Recently we had to say goodbye to two people who dedicated their lives to caves, mountains, cave and mountain rescues. While working together many times during the years we have became good friends. We will hold their memories in our hearts forever.
Bartolomej Šturmann (1965 – 2020)
Berci started caving in 1989 and joined the Speleo Roznava caving group in 1991 with which he caved in the caves and karst areas of the surrounding countries, he participated in many foreign cave expeditions like the polish Snezna or the Slovenian Brezni pro Gamsovi caves.
He focused on exploring the caves in the Slovak-karst, his favourite being the "Buzgó-barlang" (eager-cave) but he also took part in exploring the caves at Berzéte. The vast majority of the new and gorgeous parts of the Gombaszögi-cave had been discovered under his leadership. He also took part on the Hungarian cave expeditons in Mointenegro. He participated in documenting the Slovak-karst as a UNESCO World Heritage site. He became the group's Vice president in 1997 and then following the unfortunate death of András Bolacsek in 2014 he became president which he held until his death.
While being an active explorer Berci also joined the local cave rescuers. He was involved in the search and rescue effort of people who got lost in old abandonded mines around Rozsnyó. He and his fellow rescuers had a major role during the cave diver rescue operation in the Rákóczi-cave in 2002 at Bódvarákó. Due to his effort he received a badge of honor from the Mayor of Rozsnyó and the Hungarian Consul in Slovakia.
He attended almost every caver event in the region. We celebrated together the opening of the national borders during the Schengen-agreement at Aggtelek on 21.12.2007 with Berci and the fellow cavers from Rozsnyó.
He was an extraordinary person who dedicated his life to caving. His passing left a huge void.
Ivan Račko (1957-2021)
After graduating from school, he began working as a tour guide at the Freedom Cave in Demänovská. From 1982 he was a volunteer of the Slovak Mountain Rescue Service. In 1999, the then head of the ambulance service, Ivan Gálfy, offered him the managerial position in Jasná (Chopok mountain and ski resort), which he accepted.
When the official Slovak Mountain Rescue Service (HZS - Horská Záchranná Služba) was established, he started working here, and after its establishment in 2003, he worked at the HZS Training Center, where he founded the HZS Cave Rescue Group and layed down the fundamentals for the professional cave rescue in Slovakia.
In 2015, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. The doctors then gave him 3 weeks. During the treatment, while he felt half-dead, he lived a full life using his last strength, be it caving, mountain skiing, cycling, mushroom picking, just about anything.
He also attended cave rescue exercises during his illness. During his time in the Slovak Mountain Rescue Service, he was the president of the union, defending their interests.
With his death, we lost an outstanding person of cave and mountain rescue.
Photo: Peter Adamkó, HZS