RRCPC Newsletter
Volume 38 Number 4 Article 7
December 2001

Another Bleat for Crete

Since 1994 when I joined the Red Rose following the Berger trip, the Stevenson / Hodgkinson consortium have attempted to promote the virtues of Crete’s much overlooked cave potential. From as long ago as 1987 we’ve trekked the Lefka Ori and the Oros Idi limestone massives, not to mention smaller ranges like the Koulakounas. We viewed the shakehole riddled landscapes from Psiloritis’s summit, covered the tops from the Kallergi Hut, walked the polje’s, looked into and explored every hole we came across. All the evidence was there for huge cave systems.

Even the known caves had many inaccuracies in their documentation that led us into places hitherto unknown, often and frustratingly always running out of tackle. The more we learned the more questions were raised.

Jim Newton appeared on the Cretan merry-go-round and the response was predictable, “Hells-fire, bloody-hell, hells-teeth” and all the other Newtonian cliches that spring to mind when Jim is confronted with speleological phenomenon of vast magnitude. “What a place - you'll have to bring the Red Rose crowd here!” Pardon!

Well, no amount of persuasion could swell the numbers, the same four or five kept returning to the island, the cave kept swallowing up all the tackle they could carry; then it swallowed up all the tackle they couldn't afford to carry!

It was unbelievable! A place on our doorstep, six thousand feet of limestone, relatively unexplored from a caving point of view, and it was being ignored!

Oh yes, caving was still going on by the Red Rose in Europe, and other parts of the world for that matter. Trips were plentiful; France, Spain, Sardinia, Austria to mention a few; even back to the Berger in ’99. Yes, the S&H consortium were guilty of being in on these too.

I'm not saying that's wrong, nearly every caver at some time in Europe goes to these well-explored and well-documented areas. Places with good maps, quality surveys, rigging guides and rescue teams. It seems such a waste of talent, effort and experience to continue re-inventing the wheel; keeping in mind that the cavers’ greatest ambition is to find and explore the big one.

Two years ago a French-Italian-Greek expedition found one of the big ones.

Loci Gorgothakis in the Lefka Ori is Greece’s deepest cave currently explored to a depth of 1208 meters. Having been in communication with the Italian organiser of the combined expedition, he tells me of the most fabulous cave he's ever had the privilege to be in. Unbelievable formations, crystal sumps and tremendous adventure with plenty unexplored leads.

The documented Mavro Skiadi shaft was re-looked at by the same teams, it wasn't the blind thousand footer as previously surveyed. It hosts a large lake at the bottom with passages going off from it and a stream passage enters the shaft part way down. And so it goes.

In the not so distant future Crete will be the “in place” to go for many European caving clubs and we will have missed the bus. It would be a shame to get trampled in the rush especially after being at the front of the queue.

Could anyone out there be remotely interested?

This year? Next year? An expedition? Give the well known places a rest for a season! If not, then live to regret it and listen to me bleating “I don't want to say I told you so, but,.........

"Has anyone the CPC’s phone number........?"

Jim Stevenson

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