Bulgarians in Gouffre Berger – 1969

The first Bulgarian expedition in a pothole deeper than 1000 m occurred in 1969 and was organized by the speleoclub “Planinets” – Sofia. It was initiated by Ivan Rashkov and Nikolai Genov and consisted of 20 people, not all of them cavers. Until this expedition Bulgarian cavers were used to explore much smaller pot holes (under 242 m), and also much warmer. Nobody had seen descenders or other “modern” tools. Descending in caves was made using ladders, with somebody securing the person descending. When arriving at the entrance of Gouffre Berger, the deepest pothole known in the world (1122 m) at that time we met the French team of the Speleoclub of Seine and we decided to organize the descent together. Finally, the devices for descending were brought to us personally by Fernand Petzl, it was decided to combine Bulgarian ladders and French ropes and the attack started. We brought down a huge rubber boat for the first lake and did many things which will seem funny to the modern cavers, using SRT. Finally, Bulgarians crossed for the first time the -1000 m barrier and reached the bottom of Gouffre Berger. It was accomplished by Anna Taparkova (world record for women cavers, first woman crossing the -1000 barrier) and P. Beron. Ivan Rashkov was suffering from an old trauma and had to return from -900 m. Otherwise the expedition completed without accidents and all participants returned very happy. This was the beginning of the series of Bulgarian expeditions to deep potholes.

Presenter: Dr Petar Beron

Оrganization: Bulgarian Federation of Speleology

Section: Cave explorations and expeditions

Type: oral presentation

Short bio of the presenter

Dr Petar Beron is born in 1940, caving since 1955. Zoologist and bio-speleologist, one of the founders of the Bulgarian Federation of Speleology and President of the Federation for 32 years. He is now an Honorary President. Former Director of the National Museum of Natural History, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Have explored caves and cave fauna in many countries, leader of Bulgarian caving expeditions in Cuba, China and Vietnam, author of many books and articles on caves and cave animals. Former member of UIS Bureau and President of Balkan Speleological Union.

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