A deep dive into the Krubera Cave

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:40 pm by danvk

After seeing this image posted on reddit last week, I took a deep dive into the strange world of extreme caving.

Voronya Visualization

This image is big! Click through to see the whole thing.

Location of Krubera CaveThe Krubera Cave is the deepest in the world, descending 2,197 meters from its inconspicuous entrance to its deepest explored areas. It’s located in Abkhazia, a breakaway territory in the Republic of Georgia. In some ways, caving is an even more extreme activity than high altitude climbing. Descending to the bottom of Krubera takes a team of dozens of people over a month, a month during which they’ll never see the sun.

One question I had was “why does an expedition end?” I got some answers from this amazing documentary about a 2003 expedition. Their goal was to explore this siphon at 1440m below the surface:

Siphon at 1440m

Previous expeditions had explored in other directions, because they didn’t have the necessary scuba equipment to explore past the siphon (carrying heavy equipment down 1400+ meters is challenging). The hope was that, if they dove through the water, there would be a dry “continuation” on the other side.

And was there ever! You can see the start of the continuation they discovered in green in the image. It continues all the way to 2,197m, the lowest known point in the cave:

The continuation

A siphon is one thing that can stop an expedition. In the case of the 2003 expedition, they continued exploring until they literally ran out of ropes and carabiners. These seem to be the two limiting factors for exploratory spelunking: water and equipment. Why not just bring more equipment? Because rope is heavy, especially when it’s waterlogged (as it’s sure to be in the humid environment of caves).

Here are a few photos from the cave:

A shaft in the Krubera cave

TIght squeeze

I’d highly, highly recommend watching the Russian documentary about the Krubera cave if you’re at all interested in this sort of thing. I don’t think caving is a hobby for me, but I’ll read news about caves with much greater interest now that I’ve watched this docu.

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