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New Discoveries in the ANTRA del CORCHIA

a report from Scan Gee

Readers may remember that last year I wrote a short article on the Buca del Cacciatore (Abbisso Fighiera) and the work being done by Italian cavers to try for a connection into the into del Corchia and so establish a claim to deepest known cave in the world.

On the hot line from Italy via the magazine of the Club Alpino Italiano comes the news that the Antro del Corchia is now established as the deepest cave in Italy at - 950m.

This came about in rather a strange way.  It seems that a group of cavers from the Gruup Speleologico Bologna del C.A.I. were investigating a high level gallery with a view to a possible connection to the Cacciatore.  This gallery leads off from the Canyon near to Pozzo Bertarelli and just before the Pozzachione (Big Shaft 180ft.) and leads to a big chamber where another passage leads to the top of the Pozzachione Chamber.  From here they commenced an epic scaling operation using bolts and pegs and experienced a lot of difficulty with falling water.  This they called Pozza Netuno and it is 72m high or deep depending where you're standing.  Another big thrutch got them to the base of a shaft they call Pozzo Paradiso, 70m, and here they could see daylight.  Further climbing brought them to a window coming out on the face of Monte Corchia and further exploration both above and below ground revealed yet another entrance above this one.

Thus the Antro now has four entrances and they have, for convenience, been numbered from the bottom thus:-

Entrance 1        (Buca dei Serpente). This was the old lower found from the inside by D.C.G. in 1967 and opened by the Italians in 1970-71.  Altitude 950m.

Entrance 2        This is the original artificial entrance in the Marble at 100m.

Entrance 3        Is the entrance above the Pozzo del Paradiso at 1268m.

Entrance 4        This lies 35m above Entrance 3 at 1303m.

Thus from Entrance 4 to the bottom of the cave is -871m.  But read on.  Using, as they describe it; ‘an antique speleological technique’, a maypole, they were able to cross the shaft at the top and scale upwards for another 79m to a series of galleries.

It would seem that there is almost certainly another entrance still higher up the mountain and getting very close to the Cacciatore which is, at present, in the region of 850m deep and thus the hope for deepest cave may well become a reality before much longer.

The work continues in the Cacciatore by a number of small groups who have formed a sort of regional body. Unfortunately I have to report the death of one of the leading members of this organisation.  Antonio Lusa, aged 34, and one of the most respected cavers in the area, died in October shortly after staying with me for some of the International Speleological Conference activities.

His death comes as a bitter blow to all parties who go to the Apuan Aps particularly as he was a good negotiator and a sedative to hot tempers.  However, as a memorial, his friends from Aaenza (RA) are constructing a bivouac on the summit of the Corchia.  This should provide a very useful base for future expeditions to the Cacciatore.

Further north in Italy, some interesting discoveries have been made a little known caving area close to Verona.  The largely ignored area has been receiving attention from the G.S. Verona del C.A.I. and a report of their findings has recently been published.  The area covers Monte Lessini (Venetian Pre Alps) and a number of new caves have been discovered near to the village of Giazza, which is quite remote and where they still speak a strange language called Cimbro.  Most of the caves are of a horizontal nature and some are quite long, some being in excess of one mile.  However, near to the village of Selva di Progno they have found a cave of 261m depth. Not very deep you might think but wait. The cave is called the Abisso Angelo Pasa and it was found by following up an old shepherds legend of a 'Great Shaft'. I'm sure we're all had experience of these 'Great Shafts' but this one paid off.  The cave drops quickly through a series of short shafts and then nonchalantly bobs over into a shaft of 211m (685ft).  As you can imagine, the Italians description of this shaft is flowery, to say the least!

In all fairness it must have been a fantastic experience for them particularly as the area is partially explored.

From the Julian Alps comes news of the Spluga de la Preta.  This has been bought by an organisation that seems to be across between the Sports Council and a very rich Regional Association. Be that as it may the facts are that this cave is now controlled by that body.  Italian clubs who are not members of this ‘Big Brother’ organisation and bound be a considerable number of rules and regulations and are required to pay a fee that may be in excess of £100 per expedition.

The area surrounding the Preta is being turned into something of a tourist area, a typical Melonarium where the wee-gees can gape at the cavern going down.

I am informed, however, that these rules and the fee do not apply to foreign clubs and particularly British clubs, with who, it would appear, they wish to curry some sort of favour!

Stan Gee C.A.I.

The elevation of the Antro del Corchia shown on the next page is a very free adaptation of a small detailed copy he enclosed with the article.  For thus interested in finding out more of this system are referred to Sottoterra (G.S. Bologna) copies of which are in the Club Library.

Thanks Stan for the article it might even get some members travelling south from Austria later on this year.  I understand that you have another article on the stocks dealing with poisonous snakes of Europe, hints on First Aid for climbers, cavers and campers - this should prove of great interest - let's have as soon as you can.

BB359-ItalyAntroDelCorchia .jpg 

Sketch survey of ANTRO DEL CORCIA based on elevation by G.S.B. del C.A.I.