Again “Ledenka” and certainly not the last time

Last year I inadvertently skipped the visit to Ledenka (Ice cave on Viševnik), despite the fact that I was convinced this would not be so after my visit to the Austrian ice cave. Well, some club actions took place nonetheless and, to the pleasure of everyone involved, the cave is still being diligently extended. The last action was one of the most demanding, as it was very time consuming. The drive from Ljubljana and walk over the meadows to the entrance is about 4 hours long, and in the cave, 10 hours are quick to pass. Bole was the one who perservered for almost 24 hours last time, which called for a different type of organisation.

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We had been considering sleeping in Bregar’s shelter on the mountain Viševnik for a while, and this time, put our idea to the test. We had planned an action which would be strong in numbers, but the participants were dropping like flies and subsequently lowering the number of goals we had initially set. In the end, a trio of us set out on Friday evening, ridiculously loaded, from the last parking lot under Viševnik and, at 11 p.m., were already chatting to the caretakers of the shelter.

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The early morning wake-up call was responsible for our entering the cave before 8 a.m. Luckily, the entrance was already nicely transient, and there was even less ice in the parts at the entrance than we are used to. The feet of the witch of Višenik are still peeking out from under the ice, even scarier than they used to be, and we will probably see her entire figure in a couple of years. Due to the ice melting we were expecting a flooded transition, but it seems that the melting process has only just begun.

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We were planning on building a bivouac in Petnina, to measure the cave and do some photography. The space for the bivouac is, despite the draft, a nice enough place to stay, and sleeping on the soft surface proved to be really enjoyable. Mihi and I managed to flatten the floor of the bivouac with the dry mud on the floor nicely, while Vid took care of the technical part of putting up the tent. If a 10 EUR tent can survive these conditions is another matter, so we brought two, just in case.

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The second part quickly fell through, as our search for batteries in the laser meter proved to be futile. We tried for a while with rechargable ones, but with their 1,2 V, they could not manage to start the device. We did agree however, that it would be easier to focus on the photographing which halted to a stop somewhere near the floor of Kiklop, at around the middle of the cave. In Petnina, Mihi took us to the first question mark, which awaited us under the ceiling of a large hall, with a beautifully washed ceiling and nice facets on the walls. Our amazement did not fade during the obvious continuation which lures us into its secrets, but that shall remain a task for next time.

Magic Syphon

Magic Syphon

The stream which we followed through the Magic Meander stagnates in the Magic Syphon, and the cave is carefully measured all the way to here. The continuation was promising in the level above the syphon, where the crew successfully attached a rope and reached a muddy shaft last year. Here, the draft has a reasonable power, while the shaft soon turns into an even bigger hall called How Much More through very diverse parts.

How Much More

How Much More

The descent down the meander demands some care, and among other things, brings you all the way to the hinterland of the Magic Syphon. Of course, we were interested in the part towards the continuation of the cave, where we came across beautiful dunes and gravel layers after a short climb. The shafts widen and turn into a nicelly washed meander with a water level that was a bit higher this time around. The previous days it was raining heavily, which showed in the cave as well. The relaxing walk through the shaft is really enjoyable – all the way to the branch where the water disappears in a strait.

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Towards the current end of it, the shaft starts ascending across a muddy level towards a small hall with plenty of limestone formations, and after a short narrowing, the last hall opens over a beautiful balcony. The draft subsided somewhat here and browsing for continuations was in full effect last year. Mihi is still leaning towards the small opening in the ceiling, which will be hard to reach – but it is possible to get to it. Right at the end of the cave there is no more draft, but there are charming mud sculptures to be seen.

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The length of the new parts is measured differently by each individual. The numbers roughly rotate around 400 to 600 meters, which elongates the cave to less than two kilometers of length. There are many more question marks and a lot of work to be done, but we are all one in the opinion that the cave mostly just needs to be measured. And this needs to be done before we discover something new.

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We returned to the bivouac at around 5 p.m., and five long hours of climbing awaited us to reach the exit, as well as two hours of walking to the parking lot, half an hours’ worth of drive to Pac and an hour to Ljubljana. If we had not had a 20 minute long nap on the parking lot at Bohinjska Bistrica, the drive home would be very diverse indeed. This time, the ones strolling Ledenka were Miha, Vid and Peter. For a stronger impression of the cave there is the below video collage of the shots of the walk through the cave.

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