Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 27 Feb 2015


Expedition details (GPF2015a-005)

Expedition Name (& Club): ICCC Slovenia 2015 (Imperial College Caving Club)
Destination country: Slovenia
Region: Tolmin
Lat: 46.2500 Long: 13.7500 Elevation: m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Mr Oliver Myerscough
Total cavers: 19
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 13
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 2
UK/nonUK cavers: 15/4
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 0
Expedition dates: 11th Jul 2015 - 16th Aug 2015
Duration (days): 37
Man-days in field: 33 Man-days travelling: 4
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

Explore and survey new cave passage in Sistem Migovec, based at Camp X-Ray (-550 m).
We intend to set up a new camp at Red Cow (-750 m) from which we may pass the duck at Colarado, climb Strap on the Nitro aven and revisit Watership Down.
Explore new caves on the surface.
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

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

Being a student run expedition, we know how to operate on a tight budget. Coupled with the club’s cumulative experience of the caves below Migovec and our local connections, this allows us to offer excellent value for money on any support given.

Each year, ICCC take several new members on their first experience of expedition caving. This expedition offers them the opportunity to develop deep caving skills unavailable within the UK. Even if they do not reach the depths of Migovec, they will gain practical and leadership skills that will allow them to be valuable members of the caving community upon their return to England. Aid for this expedition is a valuable investment in young cavers.

We are very thankful for the continued and consistent support of the GPF. This funding is used to keep costs down for student members who would otherwise be working during the summer to support their studies.
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.

For 20 years, ICCC has joined the JSPDT in joint exploration of the caves below the Migovec Plateau. In 2012 the connection of Vrtnarija into the main system made this the longest cave system in Slovenia, and increased the depth to 972 metres. Most other long caves in Slovenia are shallow classic Karst. Our joint exploration efforts have been identified by the Slovene caving group as a prime example of effective international cave exploration in Slovenia. Sistem Migovec now stands at over 28 km of surveyed passage.

As in every expedition 2010-2014, we will setup an underground camp at X-Ray. At -550 m below the Vrtnarija entrance (on the main pitch series), it is relatively easy to reach for new expedition members, and has been made into an extremely comfortable and safe camp. By leaving equipment (tent, roll mats, stove etc.) at the site, we are able to establish it quickly and efficiently as a base camp for exploration within the cave.

X-Ray is best placed to explore the large horizontal levels found within Vrtnarija from 2010-2014. A major lead left due to lack of time here is Squidgy Goodness, a rift at the far south-east of the system, heading upwards and into a cave-passage-less region of the mountain. This lead attracts particular attention because of fauna found in this part of the cave. We believe that a live pine marten was spotted in 2013 (600 m below the entrance), and a corpse of the same species found in 2014. The prospect of a lower \\\'valley\\\' entrance accessible by humans is appealing enough to attract our sustained attention.

Closer to X-Ray, Slinging in the Rain lies at the end of a tight rift series, 2 hours from camp. The passage is sumped, but a sandy passage nearby hints of a possible bypass. The potential bypass is blocked by a boulder, with almost enough room around to pass. If a part of the boulder was removed, the visible passage beyond could be reached.
There is also an extremely promising lead (Roaring Floor Tease) within an hour of X-Ray, which has required the careful application of advanced rock removal techniques in collaboration with our Slovenian partners.

Our proposed 2-person camp, Deepcore II at Red Cow, is further from the surface at -750 m, in the deepest horizontal layer within Vrtnarija. This is well positioned for trips to the deepest part of the System (the sump at Watership Down) and to the northernmost extent (Colorado Sump). In 2014 we emplaced a tent, roll-mats and a stove at the site, as well as considerable \\\'tidying\\\' up of the rigging for less expert and more day-to-day access.

Watership Down, discovered 2012 and not revisited since, has dry leads in the surrounding phreatic passage as well as being a potential dive site.
Colorado sump was revisited for the first time since 2004 in 2014. Rather than a sump, it was found to be an almost certainly passable duck, albeit 14 m long (laser disto) and with deep freezing alpine water. This is of extreme exploration interest, as it appears to be formed in a joint or fault that intercepts the large \\\'tube tunnel\\\' phreatic passage, and we still have considerable depth potential above our hypothesised water table, which is believed to dip to the North.
Strap on the Nitro aven is adjacent to the camp. This was inspected in 2014, and a quadcopter remote-controlled vehicle with video camera flown up it. This visit identified it as being an easy bolt climb (to +33 m, as measured by laser disto) with the expectation of horizontal passage at the top. Half of this was climbed on a trip at the end of a 2014 expedition.

We will also continue our surface work, in search of new caves on the plateau. Our club has organised an expedition this Easter to New Zealand where we will similarly be exploring a region of limestone for new caves, so we will have a high level of confidence and experience in such \\\'shaft bashing\\\'.
This kind of exploration is vital for the future of the expedition - without new shallow leads we will no longer be able to provide an inclusive exploration experience. Jailbreak, our most recent notable success (130m of passage and 30m depth) was pushed to completion early in the 2014 expedition. “Area N”, to the north of the main plateau remains a promising area. Several blowing holes were identified in a winter mountaineering trip, of which N9 has been partially developed.

In terms of deliverables from this expedition we intend to:
* fully survey all discoveries, freely distribute survey data
* produce a complete vector drawn cave survey
* register all discoveries & expedition findings and new caves with the Slovene Kataster
* freely distribute photos from the expedition
* incorporate materials from this expedition into a further book publication that will cover exploration on Migovec from 2007--
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.

We have run expeditions to this area in: 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 00, 01, 03, 04, 05, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and smaller recces in Easter 95, Autumn 06, Winter 09.

Vrtnarija was discovered in 2000, and extended on every expedition since then before being connected into Sistem Migovec in 2012.

Exploration on the Migovec Plateau began in 1974.

Our exploration in 2014 was reported in a talk at Hidden Earth 2014 in September, and we have recently finished our full survey of all finds.

Expedition Finances

Travel

Travel plans:
Advance party flies out (via Ryanair / Trieste) the week before to setup water collection tarpaulins. A nine-seater roof-racked transit minibus will be hired from Imperial College Union (hire cost £1600), filled with cavers and gear and driven via Calais - Benelux - Germany - Austria - Slovenia (to avoid toll roads) over 24 hrs non-stop. Total travel cost ~£2100.

Additional expedition members fly out. Minibus is used for \\\'shuttle service\\\' from Tolmin to Tolminske Ravne (912m) from where gear is portered to Tolminski Migovec (1882m).

Camping on Migovec is by special permission of the National Park. Expedition base is established in Tolminki Ravne with hospitality from the Skalar family, and in the nearby Tolmin town with the use of an expedition member\\\'s holiday home and hospitality from the local Tolmin caving club.

In recent years we have become extremely efficient at projecting cavers into the field & to the bottom of the cave. With the van leaving on Friday evening, the first portering up the mountain is on the Sunday, underground camp has been setup on Wed / Thurs, and the first exploration and surveying has taken place on Fri / Sat.


# from UK: 19 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £4,230 --- Minibus --- 6 people
Minibus hire cost £1600
Ferry tickets: £180
Fuel: £500

--- Flights --- 13 people
Flights (London -> Trieste inc. return) ~ £130
Bus (Trieste -> Tolmin inc. return) ~ £20
13 * (£130 + £20) = £1950

Total: £1600 + £500 + £1950 = £4050

# from outside UK: 0 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £0

Travel total: £4,230 Travel p.p. from UK: £222
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £0

Subsistence

Total: £1,200 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £63 Food - £1200
~£600 bought in the UK and brought in the minibus, the rest is bought in Tolmin.

Accommodation - Free
We camp by special permission from the National Park.

Gear

Total: £1,560 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £82 -- Underground ---
Rope: £500
Rigging Metalwork: £400
Survey Instruments (rolling replacements): £160

--- Above Ground ---
£500 above ground expenses (fuel for cooking, tarps, other communal equipment)

Special 1

Total: £120 Comments:
Special 1 p.p.: £6 Underground Camping Supplies, i.e. consumables we must buy each year.
Meths / gas for cooking, replacement thermals for sleeping.
Exped Total: £7,110 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £373
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £0
Mean Exped cost per person: £374

Other Funding

Total: £600 Comments:
Imperial College Union - Travel Grant - £600
Total shortfall: £6,510 Mean shortfall per person: £342

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: Dr Michael
Affiliation: Rogerson

Reason: Ex ICCC, has performed significant geological analysis of the region.

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Dr Mark Evans
Affiliation: Kings College London

Reason: 0

Permission obtained?: No

Expedition report author: Oliver Myerscough

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