In August 2017, 49 years after being discovered, cave explorers reached a depth of -2,212m (7,257ft) in Veryovkina [cave] located in the Caucasus Mountains and set a new record for world’s deepest cave.
In September 2018, we joined members of the Perovo Speleo caving team (Moscow) where I wanted to capture the work of the explorers as they pushed the boundaries of exploration deep beneath the earth.
It took four days of abseiling (rapelling) and thrutching through tight meandering passages to reach the bottom. We spent a week camped at -2,100m from where we made ‘day’ trips to the bottom. Pictured here, leader Pavel Demidov climbs above swimmers in the terminal sump who are looking for the way on.
On day 11, everything changed dramatically when a flood pulse hit us in the cave. We waited at camp as the rumbling sound of a freight train getting louder and louder made its way through the inky blackness above. It hit us and continued downwards. After a few hours everything started bubbling and gurgling. The water rose so fast, we barely had time to get kitted up and out of the way. We left all non-essential gear, including all my camera equipment. I took only my precious memory cards that stored these photographs showing the cave before the flood. The last people to leave camp (Pavel and Andrey) had to swim over the tent at camp to escape. The shafts and passages became a fierce torrent of water that was difficult to find air space to breath in. In total the water rose 130m above the base level.