Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 27 Feb 2018


Expedition details (GPF2018a-006)

Expedition Name (& Club): KLIC GLOBIN -- CALL FROM THE DEPTHS -- Migovec 2018 (Imperial College Caving Club)
Country: Slovenia
Region: Tolminske Ravne
Leader: Mr Arun Paul
Lat: 46.252794 Long: 13.760894 Elevation: 1862 m

MEF funding: none
Expedition dates: 6th Jul 2018 - 11th Aug 2018
Duration (days): 37
Man-days in field: 450 Man-days travelling: 40
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

Returning to Primadona for the 3rd year in a row and:
-Setting up of underground camp under TTT pitch in Primadona cave
-Rerigging and resurvey of deep cave to -721m pushing front (Donji Milanovac) and pushing of deep leads from that location
-Extension of ongoing pitch series (Hallelujah-Alabaster branch)
-Setting up and using our Cave-Link system

Also
-Continuing promising surface digs
-Surface exploration of western cliff near newly discovered Gondolin cave
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

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

With the assistance of the GPF, we have organised an expedition to Slovenia for over twenty years. This year we intend to thoroughly explore the deepest parts of the Primadona branch. This has been entirely unvisited since 2001, and so we need a considerable amount of cave rigging equipment to:
-Renew the rigging on the ‘trade route’ to the proposed campsite
-Equip 200m of vertical cave between the campsite and 2001 pushing front
-Support further discoveries at depths over 500m
The GPF grant will go towards this equipment, which will be left in situ for future expeditions.
New expedition cavers are drawn from ICCC's student membership. We teach novices bolting and rigging through exploration; the essential skills allow our club to train up the next generation of British cave explorers.

Last year we missed the deadline for GPF funding, resulting in higher than usual costs. We are keen to ensure that cost is not a barrier to participation this year.
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.

Underground camp in TTT - Re-rigging to the ‘bottom’ - deep exploration
The large entrance of Primadona (alt 1728 m) lies at the foot of a 100m abseil to the west of the Tolminski Migovec plateau. Work since 2007 on the caves of the western plateau was directed into the cave Monatip, connected into Primadona in 2008. Work continued in this combined region of the new system, developing it towards the main System in the East of the plateau. In late 2015 during an Autumn weekend trip, JSPDT made the connection to the main System Migovec. The lack of working knowledge concerning Primadona and uncertainty of what had been pushed from the patch work survey had mostly dissuaded serious attention until 2016, but two years of sustained focus have shown the great potential of this cave.

During the 2016 and 2017 expeditions we have focussed on the shallow branches of Primadona, now re-surveyed and extended at depths of 200-500m. We have developed a working knowledge of the cave and produced a new integrated Migovec System survey. The quantity and complexity of passage found at the shallow depths so far has so far surpassed expectations. We anticipate that the less frequented deep passages will provide the next logical challenge for the 2016/17 expedition members looking to expand their skillset, yield more unexplored passages well to the west of the main system and enhance of understanding of the deep part of the cave.

Our plan is to set up our usual mountain-top camp on Tolminski Migovec (1862 m), porter our equipment from Tolminske Ravne (924m) on foot over the course of 3-4 days, and re-rig the surface abseil to Primadona.

We will then rerig and resurvey the ‘missing’ 200m of vertical cave to the current ‘bottom’ - left as an open lead since 2001 - as well as explore any additional findings along the way. We will renew and transfer the club skill set acquired over 6 years of underground camping in Vrtnarija by setting up a 2 berth camp in the TTT branch. This will be used as an advanced base for exploration below 500m. We will set up a Cave Link radio at camp to relay weather updates, taylor the supply of gear and food, and make full use of an efficient hot-bedding technique in order to maximise camp usage.


Exploration of Hallelujah branch
Over the 2017 expedition, we explored a promising cave passage spearing SE, between System Migovec and Primadona: the Hallelujah - Alabaster branch. This is now over 300m away into a completely blank area of the map, and an ongoing pitch series with several promising leads, which also takes a significant amount of water for its depth.

We propose to carry out the exploration of this branch over the course of day trips - it takes about 3.5-4 hours to reach the ‘coal face’ - with expedition novices in mind. The relatively simple access and multitude of leads make it the perfect training ground for true, rewarding exploration in an area which also boasts significant depth potential (500m above sump level).

Additionally, we will set up a first aid/gear and food cache as well as an intermediate Cave-Link relay station at Mary’s Cafe. This is a major junction between the ‘trade route’ to camp and the Hallelujah branch. In 2017, this set-up was found to be a suitable rest point for day trips. This intermediate contact point will help monitor the progress of entering/exiting cavers and allow for a more flexible and efficient response to belated parties.

Surface exploration
During the 2017 expedition, a new cave - Gondolin Jama: 31m deep, 113m long - was discovered within the portion of cliff between mount Kuk and Primadona, fuelling renewed interest in the cliff face. This discovery built on a reconnaissance trip from 2006 where Jarvist Frost and Jana Carga logged all known cave entrances along the cliff. More potential entrances have been identified in the broad polygon defined by Gondolin-B9-Planika-Monatip, which we propose to explore by rigging cliff abseils from e.g. B9, or valley 09.

The discovery of Coincidence Cave in 2015 led to sustained digging for several weeks. We propose to resume the digging of this potential lower entrance which takes a noticeable draught. This is motivated by its proximity to the very southern end of the Migovec System (250m above Empty Quarter). These are related to a NNW-SSE trending fault observed both under- and overground. We will porter the necessary equipment (gauntlets, hammers, crowbars, trays etc…) to the Planina na Kalu mountain hut (altitude ~1500) where it will be stored during the expedition, a 30 minute walk from Coincidence Cave entrance.
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.

Exploration on the Migovec Plateau began in 1974 by JSPDT members. We (ICCC) 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, 15, 16, 17 and smaller recces in Easter 95, Autumn 06, Winter 09.

Vrtnarija (Gardener’s World) was discovered in 2000, and extended on every expedition until our attention shifter to Primadona. It was connected into System Migovec in 2012, making the longest cave in Slovenia.

Primadona was connected to System Migovec in October 2015.

Main exploration info 1974--2006 presented in The Hollow Mountain (2007, available as free PDF).
Exploration info from 2013-2017 presented in The Hollow Mountain III (2018 draft, available as free PDF).
Total UK cavers: 17
Total non UK cavers: 2
Total Cavers: 19
Alex Pitcher nominations: 2

Expedition Finances

Travel

Travel plans:
A nine-seater roof-racked transit minibus will be hired from Imperial College Union, filled with 9 cavers and gear and driven to Dover, board a ferry and then through mainland Europe via Calais - Benelux - Germany - Austria - Slovenia (to avoid toll roads) arriving in Tolmin, Slovenia after 24 hrs non-stop driving.

All other members attending the expedition will fly from the UK to Trieste Airport in Italy, and make their way to Tolmin via busses and/or trains.

After arriving in Tolmin the bus will then drive to Ravne(900m), where the road ends and we will carry all kit and equipment needed for the expeditions in our rucksacks up to the plateau of Migovec.


# from UK: 18 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £5,262 Cost for minibus: £2162 minibus hire (from Imperial College Union) + ~£750 fuel.
Cost for ferry: £190 return (flexible ticket)
Total cost : £3012

Flights:
Cost of Flight: £210 return (with hold luggage, expected to increase in price)
Airport Transfers: £40
Total cost for 1 person: £250

Total travel costs from UK: £3012 + 9*£250 = £5262

# from outside UK: 1 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £250 One member will be leaving from Innsbruck, with similar costs to personnel leaving the UK without minibus.

Flights and transfer from Innsbruck: £250

Travel total: £5,512 Travel p.p. from UK: £292
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £250

Subsistence

Total: £3,840 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £202 Most food is bought before the expo in the UK, and re-stocked during expo if required. Most food is non-perishable or dehydrated and stored in watertight barrels in the bivi if uneaten. Last year spent £1500, expect to spend the same amount this year.

We use petrol to fuel two Coleman stoves. ~50l = ~£60

**Surface equipment:
Misc bivi/camping equipment above ground (tent repair patches, tarpaulin to collect water, solar power equipment, etc.).
We spent ~£700 last summer, will do the same thi

Gear

Total: £2,735 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £144 Group caving equipment:
- bolting kits, rope, maillons, spits, hangers, tackle bags, rigging tape:
Last year we spent £1500. This year as we know we are going to re-rig 200m of depth we expect to spend at least £500 more
-drill equipment (drill maintenance, bits, custom Li-ion battery packs, rawl bolts): needs constant replacing.~£300 per year.
-surveying equipment
Our current equipment is ageing and we would like to replace them. This includes 1 clinometer (£115), 1 sighting compass (£110). Tot
Exped Total: £12,087 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £638
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £596
Mean Exped cost per person: £636

Other Funding

Total: £0 Comments:
Our university has an Exploration board that repeatedly refuses to help fund our expedition, despite that it is pure, continued exploration abroad. They do not fund us on the grounds that it is not far, or expensive enough to warrant financial support. These are some of the strongest reasons for our continued
Total shortfall: £12,087 Mean shortfall per person: £636

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 Tony Seddon
Affiliation: Cave rescue training provider

Reason: Tony provides the club with small group training sessions for rigging and advanced SRT rescue techniques twice a year.

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Mr Mike Rogerson
Affiliation: Alumni

Reason: Esteemed Alumni of the caving club and reputable geologist. Holds a Senior lectureship position at the University of Hull

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: Arun Paul