Czechs explore world's deepest cave

Krubera-Voronya Cave, photo: P. Mezihradsky,

A year ago we reported on a Czech expedition exploring the world's largest salt cave in Iran. As a matter of fact, Czech explorers have also been to the deepest cave in the world. Two speleologists from the city of Brno have just returned from Abkhazia where an international expedition increased the penetrated depth to 2,170 metres, firmly establishing the Krubera-Voronya as the deepest cave on earth.

The Krubera-Voronya Cave is located in the Gagra Range in Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia at the altitude of 2,250 metres above sea level. It consists of steep shafts, a number of meandering horizontal passages and a few sumps. Zdenek Dvorak has taken part in expeditions to the cave since 2005 when the Russian Cavex team invited him and his colleagues to join them. He has just spent over two weeks in Abkhazia and describes the new discovery.

"The previous recorded deepest point was at 2,158 metres. One of our colleagues from Kiev dived to the depth of 30 metres in the lowest sump which moved the bottommost point to 2,170 metres. So the deepest known point now is actually underwater."

To get to the bottom, explorers need to spend many days in the cave without seeing daylight. Food, water, ropes and diving equipment need to be transported to the place in advance. Zdenek Dvorak says there are still unexplored parts in the Krubera-Voronya cave.

"It is definitely deeper. The entry in is at 2,250 metres above the sea and water flows out of the cave system either at sea level or under. So there are potentially another 100 metres as far as depth is concerned. Lengthwise there are still some 10-15 kilometres of passages waiting to be explored."

Future expeditions which will try and break the record need to again take place in winter when lower water levels make life and movement in the cave easier and safer.