Attila Kósa
April 1942 - 20 October 2003

Tony Oldham

Photo by Tony Oldham

Attila's sudden death from a pulmonary embolism after a caving trip was a shock to all who knew him. We had known Attila for at least 30 years. He was always cheerful and jolly with a wonderful sense of humour. We enjoyed many caving trips with him plus the inevitable socialising afterwards.

One of the great stalwarts of Eastern European speleology, Attila was a regular attendee and contributor at International Speleological Conferences, writing and presenting many papers. He had studied caves all over the world.

We particularly remember the times we had with him at the International Speleological Congress in Hungary. Attila decided to show us the sites of Budapest and we ended up in a typical Hungarian taverna complete with Gypsy violinists, mounds of delicious food washed down with oceans of alcohol. The evening was all the more memorable as we had just come from the hot baths for which the city is famous and Attila had spent part of the day persuading the police not to arrest us as we had omitted to have our visas stamped at the right time.

Attila started caving at the age of 15, exploring the vertical caves or "zsomboly's" in Northern Hungary and wrote several scientific articles on this subject. He graduated as a civil engineer and post graduated as a hydrogeologist. He taught hydrogeology as a professor in the University of Tripoli, Libya. There he explored and studied the caves and the formations in the gypsum karst. He later wrote several scientific studies on this topic including a book on The Bir al Ghanam Karst and Caves. He later led expeditions to study the Libyan gypsum karst. He had a particular interest in languages and in 1996 he published "The Cavers' Living Dictionary" in four languages: English, French, German, Hungarian. It was called a "living" dictionary, as it was to be constantly updated. In 2000 a much larger sixth edition called "The Caver's Multi-Lingual Dictionary" was put on the internet:

It appeared in eight languages which included four extra languages, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish.

For over 30 years Attila was a member of the National Speleological Society of America and was also a former Vice President of the Hungarian Speleological Society.

A large gathering of family, and friends representing cavers from all over the world, attended Attila's funeral which was held on the 14 November 2003. The world of speleology is much poorer for his passing.

[ Republished with permission from The British Caver Vol. 126. ]