CHRONOLOGY OF THE SYSTEM MALA BOKA- BC4

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    CAVE "MALA BOKA"
   The powerful waterfall Boka is well known but few people notice a black crack on the nearby Kopa slope that gives you a feeling that an underground passage will lead into the Kanin massif. Instead of following the path direct to the top of the waterfall, if a visitor should turn right along a dry riverbed he will arrive at a natural amphitheatre at the end of which is the large chamber that forms the entrance to a cave. From here, there is a beautiful view from the dark interior down to the bridge over the river Boka and beyond to the village of Log Čezsoški. This chamber is known to the locals as Golobja jama (Pigeon Cave) as rare rock pigeons used to nest here. In 1968, cavers from Ljubljana surveyed this chamber and entered it into the Slovene Cave Register. They looked for a continuation at the bottom of the chamber but had no success.
    In June 1974, Zoran Lesjak and Stanko Breka visited this chamber and felt a draught in the upper right hand corner that led them to believe that a continuation lay between the boulders. Other members of the "Jamarska sekcija PD Tolmin" (JSPDT) joined this pair and helped to shift the boulders and thus found the way on to Mala Boka cave. The discoveries that followed made us very enthusiastic because the passages were large, clean and formed in solid rock but there was also a lot of water that, with high water levels, would lead to sumps that prevented passage through the cave.
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    In August 1974 we found a narrow passage called Bučalnik which was named after the huge roar of the draught. After a few metres however the passage became so narrow that it was impossible to proceed. We explored other parts of the cave and did everything we could to try and bypass Bučalnik but had no success. However the very strong draught, which at times seemed like a hurricane, convinced us that the cave would continue through to a higher entrance on the Kanin plateau.
    Between 1974 and 1976 over 40 caving trips took place in Mala Boka. In the years that followed we continued to work in the cave and, in 1979, Ilijada Kocič and Andrej Fratnik finally passed through Bučalnik to discover a 15 m vertical chimney formed in soft rock with water flowing down. This climb halted exploration. The length of cave now stood at 1336 m.
    In the 1980s the exploration of Mala Boka stopped for a while: the cave M16, located on Tolminski Migovec, absorbed much of our energies; on Kanin we joined in the multi-club systematic research of the Kanin plateau; and we also collaborated on the exploration of Črnelsko brezno on Rombon plateau where, in 1988, we became the first Slovene cavers to go deeper than the magic -1000 m in Slovenia.
    In 1989 we resumed our more intensive exploration of Mala Boka, mostly with the aim of enlarging Bučalnik. Eventually the passage became large enough for Dejan Ristič and Simon Gaberšček to pass through and climb up the 15m chimney, opening the way on. However, Bučalnik still took its toil; 25 m of passage took an hour of crawling and swearing.
    As a rescue would be almost impossible through Bučalnik, caving beyond this point was psychologically difficult. So in 1996 we organized the legal enlargement of the cave with explosives, together with the Slovene Cave Rescue organization (JRS). The previously submerged passage below Bučalnik was transformed to such an extent that it was named Tunnel Karavanke. Although the cave was changed a little, exploration became easier and, more importantly, much safer. We collaborated with other clubs and individuals and by the year 2001 the cave reached a height of 600 m above the entrance and a length of over 6 km. This exploration was hard and difficult  climbing from the bottom upwards is more demanding than dropping pitches. Above our highest point, there remained over a 1000 m of limestone to the Kanin plateau.
    Exploration was becoming harder and harder as it took about 13 hours to get to the known end, only then could new work begin. This led us to search for a higher entrance. New entrances were found on the plateau near the area named Rua. Also other clubs found prospective pitches higher up on the plateau but no connection with Mala Boka was found.

 

    BC4 CAVE
    For three years, Polish cavers, Marcin Kubarek, Pawel Ramatowski, Magdalena Wrona and others from SEKCJA TATERNICTWA JASKINIOWEGO KW iz KRAKÓA were exploring the area of Belo Čelo near the old Peter Skalar hut. By chance, we found an article in a Polish caving magazine describing a cave that they named BC4 (and not "Poljska Jama" or "Polska Jama" as was mistakenly used by some) that reached a depth of -695 m. These cavers named the first meander "Meander Ku Malej Boce" or "The Rift to Mala Boka", predicting correctly that the cave would lead to Mala Boka. We too felt that this cave would lead to Mala Boka. As we had no contact with the Polish cavers, we located the entrance using its published co-ordinates. The name BC4 was officially entered into the Slovene Cave Register.

    CONNECTION
    As the rifts in the cave were very narrow, five caving trips in November and early December took place with the aim of making the way through more easily passable. In the cave, small immature pitches follow each other, giving no impression that this is the main way on down to Mala Boka. Only at a depth of -400 m did we arrive at a pitch series down to a depth of -695 m. Here a squeeze named Nutela Killer stopped the Poles. This also proved to be a key point in the cave: those who couldnt pass through this narrow muddy squeeze that would stick you to the walls, would be forced to turn back and head out to the upper entrance where adverse weather conditions could require full winter mountaineering equipment.
    In collaboration with Italian cavers from the club GGB from Brescia, we passed through the squeeze. Beyond this point a muddy series of pitches, followed by a gallery, eventually led to the connection with Mala Boka. The connection point is located in Millennium Passage, over 100m lower than the highest point that wed reached in Mala Boka.
      
    FIRST THROUGH TRIP
    At last the caves were connected, they only thing missing was the first through trip. This was achieved on the 17th and 18th of December 2005 by Jure Andjelič(Yeti), Rok Stopar, Samo Cuder, Andrej Fratnik together with Italian cavers Frizi, Robi, Giacomo and Marco from Brescia. In a snow storm, 1730 m above sea level, we entered the cave at one oclock in the afternoon. We split up into three teams. Two teams surveyed the missing parts, two cavers tried to enlarge the squeeze. Once we had all passed through Nutela Killer, we felt that we had succeeded. We did however have concerns about the entrance series of Mala Boka due to the rain ten days earlier. However due to the winter conditions on the surface we were not afraid that the way out would be completely flooded. So we enjoyed passing down the galleries, looking up at avens that could lead to other possible higher entrances on the plateau while beneath us, the active streamway that formed a complex system of passages heading south west below the mighty Kanin massif waits for explorers to make the cave even longer., At 6 oclock in the morning we treated ourselves to an hour of sleep in an improvised bivouac before heading out to the entrance. At three in the afternoon, we finally exited after 25 hours in the cave, 1300 m lower than where we started.

    SYSTEM "MALA BOKA- BC4"
    BC4 Cave was discovered by Poles, but most importantly we now had a system. Over the years over 200 caving trips had taken place. Over 8 km of passages have been surveyed. All technical, logistic, psychological and other problems that have occurred during the exploration had been overcome. Its important to mention the leading explorer of Mala Boka  Dejan Ristič the most persistant  Fratnik Andrej, and cavers from other clubs: Jure Andjelič from Drustvo za raziskavo jam Ljubljana, Rok Stopar from JD Dimnice from Koper, Milan Podpečan from Klub Siga Velenje, Matteo Rivadossi from Gruppo Grotta Brescia etc. For all these and many others, over 30 years of persistence, the dream and vision of a connection from Mala Boka to the Kanin plateau was finally realised. The cave is now safer as it can be explored all year round, it no longer matters if the lower parts become flooded.
    So now in Slovenia there are 6 caves deeper than -1000 m. These are: Čehi 2 (1502 m), Črnelsko brezno (1241 m), Vandima (1182 m), Molička peč (1135 m), Rene(1241 m) and Sistem Mala Boka- BC4 (1319 m).
    Exploration on Kanin still continues. There are other cave entrances, higher than 2000m waiting for cavers to stop talking and get on with caving and find the deepest through trip in the world. The potential is there to exceed the current record of 1632m held by Lamprechtsofen System in Austria.
 
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