Climbers tackle the Gouffre Berger limestone cave in south-eastern France
Climbers tackle the Gouffre Berger limestone cave in south-eastern France, which was once thought to be the deepest cave in the world at 3,680-feet deep (about two-thirds of a mile). It is now ranked the 28th deepest cave in the world.+
Named after the man who discovered it in 1953, Frenchman Joseph Berger, the cave was once feared as a killer cave where all but the most daring feared to tread.
British photographer Robbie Shone said: “This cave used to be considered dangerous but is now far more accessible to cavers. Because of how significant Gouffre Berger is in the history of caving reaching the bottom is a rite of passage for many inexperienced cavers. It’s possible to get to the bottom in a day but I camped for three days so I could spend time on my pictures.”
“There are the initials of the original explorers in the last flooded cavern. That’s the end for dry cavers – those who don’t cave dive underwater. After that if you want to go further you have to pull on diving gear and explore the totally flooded tunnels.”
The cave has a rich history of British achievement with the world record for the deepest cave dive going to British diver Peter Watkinson and his team in 1967. Watkinson and other team members received international acclaim for reaching the deepest point possible on foot and then completing a perilous 130-feet underwater dive.
The cave is liable to flooding after heavy rainfall, which caused five deaths, including Briton Nicole Dollimore from Oxford in 1996.