Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 26 Feb 2014

Expedition details (GPF2014a-004)

Expedition Name (& Club): Durmitor Caving Expedition 2014 (York University Cave and Pothole Club)
Destination country: Montenegro
Region: Durmitor
Lat: 43.1441 Long: 19.0327 Elevation: m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Mr Mark Sims
Total cavers: 22
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 10
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 11
UK/nonUK cavers: 19/3
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 3
Expedition dates: 3rd Aug 2014 - 24th Aug 2014
Duration (days): 22
Man-days in field: 348 Man-days travelling: 69
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

To continue the discovery and exploration of previously unknown deep caves in the Durmitor Massif, Montenegro, with the ultimate aim of realising some of the huge depth potential in the region.

- Continue exploration of Bunda Jama (current depth ~300 m)
- Continue exploration of JVC (current depth 133 m)
- Continue prospecting the northern areas of Durmitor
- Shaftbashing of previously identified entrances
- Personal development of team members
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

Please explain the aspects of the trip which make it eligible for Ghar Parau funding.

The 2014 expedition to Durmitor builds upon the previous three years of expeditions to the area which were also funded in part by the GPF. There is a huge amount of potential in the region, of which we have only begun to scratch the surface.

The remote nature and logistics of our expedition make it a challenging and rewarding one, whilst also being financially viable for students and young people. As such, it provides a valuable opportunity to continue building on previously gained skills and to pass these on to a new generation of cavers.

However, as the expedition grows in size and exploration gets deeper, we require more gear: both personal and communal. Grant money would be used to buy vital rigging and rescue equipment such as rope, bolts and hangers as well as communal camping equipment.
Detailed description of objectives:

Give a more detailed account of the purpose of the trip, including any particular known caves you intend to visit, specific areas where you will explore for new cave, and scientific experiments you will attempt.

We have undertaken three lightweight trips to the region prior to our planned three-week expedition in 2014, and the results have been extremely positive, with a large number of cave entrances having been discovered. Our primary objective for 2014 is Bunda Jama: a cave currently explored by ourselves to a depth of over 300 m deep (surveyed depth 286 m) at which point we had to turn back in 2013 at the top of a large pitch due to running out of equipment and time needed to explore the ongoing passages below. We aim to continue exploration of Bunda Jama, surveying and photographing as we go. As the cave reaches greater depths, finding a suitable place for an underground camp for future exploration will become one of our objectives.

There are many secondary objectives in addition to Bunda Jama, one of the most notable being JVC, another cave discovered by us which has been explored to 133 m deep and where again exploration was curtailed due to a lack of time and equipment with open passage continuing below. In 2013, due to unusually high snow levels, the entrance to this cave was inaccessible so continued exploration will be an objective for 2014. As well as following underground leads, returning to as yet unexplored entrances found in previous years, there are many regions on the surface that are yet to be prospected for caves and we also hope to cover some of these areas during our 2014 trip (detailed in the 2013 report).

As the number of expedition members grows each year, establishing logistics for communal space, camping and cooking will always be a key objective.

Documentation of the expedition is also an important goal for us, so photography and filming equipment will be taken in 2014. As in previous years, we will write a detailed report of our findings in order to aid future expeditions.

We are always keen to pass on knowledge to keen young cavers. Several of our members for this year are new to caving and particularly to expeditions and so personal development and skill enhancement are key goals both prior to and during the expedition.
Previous work in this area:

Give details of any previous work in this area by your own and other teams. Include references to reports and articles published on the area, and the names of any local cavers or academics with whom you have discussed the Expedition.

Our previous visits to northern Durmitor in 2011, 2012 and 2013 provide the basis of the plans for our trip in 2014. These have each been lightweight trips with minimal gear, the main objectives of which have been to assess the real potential that the north of Durmitor has to offer, given that it had not been previously explored for caves.

These visits to the northern region of Durmitor build on trips by the Serbian caving club, ASAK, who have carried out numerous expeditions further south; YUCPC joined their 2004, 2007 and 2010 expeditions. The southern area has now been thoroughly explored but until YUCPC’s independent involvement in 2011, this more remote area of Durmitor was completely unprospected. We have developed strong ties over the last few years with members of ASAK, and we hope that some of them will be able to join us in 2014. Our close links with ASAK have allowed us access to detailed digital topographic surveys of the massif that we would not otherwise have.

These expeditions have proven very successful, during which time we have not only discovered a lot of previously unknown caves but we have established and developed techniques for living and working in this remote area of the mountain. We have written up detailed reports of each of the trips, available at, and we will use the successes and challenges of these trips to maximise the scope for exploration in 2014.

Expedition Finances


Travel plans:
Sunday 3rd/10th August - Early flight to Dubrovnik
12pm Taxi from Airport to Zabljak
5pm Meet non-flyers. Walk to camp.
A couple of people will be required to stay in Zabljak overnight on the first day to set up base camp.

Saturday 16th August - 2 people leaving.
Saturday 23rd August - Walk down to Zabljak (20 people)
Taxi to Airport/Drive back to Holland
Overnight stop at Airport
Sunday 24th August am - Fly from Dubrovnik

Although these flights are slightly more expensive than the alternative route via Belgrade, they are by far the most time effective, and allow transport from the UK to camp in one day.

# from UK: 20 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £9,105 UK Transport to/from Airport: approx £30 pp
Flights from UK to Dubrovnik: average £306 pp (for those already booked)
Taxi from Airport to Zabljak: 560 euros per return taxi (3 required) = £1385 total
Insurance approx £50 pp (£1000)

One person will be driving from the UK but as part of an extended holiday to Europe. For simplicity, his travel costs are put here as the same as for those flying. It is expected that everyone will pay their own individual travel costs.

# from outside UK: 2 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £700 Fuel costs from Holland to Zabljak and back: approx £600
Insurance approx £50 pp (£100)

Travel total: £9,805 Travel p.p. from UK: £455
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £350


Total: £1,492 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £68 Camping on the mountain costs nothing. However, this year we will also have a base camp in Zabljak - approx £5 per night = 5*20 = £100

Based on food costs from 2012/2013 and inflation: ~ £4 pp per day
4*348 = £1392


Total: £2,048 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £93 In 2013 we exhausted most of our rigging gear, so we this year we need to buy a lot of new items. Increased numbers also necessitates extra communal camping/cooking equipment.

Drill, bits, batteries, charger = £350
Throughbolts x 160 = £216
Spits (in case of rescue/drill failure) x 100 = £180
Hangers x 100 = £220
Amarrage Souples x 60 = £177
Dyneema cord x 60 m = £180
Rope x 300 m = £330
Slings x 20 = £100
First aid kit items = £20
MSR stove and fuel bottle = £100
Batteries (AA x 300, AAA x 200
Exped Total: £13,345 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £615
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £510
Mean Exped cost per person: £606

Other Funding

Total: £11,000 Comments:
Applied for:
Polartec Challenge - Unsuccessful
Neville Shulman Award - Unsuccessful

Personal contribution £500 pp = £11000
Total shortfall: £2,345 Mean shortfall per person: £106

Referees and Report

Please give the names, addresses and phone numbers of two suitably qualified people whom the Committee can contact. You should ensure that they are aware of the objectives of your trip, and that you have their permission for the Committee to contact them.

Referee 1: Mr Steve Gilbert
Affiliation: Previous expedition member

Reason: Steve took part in the 2011 and 2012 expeditions to northern Durmitor so is well acquainted with the location and aims of this years expedition as well as many of the expedition members.

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Mr Matthew Ewles
Affiliation: Chairman of YCC

Reason: Matt has been an active member of YUCPC for many years and so knows many of the expedition members well. He also joined the 2010 Durmitor expedition for a brief time.

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: Catherine Moody