Mallorca

easter tour 2003

This is a report of the caving club Easter trip to Mallorca, undoubtedly the best trip Moritz Guenther has been on yet.

More snaps by Lyndon available here.

Infamous for cheap drinking and unpleasant mass tourism, Mallorca has much nicer parts than most people know and lots of these are underground. The island consists of limestone and is basically full of holes. Every hole we looked in is full of indescribably astounding formations. Caving in Mallorca is completely different from the cold, wet, when-do-I-get-out feeling in England. Caves are nice and warm, more dusty than muddy and they are located in the most amazing areas with beautiful scenery. Additionally a caving trip to Mallorca includes a lot of other outdoor activities such as climbing, walking....

The trip was well organised by Andy ("I want to go there") and Lyndon, who booked us flights, which were on time and carried our excessive luggage without extra charge, found a villa with swimming pool, and lovely furniture, definitely not meant to be touched by dirty cavers. This was really a 5*-accomodation, but cheaper than a youth hostel.

We arrived late at night on 5th April (or early in the morning of the 6th), and decided that we need to start with a day of faffing, so we went to Porto de Pollensa, walked along the beach, made fun of English tourists with bow-ties and England shirts. In the evening we started serious caving in Cueva Da Sant Marti, which is a pothole, used as a church. We went down, did our evening prayer and went home again, just to meet some VW-Golf practising power slides and other hand-brake turns in the middle of the road.

The next day we went to Sa Campana, along dodgy roads chased by mad cyclists and insane tour buses. We abandoned the car on the road, took our heavy rucksacks and set off to walk the last mile to the cave. I should add here that this mile took us 1.5 hours because the cave is on the other side of the mountain range. But Mallorcean limestone is grippy and climbing there is great fun apart from the evil plants - either sharp, prickly or dead (and CNN said: "The US has information that Saddam is either in Baghdad or anywhere else or dead") . This way also showed me the real meaning of "obvious footpath" -> 3 years ago a mad goat crossed here.

This climb also offers magnificent view over Sa Calobra. We had cheese and bread and descended down the first pitch into the cave. The main chamber is unbelievably huge. Our caving light was not bright enough to show us the nearest wall, and although the ground was flat, apart from small stalagmites, it took nearly 10 min to walk from one side to the other. This cathedral must be at least 150m*50m*25m high. On one side it continues on a muddy slope past a fat column of at least 5m diameter. We got down just to find ourselves . Here the slope got smaller an steeper, so we rigged it (with only slight rubpoints). At the end of the rope we realised why one guidebook advises taking a longer rope - it is possible to climb down, but not comfortably. At this point Hugh decided to get bored and left us and he never again stayed underground longer than 30 min. But the rest of us left a candle behind (to find the way back) and we got further down and found mud. Everywhere. Layers of mud, inch thick (I only realised on my way out that what is good for sliding down does not necessary help you on your way up!) Although caves in Mallorca are in general very well preserved here we found evidence of other cavers: They had left behind small mud sculptures ( but we did not scarify a Hugh sculpture, because he deserted us). We did not reach the bottom but we turned round at this point to have daylight on our way back.

On Tuesday four of the group went canyoning, lost their wellies, nearly drowned and froze their tits of, but I did decent tourist sightseeing in the monastery of Lluc. On Wednesday we copied a fellwanderers strategy and just walked a bit around, I mean we climbed for over three hours in a dry canyon, but we did not find the cave we were looking for, despite our best efforts (Maybe these dogs we avoided were on the right way). So we went home and had a BBQ. On Thursday we did Penya Rotja. This cave is beautifully located above a villa Claudia Schiffer owns. We followed the road, getting smaller to a way, leading to a "really obvious footpath".
"Climbing on that overhang for a photo is mad" - "Oh, that's our way on."
The cave entrance is a bit comic style, with stalactites and stalagmites like giant dragon's teeth. A squeeze between two columns leads to the bone chamber, which has the shape of a bowl, only the wrong way round, again curtain of stalactites in the strangest shape, growing down, sideways and up again. I know if you read this, it gets a bit boring now, so if I write "some room" or "some decorations" from now on I mean: In England thy would charge you a tenner to look at that.

We then decided to go deeper and rigged a long slope, with "some formations". Andrew was first, rigged round a column, but run out of slings and so connected the ends as kind of a Y-hang. After a while he realised, he had passed some sign. "What does P-E-L-I-G-R-O-S mean?" (Danger). It got smaller and smaller there, Clewin tried his best, but he ran out of rope, before he reached the bottom of that pitch. It is a pity we never saw the end of a cave!
The Friday was fairly uneventful. we looked for a cave, but could not find it, as we forgot our description, the others enjoyed some time on the beach, while I drove back to get it. We tried again and getting more lazy we couldn't be arsed climbing over the gate guarding the area, instead we unscrewed the padlocks and drove in. The stumbled up a hill a 70° slope until we reached a few hundred meters, Clewin got pursued by a goat and found the cave down where we started looking in the morning. By the time we got in it was late afternoon. It is a small cave just three of "some chambers" with "some formations". On our way out the security guards caught us, but Hugh managed to convince them that we really believed "Casa privata" signs and locked gates guaranteed us a right of way.
On the last day we visited a showcave with "some formations" (And this time they charged us 9 €/person), and Lyndon drove us up uncounted hairpin turns to the "castel de Alaró (or something similar).

If there is ever a Mallorca trip again, I want to be there!