Over 100 Expert Climbers Preparing for Mission to Recover Man’s Body From Deepest Cave in the World

by Jennifer Shea

A Russian climber ventured into the deepest cave in the world without help. And now a team of over 100 climbers is getting ready to retrieve his body.

The Veryovkina Cave is located in Abkhazia, a South Caucasus state claimed by both Georgia and Russia. Experts currently believe it to be the deepest in the world. Previous climbers have ventured as deep as 1.3 miles into the cave.

The deceased climber, Sergei Kozeev, vanished into the cave in November of last year. On Aug. 3 of this year, spelunkers came across his body. First, they found some rope near the mouth of the cave, then a small pile of belongings, then Kozeev’s body, per Fox News.

The body was reportedly dangling about 1,000 meters into the cave below.

Climbers Say Kozeev’s Solo Climb Violated Safety Standards

For help identifying the body, the Union of Cavers turned to Lisa Alert, a missing person’s organization. Climbers had been able to retrieve some photos from a phone found near Kozeev’s body.

The climber’s cause of death remains a mystery. Some say the 1,000-meter fall killed him. Others believe hypothermia – the cave’s temperatures hover near freezing – may have done it, the Daily Mail reports.

Spelunking experts said Kozeev underestimated the difficulty of the expedition he undertook. And his decision to go it alone was a violation of safety guidelines, climbers said.

“The deceased was a so-called multitourist, who are involved in different sports. So he decided to take up speleology, but, unfortunately, he chose a difficult cave, which ruined him,” Evgeny Snetkov, a member of the Union of Cavers board, told Radio Sputnik.

Roughly 100 Spelunkers to Retrieve Kozeev’s Body

Snetkov said that the expedition to bring back Kozeev’s body would be technically demanding, but they’ve found 100 cavers willing to take it on.

They’re currently awaiting permission from the Russian prosecutor’s office, according to the Daily Mail. That’s after Abkhaz officials already gave them the go-ahead to evacuate the body.

Kozeev’s wife has reportedly asked for his body to be returned to her. The climber was a resident of Sochi, a resort town in Russia that hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics.