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Speleo explorations in Crimea during recent years

Crimea has historically been a Mecca and a founder of native speleology.

In the Crimean cave list today there are about 1100 caverns. Mainly they are rather small caves. Only 49 of them are refeered to the category of big ones (longer than 500 m and deeper than 100 m ) and 2 caves (Soldatskaya and Krasnaya (red) are very big (longer than 5000 m and deeper than 500 m ).

Exploration of the Red cave in recent years was made by Simferopol speleologists together with the Ukrainian Speleological association and people from Moscow . The Red cave is situated on Dolgorukovsky karst massif. It is a lime stone plateau with several large cave systems with rivers. Many of them are well explored, for example Aleshina Voda (length is 3200 m ), here are located the largest series of siphons in Crimea which were passes in one cave (length/depth is 3/-1 25/-5 90/-8 25/-3 80/-17 100/-10), but it has not yet been explored to its beginning. Nearby another cave is situated: Eni-Sala III with largest siphon ( 120 m ). There are also less known caves-springs. They are Grifon narrow cave, Matuba, where siphons haven't been passed. But the most interesting cave is Red cave.

Siphon in Cr.-Golub system
In 1999 it was estimated that the cave with all its tributaries was about 17.5 km long. Explorations, made by Crimean-Moscow team during 3 years resulted in notable results. In well known Crimea, where new 50-m cave is an important event, 2 km new galleries were passed and ascends on several big (up to 18m) underground waterfall.

Length of the Red cave today is 19.5 km . But first ascents aren't over. The sixth siphon in the Red cave was found in 1971 by Sevastopol speleologists. In 1974 they dived through it, using (!!!) isolating respirators. During long 28 years the sixth siphon was being a legend. The matter is that path to it lies through the difficult hole. No one could find the way, and many people told that there is no siphon at all. Only in 2001 due to the persistence of the Moscow speleologist Shelepin A. And Simferopol speleologists Kondratjev A. And Samohin G. It became possible to pass the crack labyrinth and to reach the legendary siphon!

In spring 2002 A . Pikunov ( Moscow ) and G. Samohin ( Simferopol ) dived through it (17/ -2). Further it was a big stony hole where the way is not yet found (after the siphon one person was working during only one hour). For the research work of the whole team behind the siphon is needed.

Many tributaries of the underground river remain hardly explored. The most interesting can be passing of river source in several kilometres to the South from the Red cave on Dolgorukov plateau. Small river Subotkhan flows along the plateau and disappears in karst craters near Proval cave.

Water colouring in Proval cave proved connection with Krasnopeshernaya river. Proval cave ends by the crack in 1250 m , but in autumn 2002 the Harkov speleo logist Lyahovetc S. and Kondratyev A. ( Simferopol ) bypassed it and reached a new siphon which probably leaded to new galleries on the way to the Red cave. But Proval cave isn't just one source.

In 1 km from Proval in a small crater there is Mar-Hosar cave (quite rare case in name appearing when Russian last name Marchenko and Turkic hosar – cave gave name Mar-Hosar cave). Now it is a series of narrow holes about 1 kilometer long, and if this kilometer is passed with 2 transport bags per person, it takes about 10 hours. Passing of this kilometer became a reality due to the hard work of Ukrainian and Moscow speleo logists in several expeditions.

Siphon in Mar-Hosar cave
In the end of the explored part before the siphon there is a small hole with poor ventilation. In underground camp lack of oxygen feels on second day: carbide lamps don't burn, lighters don't work. Despite all this, in spring 2002 G . Samohin dived through the siphon. It was rather small (5/-1), but difficult and narrow. One could leave it only putting off all the diving gear in the underwater crack. After the siphon a gallery opened. Unfortunately, the first ascender had little light and had to turn back.

The gallery remained unexplored. Combination of the schemes of Mar-Hosar cave and Proval their new parts practically coincide. Probably, few steps remain before their confluence. It's rather logically that after confluence with water increasing large galleries and holes can be discovered. Exploration is being continued by the Simferopol team ABYSS , Ukrainian speleological community and Moscow speleo logist s.

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