I’m about to begin the next step in my dive training. What is after cave diving you ask? Well, more cave diving! That is where side mount diving comes in.
Side mount diving is a form of cave diving designed to allow access to tunnels that would otherwise be impassable. The diver’s cylinders are not mounted on the back. Instead, 2 independent cylinders are attached at the hip so they lie flat against each side of the diver. The divers front on profile is only as tall as the diver is thick, instead of as thick as the diver and back mounted cylinders. This allows the diver to swim through much lower passages.
The cylinders can be detached and reattached easily, rather like stage bottles. This keeps the diver flexible (mounting a cylinder on your back pretty much keeps your back straight) and further reduces his profile so that he can fit through even tighter spaces.
Cave dives requiring side mount configurations are extreme cave dives (which is saying something since a normal cave dive is pretty extreme by normal standards). Side mount caves are inherently solo dives. One often enters knowing that the return trip will be in a 0 visibility situation. And, on top of all of that, this type of dive usually requires some tight squeezing through restrictions. It is not for the faint of heart.
The adventure begins tomorrow.