Climbers explore the ‘Underground Everest’ known as Dark Star

National Geographic recently followed a team into one of the earth’s deepest high-altitude cave networks, known as Dark Star, providing an alluring glimpse into the remote underworld.

The expedition takes place in Uzbekistan and plunges nearly 3,000 feet beneath the earth’s surface through a yawning maze of caverns currently spanning eleven miles. Although not the deepest cave, much of Dark Star is yet to be explored. The system was first discovered in 1984, with seven entrances surveyed thus far, but the remoteness of its location makes for difficult exploration.

National Geographic writer Mark Synnott joined a 31-member team of experienced cave climbers and enthusiast scientists on an unforgettable journey into the Boysuntov mountain range. The expedition launched out of the capital of Uzbekistan hundreds of miles by bus and off-road vehicle, following the ancient Silk Road to Samarkand, and then on to Boysun.

Dark Star is situated near the Afghan border and required a grueling hike, accompanied by fifteen donkeys, and two days on foot to reach base camp. The real journey began nearly 12,000 feet above sea level at Xo‘ja Gurgur Ota, a limestone cliff that houses the entrances into Dark Star.

Part of what makes investigation of this underground world so difficult is the necessity for advanced rock climbing and rappelling skills — just to reach the entrance to the cave. Synnott and the team began their descent into the dark depths via the main passageway, Izhevskaya.

The expedition led the team through Dark Star’s winding frost-tinged caverns, often connected by tunnels only a a few feet wide and other times pouring into massive chambers nearly a hundred feet tall. The Full Moon Hall is the most impressive documented example of this, extending 820 feet in length. 

Synnott was guided through Dark Star to Gothic Camp, an open area situated midway through the tunnel system wide enough to house multiple tents. From there the writer documented vivid accounts of treks throughout one of the deepest places in the earth, including the discovery of a tunnel beyond a 150-foot waterfall that was up until that point, the end of the Dark Star expedition road.

Rare photographic images and footage transport viewers through the screen into the beautiful depths of Dark Star. A full trip account can be viewed on the National Geographic website.

Emerging Tech

Like a Bat-Signal for cyclists, this laser light makes bikes visible to drivers

The Laserlight Core is a smart projection system for bicycles that's designed to promote safer cycling. It works by projecting an image of a cyclist 20 feet in front of you as you ride.
Outdoors

Sleep comfortably under the stars in one of the best tents

An essential piece of gear whether you're camping in your backyard or on a multi-day backpacking trip, here are our picks of the best tents currently on the market from car camping varieties to the best three-person option.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix in October, from 'Mindhunter’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in October, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Black Panther’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Outdoors

These zip-on bike tires change up your tread to match the terrain

Retyre gives cyclists the ability to change the tread on their bike tires simply by zipping on an overlay designed to provide better grip on trails or in the snow, without replacing the existing tires.
Product Review

Withings Steel HR Sport is a fitness tracker you’ll love wearing

Withings jumps back in the wearables game with the new Steel HR Sport, a hybrid smartwatch that is as much a fitness tracker as it is a timepiece. It's so good that it hasn't left our wrist since we pulled it out of the package.
Photography

From filters to mounts, these 16 GoPro accessories help you shoot all the action

A GoPro is only as good as the tools you use with it. Here, we've rounded up the best GoPro accessories currently available, from rotating time-lapse mounts to a wearable camera harness for your best friend.
Outdoors

Here are all the best rain jackets on the market right now

Spring is here which means it's officially raincoat season. From high-tech, lightweight shells to modern-looking, waterproof trench coats, check out our list of the best rain jackets built to keep you dry.
Outdoors

Garmin’s new Instinct GPS watch is built for the sportsman in all of us

The new Garmin Instinct is a GPS multisport watch for people who love to be outdoors. The $300 Instinct takes the best features of the company's popular Fenix watches and packages them into rugged, military-grade package.
Wearables

Our favorite fitness trackers make it fun to keep moving

Looking for your first fitness tracker, or an upgrade to the one you're already wearing? There are plenty of the wrist-worn gadgets available. Here are our picks for the best fitness trackers available right now.
Outdoors

The Wau stands out in the crowded ebike market with its 60-mile range

The Wau ebike is a high-tech commuter that offers onboard GPS tracking, geofenced alarm systems, built-in front and rear lights, and pedal-assist speeds of up to 20 mph, with a range of as much as 60 miles between charges.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.