“I think it’s just to be able to be the first human being to introduce light into the inky blackness of just unknown chambers that may go for miles,” he said of his motivation. “And then later it’s to protect them so that they’re available for scientific research. That’s what keeps me going. That’s the adrenaline rush, is ‘What’s around the next corner?’”
Ackerman estimates he’s spent $4 million on cave exploration and acquiring underground rights, but he doesn’t charge admission to the nature groups, scientists and cavers who visit. It’s a hobby made possible by his successful furniture restoration business, he said.