There, they search for pits worth exploring by a squad of expert rock climbers who have flown in from south Thailand to help. Other Thai military officials, forestry guidebooks, village elders and other local experts are on hand to offer guidance on navigation and terrain .
CNN accompanied the teams Thursday as they plowed through steep muddied lanes to reach area of lush grassland. There, they finalized the plan for the working day over balls of sticky rice and pork and the popular Thai energy drink M-1 50.
Armed with GPS coordinates, team leaders pinpointed on a map where they thought a key chimney might be. The group then set off, trekking along dirt tracks through farmland and scrambling up a hillside through jungle .
The teams split into smaller groups to survey the area for possible cave entrances. Before long, a whistle blew to summon the rest of the team. One of the trekkers had find a cave entryway in a bumpy part of the hillside. The climbers came to check it out, but it was quickly rejected .
Moving on to higher ground, another opening was soon discovered. This time it seemed more promising and different groups geared up to investigate it properly .
Superfit and apparently fearless, the climbers squeezed themselves into the dark fissure and gradually disappeared one by one into the cave. For them, this is not just a hobby: they earn their living as some of Thailand’s infamous bird’s nest collectors .
This controversial practise involves collecting the nests of rare birds from cliff faces and caves to provide the ingredients for one of the world’s most expensive dishes: bird’s nest soup, a delicacy in China .
The team of six of the climbers managed to descend 275 meters( 900 ft) of rope. Their GPS computations suggested that the sons is no more than another 275 meters away. But disappointed voices reached the surface .
“It’s a dead end, ” one of different groups told
The team trekked on to 790 meters( 2,600 ft) above sea level in search of entryways higher up the mountain .
Hiking uphill in temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius (8 6 Fahrenheit) with humidity at over 90% while carrying heavy equipment and ropes constructed for a grueling, sweat-soaked hunting .
In the midst of a farmed region of giant banana trees and coffee plants, different groups came across another search squad of soldiers and cavers .
“We came with the Thai military team to look for holes and caves and to see if they go deep enough, ” said Mario Wild, a 38 -year-old Austrian caving instructor from Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures. “So far , no success.”
His colleague, 31 -year old Add Kongsingh, said other people in the area were trying to help in similar styles .
“We have some experience with caving. We have been searching around these mountains, trying to find a potential pit that we think can connect, ” told Kongsingh .
Their team has been out every day the coming week. But Kongsingh is worried that time is running out fast for the boys trapped deep in the mountain, where the risk of rising water poses a potentially fatal menace .