Mario Marconi is one of the most important cave divers in Europe. From 2003 onwards he has been the protagonist of incredible feats that push him where no one has ever gone before. The exploration of the Source de Saint Saveur and the wreck of the Milano boat are his best results.
Mario Marconi becomes a diver at the age of 17 and three years later he is attracted by the first movements of the technical divers who dive into the caves. Caves are love at first sight, the classic fatal attraction.
He is a soldier, works in the air force and is an on-board operator on rescue helicopters. At that time he served in Novara. For him, arriving in France to immerse himself in the transalpine caves is very comfortable. He frequents the best cave divers and learns their philosophies. He participated in numerous expeditions.
The first companies
In 2002 he obtained the Speleosub certification at the National School of Speleosubacquea. The following year, together with Carlo Marcheggiani, he reached a depth of -125 meters in open circuit in the sink hole, the “Pozzo del Merro“. To this date, the deepest human exploration carried out in this karst sinkhole. In the same year, and with the same diving partner, he found the continuation of the Capodacqua resurgence and explored the whole new section.
Exploration of the Saint Saveur Source (-174 meters)
The first real enterprise dates back to 2004, when with Jerome Meynie, he explores the Source of Saint Saveur. They dive in a double rebreather configuration, with a scooter. And with a one-square-meter plastic box, fixed to the ceiling of the cave at a depth of 12 meters, to be used as a decompression habitat.
They have one assistant at -60 and one at -12. Nothing more, they have to take care of the rest. They exceed the known limit at -80, pass the lateral passage of the cave and arrive at the vertical shaft. Mario stops at – 174, with the drysuit tank exhausted. Jerome comes in at -182.
They go up together at -120 meters, do the stop check and then go up independently due to the different dive profiles caused by the different depths reached.
His DPV stops 600 meters from the exit of the side passage. He pushes it by hand up to the deco box. He enters the decompression home and takes 4 hours to breathe oxygen. Jerome joins him and listens to music from the iPod with him, eats fruit a few bars. Jerome chooses “lasagne alla bolognese”, strictly made in France.
His dive will last 9 hours and 23 minutes.
From that immersion he married the philosophy of the only diver. “Because beyond a certain depth you can only provide your partner with help and not help. With the stress, the technical equipment and the difficult environment, you can easily risk a double accident. “
Again in 2004, always in double CCR and without any assistance team, he took the exploration of the “La Foce” cave from -80m to -120m.
In 2005 he extended the exploration of the “Grava di San Giovanni” from the previous terminous of -70mt up to -134m using CCR.
The wreck of the Battello Milano (-241 meters)
In 2008, together with Alessandro Scuotto and Pim van Der Horst, he dived on the wreck of the “Milano” boat in Lake Maggiore reaching -241mt (depth compensated by the altitude) with a rebreather. To this date, it is the deepest human dive ever made on a wreck. The support ROV, the balloons fired at the rest stops to say that everything is fine, the heated bell and, above all, the decompression hours. Marco Sieni told it very well in SUB issue 274, July 2008. I suggest you to read it: http://www.marcosieni.it/?Photo-Works/Relitto-Milano–236
His philosophy of life
II met him by chance, while I was doing research to write the article on O’Dive, the Doppler sensor for detecting micro bubbles. Mario is a user. I called him to get some reviews from him. The result was a phone call lasting an hour and a half.
Mario is a humble person. One of those who tell you about the things he did as if they were normal adventures with friends. And he does it with simplicity, without vainglory. In short, without pulling it off.
Although Mario Marconi has become one of the most important cave divers in Europe.
What drove him to these businesses
I asked him what drove him there. And I discovered that he did not want to set records or even go down in history for the company. He just wanted to prove himself and extend his limits. He did it for himself, because he loves what he does.
Then, I asked him what kind of training a diver who pushes himself towards those limits should do. To become like Mario Marconi, one of the most important cave divers in Europe. And he simply replies that, thanks to his profession, he has learned to obtain a high and constant training. He added that it is his habit to be “very skilled”. That everything he learns he always repeats with constant exercises. It reminds me that any exercises tried during a diving course should not be considered as an experience, as a test passed. Passing a test during a course generates ephemeral confidence. It is essential to always repeat, carry out constant training. Each dive he does contains a part of exercises for the good maintenance of the skills learned. He told me that he often dedicates entire dives to exercises that are useful for managing emergencies. Because the human factor is the only possibility of salvation in the face of an unexpected event underwater. At any depth, whether you are Mario Marconi or a diver like me who dives to tell what he saw and the emotions he felt.
As he faces all these hours underwater
Sono curioso anche di sapere cosa pensa là sotto, solo, in compagnia della sua mente. Negli abissi.Nella I’m also curious to know what he thinks down there, alone, in the company of his mind. In the abyss: In the part of the descent Mario feels a form of total disconnection with the outside world. In the delicate part, background and exploration, he always tries to keep the maximum concentration on the alarm bells. But it is during the decompression that he gives me the most interesting suggestion. His decompressions last even more than four hours. He learned how to set steps. As he says to “slicing the elephant”, to set short goals, how to reach a certain quota, set for a stop. To then focus on the next goal. He told me that it is a very useful exercise to apply in everyday life, to learn how to manage the stress deriving from too many commitments. And from someone like him I think it is a great suggestion.
Mario Marconi today
Mario continues to dive, almost always in lakes, almost always over 100 meters. Today Mario continues to work in aeronautics, in Pratica di Mare. And he is always aboard helicopters. He helps the missing in the mountains, the castaways or those who are victims of heart attacks on ships or in remote places. An activity that is anything but quiet, in line with his lifestyle. Always ready to challenge limits, in this case not for himself but to make his contribution in an attempt to save lives.
Mario is a Phy Diving ambassador http://www.phidiving.com/mario-marconi-phy-ambassador/
You can also follow him on Facebook at the PITCH BLACK page Mario Marconi Cave & Tek Diving Training https://www.facebook.com/mariodeepcave