The First Man to Descend into Turkmenistan’s Door to Hell

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Image: George Kourounis

Concerned about the emission of toxic gases, the geologists reportedly set the cavity ablaze and imagined the fire would burn out sooner rather than later. Over 40 years down the line, however, Turkmenistan’s huge gas reserves continue to fuel the flames – and scientists don’t seem to be in a hurry to put it out.

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Image: George Kourounis

While the crater is almost certainly the result of humankind’s interference rather than some unworldly evil, it’s likely that this was of little comfort to Kourounis – the first man in history to descend to the bottom of the fiery pit. “When we first walked up to the edge, it scared the hell out of me,” he admits.

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Image: George Kourounis

A self-professed “adventurer and storm chaser,” Kourounis makes a living from discovering the wilder side of nature. Having decided a decade and a half earlier that his life’s goal was to “document the most extreme places on Earth,” the Canadian was naturally attracted to the crater’s core as one of the few spots where a human has yet to set foot.

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