Primož Jakopin - Klok
Roberto Antonini
a high mountain caver

Antonini on Vratni vrh, 1996 m, December 2019, selfie

Can you introduce yourself?
          I was born in Ancona on August 25, 1963, son of Alfredo Antonini from Ancona and mother Romilda (De Paoli), born in Trentino. I have two brothers, the older Pino and the younger Maurizio. Pino and I shared the same passions, and it was with him that I started going to caves in 1976.
          I attended a technical high school and obtained the diploma of a chemical technician, but my professional activity followed another course, in fact, since the beginning I have worked in the field of rock face consolidation with mountaineering techniques.
          I currently have my own company, which I created in 1992. We mainly carry out works for prevention of rockfall and avalanches, and also consolidation of slopes using micropiles and tie rods.
What do you remember most about your early life?
          I remember with pleasure the time spent in the mountains of Trentino, in Fiera di Primiero, where my mother came from.
          During the whole summer holiday period, sometimes even in the winter, we spent the holidays with my brothers in my grandmother's house, first with my parents too, then, when they had to go back to work in Ancona, our grandmother took care of us. The house was an old hut in the mountains, very spartan, complete with a stable with cows.
          I recall my first hiking experiences with pleasure, first in the woods of the valley, and then higher and higher, along paths that led to those fascinating mountains. That's where my passion for the mountains was born.

Pino and Roberto after the return from the bottom of Krubera-Voronja, 2010, photo by Pino Antonini.

What else attracts you to industrial rope access, other than the fact that you have extensive experience in cave climbing?

          When I started I liked the fact that I could work in the mountains, using the same techniques that I used in the cave. I thought that working in a sector related to my passion would never tire me, and it never did, for many years.
          Now things have changed a bit, having to deal with the administrative and commercial part of the company, I am often in the office and I rarely go around construction sites. On the other hand I like to face challenges to find the most suitable technical solutions in particularly demanding and complex tasks.

View down the shaft in Črnelsko brezno / Veliko Sbrego*, October 2006, photo by Oleg Klimčuk**

What brought you to caving?

          It was the seventies, and the brother of a friend of mine was fond of caves. His exciting tales of exploration also attracted my friend, but as his brother had never had the opportunity to take him to caves, we decided to organize a cave excursion involving two other friends. On 12 September 1976 a small group of four twelve-year-olds set off for the Frasassi Caves.
          I still remember how exciting this first excursion into the Frasassi gorges was, the train journey, the ascent into those mountains so different from those of Trentino, and the visit of the cave, where I took my first steps in the underground darkness. The galleries seemed endless ...
          In short, it was an extremely engaging experience, it didn't take long that our group of friends returned, to visit other caves.

View of Lago del Predil / Rabeljsko jezero from the cavern in the wall of Velika Črnelska špica, above the Črnelsko brezno / Veliko Sbrego, October 2006, photo by Denis Provalov

What was your first caving adventure in the high mountains?

          Before descending into my first high mountain pit, I had the opportunity to prepare myself in other mid-mountain caves, which were technically just as demanding.
          My first caving experiences were exclusively in the karst area of the Gole di Frasassi, at first in horizontal caves, and subsequently caves with shafts. We tackled them with the ropes which, I still remember, I and my young adventure companions had "recovered" from a boat moored in the port of Ancona.
          No one had taken part in a caving course, we were all self-taught, after the techniques we have seen in caving books and magazines: for abseiling a rope served as a seat instead of a harness, for the ascent we used the Prusik knots.
          This lasted until 1978, when I finally joined the Gruppo Speleologico Marchigiano of Ancona. From that moment a new world opened up for me, because I had the opportunity to refine rope ascent techniques, visiting caves more and more technical and demanding.
          The Grotta di Monte Cucco was my first purely vertical cave, extremely exciting for a young man like me who aspired to descend deep pits. In 1981 I managed to reach the bottom of the cave at -920 m.
          The following year, still in the Grotta di Monte Cucco, with the small group of young people who were improving technical skills, we began the exploration of a new branch, the "meandrino". After -300 m a long narrow meander, interspersed with alpine-type shafts, led us to a depth of 800 m.
          And it was from that exploration that I began to visit increasingly challenging alpine-style caves.
          The desire to improve myself led me to other equally technical caves. With my brother and a close-knit group of friends, we reached the bottom of many pits scattered throughout the Italian territory. In southern Italy it was the Bifurto pit, on the Lessini mountains it was the Spluga della Preta, in the Apuan Alps the Corchia, the Farolfi, the Guaglio, the Mandini, the Lavandaia, Olivifer, and then on the Marguareis massif of Piedmont (near the Italian border, translator's note - thereafter TN): the Kappá, Piaggia Bella, the Perdus, the Straldi, the Trou Chou-Fleur, Volante, Solai, Saracco, Mastrelle. In some of these caves we also managed to explore new branches.
          And then in 1985 I had the opportunity to go to the plateau of Kanin Mountains, to the Novelli cave. It was like a thunderbolt for me when, having reached the saddle Sella Canin / Bela peč, that spectacular sea of white stone appeared in front of me, in all its majesty.
          From that moment on I couldn't help but go back, even though it was far away, 550 km from home. I always managed to find an opportunity to visit those fascinating caves, also thanks to the fact that I had met a group of friends from Triest who shared the same passion for those Alpine caves.
          So I descended the Abisso Gortani, the Fonda, and other lesser caves.
          In those years I also began to leave Italy to visit famous caves such as the Gouffre Berger and the Gouffre de La Pierre Saint Martin in France, the BU56 (my first -1000 m cave) in Spain, the Hochlecken-Großhöhle in Austria, the Hölloch in Switzerland.
          When in 1987 I met my wife Patrizia, also a caver, I moved to Triest, and since then I began to visit the Kanin massif more assiduously, but with a new awareness. I no longer had any interest in visiting caves that had already been explored, I just wanted to discover, to search for new caves, or find unexplored branches of known caves.
          So I discovered new branches at the Bus d'Ajar, a paleo-resurgence of the Gortani, and some small caves in the eastern Kanin below the Mogenza peak.
          But 1988 was the year of a turning point in my caving, satiating from that moment on my hunger for explorations: I had the opportunity to meet Gregor Pintar from Škofja Loka, equally passionate about caves, with whom I struck up a friendship. I immediately accepted his invitation to accompany him in exploration of a cave on Kanin, the Skalarjevo brezno. At the time it was about 450 meters deep, the deepest cave on the Slovenian side of Kanin. In two trips we explored the 200 m pit, Apocalypse now, and we looked into another very deep pit at around -700 m.
          In the meantime, I obtained the permit to explore the Goričica plateau to the east of Kanin, in the direction of Rombon, a sea of extremely karstified and still practically virgin rock.

Patrizia and Roberto, Goričica plateau, 8 January 1989, photo by Roberto Antonini

          Only the caving team which started to explore Čehi 2, now the deepest Slovenian cave, also discovered a couple of caves, none over 100 meters deep. So, from that moment on, my discovery and exploration of its underground mazes began, which to date I have been lucky enough to be able to explore for a total development of about 40 km.
          Since I began my explorations on Goričica plateau, I have rarely explored other areas.
          It was mostly on Kanin: I opened a narrow passage in Renetovo brezno when it was still 400 m deep (on August 4, 1999, with Marina and Gregor Pintar, Lanko Marušič, Martina Bergant and Giacomo Zamparo, TN), several times I contributed to explorations in Brezno pod velbom, I rigged the first 250 meters of the 500 m shaft at Huevos, and, certainly, the crossing from Mala Boka to BC4 also did not escape my attention.
          Of other areas outside the Kanin, I certainly must not forget to mention the Caucasus: the first expedition in 1991, on the Arabika massif, where we explored several new caves, which later turned out to be of no particular depth. We returned in 2010 to descend into, at the time, the deepest cave in the world, the Krubera-Voronja Cave, and managed to to reach the bottom.
          As for rescue activities, since 1985 I have had the opportunity to visit many caves, both in training and in rescue operations, the Riesending-Schachthöhle, despite the unfortunate occasion, will always remain in my memories as a beautiful cave, where I felt at home. The limestone, the temperature and its morphology gave me the sensation of a Kanin cave.
          Since the beginning of my caving career, I estimate to having passed through hundreds of kilometers of cave tunnels, in 36 trips the depth of 1000 meters was exceeded 36 times, and 2000 meters once. I feel I was very lucky, because sometimes, to find a cave you need to have a nose, a good knowledge of the karst phenomena, but above all a lot of luck.

What is your caving club?

          Currently I don't belong to any caving club. I was in the Marche region caving club of Ancona, later in the CGEB of Triest until 1996.
          Since then I only go to caves with friends, without being tied to any official club. I also prefer to be autonomous in the supply of exploration materials, drilling equipment, ropes and climbing gear, without having to depend on anyone.

How was the day when you went on a ski mountaineering trip and discovered both Hudi Vršič / Egidio and Črnelsko brezno / Veliko Sbrego?

          My wife Patrizia and I we both had a great desire to searches for blow holes, spots of melted snow which indicates a cave below, which can only be done in the winter. That day, going up the Krnica valley, we tried to reach the highest point of the plateau, arriving on the Hudi Vršič ridge.

Winter view of the entrance to Hudi Vršič / Egidio, January 30, 2022, photo by Mitja Mršek

          From above we noticed the large blowing entrance of Egidio, and on skis we reached the entrance which immediately looked very promising. While we were resting on the ridge a few steps away from Egidio, we saw other melted entrances to the east on a plateau below the peak Črnelska špica. It was a good skiing to the gully below and we reached the small blowing entrance of Ćrnelsko brezno / Veliko Sbrego.
          For the first descent of the cave we waited for the late spring; I still have the video footage of those moments, magical for me.

How did you get the names Egidio and Veliko Sbrego?

          I wanted to call the first great abyss with a name that is half Italian and half Slovenian. So Veliko Sbrego was supposed to mean "The Great Fissure" (velik in Slovenian is big, great, sbrego in Italian is a fissure). Egidio, on the other hand, was a fantasy name with no particular meaning.***
          My big disappointment was when I was told that the names of the caves had to be changed because they only accepted Slovenian names in the cave registry.

It was most likely a misunderstanding, a lack of knowledge of the opposing language on both sides. Sbrego is indeed a fissure, but it's not a widely used Italian word, and breg is a very common Slovenian word, meaning embankment (of a river) or a hillside. So the Slovenian cave registry administrators probably thought that sbrego was a pejorative distortion of the word breg, due to poor knowledge of Slovenian. Before seeing Antonini's explanation the author shared this opinion, too. Breg is of masculine gender and the adjective veliko is of neutral, incompatible gender. Sbrego also sounds very much like z brega which would translate to from the hillside.

Some members of the CAVEX expedition to Črnelsko brezno: Matteo, Lillo, Serena, Andrea, Rok and Katia, October 2006, photo by Denis Provalov. It was one of the great expeditions, comparable in scope and size to those to the world's deepest caves on Arabika and Central Asia. 33 speleologists from 5 countries participated - Russia: Denis Provalov and Dmitrij Skljarenko - Skljar (Moskva), Andrej Sizikov (Moskva, Habarovsk), Andrej Mazurov (Bereznjaki), Jurij Bazilevski - BZ and Dmitry Vikorčuk (Čeljabinsk ), Julia Savenko (Feodosija), Valerij Akulenko - Clark (Meždurečensk), Vasja Hohrin and Evgenij Ilingin - Žendos (Samara), Ukraine: Oleg Klimčuk, Irina Beletskaja and Oleg Luščevski (Kijev), Dmitrij Fedotov (Poltava), Czech: Oldřich Stos - Spider, Martin Sluka, Radek Blazek, Peter Polak and Zdenek Dvořak, Italy: Roberto Antonini (Triest), Matteo Rivadossi - Pota, Serena Burgassi, Katia Zampatti, Andrea Tocchini - Ring, Luca Tanfoglio - Tanfo, Robi Crotti, Gianni Garbelli (GGB Brescia), Stefano Panizzon - Lillo (GSM Vicenza), Paolo Sussan - Grandpa (GSSG Trieste) and Slovenia: Gregor and Marina Pintar (DZRJL), Rok Stopar (JD Dimnice).

What can you tell us about the exploration of Črnelsko brezno/Veliko Sbrego, the first cave deeper than 1000 meters on Mount Kanin?

          It was also very demanding because it was my first great exploration, furthermore, after having seen most of the deep caves on both Italian and Slovenian side of Kanin, I believe it is the most beautiful cave that can be seen in the whole massif. (Rightly, the same thing every parent thinks of his child)
          The water stream at -620, Galaxica, Rio Kubo, the Aqualung canyon, are truly stupendous stretches of cave, the beauty of which I could not yet find in other caves.
          Exploration began in the summer of 1989 and already in the winter we were at -1200. The exploration of the branches above the bottom followed, of the Cyclops Hall and other lateral branches. In January 1990 an accident happened in which Massimiliano Puntar lost his life, and it discontinued the exploration for a certain time.
          Later we returned to explore the terminal parts, without obtaining great results, apart from the discovery of J4 / Pa' e Volpe, Korova and Gulliver, the low entrances of the cave, which always led to the area of the camp at -1000.
          In recent years I participated in exploration of Hudi Vršič / Egidio, the final result of which was the junction with Črnelsko brezno / Veliko Sbrego.
          I still remember the joy I felt when this happened: I was together with my current caving partner, Alberto Dal Maso (as part of a field trip by Slovenian cavers Mitja Mršek, Aleš Štrukelj and Ana Makovec, TN), and we were descending the active shafts beyond -1000. We all felt the junction is in the air, very close, when, at the bottom of a shaft we landed at an impassable siphon…. “Game over”, would be a proper name for it, one could really say that it was the end of the game. But not quite, a short climb up a chimney, and we arrived to the middle of a parallel fossil shaft.
          A few meters from the bottom, I rigged the last anchor, I turned around and saw an old rope, and immediately I remembered the traverses of Rio Kubo, and I began to scream with joy: the dream of many years, to connect Egidio with Veliko Sbrego was finally achieved, all the great efforts of Slovenian cavers and myself had finally been repaid.

Roberto and Alberto dal Maso above the entrance to Črnelsko brezno / Veliko Sbrego, 2080 meters above sea level, 6 November 2017, photo by Roberto Antonini

How has diving at its bottom evolved?

          The first dive of the terminal siphon was made in 1997 by a Tuscan friend of mine, Gianni Guidotti, who managed to get to a depth of 60 m. Years later, in 2006, the team, led by Russians (CAVEX International expedition, TN) came and in two expeditions they reached the current bottom by overcoming three siphons.
          Certainly for a long time it will be difficult for anyone to return to dive past the last siphon. In addition to the fact that several teams of cave divers are needed, the cave becomes increasingly demanding due to the sheer amount of water flowing through it.

Oleg and Jurij, the upper entrance to the final siphon of Črnelsko brezno / Veliko Sbrego, October 2006, photo by Denis Provalov

Much has been written about the accident in the cave. Can you briefly recap, how did you experience it?

          We were returning from an exploration in the branches of the Cyclops Hall when, due to fatigue and consequent inattention, one of my two companions put his foot on a large rock which started to rotate. He lost his balance and fell, the boulder collapsed on him, crushing his wrist.
          The situation was immediately critical, we were at -1100, very far from the surface and outside it was the harsh winter, and we were in a foreign territory.
          So, while my friend Paolo was giving assistance to the wounded, I hurried out to call for help. In 5 hours I was out and after the long icy traverses under the Mount Lopa, at dusk I finally managed to get to the Gilberti refuge and called for help.
          After resting at the Gilberti refuge, the following day I returned with the second rescue team, but as we were about to enter, from inside the cave they informed us that a second accident had occurred involving Massimiliano Puntar from the first rescue team (a rock fell on his head, at about -1020 m, TN).
          We descended even faster, though, as we later discovered, it would not have been necessary.
          I still remember the long time spent near Massimiliano while we were waiting for the specific medicines for his condition to arrive from outside. Right from the start the doctor had confronted us with the fact that Massimiliano's situation was very serious. We remained still for about 24 hours, then, when the drugs finally arrived, we began the recovery, which was made very difficult by the fact that the patient had to be moved very delicately.
          Unfortunately the passages to be faced, including the very narrow parts, further aggravated his already desperate condition... we had to stop often, then, when we reached -980, during the recovery by a ropeway, Massimiliano's life was cut short.
          It was certainly one of the most demanding rescue operations ever; there were about one hundred participants and it all lasted about a week.

Matic Di Batista in the Rombonka underground canyon (Rio Rombon), Hudi Vršič / Egidio at -900 m, 15 January 2019, photo by Jure Bevc

What can you tell us about Čehi 2? What was your role in exploration of this cave?

          The discovery of the entrance shaft of Čehi 2 was made during Easter 1991. At the beginning of the summer we returned to descend the first 70 m shaft to a collapse, from which a strong air current was coming.
          During the war for the independence of Slovenia I could not continue the explorations on the plateau, for obvious reasons. It was only possible after I returned from the summer expedition in Abkhazia. But to my great surprise, a group of Slovaks, who I thought were Czechs, had explored some caves, including the Čehi 2, up to -120, stopping above a new shaft.
          At that point I resumed the exploration of the cave, which got bigger and more interesting the deeper I descended.
          During the winter we reached the mythical -1000 meters, and some time later the first bottom at -1270.
          At the end of the summer of 1992, we resumed exploration, bypassing the first bottom through the Azzacanaway tunnels, until we landed in Terrano lake, which I managed to overcome with daring aquatic manoeuvres, rigging the traverse with a steel wire rope.
          From that point on it was just a question of following the main water stream of the plateau, and with a series of exploratory trips we managed to get to the bottom of the cave at -1370 m.
          We returned to the terminal hall twice to look for continuation, in vain. The Russians (CAVEX International expedition, TN) also returned, they even set up a camp there, but they too could not get through.
          Several years later, the Slovenian team re-equipped the cave, and with a stroke of luck, they found a continuation in the terminal collapse. At that point I asked them if I could take part in further exploration, considering the fact that I had explored the vast majority of the cave, and so I would have liked to see how it continued. But I was denied entry.
          I had to wait till they finished the exploration before I could come back and put my feet in the terminal siphon.

The members of the team that reached the historic -1000 meters at Čehi 2, from left to right: Pino Antonini, Marco Marantonio, Paolo Sussan, Massimo Tarsi, Roberto Antonini, Daniele Moretti, Stefano Borghi; February 2, 1992, photo by Roberto Antonini

How has the Mount Kanin Cave Complex on the Italian side of the mountain evolved and how long is it now? What are the problems and challenges?

          During the first years of exploration of the Kanin plateau, the caving teams had as their primary objective the achievement of the maximum depth of the cave, therefore, until the 1980s, apart from the Gortani and Comici abysses, the caves had a predominantly vertical development.
          Subsequently, a greater knowledge of the karst phenomena in the area helped to stimulate explorations also in a horizontal direction. It allowed the connection of the individual pits scattered throughout the plateau.
          Now the complex has reached 100 km, but many pits are still waiting to be connected. The most important are the cave web under the Gilberti refuge and the Led Zeppelin.

My fellow cavers from DZRJL have never really explored the upper part of the Kaliktor water tunnel in Renetovo brezno. It is headed to the Italian side of the mountain. How far in time do you think the underground connection of both sides is?

          For now, apart from some sporadic exploration of the area, there hasn't been anyone particularly interested in carrying out serious and constant research on that part of the plateau (it is known that two caves in this area cross the border between Slovenia and Italy: Queen Mama and Brezno spečega dinozavra / The Abyss of the Sleeping Dinosaur, TN).
          I am convinced that there is a connection, you just need to dedicate some time to it, going down the pits that are often clogged with ice or moraine debris.
          We must not forget that only until a few decades ago all that area was covered by a thick glacial blanket for most of the year.

Roberto at the entrance to the Krško cave, 2130 meters above sea level, April 17, 2022, photo by Rocco Romano

Now you are very much involved in the Krško cave in Mount Lopa? When did you start and how are you doing now?

          I discovered the cave in December 2017, during one of the many ski mountaineering trips aimed at finding new entrances, patches of melted snow.
          We had already explored it up to -350 in the spring of 2018, where a collapse blocked any continuation.
          The following years I dedicated my explorations to the Abisso delle Cicogne (Abyss of the Storks), so only in the summer of 2021 I had the time to go to Krško again. After a series of excavation trips we finally managed to pass the collapse.
          The cave continues with a long meander interspersed with pits, never very deep, down to a depth of 600 metres, where the phreatic galleries branch off, and where the bottom is still waiting to be explored.
          But at -600 another, most interesting branch, with great air current, continues with the meander, until it reaches the main water stream of the cave at -800 m. It falls into the Great Hall of Plitvice, one of the largest in Kanin.
          Currently the cave has been explored to a depth of 1113 m (April 2023), but exploration continues.
          My great interest in this cave is due to the fact that it develops entirely in the Krnica valley, a part of the Kanin massif where until now nothing had yet been found. Many hypotheses are possible but I still believe that the Krško water stream is one of the tributaries that feed the waters of the Gljun resurgence.
          Its main axis runs parallel to the Prevala fault system, here the tectonics has generated the overthrust of some dolomite blocks. They can be seen above all on the vault of some sections of the cave.
          My hope is that the cave and the stream will proceed in the same direction, until it intercepts what should be the main underground water stream of the Goričica plateau. It, according to my hypothesis, should run in a west-east direction, along the hydrological barrier generated by the thrust of the Kanin massif on the plain of Bovec.

Self-portrait of Roberto with Alberto dal Maso on the south face of Mount Leupa (2406 m), near the entrance to the Krško cave, seen from the east, 18 September 2021.

Do you like to travel?

          I'm not particularly attracted to travel. But I had my share of it, too.

All caves have a unique charm. Which high mountain cave impressed you the most?

          Črnelsko brezno / Veliko Sbrego, which I think is the most beautiful cave I have ever seen, and I can consider that I have seen many.

And which cave of the Karst region?

          Although I am not particularly attracted by the Karst caves, thanks to the rescue activity, I was able to visit most of the caves in the Triest Karst.
          In Slovenia I have been to Kačja jama, Davorjevo brezno and other minor caves.

Self-portrait of Roberto with Alberto dal Maso paragliding on their way back from the Krško cave, 2022

What have been your most surprising cave experiences and which have been the most challenging?

          For me every cave exploration is a fantastic experience, even in the smallest and least interesting hole; the very fact of traveling through places never known generates in me a state of exploration-trans that I often express with screams of joy, and despite the many explorations made, I still relive the same feeling of euphoria experienced the first time, when as a young man, I took my first steps into the unknown.
          However, I think that the exploration of the canyons and tunnels of Črnelsko brezno / Veliko Sbrego, as well as the tunnels of Queen Mama (A 900-meter-deep cave that extends almost entirely under the Slovenian part of Kanin, but has (the only passable) entrance on the Italian side of the mountain, TN), have particularly impressed me.
          Among the most demanding experiences I can certainly mention the exploration of the Korova, with its very narrow meanders and the very selective departures at the pit bottoms.
          Surely I was positively impressed by the long descent of Krubera, which despite not being a particularly demanding cave, still remains a -2000; of that descent, which lasted 3 days, I remember in particular the siphon at -1400, I still remember well the rope that slipped into that puddle of dirty water, where you had to dive in apnea, with no visibility, to cross that submerged gut of 6 meters.

At the Ljubljana speleologist camp (DZRJL) near the Vandima abyss (1182 m deep): Natalija Kareva, Oleg Klimčuk, Lada Zubkova, Roberto Antonini, Ekaterina Gončar and Denis Provalov; August 1996, photo by Natalija Kareva

Unlike many high mountain speleologists, you have a family life. When and how did it happen? Was it love at first sight?

          I met my wife Patrizia when I began to visit the caves of the Italian Kanin, she too was a frequent visitor to those pits.
          The spark was ignited in the summer of '87, after having participated together in an expedition to Spain to the BU56 abyss. With her I explored the first pits of the Goričica plateau, including Črnelsko brezno / Veliko Sbrego and Hudi Vršič / Egidio.

How do you combine speleological passion with family life? Is it difficult?

          Certainly alone it is easier to manage one's passions, but thanks to my wife, who has never imposed vetoes or renunciations on me, I have been able to carry on my speleological activity without problems.

Extended profile of the caves Korova, Gulliver and Črnelsko brezno / Veliko sbrego, by Roberto and Pino Antonini, after 2006. Two clicks show the map in full resolution.

Does life get more complicated, year after year? What advice would you give to all aspiring cavers?

          The burning fire of exploration cannot grow in those who do not have it. I believe that it is inborn in few people, and that it can be reawakened with exploratory activity.
          Everyone can go to caves, most will follow others in visits to known caves, but only a few will choose to dedicate part of their lives to research and exploration of karst systems.
          When you are young you are more carefree and you will be able to devote a lot of time to cultivating this passion, but over time, the problems of everyday life, work and family will eat away at the time dedicated to exploration. Cave trips will get increasingly rare, and after a while, in the absence of stimuli, you will find yourself abandoning this side of your life completely.
          So my advice is: set yourself goals: exploration in a new karst area, a new cave branch ... in short, continue to feed the desire for exploration, even if just with a few short but rewarding trips.

Is there anything else you would like to say? What did we miss in the previous questions?

          For some years I have owned a house in the valley Bavšica, east of Bovec, which in addition to being a convenient starting point for cave exploration in the Kanin area, has become my corner of paradise where I can to live in contact with a nature, still little touched by man.

Alpine house in the Bavšica valley, October 2021, photo by Roberto Antonini

At the end three slightly less difficult questions. What are your favorite movies?

          I have no favorite movies.

What's your favorite music?

          Chill-out, Rock.

Your favorite color and why?

          I don't have a favorite color, maybe more than a specific color, I'm more attracted by the combinations of various colors.
          There is a period of the year in which I am particularly attracted by colours, and it is in autumn, when the forest becomes polychrome, with the strong contrast between the green of the fir trees and the yellow-orange hues of the beech leaves.

Mount Rombon, 2207 metres, view from the west, 2020, photo by Roberto Antonini

* Names of caves, given by Roberto Antonini and located in Slovenia, which were later also given a different Slovenian name, used as primary in the Slovenian cave registry, are usually given in both versions, the name from the registry followed by Antonini's name. An example is Črnelsko brezno / Veliko Sbrego.

** All Cyrillic names in the article are, for greater accuracy, romanized according to the Scientific transliteration of Cyrillic.

*** The original name of the cave is given in the title of the paper by Roberto Antonini: Descrizione dell'abisso "Metite i pani 'Gidio che gò dà la cera in andito!" (Description of the abyss "Egidio, put on your slippers, I've waxed the floor!"), published in Triest caving journal Progressione, volume 24, isue 2, December 1990 on pages 51 and 52. On page 51 Antonini also uncovered his caving nickname, Beccuccio which would translate to spout: a tube or lip on a vessel, through which a drink is poured: "a teapot with a spout".


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This page and text are by Primož Jakopin. All photos have been published with the permission of the authors. Send comments to primoz jakopin guest arnes si (insert the periods and the at sign where appropriate). The work on the Italian version of the portrait started on January 13, 2022. Translation from Italian into English was made by the author in February 2023. The text was reviewed by Lanko Marušič, Franci Gabrovšek, Špela Borko, Matic Di Batista, Klemen Mihalič, Mitja Prelovšek and France Šušteršič. Date of last change: October 19, 2023.