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Guizhou explorer Zhao Zhongguo

By Li Xiaoxu ( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2016-04-27

Zhao Zhongguo, a 60-year-old villager in Suiyang county, Guizhou province guided 30 explorers and scientists from China and France through a network of caves in Suiyang Shuanghe Hole National Geological Park on April 23.

Zhao has guided China-France cave explorers for more than 30 years and has drawn many of his own cave maps.

“Zhao Zhongguo is a real explorer. He has set foot on about 200 kilometers of the Shuanghe area, and has discovered more than 500 holes. Even his hand-drawn maps are well recognized,” said Jean Bottazzi, a French cave explorer.

When he was young, Zhao Zhongguo and his classmates would enter the caves to collect water for drinking or crop irrigation in the dry season. “These holes symbolize a treasure bowl,” Zhao remarked.

The caves are very dangerous, with a single misstep resulting in certain death. Zhao had a close call 10 years ago when he dropped his flashlight and slipped down a gaping crevasse. Fortunately, after struggling for three days and nights he returned to the surface, shaken but not undetermined.

The risk has shadowed him for decades, reminding him that life is precious and safety must always come first, but his brush with death never stopped his passion for exploration.

Know about Suiyang Shuanghe Hole

Suiyang Shuanghe Hole, located in Guizhou, is the world’s longest dolomite cave system, as well as the biggest celestite hole in the world. So far 161.788 kilometers of the complex cave system has been explored and mapped.

Guizhou explorer Zhao Zhongguo

Zhao Zhongguo draws a cave map from memory. [Photo/gywb.cn]

Guizhou explorer Zhao Zhongguo

Zhao Zhongguo guides explorers into a cave entrance. [Photo/gywb.cn]

Guizhou explorer Zhao Zhongguo

One of Zhao Zhongguo’s hand-drawn cave maps. [Photo/gywb.cn]

Edited by Owen Fishwick

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