Deep inside a bleak mountain at an undisclosed location in Norway, an abandoned Cold War bunker harbored a deadly killer. Charted by a lone urban explorer in January 2017, the dismal subterranean complex was exactly the sort of place you would expect to find a lurking monster.
The explorer shone his torch over the entrance, revealing a crude tunnel that regressed into blackness. Like some infernal portal to an otherworldly realm, it almost seemed to scream a warning to would-be travelers. On reflection, would you go in there alone?
But despite the strong suggestions of menace, the explorer was undeterred. Equipped with a flashlight and a video camera, he made his way inside. “Let’s get to work,” read the subtitle on his finished video. And with that, he disappeared into the darkness…
The explorer, who goes by the online name of Olav, has been publishing videos on YouTube since 2012. His past exploits have taken him to a number of creepy locations: a crematorium, a military complex, a sanatorium, a prison and a research center. All were abandoned and decayed.
“Urban Exploring is a practice that comes with certain risks,” he wrote on his YouTube channel. “Serious injuries or even death is a risk as many of these locations are closed down.” Indeed, his encounter with a killer in the tunnels of a Cold War bunker demonstrated just how dangerous urban exploration can be.
Like some hellish labyrinth, the tunnels appeared to extend for some distance into the mountain. Rickety pipes, overhead ducts and electrical wires punctuated Olav’s gloomy journey. He arrived at an old diesel generator and flipped the switch. Nothing happened. There was only darkness and silence.
On and on stretched the tunnels, a layer of dank water covering the floor in places. “I know it’s a long walk,” wrote Olav. “But I want you to feel just how deep inside the mountain we are.” And despite his ominous surroundings, he appeared to be quite at ease. “The silence is so comforting,” he wrote.
Although Olav did not specify his exact location, the bunker is one of many such structures in Norway. Until its occupation by German forces during the Second World War, the country had pursued a policy of neutrality. In the aftermath of the war, however, Norway joined NATO.
For without the protective alliance of NATO, the Norwegian coast was dangerously exposed. It was right next to the Kola Peninsula, one of the Soviet Union’s most important military strongholds. In fact, the area was home to numerous Soviet shipyards and naval bases, not to mention scores of nuclear submarines.
Primed for any potential invasion, Norway came to be regarded as a kind of Western front line. With American aid, the country built a vast network of Cold War infrastructure. This included multiple bases, fortifications, harbors and underground bunkers, such as the one that Olav explored…
Meanwhile, somewhere deep in the mountain, he arrived at a junction. There was a door, and it opened into a dilapidated room. Inside, there was a wood-built structure, a few pieces of discarded furniture and an old telephone. It was here that Olav first glimpsed the killer.
The “killer”, in fact, was a kind of toxic mold. It swathed the walls of the wood-built structure like eerie cobwebs. “See that white stuff on the wall,” wrote Olaf. “That’s the kind of fungus you don’t want to breathe.”
Fortunately, Olav had come prepared – he had worn a mask for the entire duration of his journey. It is not clear exactly what type of deadly fungus had sprouted in the confines of the bunker. However, one of the most toxic molds known to science is Stachybotrys chartarum.
Stachybotrys chartarum has been linked to liver, brain and nerve damage in humans. It can even cause death. However, Stachybotrys is a black mold, not white. Still, it may have been present in the bunker, as white molds sometimes turn black once they mature and begin producing spores.
Continuing on his exploration, Olav entered another toxic area. This one was strewn with rotted tables and chairs, broken chalkboards and discarded detritus. The walls were dusted with an ominous black mold – compelling evidence, perhaps, that the bunker was indeed infested with deadly Stachybotrys chartarum.
Soon Olav arrived in the kitchen, a grim, gutted space with just a few broken chairs. After that, he came to the bunker’s mainframe, where power was distributed to the entire facility. Shards of rust were scattered on the floor. And the walls in both rooms were coated with the same mysterious black substance.
In the comments section on his YouTube channel, Olav explained what the facility was once used for. “[It was] a shelter that also worked as a communication-central for the civil protection. In an emergency people in the local area might be ordered into this shelter and the Norwegian Civil Protection Unit would operate the place until further notice…”
Could the shelter be revived one day? “Norway has a population of 5.2 million people,” wrote Olav. “We have shelter for 2.5 million people… I don’t want you to be afraid… but I am asking you to think about it. Should we forget these places? Or do we still want them around just in case?”
Indeed, recent developments in international politics suggest that the risk of thermonuclear war is increasing. No one knows if the saber-rattling of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un will lead to more sinister developments. However, the country’s nuclear program is definitely a cause for concern.
Meanwhile, if the citizens of Norway want to use the facility to escape the effects of radioactive fallout, they will first need to ensure that no colonies of deadly Stachybotrys remain. Time to break out the borax and get scrubbing.