The Abyss of Cenote (cave) at nearly 3,000m in the Italian Dolomites is a unique cave 285 m deep with a large ice plug in its entrance. The ice plug extends down the first 165 m, finishing in a large ‘tongue’ seen here on the right. Up until this point, the route through the cave is down the side and through the middle of the ice plug. At this point when the ice plug finishes, the cave turns into a normal limestone shaft down which one must rappel, mostly free-hanging (i.e., away from the wall in empty space), in a constant shower of water from the melting ice up way above. Pictured here, the scanning team are making their way slowly but surely down the ice tongue, and into the huge void below. It gets more and more epic with every step that's taken. Each step with the crampons cuts into the ice and sends tiny shards of glass-like pieces falling into the blackness below. Tommaso Santagata (left) of the La Venta Exploration team and Farouk Kadded (right) of Leica Geosystems, France, have set up one of Leica’s state-of-the-art 3D laser scanning devices. They have secured it partly to the ice and partly to the rock behind from which they can scan in nearly all directions. From my lofty position a few feet above them, I watched every movement hoping they didn’t drop anything. This team is at the forefront of 3D laser scanning in caves, they’re using really cutting edge stuff in very complex and technically challenging environments to map caves.