What a splendid and timely article. Great stuff, Steph.
And for what it's worth, I would definitely put you on the same list.
I've been caving with many of the people from your article, especially on Picos trips. They are all highly capable and great companions underground.
The story of Urs's accident and self-rescue is utterly epic. Of course, she talks about it almost like it's nothing.
If I had to single out two inspirational women from the many on your list, it would have to be Fleur and Hilary. Fleur led my very first caving trip and, to this day, I have never met a better leader. Sometimes I still ask myself "what would Fleur do?"; it's a good way to raise standards.
Like Fleur, Hilary is exceptionally competent. She is also possibly the hardest caver I've ever met. In 2009 she turned up at Ario straight after doing an ultra-endurance tandem kayaking event with Lou Maurice (there's another name for your list). They set a new women's record in this event, and beat the men.
-- and by the way, those times are in hours
. Yes, hours).
But of course that wasn't enough for Hilary, so immediately afterwards she came to explore an 1100m deep cave. I couldn't keep up with her, even when her body still needed several weeks' rest to recover from the extreme kayaking.
And a special mention must go to Rosa, who is the most absurdly self-effacing person I've ever known. Your story about her carrying by far the heaviest tacklesacks rings true, as I've seen her do this on other occasions. She will load her bag up with twice the weight that men twice her size are carrying, and then apologise profusely when it takes her slightly longer to get there.
Sometimes people ask me if caving is a man's sport. Given the people I've been caving with, I can only laugh.