Norbert Casteret

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Norbert Casteret (1897–1987) was a famous French caver and adventurer, and is one of the most recognisable names in caving worldwide. Following Édouard-Alfred Martel (the "father of modern speleology", although Casteret sometimes also enjoys this title), Casteret, along with Robert de Joly, became a leading figure of French speleology between the world wars and into the middle of the 20th century.

An all-round athlete and accomplished mountaineer, Casteret began caving in 1912, spanning the era of matches and candles into the age of electric lights. Unlike de Joly, who made caving his profession, Casteret was more the amateur adventurer (albeit a very knowledgeable one).

Casteret's fame began with a bold free-dive in the in 1923, which led to the discovery of prehistoric cave drawings on the far side. He went on to undertake many important cave explorations, including the caves of Marboré in 1926, the in 1931, Cigalère in 1931, (−303 metres) in 1933, Henne Morte (thought to be −446 m, corrected to −358 m) in 1947, and the (−689 m) in 1952–3 where his teammate Marcel Loubens died after a winch failure on the entrance shaft.

Casteret's popularity grew in the 1940s and 1950s, in part from his prolific writing – hundreds of articles, and more than 40 books with numerous reprintings in French and translations into several...
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