Trekking and caving in Transylvania

This photo blog is intended for all who are interested in hiking, trekking and caving in Transylvania. You don't have to live here. Even if you will probably never hike in Transylvania, you are welcome to read my trip reports and enjoy the photos. We do have some fantastic places here in Transylvania, high mountains, canyons, waterfalls and around 12,000 caves. So, check back frecvently, as updates happen very often.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Caving in the Ic Ponor area, Bihor Mountains

One of the best areas for caving in Romania is the Padis Plateau in the Bihor Mountains. Last week I took part at a caving camp near Ic Ponor, a little settlement to the north-east of Padis. The area surrounding Ic Ponor consists mostly of wooden valleys, hiding many beautiful caves, with no trail to them, and difficult to find without a local guide. During the 2-day caving camp we have visited the Cold Cave and the active gallery of the Humpleu Cave.

The crawling size tube entrance of the Cold Cave is located in the Ponor valley, on the right hillside. A traverse line from the entrance passes a rebelay to reach a 7 m free hanging pit into a fairly large room. This is followed by a very tight 5 m pit. After a few small rooms linked by muddy crawls and squeezes, a larger gallery is reached leading down a small climb to a deep lake. This can be bypassed through The Triangular Gallery, which is covered with crystals and speleothems.

This emerges into a bigger passage, which leads down to a river, sumped in both ways. The cave is not as cold, as the name suggests.

The protected and closed Humpleu Cave has a total length of more than 40 km. The main entrance in the system, with a strong draught blowing out of it, is situated on the right side of the Firei valley. The main characteristics of the cave are the wide dimensions of the rooms. The Giants Room (537/111/35 m), with a volume of over 2 million m3, is also the biggest underground room of Romania. The Main Active Gallery, 4900 m long, can be reached by descending a long slope in a large room.

Because of the low water temperature, 5 °C, a wet suit is needed here. But the richness and the variety of the speleothems, which decorates this active gallery, made our visit well worth.