Serbia 2011

Serbia 2011

This was already the 4th trip of CaveBase and Dir Austria crews to the caves of Serbia.

CaveBase is one of better known diving groups in Germany, dealing with exploration of caves, and Dir Austria is a group of nice guys, already known a bit in Poland, because we have already dived with them several times in the Baltic sea-but also specializing in cave diving. I had the opportunity to go to the Balkans for the first time.

This year’s project was prepared very meticulously. Germans, in general, do everything precisely and a little bit beyond what needs to be done. The whole trip plan was prepared with division into roles and duties already a long time ago. The whole project involved the authorities of Serbia and especially the city of Nish and 3 television stations. On the border, clearance and special permits were necessary.

We departed in a group of 6 people:
Peter, Manuela and Darko from CaveBase http://www.cavebase.de/
Clemenzo and Olivier from Dir Austria http://www.dir-austria.com/
and me, from Poland

Diving in the Balkans is the specialty of Jarek Kur, and I called him before leaving. Jarek told me about his dives in Serbia where he had been going already since 2004. In his opinion, organizational issues looked much easier than what the Germans presented, and the people in the Balkans are in general, nice and friendly.

After this infomation, I decided to give up the special ATA clearance for transporting the equipment beyond the European Union and I told my foreign friends that we would simply meet there.

My Germans, were, however, adamant – expedition is expedition – and finally we met on to the border of Hungary and Serbia, to undergo, at our own request, a ponderous 3-hour clearance procedure.

DSC_2953

DSC_2941

One of our divers was Serbian and, in addition, already on the border we were awaited by a friend from the local club of divers who conducted “negotiations” with the officials.

It turned out that although I come from the eastern block, I was the only one without the equipment list and the green card for my car. The first problem was solveed using a xerox machine, and as for the green card, the old overdue card of Olivier proved very helpful, and all I had to do was wave it on the border and finally enter Serbia.

We were to go about 600 km south. I was surprised how fast you can forget how things are in Poland, I was amazed by non-lighted trucks, a sudden fault in the roadway on the motorway or a cyclist going against the traffic direction without lights on.

Finally, at about in 2:00 a.m.we came, safe and sound, to a nice apartment and the view from the window early in the morning was a sign of the whole week of adventure.

DSC_1110

We had to get up early, because our schedule was tight.

It all began from the meeting with the Mayor of the town of Nish and again It turned out that I was unprepared, because I was the only one not to have long trousers, and again help came from Olivier who, for the needs of television, lent me his spare trousers

The talk with the head of the city was pleasant, we gave a few interviews.

DSC_2966

Then, escorted by five people in Lada Niva we set off for the first reconnaissance.

DSC_3011

DSC_3043

The task was simple, the thing was to find the “back” entrance to the Cerja cave, which is a local tourist attraction. It is a beautiful,6 km long, dry cave, with a small lake at the end. We tried to get to that lake from the back, we were doing quite well, but it slowly became dark and Peter – the leader of the expedition, for 2 hours, poked only a meter of the corridor. We decided to take a break until the next day and come bach to our nice guesthouse.

DSC_3083

And as the guesthouse had WiFi, we spent the whole evening contacting the world.

DSC_3088

In the morning, traditionally, we had an interview on TV (by the way, it seems that there’s really nothing happening there, if our arrival has evoked so much interest in the media).

Afterwards, we kept searching for next entrances to the caves.

DSC_3127

Some of them were completely dry and we were unable to get to the wet part.

DSC_3129

Some were huge and we had e.g. time to test the technique of taking pictures by “painting with torches”.

below there is such a picture, where 5 people meticulously sweep the caves with lamps with long time of illumination and thanks to that, it can be seen entirely.

DSC_3137

Almost in every cave we encountered bats.

DSC_3054

Finally, at the end of the day, after many discussions with the locals, we managed to find a really promising cave and what is more, already from the entrance it was full of water it looked so serious that I had to promise not to tell anybody about it and to forget the way we had got there. And the area was really beautiful.

DSC_3150

we kept meeting nice and kind people

DSC_3188
DSC_3192
And the nature and the environment was different than in Poland

DSC_3095

DSC_3097

After a few pleasant days, finally, the time came to say goodbye to the hospitable authorities of the city of Nish, we took a commemoration picture, and we went south to the most important destination of our expedition, namely the Krupajsko Vrelo cave.

DSC_3108

The cave is known for being quite unknown and deep. The rope is pulled to the depth of 123 m. Water in it is cold and not very clear. The cave is small and very dark due to black walls. Long story short, it’s a perfect place for us to go 2000 km to reach it.

I got up in the morning to shoot some pictures of the entrance to the cave…

And I had a lot to shoot, because the neighbourhood was charming.

DSC_3270

The cave is at the back of an old mill, and in the bong, which was created in artificial water damming, we found trouts which we later ate for supper.

DSC_3314

Water looked promising.

We only had to take the whole gear to the entrance of the cave.

For our pressing divers, namely Clemenzo and Olivier to dive below 123 m, we had to carry, and then set for the whole crew in total 35 stages 5 big PSCRs, my Twins, Habitat lighting, scooters, heating batteries etc…

I felt nostalgic about simple wreck diving where you simply get up from the bench and jump in the water.

DSC_1140
DSC_1145
DSC_3263
DSC_3587

The weather was excellent and we were in good moods

DSC_3242

My task during the whole trip consisted in taking pictures and the so-called deep support. So I was supposed to set the stages to the depth of 80 m.

After transferring the whole equipment to the bank, we only had to set it up in the cave. Guys started setting the Habitat and me and Manuela hanged stages wherever we could, and went to the cave.

In the beginning, water was quite OK.

DSC_3483

After entering the cave it turned out that each one of us had a different understanding of the notion of a big cave. As I spent most of my time wiekszosci swimming in the caves of Florida, I was quite surprised with the size. The cave is in general one, quite narrow corridor, which after 20 meters drops down to the depth of 123 m – and that’s it for now…

I expected long swim and throughout the entire dive, we were moving slowly, attaching, at appropriate depths, proper stages.

Throughout the whole diving I could only seen white flippers of Manu and a bunch of cylinders.

DSC_3560

Visibility was poor, and the lack of any current did not clean suspended matter which appeared after our maneuvers in narrow corridors with such quantity of equipment. A cord was spread in the cave, but it was hard to call it a guardrail.

The line changed colours and thickness and had no direction signs. From what I know, it is a diving place for “locals” from the Tryton club and, from time to time, others determined divers including Jarek Kur. This is definitely not a cave prepared for diving tourism.

Finally, after an hour we came back to the entrance to the cave where we encountered an abandoned Habitat,

DSC_3395_2

The ceiling did not facilitate our work, and the morale in the group was weakening.

Setting the Habitat lingered on we clearly needed additional pair of hands to work, and we had ahead of us the most important diving, in the afternoon we made yet another attempt of setting, but without any effects.

It was already dark and we had to make a final decision.

After all, Olivier and Clemenz decided to diver without the Habitat. The planned 6-hour diving in the water with the temperature of 10 degrees, was hard but not impossible.

After this decision, we headed to the bank, ant I took advantage of the conditions and took some night pictures of the cave.

DSC_1222
DSC_1247

We presented, on the board, a detailed plan of deep diving and went to sleep

DSC_1309

I got up early in the morning and entered the cave before all the rest to shoot some pictures

DSC_3463
DSC_3459

on that day, the cave struck me as much nicer and friendlier

DSC_3539

And the environment around the cave was really idyllic

DSC_3252
DSC_3218

The pressing crew was in a good condition

DSC_1173
DSC_1176
and the gear was ready

DSC_3253

Without haste, we suited up, and finally, at 11:00 a.m.we entered the cave

DSC_1330
DSC_1339

for a moment, I walked with the boys to take some photos of them

DSC_3503
DSC_3507

We split up at 30 meters – according to the plan we were to meet in 120 minutes. The plan of pressing divers was to reach, in the 30th minute, the 120th metre and start exploration diving to the maximum depth of 140 m with the bottom time not longer than 30 minutes.

They had PSCRs RB 80 with cylinders 2 x 20 but used only the side cylinder to breathe.

Clema took with him our double heating system (jacket+ vest) with independent power supply systems.

DSC_1307

We slowly started to clean the cave, because part of the equipment was already unnecessary, with a great difficulty we pulled out the Habitat. and after 120 minutes we went to meet Clema and Olivier. It was much shallower than we thought, and a large exploration spinning wheel was intact. This didn’t look good. We checked them for good condition, we took unnecessary stages came back to the surface.

DSC_3561

While placing the equipment before diving did not create any problem, winding up was done in silence and routinely. Agains, we had to draw all that gear along a narrow wall. Finally, after 2 hours everything was at the cars. This coincided with Olivier and Clema ending their diving. Their faces said it all.

DSC_3589
DSC_3598

In the beginning, I didn’t know much about what had happened, because conversations were conducted in German. Later, it turned out to that inter-stage pressure in one of PSCRs, which had Apex steps mounted, increased below 100 m, and Olivier started to lose gas

This was sufficient to cancel diving at the depth of 123 m – ironically, it happened exactly at the same place which they had reached a year earlier.

Well, we just had to deal with it. We went to the thermal pool, which was some metres away from the cave.

DSC_3603

Hot water dissolved our concerns.

It actually helped and after a few hours, at Serbian beer, we were planning the next journey;-))

WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien