A short History of Cave Diving in Germany:
This short overview is by no means complete and is at the moment basically
dealing with events in South Germany (which is the main cave diving area
in Germany). The date of an exploration may sometimes not be very precise,
due to the fact that not all trips were published completely by the cave
explorers. Everybody who has some more information on historical facts
is encouraged to pass it on to me.
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1880: A diver descends into Blautopf, using Standard Equipment.
1886: A diver explores the Aachtopf entrance section, using Standard
1904: Karl Massatsch and Erich Stockmeyer attempt the first recorded
free-dive in a German sump in Falkensteiner Höhle.
1953: Klaus Böhm passes the first sump in Falkensteiner Höhle.
The "Falkensteiner Gruppe" starts exploring the cave beyond the sump under
the guidance of Walter Eisele and Friedrich Bänisch,
1957: 2 open-water divers from Munich descend to the bottom of the
Blautopf entrance pit and discover the cave entrance.
1959: Hans Matz and Martin Kolb pass the first sump in Wulfbachquellhöhle
(only in a pair of bathing-trunks!) and the second and third sump in Falkensteiner
Höhle. Manfred Keller is able to surface after the first sump in Mordloch.
The "Höhlenforschungsgruppe Eschenbach/Göppingen" breaks through
several boulder chokes in Mordloch and explores the 2 main river passages
in the cave. G. Wellhöfer discovers an airbell in sump 1 of Wimsener
1960: The "Höhlenforschungsgruppe Eschenbach/Göppingen"
commences its systematic Blautopf explorations under the guidance of Manfred
Keller and surveys the cave to 105m from the entrance. Members of the same
group dive the first 2 sumps in Forellenloch.
1961: Hartmut Bender dives the Ostsee in Kluterthöhle. The
Labyrinthsiphon (sump 1) in Wimsener Höhle is sucessfully passed by
Jochen Hasenmayer, S. Liebold and H. Matz .
1963: A diving fatality occurs in Aachtopf.
September: Hans Dauer and Norbert Schuch pass the Burgrainer sump und
proceed 200 m into virgin territory.
1964: 4 students from Tübingen are trapped by rising water
in Falkensteiner Höhle. They are rescued by cave divers after 66 hours.
1965: After the Mordloch explorations of the "Höhlenforschungsgruppe
Eschenbach/Göppingen" the survey length stands at 2410m. Jochen Hasenmayer
passes 4 sumps in Wulfbachquelle and is confronted by a huge boulder choke
which forces him to make his exit. He and his diving buddy Alexander Wunsch
pass the terminal sumps in Mordloch and investigate 20 successive sumps
in Brunnensteighöhle. Thiergartener Bröller is explored by them,
too. Unfortunately a a tight underwater squeeze at a depth of - 23m prevents
1966: Schurr, Holder, Erz, Kienzle, Thomanetz and Lesicki (Höhlenforschungsgruppe
Eschenbach/Göppingen) have passed 6 sumps in Forellenloch. In sump
7 they are confronted by an unpassable squeeze.
1967: Jochen Hasenmayer and Alexander Wunsch dive 2 short sumps
in Kluterthöhle (Großer See and Westsee 2 ).
Januar, 7th: Norbert Schuch and Siegfried Weindel manage for the first
time to pass the 140 m long Styx-sump and find another sump only 80 m apart.
November, 26th: Again supported by members of "Verein für Höhlenkunde
München", the cave divers Hasenmayer, Schuch and Wunsch explore 340
m of mostly submerged river passage after having passed the Styx-sump.
1968: A member of the "Höhlenforschungsgruppe Eschenbach/Göppingen"
is killed in Blautopf.
1970: Jochen Hasenmayer extends the Aachtopf explorations to 400m
from the entrance. Unfortunately he publishes very little about his subsequent
dives. In the mid-80ties Harald Schetter mounts several expeditions into
1971: Jochen Hasenmayer and Alexander Wunsch are able to pass the
heavily silted sumps of Elsachbröller and gain several hundred meters
of passageway (Klammgang).
1975: Jochen Hasenmayer reaches a point 400m from base in the Schluchtsiphon
in Wimsener Höhle.
1977: 4 open-water divers are trapped in Mordloch by the spring
melt water and are rescued by cave divers after 57 hours. Jürgen Zerweck
and Manfred Bartsch break through the "Eisele Versturz" in Falkensteiner
Höhle (a massive boulder choke) and gain 700m of virgin passage.
1979: The first sump in Hölloch is passed by Wolfgang Morlock.
A diver drowns in Aachtopf.
1980: Jochen Hasenmayer reaches sump 26 in Falkensteiner Höhle
(5000m from the entrance). The passage continues.
1983: 2 open-water divers drown in Blautopf.
1984: Axel Gnädinger passes the "Schwarzer Siphon" in Roter-Brunnen-Höhle
1985: Axel Gnädinger discovers a tight bypass to the terminal
boulder choke of sump 4 in Wulfbachquellhöhle, overcomes 5 sumps and
extends the cave to 1100m where he reaches an unpassable boulder choke.
Jochen Hasenmayer mounts another Blautopf solo-expedition and emerges into
the "Mörikedom", a big room 1250m from the entrance. He develops a
very controversial theory about huge thermal water resources between the
Suabian Jura and the Alps and claims that the Blautopf is at least 25 Million
1986: The cave research groups Stuttgart, Kirchheim and Ostalb have
explored several leads in Mordloch. The new survey length stands at 4320m.
1987: The members of "Höhleninteressengemeinschaft Ostalb"
Jürgen Bohnert, Andreas Kücha and Kai Neumann produce a new survey
of the Forellenloch and explore sump 7. A massive boulder choke prevents
any further discoveries.
1988: Andreas Kücha passes sump 1 in Schwarzbachquellhöhle.
The cave is subsequently explored by cave divers of "Höhlenforschungsgruppe
Kirchheim" and "Höhleninteressengemeinschaft Ostalb".
1989: The end of the main lead in Elsachbröller (a boulder
choke whose existence had not yet been published by the earlier explorers
Jochen Hasenmayer and Alexander Wunsch) is reached by A. Bayer, M. Mayberg
und B. Rinne some 1600m from the entrance. Jochen Hasenmayer is seriously
affected by a severe decompression accident in a lake (Wolfgangssee) in
Austria. Despite all therapeutic efforts his legs remain paralysed.
1990: A depth of 25m is reached by Josef Schneider in sump 5 of
Büchelbrunner Bröller. Jürgen Bohnert and Andreas Kücha
dive sump 20 in Brunnensteighöhle and discover a roomy passage, leading
in a westerly direction.
1991: Wolfgang Morlock dives sump 1 in Kesselbröller.
1993: Several German cave divers gather at Mouthe (France) near
Source de la Doubs and decide to form the SAT (Speleo Aquanauten Team).
The main aim of this national association of German cave divers is to overcome
the secrecy and reluctance of former cave diving generations and to encourage
divers to work together.
1995: 2 cavers are trapped by the spring melt water in Falkensteiner
Höhle and are rescued by cave divers 1 day later. The "Höhlenforschungsgruppe
Kirchheim" and "Höhleninteressengemeinschaft Ostalb" are able to break
through 3 boulder chokes in Wulfbachquellhöhle and discover 5km of
virgin passage. The Kesselbröller is extended to 509m by Matthias
Leyk, Marcel Hüttemann und Thomas Unger. Hermann Maier passes sump
3 in Hölloch, assisted by members of "Höhlenverein Sonthofen".
1996: Jochen Hasenmayer produces a submarine for his Blautopf explorations.
He achieves an 80m penetration and discovers (according to his opinion)
"the remains of an underground river bed" which leads him to very controversial
conclusions about the age of the karstification process.
1997: A scientific organisation (Arge Blautopf) obtains permission
to do some research in Blautopfhöhle. The group is aiming at surveying
the first 400 m of the cave.
Siegfried Geiger and Andreas Kücha explore the terminal sump of
Wimsen cave to a depth of 60 m (supported by other HFGK/INGO divers).
Jürgen Bohnert and Salvatore Busche (HFGK/INGO) surpass the 6000
meter - survey mark. This makes the cave the fourthlongest in Germany.
Andreas Wolf and his colleagues from "Verein für Höhlenkunde
München" and "Höhlenverein Sonthofen" proceed with the Hölloch
exploration and surveying with considerable success.
September, 15th: Further attempt of members of "Verein für Höhlenkunde
München" zu reach the remote sump section beyond Styx-sump. After
145 m an underwater boulder choke at a depth of -6 m forces the cave divers
Gertrud Keim and Andreas Wolf to turn back. Nevertheless, exploration will
be continued in other parts of the cave.
1998: The traditional INGO/HFGK - Schwarzbach cave diving camp turns
out to be very successful.
More than 2 km have up to now been surveyed...and the cave is still
A big hazzle about the aims and future plans of SAT (SpeleoAquanautenTeam)
the leaving of 10 active cave research divers. After this event SAT
represents only a small cave diving minority. Now most of the active cave
research divers in Germany plan to found a new and basically scientificly
1999: The HFGK/INGO camp yields 2.8 km of total passage. The
survey length of Wulfbach Resurgence is increased to 6.6 km. Cavers of
München and Sonthofen explore the Hölloch to 4.8 km during an
underground camp. The actual results of the scientif work of "Arbeitsgemeinschaft
Blautopf" are presented to the public at the Symposium on Karstification
in South-West Germany. The cave diving section of the German cave research
association (Höhlentauchsektion des Verbandes deutscher Höhlen-
und Karstforscher) is founded. Its aims are basically to work out new safety
standards and to train fellow cave divers in a non-commercial and scientifically
oriented manner. In Hausener Bröller the terminal sump is surveyed
by researchers of the newly founded HFGOK (formerly HFGK/INGO). In Blautopf
Jochen Hasenmayer proceeds to the so called "Joch", a restriction some
240 m from the entrance pit using his self-constructed submarine.
2000: In Schwarzbach Resurgence HFGOK members extend the survey
to 3,1 km. An underground camp site is established and a huge underground
chamber with a main inlet in the ceiling is discovered.