A 50-year-old Spanish extreme athlete has emerged from spending 500 days living 70 meters deep in a cave outside Granada with no contact with the outside world in an experiment closely monitored by scientists seeking to learn more about the capacities of the human mind and circadian rhythms. She began her challenge on Saturday, November 20, 2021 – before the outbreak of the Ukraine war, the resultant cost of living crisis, the end of Spain’s lengthy Covid mask requirement, and the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
She has now emerged into the light of spring in southern Spain, wearing dark glasses and carrying her equipment. She was greeted by a phalanx of cameras and her support team, who, wearing masks, encircled her in a hug. She described her experience as “excellent, unbeatable,” adding that time had flown by.
Throughout her challenge, she has experienced extremes of terror and euphoria, existential explorations of the meaning of life, huge mood swings and hallucinations, and struggles with memory and concentration. She has also undergone physiological changes and psychological alterations, which research teams at the University of Granada and the University of Almeria have studied.
Her time in the cave, which was not chosen at random, was carefully planned with a team of speleologists to ensure she had all the necessary infrastructure – water, electricity, and a system to ascend and descend safely – as well as a plan to deal with emergencies if they occurred. Her health was also closely monitored, and she had regular check-ups with psychologists, cavers, and physical trainers.
The challenge has been filmed by the production company Dokumalia and will be turned into a documentary. Flamini, an expert in self-sufficiency and a passionate solo climber, contacted the company two years ago to pitch her idea of spending 500 days alone underground without external contact.
They have been following developments closely, including her meal plans, exercise routines, and daily challenges and problems. The project has been a massive undertaking for the athlete. Still, it has brought her close to experts and others who wanted to participate in the experiment and study the mental and physical effects.
She will have a press conference on Friday morning in the reception area of the cave, followed by hugs from friends and team members that have been monitoring her situation. She says she has been looking forward to a shower and sharing a plate of fried eggs with friends but will put herself in the hands of doctors before planning new mountaineering and caving projects.
This has been an extraordinarily authentic and challenging challenge for Beatriz, and it will be interesting to see how the experiment results affect her mind and body. It has also been an important stepping stone for the production company, which wanted to record her story and give it a scientific dimension. This will be a good starting point for other studies, especially neuroscience.