Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 28 Feb 2019

Expedition details (GPF2019a-010)

Expedition Name (& Club): Dark side of the moon (Imperial College Caving Club)
Destination country: Slovenia
Region: Tolminske Ravne
Lat: 46.2528 Long: 13.7609 Elevation: 1881 m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Mr. James Wilson
Total cavers: 13
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 13
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 0
UK/nonUK cavers: 9/4
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 2
Expedition dates: 5th Jul 2019 - 11th Aug 2019
Duration (days): 38
Man-days in field: 602 Man-days travelling: 38
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

Setting up of underground camp in Moonraker, (discovered 2018) just after Klic Globin pitch in Primadona cave Pushing of deep leads in Moonraker area, including the Aqueduct, our most promising lead
Re-rigging and resurvey of Monatip cave
Pushing undescended shafts in the Monatip-M16 connection
Reconnaissance of Hallelujah-Testify branch and exploration of shallow leads in this area for future camp location
Surface exploration of western cliff near the outside of Monatip cave using drone and potential exploration of cave entrances found here
Exploration of Coincidence cave, (a dig which went in 2018) and building on the work done here in October by the local JSPDT caving club
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 five years. This year we intend to continue the exploration of the deep Klic Globin branch in Primadona. This region was found in 2018 and many question marks remain to be ‘ticked off’, in particular a deep streamway, an open pitch as well as a strongly draughting, easy, mud dig. We finally propose to revisit a series of undescended pitches in Monatip cave, left virtually untouched since 2016 as we brought our focus on the deep sections of Primadona cave.
New expedition cavers are largely drawn from ICCC's student membership. Slovenia novices learn bolting and rigging skills through deep alpine exploration. Additionally, essential skills such as surveying and underground camping, as well as leadership and teamwork are passed during expeditions; these skills form the basis of the training of the next generation of club members, who often take on positions of leadership within the committee.
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.

Deep exploration from Moonraker camp
This is our main 2019 objective, as during the course of last year’s expedition, we found a short stretch of horizontal passage off the main Klic Globin pitch. We identified over five different leads (see attachments), which consist of a mixture of open going passages, pitches, and a large stream passage at altitude 1150 m (the Aqueduct). Moving the camp deeper than in 2018 will allow a more effective exploration in the Klic Globin area, and we propose to move the four berth camp to Moonraker passage.
In addition to the proximity to leads, the location enjoys a steady water supply nearby, a passage with a good orientation (rectilinear N-S) and an adequate amount of mud to install the Cave-Link radio. We will build on the skills acquired last year of multi-day underground camping to make this new camp a success. The camp will be located at -690 m below the surface of Plateau and provide the ideal jumping board for deep exploration (>700m depth) by our current generation of students, who cut their teeth first on long day trips to -500m in 2017 and then camped at -400 m and pushed at -700 m last year.
We will set up a first aid, gear and food cache as well as an intermediate Cave-Link relay station at Mary’s Cafe, in Senja Soba. This is a major junction between the ‘trade route’ to camp and the Testify branch. We will set up a CaveLink intermediate station there as we did last year. Last year’s camp will be repurposed into a food cache/first aid point, to provide a rest stop for cavers returning from the deep camp. These camps will facilitate the set up of the camp in Moonraker, and trips to these points with kit will be used to train novices.

Intermediate exploration in Monatip/NCB connection
Several going pitches have been identified in the Monatip area, last explored in 2015 and 2016 in the lead up of the Monatip to NCB connection. One lead (‘Auld Alliance’) was pushed by ICCC in the summer of 2016 and left at an ongoing > 30 m shaft due to lack of rope. A further pitch was explored by JSPDT in October 2016, (P60), with unfortunately no way on. Several more pitches remain untouched. We aim to conduct introductory trips to this region of the cave, using this opportunity to expand the surveying, bolting and alpine caving skills of this year’s novices by resurveying the connection branch with the aid of Paperless Techniques, introduced last year to the Migovec expeditions.

Exploration in the Hallelujah/Testify branch
Over the course of three years, the new branch below Knot Very Good pitch was extended to over two kilometres of new cave headed south between the Primadona and Vrtnarija caves. During the 2018 expedition in particular, a long series of small pitches led to an abandoned streamway, meandering SSW for hundreds of metres. We left this lead at yet another pitch, at nearly 600 m depth from the entrance. The absence of running water, lack of places to set-up a camp justifies our decision to keep exploring this branch on day trips. We will be specifically looking for a suitable camping spot, as trips to reach the pushing fronts are expected to reach upwards of 18 hours. Several leads have been located along the Knot Very Good - Smer0 passage, which could have similar development to Hallelujah as they lie along the same elevation. These leads are shallow enough that they can be pushed on day trips, and will be good training for new members to the expedition. Reaching these will require replacement of old rope and re-bolting as the last exploration here was in 2006.

Transition to Paperless Survey techniques
In 2018, we acquired two sets of distoX2/android phones and introduced paperless survey with the help of TopoDroid and Therion (see attachment). This year we are expanding our set of instruments, with the objective of transitioning completely to paperless surveying by the end of the expedition. We will give a specific focus to resurveying the Monatip-NCB connection branch, and continuing the survey into the undescended pitches.

Surface exploration
The discovery of Coincidence Cave in 2015 led to sustained digging for several weeks. Motivated by its proximity to the very southern end of the Sistem Migovec, the dig broke through in 2018 after a short week of effort. The cave is now 169 m long, with several climbing leads and digging options still available. The considerable draft, and now reduced distance to the southern end of Sistem Migovec, down to 213 from 250 m, makes this cave passage a strong candidate as a lower entrance to the system, at an altitude of 1300 m, compared to the other eight entrances which lie between 1720 and 1860 m asl. Work at Coincidence Cave will be supported by the nearby hut at Planina Kal, 30 minutes walk from base camp.
With the aid of drone equipment and expertise from Ben Richards as experienced pilot, we aim to identify and abseil to potential cave entrances on the Plateau, which may lead to more ‘Primadona-like’ cave systems.
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, 18 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 shifted 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 here: ).
A short overview of 2013-2017 expedition written up in Descent (262): Beneath the Hollow Mountain.
Exploration info from 2013-2017 presented in The Hollow Mountain III (2019, available here:
Or as a free pdf on request).

Expedition Finances


Travel plans:
Minibus (9 persons):
We will hire a roof-racked transit minibus from the Imperial College Union, which seats 9 cavers and the expedition’s gear and equipment. We will drive via Calais-Benelux, through Germany and Austria and reach Slovenia after a ca. 24 hours drive. Those who don't fit in the minibus will fly to Trieste, Italy and travel to Tolmin, Slovenia by bus.

# from UK: 20 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £6,367 Ferry: £220 return with a flexible ticket fare (± 4 hours window)

Flights/Rail (10 persons):
£250 return flight UK with hold luggage
£40 airport transfer return.

Number of personnel leaving from UK*: 9 (minibus) + 11 (flights/rail) = 20 persons
Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving UK)*:

Item Quantity Unit price Total (£)
Minibus hire 1 2397 2397
Ferry (flexi ticket) 1 220 220
Fuel - - 850
Return Flights 10 250 2500
Airport transfers 10 40 400
TOTAL 6367

# from outside UK: 2 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £890 One member will be leaving from Innsbruck via train~£100 return
Return flights from singapore ~£750
Number of personnel leaving from outside UK*: 2
Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from outside UK)*: £250

Item Quantity Unit price Total (£)
Austria Train 1 100 100
Return Flights 1 750 750
Airport transfers 1 40 40

Travel total: £7,257 Travel p.p. from UK: £318
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £445


Total: £3,660 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £166 Subsistence:
All non perishable food is bought before the expedition leaves the UK. Fresh food is bought on location and re-stocked during the expedition when/as required, however most food is non-perishable or dehydrated. Last year spent just shy of £2500, expect to spend the same amount this year,
We use ca. 40L petrol each year to fuel two Coleman stoves ~£60

Surface equipment/other:
This consists of miscellaneous top camp/surface camping equipment (tent repair patches, tarpaulins to co


Total: £2,430 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £110 Group caving equipment:
Bolting kits, rope, maillons, spits, hangers, tackle bags, rigging tape: These need yearly or frequent replacement because they are PPE, and the rocks are extremely sharp and abrasive. . Last year we spent £2000, as we have re-rigging to do again this year we expect to spend the same.
-Drill equipment (drill maintenance, bits, custom Li-ion battery packs, rawl bolts): needs constant replacing because the underground environment is very harsh, cold, and damp. This year, we

Special 1

Total: £420 Comments:
Special 1 p.p.: £19 Surveying equipment to map and survey the new passages found. Our current equipment is ageing and as mentioned above, we are now investing in paperless survey setups. This includes 1 distoX2 (£160), with one replacement board (ca. 180EUR), and one android phone (£60), non-magnetic battery (£20) and capacitive pen (£20): Total £420. We will have 3 paperless survey set-ups.
Exped Total: £13,767 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £613
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £740
Mean Exped cost per person: £625

Other Funding

Total: £0 Comments:
Total shortfall: £13,767 Mean shortfall per person: £625

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: Starless River

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: Dr. Mike Rogerson
Affiliation: Senior Lecturer in Earth Scien

Reason: Mike is an Ex-ICCC member and respected geology academic who attended the 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2004 Migovec expeditions and wrote the geology appendix to The Hollow Mountain.

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: David Wilson