A polar cave diver who spent decades diving beneath the ice of Antarctica has died after a fall off a cliff.
The polar cave divers in Antarctica are known for their skills, but the death of the 37-year-old diver in southern Chile on Tuesday was a sudden end to a career that began more than 20 years ago.
John Rous, the founder of the Polar Caverns Project, had been working on the polar caves of Chile since 2002.
In the early 1990s, the team discovered a deep cave system in Antarctica, the only place in the world where such caves exist.
Rous had been an expert in cave physics, and in the mid-1990s, he and two colleagues built a tunnel to access the caves.
Rous said the tunnel’s walls were about 20 feet high, with a total floor of about 300 feet.
Roulis tunneled in at nightfall, when the ice was frozen and thickest.
The tunnel was the first of its kind, but it was only the beginning.
He said he had already drilled and sealed the tunnel, and had begun work on a second.
But the tunnel never opened.
In 1997, the tunnel finally did open, and Rous and his team were able to explore the cave system, but not much.
He spent the next 20 years working on a project that eventually included the construction of the world’s largest polar cave, the polar cave of Ice Cave 1, near Chile’s largest glacier, the Denali Range.
In 2001, Rous opened a second cave, called Ice Cave 2, in the same area, but he had no idea it would be so close to the first.
He didn’t know the tunnel was so far.
Rouls death comes amid rising concerns about the health of polar explorers.
In September, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a report calling for greater protection for polar explorers and the cave industry.
The report called for increased monitoring of the cave caves and better protection for those working in them.
Rouses death has raised concerns about safety and the long-term health of the industry, which relies on tourism to support its business and pay its staff.
In Chile, the cave trade accounts for roughly $40 million a year in tourism, and the industry has also been in the spotlight recently for a recent scandal involving the death and treatment of polar cave workers.
“We’re all really saddened to hear of John’s death,” said Paul Luscombe, president of the Chilean Association of Polar Cave Operators.
“He was one of the best operators we had, and he would have loved to be here with us.”
The cave industry is facing a wave of lawsuits and lawsuits are mounting, said Rous’ wife, Laura.
The cave industry in Chile is a very tough industry, and we’re all very worried about this.
Laura Rous says she was devastated when she learned of John Rous death.
She said she knew her husband loved the caves, and she hopes his death will help bring about changes.
Laura said she plans to travel to Chile to meet with the families of the victims.
She has also started a petition calling for an end to polar cave tourism.
The Polar Cavern Research Foundation, which provides funding for Rous research, said in a statement that Rous was an important part of the team and that they will miss him.
“John was a very dedicated, compassionate person, who always wanted to learn more about the caves and its inhabitants, and was truly dedicated to his field,” the foundation said.
“John Roulis will be sorely missed by the Polar Cave Research Foundation.”