Vrtnarija 2009 Survey [PDF] - Updated as of 30-1-2010!
Planning + Background
2009 Expedition Aims:
Connection of Sysmig (11520m/970m 2008) to Vrtnarija (5681m/802m 2008) to yield the 2nd longest cave in Slovenia (17.2km+). Separation now 25m horizontal with corrected 2008 data (mix of BCRA 4/5).
This will require underground camping in Captain Kangaroo, a relatively shallow place for an underground camp, but necessary in view of the time and effort it takes to get through the extensive rift. 2008 saw the discovery of a faithful stream 2/3rds of the way down a 52m pitch (Dangermouse), at a total depth of 295m. This, along with the Bonus chamber streamwy halfwy through the 2005 discovered Captain Kangaroo are the only sources of drinking water in this section of the cave.
The specific camping place will be determined actually on expo, though the most likely place is near Kill'em'all.14, where a small side chamber offers shelter from the draft. We expect the extremely dry nature of the area to make for a relatively pleasent 1 degree centigrade camp (hopefully hung up furries will dry out overnight), but poses problems for waste disposal, and the 'water run' is roughly the same size as a small UK Yorkshire rope trip!
The current plan is for an extremely light weight 2 man camp. We have an old Vango geodesic 2+ man tent whose fly was long ago eaten by UV, but which can be pitched free standing with just two of its poles. Our stoves will be the standard super safe (super slow) Tranjas. Our pits will be made up with 10mm carry mats, Vango Nitestar 450s (cheapest, warmest, synthetics we could find), buffalo bags (100% polyeaster) and fleece liners (from sponsorship by Polartec back in 1996). Of course, the essential component is the Ghetto Blaster, which is an MP3 player which takes SD cards and 4AA batteries. Potentially we may move the camp further down the cave if a more productive and/or salubrious location is found.
October 2008 saw a return to M2 with the JSPDT where the pitch after the limiting rift (massive expanded with the JSPDT a few days after the expedition returned) was rigged and dropped to reveal a 17m pitch. The streamway disappeared into a classic 10cm wide rift, but there appears to be a way on via a phreatic tube in the roof.
Dark Tranquility (P44) is the deepest point in Captain Kangaroo (335m), and has wide open pitches below which were not looked at in 2008 as we had already dropped below the end of M2 and we were concentrating on connection.
Aid climbing off Kill'em All (P18) gained a rotted section of rift (Cheesecake) which lead to a sub-human pitch head which was soon hammered into 'passability'. This gave a short 10m abseil into a stunning chamber (Primula). You arrive on a massive rock bridge with twin shafts either side (each believed to be greater than 30m), the chamber size is roughly 10m by 10m (laser disto). On the south wall, the other side of the larger pitch, is a rift leading off almost due south. This is the closest approach to M2, separated by 25m due south.
There are many other leads in Captain K, of particular interest to us this year are the windows and tubes leading off from above many of the pitches. To this end we spent time during the winter of 2008 preparing drills and the practice to be able to bolt climb with quickly fixed 8mm rawls.
Tolmin is on the edge of the Julian Alps in Western Slovenia. There is a train station at Most na Soci, and buses come up both from Nova Gorica (Gorizia on the Italian side) and Ljublijana. Cheapest flights are generally to Trieste with Ryanair, but also check out Venice and Easyjet to Ljublijana.
Tolminski Migovec can be seen all the way from the Most na Soci lake, and is most easily accessed by driving up to Tolminske Ravne (912m) which has a fully Tarmac'd road built for the hydro electric facility. The walking track then takes you up to 1500m through switchbacks in the forest (very sticky when its hot in the valley) to Planina Kal (aka. The Shepherd's Huts). If there's clag down in the valley, there is sometimes a stunning view. From here take the middle path that heads straight up (via switchbacks) towards Mig before heading north along the edge of the plateau, before the final set of switchbacks and scree to gain the Gateway.
The following google map has most of the important locations marked on it. Unfortunately the quality of the satellite data is terrible for a 1km wide strip which fits almost perfectly over Migovec!
A literal translation from Slovene is 'Starless Night', and is to emphasise the underground camping focus of this trip, in the context of our extremely productive and long term partnership with the JSPDT. Pronunciation for English is fairly close to Brezz-vezzd-na Notch.
Jana's correct pronunciation: MP3
Sponsorship and Thanks
Beast Products - Sponsorship in Kind (technical fleeces for underground camp)
Ghar Parau Foundation - Expedition equipment fund (rope!), and Alex Pitcher Memorial personal equipment awards to Alex and William.
Starless River - Starless River for a large discount on expo equipment, and gear advice.
All men dream: but not equally
Those who dream by night in the dusty
recesses of their minds wake in the day
to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers
of the day are dangerous men, for they may
act their dreams with open eyes, to make it
T.E. Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
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