Interview with Gennady Samokhin

Created: Monday, 24 September 2012

For publication

From July 21 to August 27, year 2012 Ukrainian Speleological Association held an expedition to Krubera-Voronya Cave, during which the deepest mark in the world of -2196 meters was reached.

Thus, once again world record was set in the Krubera-Voronya Cave.


This is the most memorable dive - final immersion into the Dva Kapitana (Two Captains) Siphon, emergence of the diver Gennady Samokhin:

Pioneer of 2196 meters depth in the Krubera (Voronya) Cave Gennady Samokhin believes that mark of 2200 meters can be reached not only by diving into the siphon...

(extracts from the interview with the record-holder for, published on September 20, 2012)

Gennady Samokhin. Photo D. Kisilev.

What was expedition to the Krubera (Voronya) like in the 2012?

The expedition was conducted as part of the UkrSA “Call of the Abyss” project. Head Y. M. Kasian, 59 participants from 9 countries (Ukraine, Russia, Lithuania, Spain, Great Britain, Israel, Lebanon, Ireland, Poland). Three persons out of these 59 people were to dive in the “Dva Kapitana” (Two Captains) Siphon on mixtures, but at the end I had to do it alone... 18 sets of regulators, 31 air tanks, trimix, and oxygen were delivered for diving. Moreover, 150 liters of petrol for stoves, 500 kilograms of food, 3,000 batteries were delivered to the underground camps ... Total of seven camps were set on the mainline of the cave, the deepest of them (and in the world) was “Rebus” - at a depth of 1960 meters. The expedition lasted from July 21 to August 26.

When the cave was discovered and how it is properly called?

- Currently, Krubera (Voronya) Cave is the deepest in the world. It was discovered by Georgian

speleologists – Kipiani Group in 1963 and named after Kruber. At that time, depth of its explored part was 57 meters. In the late 1970s, the cave was rediscovered and called Siberian. In the mid-1980s, the cave was discovered for the third time by Ukrainian cavers and named Voronya. It was later revealed that it is one and the same cave. I think that the correct name is the one given by the pioneers – Krubera Cave. In a pinch, Krubera-Voronya may be used.

Sounds like a system...

- No, today Krubera-Voronya is one cave with a single entrance. Is that we ever dive to its exit to the Black Sea ... We have already achieved in this cave altitude of about 40 meters above sea level. While it is known that an underground river, which flows through the cave, discharges into the sea.

What are the prospects for further “deepening” of Krubera Cave? Does it make sense to dive deeper?

- There is sense in diving, but only with a rebreather. The fact is that the passage in the "Dva Kapitana" (Two Captains) Siphon is first of all, rather narrow (about meter by 60 centimeters, and it is inclined), and, secondly, it is very gentle. I have moved more than 40 meters ahead and only 5 meters deep. It takes a lot of time in narrow passages and, thus, a lot of breathing gas. So the mixture has to be carried along in bottles, and it slows down even more... I see only one way out: to use rebreather - closed cycle breathing apparatus. This will increase reserve time by many times - from the current 30 minutes to several hours or more...

Russians from the team Cavex dived with rebreather into "Dva Kapitana" (Two Captains), but for some reason were not able to move further...

- They just got stuck. The fact is that they placed device that they have used on the back of the diver, but in the “Dva Kapitana” (Two Captains) it is very uncomfortable. It is necessary to place a rebreather to the side of the swimmer. Currently, I'm looking for such a device, and saving money for it.

What is the expected length of the “Dva Kapitana” (Two Captains) Siphon?

- Perhaps, more than 10 kilometers. It is possible that this siphon will continue to the Black Sea...

What are other options for "deepening" of Krubera-Voronya, but diving into this siphon? For example, other branches of the cave?...

- There are unexplored continuations in the Krubera Cave. However, it is too early to speak about reaching of record depths in them.

How about “deepening upward” - seeking more highly placed entrances?

- There are several caves in the Ortho-Balagan Valley that are hydrologically connected with Krubera-Voronya. In particular, it is the Kuibyshev-Genrihova Abyss having depth of 1110 meters, with entrance 30 meters below the entrance to the Krubera-Voronya; Berchilskaya - depth of 500 meters with entrance 120 meters above the Krubera; Gnomov (Dwarves) - depth of 400 meters, below the entrance at 50 meters; Malenkiy Prince (Little Prince) - depth 50 meters, above the entrance at 15 meters, and, moreover, Malenkiy Prince (Little Prince) is only 100 meters from the Krubera Cave. If we manage to get to the Krubera from Malenkiy Prince (Little Prince) or Berchilskaya we get the desired “deepening upward”.

What about Martel Cave?

- Martel Cave is on the right side of the Ortho-Balagan Valley, but according to the geological assumptions it is developing into the next valley. So if there is the prospect of a greater depth, it is something completely separate from the Krubera Cave...

Author: Editors