Milutin Veljkovich - and his cave stay
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Volume 44 Number 1 Article 3
The long-stay endurance caver - nicknamed 'les speleonauts' by the French - are strange characters. They are bent on staying underground, isolated and out of contact, for as long as they can stand it. The reason behind such behaviour varies: survival, solitude and science are often given as the motive, but for most the object is to stay longer than the rest - to be the 'record breaker.'
The present record of a staggering 463 days is held by Milutin Veljkovich who, as a member of the Belgrade Cave Club, was sealed in to the Samar Cave, in the former Yugoslavia, on 24 June 1969 for his record breaking stay. His book, evocatively entitled, Under the Sky of Stone (1972), is unfortunately only available in Serbo-Croat, however the tale is also told in the British Caver (1985).
He was not alone; apart from a 1,000 packets of cigarettes, he also took a dog, a cat, some ducks and chickens!
He had hallucinations for months but most of the animals adjusted to cave life, only the cat seemed to go a bit crazy. Veljkovich heroic exploit was followed closely by the Russian Cosmonauts, however further endurance attempts were curtailed by political unrest; eventually he had to leave Serbia and has now settled in California.