Migovec 1995

The ICCC and JSPDT 1995 Expedition was much more productive than the previous year, the most notable discovery was Torn T-shirt Cave(M18) which was pushed to -232m with going leads.


Following limited success on our expedition in 1994 where 23 people spent six weeks on Migovec not as many people were prepared to spend another six weeks in 1995. A much smaller group of die hard optimists plus a number of keen unsuspecting freshers made the trip in 1995. The total number of people on the expedition was thirteen, but in fact only eight people spent six weeks on the plateau and the rest spent shorter periods anything from one to four weeks. From our expedition in 1994 we encountered a number of problems which we hoped to address this year, they were:

  1. Having a low level base camp near the road was a waste of time, it meant far too much time was spent sherpering gear back and forward, it encouraged people to sun bathe instead of exploring caves and it wasn't cheap either. If we were going to get away with just having a high altitude bivi we would have to work out a way of getting all our gear up the 1000m climb efficiently and we would have to completely rethink our food (which consisted of a lot of fresh food and tins) and water collection which was slow and inefficient. Additionally this year we were more selective about who we brought on the trip- freshers had to be reasonably self reliant and people who dossed in 1994 were not encouraged to come.
  2. Finding caves was not just a simple case of finding the right hole and abseiling down to great depths (as we foolishly first thought!), caves on Migovec are more stubborn than this and usually negotiating tight rift or digging and hammering are required in order to proceed .
  3. This year we brought a full digging kit (hammers, chisels, crow bars and spades) and we made up a rule that if a cave was to be deemed not to go then two independent groups must agree this is the case.
  4. There are thousands of holes on the Migovec plateau and knowing where to look is not easy, it is also difficult to know if anyone has been there before -- The only practical solution is to log and number all entrances and paint the number on the entrance. In order cut down the number of holes to look at, we decided to return to the plateau when it was in deep snow in order to find and log the draughting holes.

Logistical Considerations

Our first task was to get all our equipment and food up the hill as quickly as possible with the minimum effort. The first possibility we looked into was a helicopter but this had two main problems associated with it; firstly at five hundred pounds per trip it was a little on the expensive side and secondly as we were officially not supposed to camp in the Triglav National Park we thought this would draw unnecessary attention to us and could lead to problems later. The method we eventually settled on was to get the local farmer to carry up our gear with a small tractor, he could only go about half way (to the shepherd huts) but this proved sufficient, and was also a lot cheaper (about eighty pounds each way).

If we were going to spend all our time up at the bivi then we could not afford to take fresh or tinned food as it would be too bulky and in the case of fresh food would not last long enough. One of our members joined the BEC on one of their five day camps in Darren Cilau (The Restaurant) and the system of dried food they have developed over a number of years was copied almost identically. As bread will not last six weeks flour was taken up the mountain and used to make chapattis. The only non dried foods we took were cheese, lard, chocolate and alcohol.

Collecting water on the 1994 expedition had been a long and time consuming affair (half a days work for three people every day) which consisted of someone abseiling down a shaft and filling bags of snow which were pulled to the surface and melted in the sun. This year we used a different technique which proved more effective- a barrel was left in the shaft to fill with water which was then pumped from the cave with the aid of a small semi rotary hand pump and 40m of hose pipe. This was only necessary about half of the time as the rest of the time it was raining heavily and water could be collected directly on the surface with the aid of tarpaulins and barrels.

Caves Discovered

Torn T Shirt Cave (M18)

This cave was pushed from last years end . The cave has a tight entrance which leads to an 8m climb and then a 25m pitch (Godzuki), at the head of this pitch there is a way on which leads to 40m of rift and becomes too tight. At the foot of the pitch a climb over boulders and a false floor leads to a further 6m climb and a 6m pitch to a chamber, at this point the cave becomes a tight rift (The Shreddies Series) which goes on for a further 100m until it becomes very tight, this year with the aid of a hammer and chisel we got through a first squeeze (Optimisqueeze) which leads immediately to a second squeeze which pops out at the top of a thirty metre shaft (Turtles head squeeze).

Tonx in Turtle's Head squeeze

At the bottom of this shaft the ways on are very tight but half way up another rift leads off (Shreddies Revenge) which goes on for about 50m until the way on becomes very tight. Another 3 hours of hammering and we were through Orsazmatron and Nutcracker squeeze to the head of a 15m circular shaft. At the bottom of this a small hole in the floor led to another 30m shaft which again didn't go anywhere at the bottom but at the top a swing gave access to what looked like a large chamber. The Large chamber turned out to be the side of a large phreatic tube 6m wide and 4m high which turned out to be 250m long with many large shafts and aven's leading off it. From this point exploration was continued with the aid of a three man camp in this tube (Club Mig). A number of the leads were looked at but many remain untouched, a trip in the last week found a very large free hanging shaft (Godzilla) it took a rock 4.5 seconds to hit the bottom, unfortunately all the ropes we had in the cave at that time did not reach the bottom and further exploration would have to wait until our next trip.

PF10 Pot

This started off as a large draught sucking through a pile of boulders, two days of moving boulders revealed a thirty metre shaft, which with some more digging led to a series of shafts leading down to -118m depth with good potential for more finds.

Venus Cave

When it was found the entrance of this was a hole about 8cm diameter which was sucking air in so strongly that flies were getting trapped (hence the name). Half an hours excavation with a spade revealed a 10 metre pitch leading off into a series of low horizontal passages and a small chamber with calcite formations, these are the first formations discovered on the Migovec plateau.

The only non-mud formations discovered on Migovec

Jackie's Blower

This cave is 40m deep with three large chambers leading of the main pitch, these were entered by bolting a traverse across the side of the shaft.

Julie's Pantry

Discovered at the top of a scree slope, this cave was mainly horizontal or going up, with a very strong draught in the entrance.