Lower parts of the Čaganka cave
After long negotiations the caving trip to Čaganka was finally coming to realization. But as it sometimes turns out, the loyal photo-helpers did not have the time. As I was the guest caver at the Novo Mesto Caving Club, additional aid was not in doubt. Šini and I quickly deteremined the number of needed »slaves« and the trip could be realized.
Good six years ago cavers from Novo Mesto in area of Poljanska Gora managed to discover and over years deepen the Čaganka cave to record breaking depths. First explorations soon stopped at the rockfall at a depth of -244 meters, putting Čaganka at the top of Dolenjska deepest caves. It was not until three years later, at the final rockfall, that they finally found the transition to other parts, but it continued into the »desperate meander«. Draft instilled new strength in them, will was strong and the narrows started to ease.
After many caving trips and hard work, cavers put up the first bivouac near to the entrance to the cave, with beds, heating and shelter, which made longterm trips much easier. Šini offered me to test the biouvac the night before the caving trip, which I declined due to caving debates, which could last into late hours of the night. Good night sleep was much needed for the photographing of the lower parts of the cave, which took about 15 hours of intense photo caving, including the return.
Split into groups, we descended into the cave before 9.30 am and went smoothly to the end of the old parts of the cave. Soon after the entrance, the cave impresses with spacious abysses and the most picturesque 70 meters deep drop, enchanting lakes and stalactite sculptures and interesting passages that connect the abysses. All this splendor still awaits a decent representation and we would gladly tried to do it unless our thoughts and powers directed us to the bottom of the cave, where at the end of meander we found spacious gallery Kalahari.
In the Game Over Hall old parts end in rockfall, above it in the impenetrable darkness extends the chimney that some climbed almost 100 meters high. Sprinkle of cold water from this chimney is the cause of the big opening that gaped between the rocks, and leads through narrow passages and many levels to the current bottom at a depth of -455 meters. As it looks like, the cave will not end here. And although the continuation is hopelessly narrow, the narrow straits already give way under hardworking hands and it won’t be long when milestone of -500 meters depth will be exceeded.
Short stop in the lower bivouac was used for refreshments and casual conversation. The clock was already leaning towards the second hour, but we still had to do the majority of the shooting. Gallery Kalahari is a relict of once active water flow and with its spacious passages fascinates every caver. If nothing else, it provides a contrast to the narrow and muddy higher-lying parts of the cave that on return like to suck the last powers from cavers.
Kalahari is divided into two parts and they both represent drains of once magnificent underground watercourse. Into the first one Miha squeezed himself to the last meters, where diggings are currently finished and he pulled out into the open some nice round pebbles. As evidence of large flows they will certainly help raise enthusiasm for the new excavations, which involve large amounts of rubble. Well, where there’s a will there’s a way.
In the second part we silently watched a small siphon, which is fed with water from a nearby fireplace. Because of the small dimensions, we did not see very far, but the water certainly drains somewhere. Here, too, the idea is to dig since during heavy rains in this part flows quite a big amount of water. During our visit to we did not have such “luck” and were awarded by staying dry throughout the cave.
After a short humorous moments and relaxing in the bivouac we still had to return. There was quite enough time for sequential photographing, caver struggling with straits, rope and mud. Well, after some time, however, even the photographer no longer bothered to prepare and clean up the camera, and the mud was everywhere already too. Towards the end of the lower parts we had enough “suffering”, and fortunately there was only a brief stop in the higher bivouac and exit into the dark night.
At the outdoor bivouac there were are already baking sausages and house was pleasantly warm. Comfort at that moment was unbeatable and debate could run long into the night. Sleeping was fantastic … With photography this time helped Šini, Miha and Matic, we can hopefully expect less mud next time, when we look closely at the old parts of the cave.