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It all started with one man, who as a teenage was curious about all kinds of mountain cavities. In 1940, Lionel Gorra had the opportunity to escort a group of French scouts who went to explore Jiita Cave. He was so amazed by what he saw that he soon took the initiative to return with a group of close friends. As their explorations went further and further inside the cave, more friends joined the group. Documents about the discipline were gathered, contacts with foreign caving entities were established, and the idea of putting together a collective and organized structure was taking shape. Born in 1951, the Speleo-Club of Lebanon was only officially registered six years later in 1957. The club's founding fathers were Lionel Ghorra, Sami Karkabi, Raymond Khawam, and Albert Anavy, the first true caving pioneers. In 1963, representing SCL and Lebanon, Albert Anavy attended the first International Congress of Speleology in Paris.
Quite quickly, the number of enthusiasts increased and the club's explorations grew in scope and intervention. Many caves were discovered and explored while cavers had started to master vertical techniques by using the first manufactured caving ladders. The deepest sinkhole in the Middle East, Faouar Dara, was soon discovered and fully explored bye SCL in 1962. The importance of the discoveries made in Jiita led to its opening to the public as a tourist show-cave, with Sami Karkabi as its director. Due to SCL's contribution to the works in Jeita, the club was officially recognized as beneficial to the nation (d'Utilité Publique) in 1963.
Two years later in 1965, the SCL, representing Lebanon, became a founding member of the International Union of Speleology (UIS) at the 4th International Congress of Speleology. At this event, Albert Anavy was also elected as the first General Secretary of the UIS. Thanks to the public opening of the upper galleries of Jiita, and to the accurate topography which allowed the Office of Hydraulic Resources to dig a 600m long tunnel and puncture the cave at the terminal siphon level, the SCL was decorated with the National Order of the Cedar, with the rank of Knight, by the President of the Republic in 1969. Throughout the years, SCL cavers made many discoveries and studies, attempted underground dives, improved equipment by DIY innovations. SCL is regularly asked to train the Lebanese army in cave rescue operations and in Single Rope Technique. In addition it is also requested to conduct underground studies for various organizations such as governmental bodies, municipalities, and even consultancy firms. SCL releases periodically Al Ouat'Ouate (the bat in Arabic), the club's magazine since 1955. Consistent, with club activities, the Ouat'Ouate covers all aspects of speleology. In addition to never missing a single UIS international congress, SCL was the initiator of the first National Gathering of Speleology in 1996, and the main organizer of the Middle-East Speleology Symposium MESS in 2001, which was acclaimed internationally. Encouraged by this success, SCL moved on to organize MESS2 in 2006, thus committing itself to organize such an event every five years. SCL's continuous progress and achievements was last officially rewarded by being granted the National order of the Cedar a second time, with the higher grade of Officer. SCL's ultimate commitment remains to the promotion of speleology, and to its members without whom none of this would have been possible.

Albert Anavy
Lebanese money and original photo by Sami Karkabi
Lebanese stamp and original photo by Sami Karkabi
Lebanese stamps and original photo by Sami Karkabi
Lionel Ghora
Sami Karkabi
jiita 1960's photo by sami karkabi
jiita cave 1960's photo by sami karkabi
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