Home » Mountaineer Beatriz Flamini Spent Over 500 Days Isolated In A Cave

Mountaineer Beatriz Flamini Spent Over 500 Days Isolated In A Cave

by Nolan Hawk

Beatriz Flamini, an extreme sportswoman, set a world record for spending over 500 days living isolated in a cave as part of a scientific study.

Mountaineer Beatriz Flamini spent more than a year in a cave

Her challenge began on November 20, 2021, when she descended 230 feet below the surface in a 39-foot-high cavity in Granada, Spain, with no contact with the outside world for 509 days until she emerged on April 14, 2023.

When she finally resurfaced, the extreme athlete anticipated feeling joy at the prospect of a hot shower and a drink. Instead, she was startled when her team came to retrieve her while she was dozing.

“I thought something had happened. I said, ‘Already? No way.’ I hadn’t finished my book,” Flamini, who had already read through 60 books at that point, remarked.

Flamini’s daily routine in the cave included reading, drawing, exercising, knitting, and documenting her experiences with two GoPros. A Spanish production company intends to turn her remarkable story into a documentary.

After just two months underground, Flamini lost track of time, thinking she had only been there for 160 to 170 days, when her team came down to retrieve her.

Despite the isolation, she described her time in isolation as “excellent, unbeatable” and never even thought of hightailing it out of the cave. “In fact, I didn’t want to come out,” she admitted.

During a talk at The Explorers Club’s Global Exploration Summit (GLEX) in Portugal, Flamini confessed that she did not want to leave her underground home and that the half year after her return was “very unsettling.”

Beatriz Flamini on isolation

She revealed in a video interview that she felt disconnected from society after such extended isolation. “I’m still getting used to the outside world but still feel like I don’t fit,” she shared.

“You get to know so much of yourself,” she added. “You’re your own company, nobody judges you, you do not judge yourself.”

Flamini, who already enjoyed spending time alone, did not find the challenge of isolating in a cave frightening.

She filled her days with a loose routine, beginning with breakfast and performing hygiene tasks in a lightless area of the cave. She would then dispose of her waste, knit, write, read, draw, and clean the cave.

“Psychologically, being inside the cave was like nothing to me. It was very easy,” she said. “In fact, when they came to tell me I needed to come out, I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to.”

The Timecave project

Flamini’s caving endeavor was part of the Timecave project, designed to study long-term isolation effects.

She documented her time underground with two cameras, leaving the recordings at an exchange point in the cave, where her team would retrieve them and drop off supplies without making direct contact.

A team of psychologists, researchers, speleologists, and physical trainers studied her footage, but did not communicate with her directly.

Flamini had instructed her team not to contact her for any reason, even in the event of a family member’s death.

“If it’s no communication, it’s no communication regardless of the circumstances,” she asserted. “The people who know me knew and respected that.”

What researchers studied during the Timecave experiment

The researchers aimed to study social isolation’s impact, along with temporary disorientation on time perception, which she experienced after two months.

The study also focused on possible neuropsychological and cognitive changes, and effects on circadian rhythms and sleep.

Flamini’s cave environment was secure yet hostile to the human brain due to the lack of daylight and neurological stimulation, making time seem non-existent.

“It’s not that time passes more quickly or more slowly; it simply doesn’t pass because it’s always four in the morning,” she explained.

During her time underground, Flamini celebrated two birthdays alone and is believed to have broken a world record for the longest time spent in a cave.

What did Beatriz Flamini eat in the cave?

While Flamini has not publicized what exactly she ate during her time in isolation, her team brought food into the exchange point every few days.

The meals they brought in were reportedly “pretty standard,” with the exception of “special treats” like avocados and fresh eggs.

Flamini also has said she experience “intense cravings” for roast chicken with potatoes during her time underground, and consumed 220 gallons of water.

Beatriz Flamini cave silence

The mountaineer spent her time focusing on keeping her “coherence” and relishing the silence around her.

“I didn’t talk to myself out loud, but I had internal conversations and got on very well with myself,” she quipped.

“You have to remain conscious of your feelings,” Flamini noted. “If you’re afraid, that’s something natural but never let panic in or you get paralyzed.”

Beatriz Flamini’s life before the cave

Flamini’s career is a testament to her passion for adventure and leadership. With over 8,000 hours of teaching experience in sports coaching, teamwork, and large group dynamics, she has honed her skills as both an educator and a motivator.

In the 1990s, her love for exploration led the mountaineer to join cave expeditions as a photographer. She then dedicated her time to being a rescue worker in the Sierra de Gredos.

By 2019, the extreme athlete was preparing for an ambitious trek across Mongolia by foot. Training at Montaña Palentina in Espigüete, she continued to push her limits.

Flamini was born with a spirit of exploration coursing through her veins, and her dynamic career reflects that adventurous heart.

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