In August 1987 the fossil and mineral collector Willy Costamoling was exploring the area of the Conturines Mountains in the South Tyrolean Dolomites.
The Conturines mountains, the name derives from the ladinic language "con turrines", meaning "with towers". Especially the south wall of the migthy dolomite mountain are structured by numerous cliff towers.
The "Piz Taibun" (on the right), and "Piz dles Conturines" (on the left), surrounding the glacial excavated cirque of "the cave".
He was looking for calcareous concretions that form in dolomitic sands and rubble deposited in caves and fissures, denominated, after a valley where they are usual found and their sometimes unusual form “Travenanzes dolls”. Ascending to the “Piz Taibun” - a secondary summit of Conturines, he noted a cave at the very end of a glacial carved cirque.
The entrance of the cave at the end of the glacial cirque...
... and the very first meters inside it.
He decided to try his luck, and return with appropriate tools to explore the cave. On September 23. finally he stood in more then 2.700m altitude before the 5m high, and 10m broad portal. Behind the entrance a vast, empty cavity, at the first glance only some meters deep and then delimited by a rock wall, but then - on the left side a dark passage seemed to go further inside the mountain. Here the darkness, illuminated only by the headlamp, and large boulders on the cave bottom made it difficult to proceed. After 160m, and a height difference of 60m, the conduit seemed to open in a larger hall. At the entrance of this underground hall – like an old guardian- stood a bulky stalagmite.
Behind it the cave bottom was covered by smooth flowstones and dolomitic sand, and scattered around … bones, a lot of large bones. The discoverer attributed them first to a recent bear, only after he showed some teeth that he brought back home to a other collector they realized that the bones were from the extinct cave bear.
And if this discovery seemed not surprisingly enough, at the very end of this mountain hall stood, some meters high, an impressing, beautiful cascade of stalagmites and stalactites.
After a legendery, secret and long lost treasure, consisting of a precious stone hidden deep inside the Dolomite mountains, it was called "Raetia" :