Hanging Out in Hang Son Doong

Vietnam, the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia, is home to some of the world’s most impressive caves. Most of them unexplored, geologists have for decades, sued for grants to investigate them.

Last week, husband and wife caving enthusiasts, Howard and Deb Limbert of England, along with a team of six other cavers documented what could be the earth’s largest. Immense enough, in certain places, to contain a block of New York City skyscrapers, Hang Son Doong, (Mountain River Cave) in Vietnam’s Annamite Mountains is more than 650 ft high and nearly 500 ft wide – that is twice the size of the current record holder. It contains a jungle, river and its own clouds. Part of a network of 150 caves in central Vietnam, near Laos, the end of Hang Son Doong remains out of sight.

The entrance to the cave was originally found in 1991 by a local man, Ho Khanh. Howard Limbert said:

“Khanh has been a guide for the team in many expeditions to the jungle to explore caves and this year he took a team to the cave which had never been entered before by anyone including local jungle men… This was because the entrance which is small by Vietnamese cave standards and emitted a frightful wind and noise which was due to a large underground river.”

The Limberts led the first expedition to enter Hang Son Doong back in 2009, but were stopped a couple of miles in by an enormous calcite wall. Recently, the team returned to climb the wall, take measurements and searching for the end of the cavern.

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