Heinz visits Lago Maggiore’s most secret place!

written on 21/12/2020
by Deep Lake Project

We already know that Heinz is curious and adventurous. Back home after his trips around Germany for the German Semester Ispra 2020, he was up for new adventures: he wished to see Lago Maggiore’s most secret place.

Heinz being Heinz, he opted for a dive to the bottom of the lake!

Lago Maggiore: 64.37 km long, a surface of 212.5 km², formed by glacial processes and therefore … deep.

Its maximum depth is reached between Ghiffa and Porto Valtravaglia: official maps say a whopping 372 m!

But who could make such an extravagant trip happen for Heinz?

Well, as chance would have it, three friends from the JRC, Bernd, Gregoire & Georg, are exploring the deepest parts of Lago M. in their leisure time.

The idea developed during a summer BBQ in 2015. Just out of curiosity they asked themselves: do alien creatures live down there?

There is surely also a scientific interest as this challenge is right there on their doorstep!

A bit of thinking and planning, hammering and welding (helped by a professional Italian welder) took place and they had a neat construction of three housings for a camera and two spotlights.

Connecting the rack to a strong fishing reel & line functions as lifeline and allows depth measurement.

A salt release mechanism (fixed to the bottom tube) drops the diving weight (a stone) after some time and the rack resurfaces automatically with the help of the yellow buoyancy devices.

The Mission: discover the lake bottom with photos & videos and leave nothing behind except that stone weight found on Lago Maggiore’s shores.

Gradually developing and testing the system, deployed from a zodiac, they began successfully taking images of the lake bottom deep down from the abyss of Lago Maggiore.


Look to the Deep Lake Project website and to the super-cool Trailer:

So, obviously they had to fulfill Heinz’s wish!

However, would he withstand the enormous pressure of about 40 bar down there?

Though made of concrete, he might implode (if air was trapped in his body during the production process).

In a nutshell: Heinz was strong – a Strobl Family Product at its best!

Strapped to an outreaching platform with a safety harness, Heinz could be positioned in front of the camera and there he was: ready for his dive!

It was a perfect day out on the lake. The crew ran the usual checks for the dive:

Lamps on, camera on, Plexiglas covers fitted, screws tightened up, buoyance & fishing line connected on the top and stone weight fixed to the bottom of the rack!

Then the entire dive assembly was lifted overboard with Heinz standing out there in front of the camera. 

Then the entire dive assembly was lifted overboard with Heinz standing out there in front of the camera. 

Light and colours changed quickly over the first few meters. Blue was fading beyond turquoise to green … dimming further until full darkness surrounded Heinz.

His team at the surface counted the marks on the fishing line: 100m, 200m, 300m,  …

no means for Heinz to intervene. At mission time 08:35 minutes he reached 350 m and to guarantee a soft landing at lake bottom, we slowed him down with the reel.

90 seconds later, the fishing reel came to a halt. Heinz must have reached the bottom, most likely creating the usual concentric cloud of sediment at touch down.

The friends could not believe it, the fishing line had stopped at 385m of depth!!!

What a surprise, Heinz the gnome, adds a new mark to the maps of the world:

Lago Maggiore is deeper than officially known. Wow!!!

Heinz not only set the absolute and undisputed world record for Gnomes diving, he advanced our knowledge with his brave descent!

Here a 50 seconds movie of his touch down (please, have some patience at the start of it and brighten your screen).

Shortly after the salt block in the salt release had dissolved, the knot slipped through and the stone was dropped. Heinz quickly had to say ‘Good-Bye’ to the lake bottom, as he was pulled swiftly upwards by the yellow buoyancy devices.

Save your breath, brave little man, just a few minutes more!

Dim light is reaching into the dark, it’s getting stronger, there is the blue sky and hhhhhhuuuuuaaaaahhhh –a profound breath was heard some metres away from the boat.

Heinz was back, alive!