Monday, April 16, 2007

Descending into the cave of the Spirits

I double check the straps on my harness, thread the rope through my descender, and ease over the edge. Taking a deep breath, I sit back, dangling over the freefall, and gently squeeze the handle of the descender. As my left hand squeezes, my right slowly feeds the rope through the device, helping to control the speed of my descent. Suddenly, the walls of the chimney vanish as I descend past the ceiling and into the cave proper. Visibility goes from 5 feet on either side of me to hundreds of feet on each side. As my eyes adjust to the reduced light in the cave, I spot the cave floor. It doesn't seem to far away, until I notice a red ladybug crawling along the ground. It takes a couple seconds to figure out that the bug is, in fact, Justin's helmet, over 150 meters below me.

I recently descended into (and more importantly, climbed back out of) the second largest underground cavern in the world - Oman's Majlis Al Jinn, or "Meeting Place of the Spirits." Read the full story here (pdf file, 561 KB).

As you have come to expect, yes... there are lots of pictures. They're all online at

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