter, has a way of looking at the practice that’s perfectly in line with our vision and what we’re looking for in diving and its applications.
- What are the divers’ next steps in their preparation?
Each diver is currently taking specialized training courses, either in cave diving or in deep-sea diving. And next March, all of the deep-sea divers on the team will meet for a week for a joint training session, under the supervision of two instructors, in order to go over all of the diving protocols and procedures that will be applied on the Under The Pole III expedition.
- Why is there a week of preparation in the mountains?
I place a great deal of importance in preparing for an expedition, as it is a key phase that will become the foundation on which we build the rest. This preparation has multiple dimensions: it is material, technical, logistical, scientific, financial and, of course, human… And the more daring a project is, the more rigorous preparation has to be. Spending a week in the mountains as a team, as we have just done, allows us to operate in a totally different working environment: the teams intermix, daily life is disrupted, relationships are created in an unusual setting. We get to know each other better, we develop bonds that just can’t be formed in the more conventional context of a regular workshop or office. In the mornings we would get some exercise with cross-country skiing; in the afternoons there would be working sessions or we’d go for group outings, and at night we would focus on the program or go over crucial aspects of managing the expedition and the role of the team. We all take away shared memories, everyone is revitalized, and a more solid, refreshed team emerges: in short, a team at the top of its game, ready to begin 2017 and to enter the home stretch of our preparation, which will lead us to the Arctic next summer.