SELAS club of Athens organizing an exploratory expedition Lion cave (*) (-1110m) on Crete. The goal of the expedition is initially to explore the underground river at -485m. Organisation started in early March 2013, with an open call to all Greek caving clubs and to those abroad. We anticipate for very strong expedition in terms of size. If this is the case, then the remaining "question-marks" (leads) left at the end of the 2008 expedition (at -700m, at -800m and elsewhere) can also be explored. The cave itself has been the subject of exploration by French teams since its discovery until 2007 when it reached -485m. In 2008 it was a joint French-Greek team which took the cave to -1,110m. LEVKA_2008
Accessing the camp
The expedition base camp is at an altitude of 1,600m and about 3 minutes from the entrance of the Lion, but it is 3 km from the nearest dirt-road which reaches the Khoses spring at an altitude of 1050m... It follows that there is a corresponding difficulty in transporting equipment (550m climb) and in the past we have used a helicopter to bring in equipment. Access to the camp is by foot on a rough track, in some places steep, starting from the spring at Khoses (35°20'39.77"N, 24° 5'49.20"E WGS84) which is accessible by car on the dirt-track from the village of Melidoni. The camp is established around a horizontal cave of about 50 sq.m. (LO1) which will house the secretariat and camp kitchen.
An additional difficulty is the absence of easily-accessible drinking water at base-camp (LO1) meaning that all water has to be brought up from LO23 (descent to -60m where there is water to be collected. This constrains the number of possible expedition participants as the quantity of water that this cave can supply is small.
A further challenge will be arranging for electrical power for the expedition given that everything relies on electrical power more so than in the past: lighting, cameras, disto for survey work, drills, etc. The area is home to many caves with plenty of interest.
Sleeping will be either in LO1 or around it in tents. There are no trees at this altitude meaning that care is necessary to protect tents from both the sun and wind – a second tarpaulin to protect tents is advisable. Meals will be prepared on a communal basis from common materials with a vegetarian option available. Care will be taken to balance the food preparation with the dietary requirements of the cavers participating (high calories, with a correct balance of proteins, sugars and fats).
The camp is just within antenna range of the mobile phone networks of Chania, Crete, although only at a basic 2G level.
English will act as the main language of camp, with Greek and French being spoken also.
The programme will depend on the number of cavers interested in taking part (up to now more than 40 cavers). It is expected that the Cave of the Lion will be rigged to -485m from previous preparatory expeditions to take place from May onwards and further equipment will also be carried to the base camp before the start of the camp. From 11 August when the first participants will arrive until 24 August when we hope to de-rig the main goals will be the exploration of the collector upstream from -485m (it is expected that it will be possible to make a connection with another cave entrance); exploration of other question-marks at -700m and -800m which may lead to deeper cave passages. Every second day, water will be drawn from LO23 for the needs of the camp.
Expedition report (Preliminary, updated version to follow):