IT IS DIFFICULT to say whether the first large-scale foray into training beyond 130 feet will mean more divers will die there. "Tech is more risky than recreational diving, but to be honest, that's part of the appeal," says PADI's Shreeves. "Extreme-sports enthusiasts appreciate the challenge of managing that risk in exchange for the experience that few people get to have." By virtue of its sheer size and resources, PADI will undoubtedly open up the dark depths to throngs of adventure seekers, and if not launch a trend, then tap into one that is already growing. "People treat tech diving as if it were just another recreational specialty like night diving," says Florida-based Jarrod Jablonski, one of the top tech divers in the world and holder of the record for the deepest underwater cave penetration, just over three lateral miles. "But it isn't."
A C C E S S + R E S O U R C E S
Abyss Exploration 101
Although tech diving is dangerous, it is also great adventure. Take the time to learn the risks involved before going deep. Below, some of the leading players in tech training.
Professional Association of Diving Instructors
PADI's tech diving program will launch in January. Prices will vary with locations and instructors.
Global Underwater Explorers
The average two- to three-person, five-day course is $600. Private classes run $1,100 to $1,600.
Technical Diving International
Course lengths vary according to diver's skill level and run $150 to $1,000.
International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers
One- to eight-day classes range from $150 to $750.
American Nitrox Divers
Course lengths vary according to diver's skill level and run $495 to $700.
National Association of Underwater Instructors
Classes vary in price according to length and region.