Human Interest

Spanish athlete completes 500 days in cave in total isolation

Motril, Spain, Apr 14 (EFE).- Beatriz Flamini, an elite Spanish athlete, mountaineer and climber, on Friday achieved a world record by completing a 500-day stint underground in a 70-meter-deep cave, alone, in the dark, with no sense of time or contact with the outside world.

A constantly smiling Flamini, who appeared dazed at times, on Friday talked to the press without sunglasses as she shared the challenges she faced, including the “difficult and very beautiful” moments during the 16 months inside, when she had no means to track the passage of time.

She acknowledged that during her time below the surface, she faced difficult moments such as a swarm of flies or auditory hallucinations, but added that the trick to tackle extreme situations was to focus on “the hear and now.”

“I am frozen back in 21 November 2021” – the date she entered the cave – said Flamini, adding that she never thought of abandoning the task.

“In fact, I did not want to leave.”

Flamini said that that she knew of the risks – especially psychological ones – before entering the cave, but insisted that none of the things that she was warned about by psychologists happened to her, except the auditory hallucinations invented by the mind due to absolute silence.

The athlete, who entered the cave situated in the town of Motril in Granada at the age of 48, came out aged 50, and was supported throughout by speleologist Francisco Hoyos, who coordinated the shadow assistance team.

Early on Friday, two speleologists and a psychologist entered the cave to help the athlete on her journey back to civilization, which took about 40 minutes.

Flamini thanked the group of psychologists, speleologists and physical trainers involved in the project.

The “Timecave” project began when Flamini, who is passionate about solo climbing expeditions and an expert in self-sufficiency, contacted production company Dokumalia two years ago to pitch her idea of living alone in a cave with no external contact for 500 days.

During the athlete’s months in isolation, the support team ensured Flamini’s safety by monitoring her health through surveillance cameras and the video footage and notes that she shared from the abyss.

Another key activity was to supply Flamini with food and water and remove garbage and waste via the exchange points in the cave.

She recorded her daily life throughout the stay, which was analyzed by groups of researchers from the University of Granada and University of Almeria to study the effects of social isolation and temporal disorientation on the perception of time.

The neuropsychological effects produced by the tremendous challenges of solitude, absence of natural light and cognitive and social isolation during the are also being studied.


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