A 50-year-old Spanish extreme athlete survived a 500-day challenge Friday at a depth of 230 feet in a cave outside Granada, living with limited contact with the outside world.
Wearing dark glasses and smiling in the light of spring in southern Spain, elite mountaineer Beatrice Flamini told reporters that time had flown by and that she didn’t want to come out.
“When they came to get me, I was sleeping. I thought something had happened. I said: ‘Already? Of course not.’ I haven’t finished my book,” she said.
In an experiment monitored by scientists who study the human mind and circadian rhythms, Flamini’s support team said he broke the world record for the longest time spent in a cave.
He was 48 when he entered the cave and celebrated two birthdays alone underground.
Flamini launched his challenge on November 20, 2021 – before the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Spain’s Covid mask requirement and the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
She was out for eight days, her team revealed, but remained in isolation in a tent for repairs to a router that would send audios and videos to report how she was doing.
On Friday, a phalanx of cameras and his support crew greeted him with hugs.
Asked if she ever thought about hitting the panic button or leaving the cave, she replied: “Never. I really don’t want to come out.
Flamini spent his time underground exercising, painting and drawing, and knitting woolen hats. He took two GoPro cameras to document his time, and received 60 books and 220 gallons of water, according to his support group.
He said he started his challenge trying to track time. “On day 65 I stopped counting and lost track of time,” she said.
There were tough moments, like when flies invaded the cave — and some were “beautiful,” he said. “If it’s your dream and you realize it, why are you going to cry?”
She said she focused on staying “coherent,” eating well and enjoying the silence. Her support team sent treats like avocados, fresh eggs and clean T-shirts “like gods,” and she looked forward to getting rid of her waste.
“I didn’t talk to myself out loud, but I had internal conversations and got along better with myself,” she joked.
“You have to be aware of your feelings. If you’re afraid, that’s natural, but never panic or paralyze yourself.
He said his team was told not to contact him under any circumstances, even about a family death. “If it’s not communication, it’s not communication regardless of the circumstances. People who know me know and respect that.
Flamini was monitored by a team of psychologists, researchers, cavers and physical therapists, seeking insight into how social isolation and distraction can affect timing, brain patterns and sleep.
She was sharing a plate of fried eggs and chips with friends in anticipation of a shower. He said he would put himself in the hands of doctors to examine the impact on his body and mind before planning new mountaineering and caving projects.
The Guinness Book of Records website gives the “Longest Trapped Underground” award to 33 Chilean and Bolivian miners who spent 69 days trapped 2,257 feet in 2010.
A spokesman for Guinness could not immediately confirm whether there was a separate record for voluntary living in a cave and whether Flamini had broken it.