I am cold and alone inside the cave. Sitting there at 6m (20ft) I'm slowly loosing all feeling. I am so cold that it hurts. I am desperately craving comfort. To stay put is a mental struggle. It is tempting to shoot up to the surface, to sunlight, to warmth. I know I can't. I know that I have to stay. I know I am stuck in a self-imposed jail cell. I might be wretched and miserable but escape is not an option. The seconds of the clock count down. The more often I look down at the computer, the more frequently I am disappointed. Time, it seems, is standing still.
I try to console myself by remembering that the pain is only temporary and will dissipate shortly after I hit the surface. So I wedge myself tighter beneath the rocky ceiling and suffer quietly. In spite of everything not once do I think, 'Why am I here' or 'Why am I doing this?' I take it for granted this is where I want to be. That this is what I love doing. That this is the price I am willing to pay.Finally 115 minutes tick by and I am free to go. Dizzy from the cold I emerge. I surface disappointed. The cave is sending me home tail in between my legs. The final restriction proved impenetrable.
--Agnes Milowka, In the Tiger's Eye
The above passage is an excerpt from cave diver Agnes Milowka's blog. Last weekend she died after becoming separated from her buddy while diving in Australia's Tank Cave.The 29-year-old Australian had a graduate diploma in marine archeology and a passion for exploring virgin caves. She helped out on the National Geographic article on blue holes in the Bahamas and was a stunt double on the new james Cameron film Sanctum. In short, she was no rookie and, as you can see above, knew the dangers of cave diving.
"It would be criminal for me to say that there are no risks associated with cave diving. The sport of cave diving can see you become a dead diver," she said in a bio clip. "There's no gentle way of putting that."
For her, the high of exploration fueled her desire to dive.
"There is no greater feeling in the world than finding passage that no one ever in the history of the world has seen before. How can you beat that? Nothing can beat that."
And the ultimate reward was the discovery and data she could bring back for science.
"To me the risks are worth it, because the rewards are worth it."
Police and rescue divers are currently trying to reclaim her body and hopefully, find clues into her death. It isn't an easy or quick process. Three teams of two divers each have already been in the cave, and more dives will be needed.
"It is a fairly extensive and complex operation and given the complexity of the cave system and how narrow some parts of the cave system is ... it could be a couple of days, anywhere up to maybe 10 dives," police superintendent Trevor Twilley told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Some of the divers, when they are going through a particular channel, have the walls of the cavity pressed up against the front of their body and the back of their body."