Alan Warild: Extreme Caver

Photo Credit: Tim Jarvis


By Sasha Berdyshevski

UTS Science student Sasha Berdyshevski attended Australian Museum’s latest exhibit, ‘Trailblazers’, and a talk held by extreme caver, Alan Warild.


It’s no question caves make for the perfect location for horror movies. From intensifying claustrophobia to no Wi-Fi connection, we all find the irradiating coldness from these sunless chasms, bone chilling. It’s where one wrong anchor point could drop you 100 or 1000 feet – it’s hard to say when you can’t actually see the bottom.

Alan Warild challenges and pushes human exploration to places that have never heard the voice of man. Alan has ventured from Papua New Guinea to México, from Vietnam to cave systems here in Sydney; all in search for the world’s deepest cave. He has revolutionised caving techniques and challenged impossible routes, and is truly a pioneer of cave exploration.

alan1Considering Alan’s usually two kilometres deep into a dark abyss, I felt very lucky to be in his presence. During his talk – which was presented by Australian Geographic as part of the Australian Museum’s ‘Trailblazers’ exhibit – Alan shone light behind his records and his immeasurable passion for exploration. Alan spoke with an unsettling calm about the caving life. I could only conclude he is so internally in peace with his sense of self and definition, which is so foreign to me – I can’t even remotely relate. This sense of self is often lost in our constant, dubious society, a place where if you don’t sport a pair of vintage Levi jeans, you simply can’t sit with us! Now as much as this social construction terrifies the ordinary visitor to The Grounds of Alexandria, I personally find dying in tight place, with complete sense deprivation almost equally as terrifying. Alan, however, has grasped the threshold of feeling none of this immense fear through pushing himself to new limits.

Alan is one of 50 Australian explorers celebrated as part of Australian Museum’s ‘Trailblazers’ exhibit. This fascinating exhibition follows the adventure at the heart of Australia’s history and identity. On offer are the incredible histories and artefacts of human journeys – from early trailblazers to modern pioneers, contemporary record-breakers and risk-takers. You can’t argue that the dawn of human exploration is long past; it is a pilgrimage of strength and passion, which will coexist as we, humanity, do – and the ‘Trailblazers’ exhibit is a testament to that.


– – –


Australian Museum’s ‘Trailblazers’ exhibit runs until 18 July 2016.

‘Trailblazers Talks’ presented by Australian Geographic will run throughout the course of the exhibit.

For more information on the exhibit, ‘Trailblazer Talks’, and tickets, check out Australian Museum’s Website: and follow the hashtag #AMtrailblazers