Lost and Found
31st NATJA Gold Award in Outdoor and Adventure Photography
As I begin a free-hanging rappel thirteen stories off an overhang inside the Caverna do Diabo, my headlamp illuminates translucent ripples in calcite-rich draperies . The farther I descend into a cathedral of geological wonders, formed drip by drip over 600 million years , the lower the temperature drops beneath the scowl of a naturally formed Devil’s face . Only the first 700 meters of this cave, the longest of several hundred in Brazil’s Vale do Ribeira, are artificially lit and paved. The rest has been mapped up to 9000 meters by Franciele Dos Santos Satiro and other cavers. Now, Satiro is belaying me from below. Something brushes against my cheek. I flinch, and the motion upsets my balance. My feet swing higher than my head. The more I try to maintain control, the more I lose it.