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Photo by @shonephoto (Robbie Shone) with words by @m_synnott (Mark Synnott) – Ev…

Photo by @shonephoto (Robbie Shone) with words by @m_synnott (Mark Synnott) – Ev…

Photo by @shonephoto (Robbie Shone) with words by @m_synnott (Mark Synnott) – Every sport has an unsung hero, some quiet badass that operates under the radar, pushing the boundaries of their chosen field of endeavor without giving a whit if anyone knows about it—or cares. Matt Oliphant, pictured here (unpublished photo), is just such an individual. Matt served as Robbie’s photo assistant/rigger/schlepper/safety guy on the Dark Star assignment. And I’m embarrassed that we’ve made it this far down the road without calling out the massive contribution he made to the overall success of the project. When things got gnarly down in Dark Star, in other words, shortly after I stepped into the mouth of the cave, I turned to Matt and said, “Hey man, can you keep an eye on me, and make sure I get out of this cave alive?” Matt just chuckled and said, “You got it man.” Matt’s not one to boast, but over the course of three weeks we spent together in Uzbekistan, including at least one session sitting on a rock in base camp drinking scotch, he shared enough stories for me to wonder: who the heck is this guy? During one particularly harrowing tale, involving some horrendously deep cave in Mexico, I held up my hand for him to stop. “Wait a second,” I said. “Are you a famous caver?” “No, no, no,” replied Matt. “Nope, that’s not me.” Then he proceeded to rattle off a bunch of names of people that he considers to be the real icons of the sport. The thing is, I could swear I’d heard those same names in many of the stories Matt had been telling me. If you’re a caver, you probably already know about Matt. If you’re not, let me introduce you to my hero. And, in case you’re wondering: no, I won’t be going underground again unless Matt is by my side. #soulbrother #darkstar #myhero


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