Exploring the Glittering Crystal Caves of Mlynki



Image: Oleg Grigoryev

Amazing scenes like this make all the hard work of caving worthwhile.

In the Ternopil region of the Ukraine lies a cave considered one of the most beautiful in the country: Mlynki. The cave not only boasts almost 45 kilometers of twisting, turning passages, but is lined with wondrous gypsum crystals – creating a galaxy of beautiful sparkling stars for those willing to brave the dirt, narrow spaces and perilous chasms.


Image: Oleg Grigoryev

A wrongly placed foot can lead to a long fall down – thought to be the number one cause of caving fatalities.

Photographer Oleg Grigoryev and a team of other cavers set out to explore the Mlynki cave complex in early March 2012. Like the many cave visitors before them, they were greeted at its entrance by the statue of a caver known as “Wasi.” Legend has it that Wasi brings luck to those who touch or have their photograph taken with him at the beginning of an expedition. Luck is, of course, a valuable commodity on a trip that holds as many potential dangers as exploring a cave system carved out of the Earth’s crust.

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