First man to reach hell: explorer sets foot on surface of flaming crater dubbed ‘door to hell’
A man who became the first person to descend into HELL has released these spectacular images of his fiery journey.
World-renowned explorer George Kourounis, 44, was part of the first-ever expedition into Turkmenistan’s flame pit dubbed the ‘Door to Hell’.
He braved temperatures in excess of 1,000C to rappel almost 100ft into the flame-filled crater before walking across the surface of the remote location.
The bizarre landmark – officially called The Darvaza Crater – has been alight for more than 40 years after a drilling accident caused Soviet scientists to set it on fire to burn off excess gas.
When George, from Toronto, Canada, heard a rumour the Turkmenistan government were planning to extinguish the flames, he decided to up his efforts to visit the location.
In the past he has taken on volcanoes and revealed his aim, as well as to walk on the surface, was to collect samples of dirt to be analysed.
George completed the challenge in the winter of 2013 and it was later discovered bacteria was present, despite the hot, methane-rich environment.
His newly-released images capture him dangling precariously above the crater wearing a heat-reflective suit, breathing apparatus and a custom-made Kevlar harness.
He would stay in the crater for around 15 minutes before being pulled out by the rigging team.
He said: “Since this was something nobody had ever done before there was a lot of uncertainty and questions.
“How hot was it at the bottom? Is the air breathable? Will the ropes survive? What if something goes wrong?
“Nobody knew the answers – not even me.
“When I actually set foot at the bottom it was an overwhelming feeling.
“I was in spot where no human had ever been. It was like stepping onto an alien planet – more people have been on the moon.
“It was exciting, adventurous, dangerous, a world first and a contribution to science.
“The expedition had everything I love.”