‘The Cave Tried To Keep Us’: The First-Ever Dive Inside An Iceberg – WBUR


Jill Heinerth and her team decided they would become the first-ever to cave dive inside an iceberg after B-15, an iceberg ‘the size of Jamaica,’ broke away from Antarctica.

By Matthew Stock

Jill Heinerth is a professional cave diving explorer and underwater filmmaker. She’s done work for PBS, National Geographic and the BBC, and she’s one of the most accomplished cave divers on the planet.

Back in 2001, accompanied by expert diver Paul Heinerth and underwater cinematographer Wes Skiles, Jill Heinerth captained an expedition to the B-15 Iceberg in Antarctica. Here’s her story … in her own words:

People look into caves, and they see nothing but darkness, terror, fear, claustrophobia. I look into a cave and I want to know what’s around the next corner.

My partner and I wanted to pitch a project to go to Antarctica. We had been watching satellite photos of this great crack slowly opening up in the Ross Ice Shelf, and as we were getting close to making our pitch, the largest moving object on our planet broke away from Antarctica.

It was an iceberg the size of Jamaica. So we decided that we were going to go to Antarctica and be the first people to ever cave dive inside an iceberg.

When we pitched our project to National Geographic, they said, “Wow, there’s caves inside of icebergs?” And we said, “Hell yeah, there are caves inside of icebergs!” But the truth was, we didn’t know. We figured that, if this great crack had broken this piece off the ice sheet, then there had to be other cracks. It was simply a hypothesis.

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“Wrestles with the human compulsion to . . . explore a world that is every bit as hostile as it is beautiful. . . . A very vivid book. . . . Ms. Heinerth is very good at making you understand both the otherworldly euphoria and claustrophobic horror of cave diving.”–Wall Street Journal

“A meditation on the paradoxical power of fear.”–Sierra Magazine

“An eye-opening, edge-of-the-seat, thrill of a read that’s destined to become a trail blazing classic of diving literature.”–Nektonix

“A hugely enjoyable, inspiring, and thrilling self-exploration of the life of Jill Heinerth, one of the world’s greatest living explorers.”–Diver

“Breathtaking . . . Written in cinematic detail, Into the Planet is a thrilling portrait of bravery, innovation, and the extreme limits of human capability. . . . one of the most hair-raising accounts of extreme exploration I’ve read in recent memory.”–Gizmodo

“Exhilarating . . . Heinerth offers a fish’s-eye view of the terrifying beauty of the deep blue sea.”–O Magazine

“Superb, honest, incredibly engaging . . . a captivating biography and a love letter to a sport where any small mistake can result in death–and any perfect dive can mean an amazing discovery.”–NPR

“Gripping.”–AARP Magazine

“By turns terrifying, exhilarating, and inspirational . . . Talk about extreme adventure. If you don’t know the name Jill Heinerth, prepare to be dazzled and astonished. Move over, Jon Krakauer. This well-written memoir is destined to become a world classic of exploration literature.”–Ken McGoogan, author of Fatal Passage

“Cave divers are another breed, which I never truly understood; that is until I met Jill Heinerth on a cave diving trip off Santa Cruz Island and had a chance to read her new book Into the Planet, which helped to explain it all. A Must Read!”–Dr. Robert D. Ballard, Discoverer of the RMS TITANIC

You can keep in touch with Jill at her website https://www.intotheplanet.com/ or follow her on Instagram @jillheinerth

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