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Experience the darkness beyond the void.

Dive the bottom of the Atlantic, dig under the slopes of the Russian Urals, uncover the history of hidden survivors in Ukraine, and learn what to do when everything goes wrong deep underground.

On Saturday, April 1, The Explorers Club is hosting storytellers back from the abyss—join us for Tales From Dark Places, proudly supported by the National Speleological Foundation.




Header Image: Cas Dobbin at Peacock Springs State Park, courtesy Jill Heinerth



9:30 am Welcome Coffee & Tea
9:45 am Opening Remarks from MC John Scheltens
9:50 am "Darkness Beyond The Void"
10:10 am Emily Davis: "It’s Different in the Dark, or When Good Exploration Goes Bad"
10:50 am Adam Weaver: "The Long Way Down, Exploration in the World's Most Remote Frontiers"
Sharon Weaver: "Digging Into the Darkness, from Caves to Dinosaurs"
11:50 am Lunch
12:40 pm John Scheltens: "The First United States Caving Expeditions to the USSR"
1:20 pm Renata Rojas: " The Road to a Lifetime Dream: Diving on the Titanic"
2:00 pm Benjy von Cramon: "Uralkali: An Immersive Map of a Psychedelic Mine in Siberia, Russia"
2:40 pm Break
2:55 pm Chris Nicola: "A Holocaust Era Cave Survival Story in Ukraine"
3:35 pm Susan Gurnee: "Tribute to Cave Biologist and Former Explorers Club President, Brother Nicholas Sullivan"
4:15 pm Closing Reception

Emily Davis

It’s Different in the Dark, or When Good Exploration Goes Bad

Speleobooks owner and 50-year caving veteran Emily Davis has dedicated her life to caving and conservation. She was also the subject of the 1991 rescue in Lechuguilla.

Adam Weaver

The Long Way Down, Exploration in the World's Most Remote Frontiers

Adam Weaver is a project caver focusing on many of the large projects in the western United States. He is an expedition leader in both Jewel, Ft. Stanton, and Wind Caves, and substantial work in Lechuguilla cave among others. Through his efforts he has discovered and mapped more than 80 miles of new cave passage.  He is currently the production editor of the NSS News – America’s Caving Magazine, Vice President of the Black Hills Cave and Nature Conservancy, and serves on the board of directors of the Cave Exploration Society, Cave Conservancy of Hawaii, and Cave Discovery Initiative inc, among other non-profits.   Professionally, Adam works as the Operations Manager of the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research and Owner of Final Frontier Sports, He holds an M.S. in Natural Resource Stewardship, with a focus on Ecological Restoration and Water Resource Management from Colorado State University.

Sharon Weaver

Digging Into the Darkness, from Caves to Dinosaurs

Dr. Sharon Weaver  Is a vertebrate paleontologist with a wide variety of excavation experiences and research across the US and through time. She has participated in multiple National Science Foundation grants that have allowed her to travel for research and share her experiences with scientists and the public.  In 2018, she received her PhD in Biology from the University of Florida where she specialized in carnivoran forelimbs. It was here that her interest in public education and 3D technologies grew.  She earned a MS in Geosciences from East Tennessee State University working on giant ground sloths from a cave in Alabama and a BS in Geology from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology focusing on giant short-faced bears. Even though her research has been mainly mammal based, she has come back to where her excitement in paleontology began, to dinosaurs. Sharon is an Associate Director of the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research. She is currently overseeing the preparation, restoration, and mounting of three large sauropods for a new museum exhibit.

John Scheltens

The First United States Caving Expeditions to the USSR (inc. Ukraine)

President Emeritus, the National Speleological Society

Renata Rojas

The Road to a Lifetime Dream: Diving on the Titanic

Born in Mexico City and based in New York City, Renata Rojas is a Technical Diver who started diving at age 12.  Renata’s world-wide diving experience includes cave diving, wreck diving, ice diving. She has traveled to some of the most remote places in the world, including Latin America, Galapagos, Newfoundland, Iceland, Greenland, the Maldives, The North Arctic and Australia’s great Barrier Reefs. Renata has been fascinated with the RMS Titanic since before the shipwreck was found and had been dreaming of seeing it for more than 30 years.

Benjy von Cramon

Uralkali: An Immersive Map of a Psychedelic Mine in Siberia, Russia

Caves profoundly changed Benjy von Cramon’s life twice. As a documentary producer specializing in social issues, his work with Bill Moyers producing for Realizing America’s Hope garnered a Peabody Award. Later, on the heels of spending two months unsupervised in a medium-max security prison producing more award-winning films about criminal justice issues in South Carolina, the auteur was invited on a trip to a wild cave. His only interest was in getting a good story out of it. Returning with only seconds of usable footage, he put away foolish ideas about capturing a story he didn’t know, and satisfied himself becoming a competent caver over the next seven years. When National Society Convention rolled around, the caving community turned to Benjy to tell a story about Caving in the South. Being one of a small handful worldwide able to film underground, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, THC, the BBC Al Jazeera and more came calling.

Chris Nicola

A Holocaust Era Cave Survival Story in Ukraine

Chris Nicola spends most of his time caving, being a public speaker, and further developing a story that he first heard as a rumor in Ukraine 20 years ago; a story of how a group of Jews survived the Holocaust by living in a cave for over a year. To date, he has confirmed the story by locating 14 of the original 38 cave dwellers, co-authored a book, the “Secret of Priest’s Grotto” and brought about the making of a documentary, “No Place On Earth”, about their experiences, and runs the Priest’s Grotto Heritage Project; a genocide awareness project in which the grandchildren of those who lived in Priest’s Grotto Cave during the Holocaust are working hand-in-hand with the grandchildren of those who lived above the cave in building an exhibit to honor what those courageous 38 did so long ago, and hopefully, by keeping this story alive for future generations, prevent such genocides as the Holocaust from ever happening again.

Susan Gurnee

Tribute to Cave Biologist and Former Explorers Club President, Brother Nicholas Sullivan

Susan Gurnee was in middle school before she absorbed that not all families talk about caves at every meal. Just about every book and periodical in her family’s extensive library had the word cave in it. Taken on scouting trips before expeditions, she was excused from classes and thus never finished a full year of schooling. She recounts she learned about the world through exciting adventures with experts. Early in life she attained many world records. It was unusual for a person not yet a teen involved in rigorous climbing, mapping, photographic, and countless underground activities that led to major scientific advancements. Sue Gurnee still goes caving and likes to take others beyond the sight of light to separate them from the technological world and return to the influences of their senses. Her favorite topic to share? “What To Do When You Get Lost”.

April 1,2023
April 1, 2023
9:30 am
9:30 am
Explorers Club HQ, 46 E 70th St, NY, NY
Explorers Club HQ, 46 E 70th St, NY, NY
Tales From Dark Places Click here to purchase tickets


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