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In the Skin of Columbus - The story of a caveman who is looking for peace in the underground

A cave is named after him. He discovers the unknown, looking for places that the human eye has never seen before. Bohuslav Kortman is a caveman, conservationist, a man whose activity promotes the natural beauty of the surroundings of Považská Bystrica.

In the Slovak region, the word cave strikes a hole in the middle of the forest. How did you research these "holes"?

- I've had a relationship with nature since I was a child. And when I worked at the Osveta publishing house in Martin in the 1970s, I was interested in books about caves, especially about the beauty around Považská Bystrica and Mojtín. So I connected with the cavers in Dubnice nad Váhom. I was a waiter for about two years, they tapped me and sometimes since 1980 I have been a full member of the Slovak Speleological Society. Until then, I had only read about the caves, later I started working on books and magazines myself.

Work has become a hobby and vice versa?

- Exactly, it's interconnected.

What are the cave beginnings?

- It starts mainly with accessible caves. Adrenaline adventurers tend to go to the inaccessible ones. As access to them is prohibited, we recommend contacting an organic company. Now it's easy to find one in your area on the internet.

One would say that you are taking senseless risks and entering danger, as you are not making classic trips to the accessible caves.

- We don't consider it pointless. We don't even do it just to experience something. Of course, we prove to ourselves and to others that we are guys in our place. But we are mainly attracted to getting to know each other. Something new, unknown. Unlike most people, we have a unique opportunity to be in places where no one has been before. It's a kind of "Colombian feeling" for discovering America. Or as we once called one publication - Getting to Know Everest.

Does it develop you as a human being?

- It's a kind of personality test. We must help each other, overcome abysses, reptiles. We practice the need to be with someone, especially in case of danger to rely on someone. But there is a desire to gain new knowledge.

So is it research?

- That's probably paramount. We focus on caves, we measure temperature, climate, we pay attention to archeology ... And we can't forget about culture. Caves are a cultural phenomenon. They are associated with human settlement. Caving is such a diverse activity that satisfies the people who have subscribed to it.

The claustrophobic conditions of caving are probably not for everyone. Or yes?

- Not everyone can do it. There are also obstacles - physical or mental.

If you don't go to the cave "for work", what does the cave mean to you?

- Someone's looking for peace there. And me too. When I've had enough on the surface, I go downstairs and vent my head there. I experience only an ordinary animal fear. Not afraid I won't meet deadlines. But fear, which allows one to realize that those problems on the surface are not so difficult and insurmountable.

Does it mean that you are there with yourself and you have to think about every step?

- I have to focus on what I'm doing. I don't miss thoughts everywhere. At the same time, there is the certainty that I will return to the surface and then I can live there more fully. Experiences and moments in the underground give me a lot in this direction as well.

Can an ordinary tourist become a caveman? Or from a climber?

- A climber can become a caveman relatively easily. Especially with age, if the rocks are already irresistible to someone, they will find their conditions in the cave. Among the cavers you will find various professions - railway workers, journalists, veterinarians, farmers ...

One cave is named after you. You recently discovered two more. Has your cave dream come true?

- I'm still dreaming. Even though I've discovered quite a bit, I still have the urge to discover something new. We were once surprised at the club that we found such a large cave in Strážov as Četník's wedding. It turns out that there will be more of them in Strážovské vrchy. The last two caves, which we recently discovered, are proof of, and now we are getting to know and deepen them. These are the Kamenný dážď caves and the Beň bear cave. These will probably rewrite the tables of the deepest caves in the Strážovské vrchy. And maybe on a larger scale within Slovakia.

Photo: Ivan Pohanka

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