Jean-François Pernette

1998 Laureate, Exploration
France, Born 1954

Project Goal

Explore one of the most inhospitable places on earth

Location: Chile

World-renowned speleologist Jean-Francois Pernette made breathtaking discoveries in his exploration of one of the most inhospitable regions on the planet.

Although considered by many as one of the greatest speleologists, Jean-François Pernette is, by trade, the owner and manager of Château Pasquet Vineyards in France’s Bordeaux region. Born in 1954, the adventurous Frenchman developed an interest in caving by exploring the complex cave systems in the nearby Dordogne, Lot and Pyrenées.

Pernette’s most daring trip to date, his voyage in 2000 to the remote Patagonia island of Madre de Dios, was supported by the Rolex Award he won in 1998.

The multidisciplinary expedition provided a bounty of discoveries, from human remains and paintings to the mapping of 32 previously unexplored caves, totalling more than 8 kilometres in length.

For Pernette, the Rolex Award brought the credibility necessary to help raise support for his next big expedition — to Patagonia in 2010, a continuation of his Madre de Dios achievement — and for the possible publication of a book on his 35 years of cave explorations worldwide.

Other 1998 Laureates