May Update – first preparatory mission
The first preparatory mission was carried out between 1 and 4 May 2014, with 10 cavers making the climb to LO1. The team left Athens on the evening boat on 30 April and returned on the evening boat of 4 May.
The major aim of the preparatory mission was to wash and sterilize the water tanks held in LO23 and to position them firmly ready to receive water. There is a fear that the short winter this year may lead to less available water than last year. A secondary aim was to commence the rigging of the Lion itself. Although this is expected to be easier than last year as the materials are already to a great extent in the cave.
LO23 was rigged and the tanks prepared for the year’s use. Already 350 liters of water are stored in the tanks awaiting the summer expedition.
Radon detectors were also positioned in LO23, LO1, LO44 and in Gourgouthakas (LOC1) as part of the ongoing research being facilitated by SELAS.
Initial information / announcement
SELAS club of Athens is organizing a further exploratory expedition to the Cave of the Lion (*) (-1,110m) on Crete, following the success of last year's expedition which was also supported by the European Speleological Federations Eurospeleo Projects (ESP) initiative.
The goal of this year's expedition is to continue exploration of the the underground river at -485m.
In 2008 it was a joint French-Greek team which took the cave to -1,110m. LEVKA_2008
Expedition report from 2013 expedition (Preliminary, updated version to follow): Lion 2013 report for FSE/ESP (7.09 MB 2013-12-21 06:41:06)
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 being spoken also.
Α) Safety - Emphasis on prevention and avoidance of any accident during the expedition (explorations matter less: we will not allow any compromise on safety at all times)
Β) Respect – Respect of the caves that we will explore and the environment (no rubbish – no alterations) and respect for each other!
Continuation of the explorations of “Lion” cave (-1110m)
· The “Lion” is the 2nd deepest cave in Greece (-1110m deep, 2.5 km long) but still has a potential to find new passages – We anticipate that there are many possibilities to increase its length over depth.
· Continue the exploration, to the left of the river (moving upstream against the water flow) at -480m in order to investigate the possibility to connect the Lion with the cave “LOC81” or with "Gourgouthakas" (the deepest cave in Greece at -1,208m with an entrance very close to the Lion). Last year we stopped after exploring 550m at an 8m waterfall.
· Make a bigger camping site, in order for 4 or more cavers to be able to stay.
· To collect the installed equipment of the Polytechnic University of Crete for the collection of hydrological data (at -485m).
· To install Radon sensors deeper (at -485m) in the cave to measure radiation levels.
Following last year’s sponsorship from Beal through the FSE’s ESP initiative, most of the expedition budget this year will go towards food, insurance and the movements between Chania and Chosses, with some purchases of necessary equipment being covered by SELAS Caving Club. All the costs will be covered by the participant clubs, expedition members and some sponsors. In addition to the above, SELAS will be providing rigging equipment and camping support. The expendable materials, food and costs connected with the camp will be contributed by the expedition members. All funds will be collected by expedition treasurer Stelios (Stylianos) Zacharias.
DISCLAIMER: Everyone visiting caves during the Lion 2014 expedition is expected to behave in ways that are safe for him and for all other participants. It is also expected to not damage the caves or the land. The organisers of the expedition may ask participants to exit a cave, to leave the expedition or not to enter a cave, if they are acting in a way that threatens their safety or the safety of others or might damage the cave. Caving endeavours carry risks and dangers that may lead to fatal accidents. By participating in the Lion 2014 expedition you acknowledge these risks and you take responsibility for your own safety. Although the organizers have taken measures to ensure the safety of the team during Lion 2014 they cannot be hold accountable for your actions or choices during the expedition.
GENERAL RULES & ADVICE
1. Any team of cavers has to declare to the secretariat its planned time of departure, objective, and planned hour of return, and must come back to declare its exit.
2. In case of an unfavorable weather report, we might be obliged to forbid the descents to the cave beyond -400 m.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO BE FOLLOWED
· Enter the cave only if you are in very good health, and experienced in the techniques of alpine caving.
· Every caver must bring with him a rescue blanket, food, lighting, and means of heating in adequate quantity. Remember that the cave is cold (6 degrees Celsius) and wet.
· Moving in the cave will be done in groups of 3 or 2 people minimum, in particular when ropes are in use.
· In every group, some cavers must be able to help a member who may be in trouble on a rope.
· The moving rhythm of a team, should be the rhythm of the slowest.
· If you meet a team in trouble, it is essential to give assistance, even if it opposes your own objective.
· As a matter of courtesy, priority on ropes is given to those who go up (returning from lower parts of the cave)
· If your objective is the bottom, and if it takes you more than 2 hours to reach Camp 1 (-485m) please abort your trip and turn back
· The bivouac placed at -485 m is reserved for the teams which go up from the bottom
· Collect and take with you ALL your waste, and do not write on the walls of the cave.
· Indicate any defective equipment when you return: it will be quickly replaced.
· The area used as a campsite should be maintained clean, should not be altered and should be respected by all members.
· Be aware that electricity is limited.
· Mobile (cellular network) signal is available at campsite