Documentary - Worldwide Adventures With Steve Backshall, The [world Service]


01Tanya Streeter: Free-Diver20171219

Tanya Streeter’s remarkable dive – on just one breath of air – to the depth of 160m

Tanya Streeter made a remarkable dive – on just one breath of air – to the unimaginable depth of 160 metres.

This was a dive that nearly went very badly wrong. As Tanya tells Steve Backshall – himself a world-class adventurer – she blacked-out seconds before she began the dive; she developed nitrogen narcosis – almost like being drunk – and struggled to remember how to release the pin that would return her to the surface. On the way back up she thinks she blacked out for a second time. Tanya is an internationally renowned free-diver. This dive was attempted in the most dangerous category of free-diving known as ‘no limits’. This involves being pulled down to great depths on a sled-like contraption and then released back to the surface – with only the air in your lungs to sustain you.

Tanya’s husband, Paul Streeter, managed this world record attempt; he describes what it was like waiting for his wife to return to the surface. John Garvin, an international expert in technical diving, was safety co-ordinator for the dive and explains the intricate safety set-up and recalls the – literally – breath-taking moments when Tanya seemed unable to return to the surface.

Original recordings from the day – including the emotional sound of Tanya’s mother pleading for her daughter’s safe return – accompany these voices. And, we hear of the tragic fate of the woman who tried to break Tanya’s record.

(Photo: Tanya Streeter. Credit: Lawrence Curtis)

02Leo Houlding, Rock Climber20171226

How a hallucinogenic ceremony led to an attempt to climb Cerro Autana in Venezuela

Leo Houlding is one of the most famous rock-climbers in the world. He tells adventurer Steve Backshall about the most bizarre and unforgettable experience of his life.

In 2012, Leo travelled to a remote corner of Venezuela to make an attempt on the unforgiving table-top mountain Cerro Autana. It’s considered sacred by the local Pieroa people on whose land it stands. They were suspicious of Leo’s motives; they couldn’t understand why he would travel so far simply to climb. Leo says they suspected him of prospecting for diamonds. So, it was important for him to gain their trust - partly because he needed their help to carry equipment and break through the impenetrable rainforest that stood between his team and the mountain.

Trust was gained by undertaking a frightening and dangerous ‘yopo’ ceremony. Yopo is a powerful hallucinogenic drug, used in shamanic ritual; it sent Leo on what he describes as a terrifying exorcism.

Following the ceremony, Leo – in a fragile state – continued into the jungle on his expedition. The local people, who had been doubtful of him and his motives, were suddenly warm, friendly and helpful. Having battled plague proportions of insects, and hacked their way through almost impenetrable undergrowth, Leo and his team were finally able to attempt to scale this 1220 metre mountain.

Image: Leo Houlding, Credit: Alastair Lee

03Sarah Marquis, Explorer20180102

In a classic Aboriginal walkabout, Sarah fished, foraged and gathered food from the wild

In a classic Aboriginal walkabout, Swiss explorer Sarah Marquis fished, foraged and gathered food from the wild. She discusses her Australian odyssey with Steve Backshall – himself a world-class adventurer.

In 2015, Sarah spent three months walking across the Kimberley region of Western Australia. In the first few weeks she lost 12 kilos, and realised that she had to prioritise eating over anything else. This was until she struggled to find fresh water and her sense of hunger disappeared as she coped with the severe discomfort of thirst.

Sarah was alone until the last week when she was joined by Krystle Wright, a photographer sent to record her adventure. Krystle describes Sarah’s suspicion of her and the frustration of watching her eat the food she had brought along.

Image: Sarah Marquis, Credit: Krystle Wright