Tolminski Migovec Cave Exploration
Felix Article - to be published Spring '05
A Day in the Life of a
Fresher on Mountain Migovec
Nine months after I first
went underground with ICCC, I unclipped from the rope at the bottom
of Concorde pitch, deep within the mountain Migovec in western
Slovenia. The white of the floor was breathtaking, polished smooth by
the annual flow of snow melt. I was perhaps the 20th
person to stand here & see the colours, the shapes and the sheer
scale of this enormous stone cathedral, every last facet of it formed
by water and gravity.
Connecting me to the world
above, and leading ever deeper, were hundreds of lengths of rope
secured by literally hammering into the rockface – years of
effort by students from ICCC & the Slovenian JSPDT.
I could just see the faint
orange light of my caving buddy 70m above me; I built a cairn of
rocks as a substitute for a tripod, and balanced my old Soviet camera
at an angle I hoped would cover the whole pitch. Dousing my light &
opening the shutter, I shouted 'Rope Free!', replied from a long way
above by a blurred echo of 'OK!'.
Caving has given me some
of the most unique emotions and experiences.
I sat absolutely still (so
as not to to nudge the camera) in the perfect darkness for 15 minutes
and watched the impossibly small orange dot above me float down as
gently as a feather, with the lightning blue flash burning an image
into my retina every minute or two. I don't think I've ever felt
quite so peaceful; quietly biding my time sitting a shelf of rock
surrounded by moonscape.
After packing the camera,
and eating some chocolate; we readied for the ascent – 400m of
rope to climb, nearly five times the height of the Queens Tower. Over
eight hours of solid climbing later, I finally flopped out of the
cave and sniffed at the strange Ozone smell of the vegetation, gazing
up at the star-framed silouttes of the mountains across the valley.
My buddy, who had been
dilligently waiting at the bottom of pitches as I climbed in case I
struck difficulty (not once grumbling as he read 120 pages of his
paperback sitting in the cold), joined me after a few short minutes.
We stumbled back to the Bivvi following the string as it snaked
around the many hazards on the plateau. I was so utterly exhausted
that I had to be helped out of my caving kit, but was soon warmed by
the fire & refreshed with mugs of hot chocolate and plates of
The photo came out; and
with any luck should be reproduced here – a snapshot to
illustrate a snapshot of a single day's experiences while on
expedition with the caving club. There is no way to squeeze the many
activities enjoyed during four weeks in Slovenia into a single
article, but I hope that this tiny sliver may kindle your interest.
Caving is so much more
than pretty pictures, inky blackness and mud – but is so unique
in experience that it is indescribable, at least with my clumsy
About the Club
As enormously taxing as
the sport is – both physically and psychologically, caving is
neither competitive nor macho. The aim is to use people's different
skills in cooperation to further common goals of exploration and
enjoyment. No prior experience is required, all training is done
within the club drawing on the experience of our mature members. All
trips are tailored to the skills and wishes of those taking part &
you will never be asked to do things that you are unhappy with or
that we do not feel your are ready for yet.
Imperial College Caving
Club runs regular weekend trips to caving destinations around the UK
– usually costing £25-30 inclusive of all training,
equipment, transporation, accomodation, food and leadership. As well
as our summer expedition to Slovenia, we have a week long tour in
Easter to somewhere warm and long-weekends to destinations around
Europe in the spring and summer.
We meet weekly on Tuesdays
in Southside upper-lounge from 7:30pm; and practice rope-climbing in
the trees in Princes Gardens on Wednesday afternoons from 1pm. Drop
by at some point for a chat & we'll do our best to answer any
questions that you have.