Autor Luigi -Gigi- Casati
Nedjelja, 27 Rujan 2009 11:49
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Report of the Piper - the 'Pifferaio'
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Na kraju istraživačkog ciklusa MSRE "Zrmanjin BUK ‘08" u izvoru Kupe bila je "točka na i". Dobra suradnja na istraživanju izvora Kupe nastavila se od prošle godine između NP Risnjak, Udruge "Kupa" i DDISKF-a. Kamp je bio smješten u Donjim Kuparima, dva kilometra od izvora Kupe. Tu se odvijao cjelokupni dio priprema za istraživanje, kao i svakodnevna prehrana kod Josipa Turkalja, nadzornika NP-a Risnjak. Uz 7 članova DDISKF-a, svakodnevno su pri transportu opreme pomagali članovi Udruge "Kupa" iz Broda na Kupi. Poslije uspješnog završetka istraživanja, udruga "Kupa" je priredila mali domjenak i veliku tortu s natpisom "Kupa -154 metra"!
U nastavku objavljujemo napis Gigia Casatia o njegovom uronu u izvor, kao i skice tlocrta i profila...

At the end of the research cycle of the International speleo-diving expedition "Zrmanjin BUK ‘08" the Kupa river spring was the topping. Good cooperation on the Kupa river spring continued between the National Park Risnjak, "Kupa" association and DDISKF. Our camp was located in Donji Kupari, two kilometres from the Kupa spring. All the preparations for the research, as well as daily catering was provided by Josip Turkalj, the supervisor of the National Park Risnjak. With 7 of our members of DDISKF, members of the"Kupa“ association from Brod na Kupi daily assisted in transport of the gear. After a successful exploration, the "Kupa" association threw a small party and a big cake with writing on it: "Kupa -154 metres"!
Continues log records by Gigi Casati on his dive into the spring...


Saturday 2 we depart from our camp at 8 in the morning, because we have an appointment at Crni Lug for a television interview toward the end of the morning. There are over 200km to cross of which a part has to be done on district roads because of the partial closing of the highway. Arrived at the village, they are expecting us near the little pool formed by the river Kupa. There is a comprehensive demonstration of skydiving and a swimming competition at the place: we are introduced to the public, then interviewed, and then we are free to approach Gerovo. Melita, Frf, Alexander and I meet Moonlight there, who has arrived from Italy in advance. We leave the trailer at a private property and go, only by our cars, to our base camp at Kupari where we get ready for a first transport: we pass a piece of washed-out road with my 4x4, then about half a kilometer quite comfortable road to be done on foot. We carry two 15 liter and four 20 liter tanks. Finally with the dark, the moment arrives to go to sleep.

Sunday 3 there will be the first exploration in the spring of the river Kupa: Izvor Kupe.

Frf was forced to go home for health problems and his girlfriend Melita follows him: the Piper (Pifferaio), Moonlight and I remain. The Piper and myself will go into the water: the visibility is not the best which is already to be seen looking from outside. I depart for first laying out the line next to the rope left by a group of Croatians and Slovenians who were here to make a dive one month ago. As already foreseen the visibility is about 2m. In the dark shaft I follow the rope which they have asked me to recover afterwards, until I reach the bottom at -65m and from here I continue in strong inclination until -75m where the rope finishes with a tail of white line and a piece of lead. A little further appears a piece of line abandoned to its destiny, fluctuating after being cut off the rope: I follow it at safe distance from the place where it is not fixed anywhere, not even in the place where it is interrupted at -85m. Nothing can be seen but, as I can follow the bottom, I continuoe to go down between rocks and gravel in a place where it is not easy to make tie-offs because the rocks are smooth and the line slips off extremely easy.

When the left side of the tunnel appears after about twenty meters of progression, I move toward the center where I believe the section is taller, my sight is clouded but it is only one side of the mask which is misted and this is very annoying in an environment of this type, with water temperature of 7 degrees and at over -100m of depth. I arrive in a strange zone with just fine gravel on the bottom and not even a single stone: not so bad, because I place the exploration reel for the next time and beginn the ascent. At -115m, about 180m from the entry, I go up again trying to observe the walls around, but with the water so turbid, it is nearly impossible and, not having the tied off the line in many points, during the ascent I end up on the left wall, full of trunks and branches and above of me, I don't see anything. Stop after stop, at -21m the Piper arrives with the battery for the heating vest. At least from here I am able to see the light of the sun and against the light, some enormous trunks blocked inside the tunnel: after a 94 minutes dive I return to the surface.

Monday 4, a day of rest for me, Alan and Gordan who have joined us will make a trip in the water while the Piper will explore the shaft next to the one gone down by me yesterday: he will verify, with a slightly better visibility, that there are no conjunctions among the two shafts, going down to -59m at a distance of 80m from the entry.

Tuesday 5, already before having breakfast, I run off to put glycerine into the two displays of my Copis to increase the depht limits, even if it is designed that already without changes, it can be used up to -150m without problems. In this cave I believe that there will be many surprises and my optimism it is high up like the stars.

The glycerine is not very liquid and it is necessary to wait that all the air bubbles go out; after the first filling up, I have the time to eat. I return to my displays and with the help of the Piper I complete the job: not even the smallest air bubble appeares on the monitor, but turning on the electronics, with surprise, I realize that something doesn't work: the used glycerine is not adapted for this use.

I phone the guy who regarding the Copis and the Megalodon is my technical reference, Aldo Ferrucci, who tells me to clean off everything and to look for some glycerine not conductive or for neutral oil. It has become late and while I polish everything with patience, the Piper climbs up on to the trailer which is parked at Gerovo to take the exchange head of my Copis.

At midday, after having transported the material in front of the cave on the shoulders, I still have to prepare my Copis, but fortunately it is not a long job; I prepare three 20 liter bailout tanks, together with the Piper I organize the assistance and begin to change. In water, not only an o-ring of the first stage loses gas and I have to replace it, but I also quarrel with the mask which continues to mist all over: Irritated I get off helmet and mask and I repeat the operation anti-fog with a beautiful spit and some "let's hope that this will do". The always efficient Piper quickly hands me over the tanks in correct order, and therefore, even if I don't see Alen who should be filming my preparation, I approach to the rope and I go towards the bottom.

Visibility is about twice as much but the bubbles which I believe are of Alan, and that rise exactly around my line and the rope, hinder my vision and slow me down. Alen is at about -30m together with Gordan and when I overtake them passing at their outside, I resolve the problem and I can continue my descent towards the bottom of the shaft. In the place where the line leads horizontally I begin finning, up until I reach the bailout tank at -80m cheering up because, even if I don't succeed in seeing the whole cave because of its dimensions, the general visibility it is really improved. At -100m I leave the company of many graylings and the tank with the topography mark: I am more agile and with small effort I reach the exploration reel. The section with the gravel is huge, and once estimated the perils of the environment, the mind returns to focus on how to find a tie-off point, which direction to go and whether to move away from the wall that rises from out of the nothing at my right side. I don't succeed in fixing the line on the few rocks which are too smooth; at -125m I get entangled in the line with the fin, with agility I disentangle and I am free. I don't like the type of line which I am laying out because it is too loose and I continuously find it wrapped around myself in more and more unpleasant positions.

Enough! At -135m, about 230m from the entry, I leave the exploration reel waiting sweetly and return back. At -120m, while I am going up for trying to see the ceiling, I use the fins as a support on the bottom and provoke an avalange of gravel that begins to slip below me; fortunately the section is very big and this situation doesn't worry too much me even if it is annoying to see gravel to flow below me like a river. Here is is, the bailout tank where I take the topographical mark and begin to mark down direction, depth and distance; in some points I see the wall, in others the ceiling then, while I am doing a deco stop at -90m, I realize that what supposed to be the wall to the right (during the descent) it is nothing else than a huge rock that measures 8m for about ten: the beautiful thing is that there is no trace of the wall itself: perhaps with some meters more visibility, it would be easier to observe this gigantic hole in the limestone.

At -24m about 55 minutes later, the Piper appears with a 7 liter tank with gas breathable up to the surface, the battery and the water bottle; I hand the two 20 liter tanks over to him, of which one equipped with a second stage that loses from the membrane (another small accident), I write on the slate to return 45 minutes later and remain alone inside the shaft. He returns punctually with the exchange water bottle and battery, I write down that I will finish the decompression after 45 more minutes. After 155 minutes I salute the loneliness and resurface among about twenty people who have stayed to wait for me.

Wednesday 6, at 10 in the morning, we are expected at the organizational center of the park for a press conference with a lot of of Croatian national television and journalists. Tihi, the Piper and I are sat at the table with the representatives of the park and the protection of the waters of the river Kupa. In the afternoon we dedicate ourselves to the search for the oil for the Copis and to the setup of some equipments.

Thursday 7 everything seems to go smooth: at 10 o'clock we have already loaded the car, at 10.30 we move towards the spring. For the first time in this expedition, everything seems to proceed without obstacles: on the edge of the entrance pool I prepare the Copis, I insert the freshly prepared radial filter, the tanks, the head, negative test, positive test and verify the analyzers. We replace the regulator on the 20 liter tank, we prepare the batteries, the cooker for the tea, etc. When everything is ready I go to the forest equipped with toilet paper to meditate; I hope to see a bear or a lynx, common animals in this park but nothing, my mind only sees the line to be followed, the trunks to avoid, when to inflate the dry suit and when to begin finning, I can already feel the rhythm inside. Nothing or almost nothing can stop me now: I join the others and begin to get ready. The tasks to be completed are defined, I jump into the water to refresh before starting to sweat too much and luckily with this temperature it is easy to stop every stimulus to perspiration. I gear up with the Copis and finally I enter the water. I reach the bay by swimming, at about ten meters distance, where the Piper hands me over the two 20 liter tanks which I will carry with me to the bottom: I realize to have lost a band of an anti-freeze and the forced stop doesn't decrease my concentration which remains so high to not even realize that Alen is behind me with the intention to film the operations.

I attach the bailout tank, turn on the lights and go down, following the line in the center of the lake. At -6m a quick stop to verify the function of the sensors: two perfectly lined up and one slightly out of balance but nothing to worry about. I go down sidewards until the vertical drop, I am at -12m, I move away from the wall to avoid the trunks at -20m, down there the exploration reel is waiting for me. The automatic valve for the immission of trimix into the Copis works perfectly so that I have only to compensate; I pass the tank at -36m, at -55m I begin to inflate the dry suit to slow down. Perfect! I reach -63m without bumping into the trunks, I let myself fall towards the bottom. The LED on the mouthpiece simplifies my progression notably, because it constantly communicates the partial pressure of the oxygen to me, avoiding for me having to look continuosly onto the display. I begin finning with the planned rhythm, the respiraton it is not troubled thanks also to this spectacular filter that makes it incredibly simple. Visibility is about 4m: I stay high in comparison to the line, still no trace of the ceiling, but at around -110m I risk to suddenly bump into it: from here up to my exploration reel below on the gravel, the height of the tunnel is about 6m, but still no trace of the walls.

To the right I see a big rock where I try to fix the line, but it slips away; I continue, trying to remain on the right, passing some stones and gravel. The LED at the mouth piece confirms that the flow of oxygen is regulated perfectly because the PpO2 doesn't increase. At -150m one tank is entangled in the line because I'm not used anymore to soft line material like this. I see the two walls tightening together and below me lie enormous rocks: I slip into the wide passage, 2m large and few more than one meter high, and even if it seems that some meters ahead the the passage is widening, I decide that for this time my exploration is finished.

I fix the line to a small prominence of rock, I look at the computer which marks -154m and 17 minutes, and I begin to turn back. The narrow passage of about fifteen meters that I am passing is not the route that I have been going down but I am aware that the line was not fixed well to the rocks, and has moved following me; in case of scarce visibility this is one of the most dangerous situations that can occur because there is the risk to get jammed without a possibility of solution. At -120m I have the impression that there is a tunnel at my right side, but it will be for another time. During the long deep stops, I delight moving to the right and to the left, but without always perceiveing the walls, because in many places the section is wider than about ten meters from the line. I pick up the two tanks at -100m and -80m, then the caving rope mentioned before. At -35m I find myself with five 20 liter tanks and 40m of 10mm caving rope, at -24m I hand everything over to the Piper and I keep only the two tanks with nitrox 35% and 50%. A little more than after one hour, he arrives with the tea, the battery of the heating vest and the writing slate and again I entrust two 20 liter tanks to him, next appointment another 45 minutes later. The next course of food and drinks for me and my request to the Piper to make Alan come down with the video camera and to organize the final visit of Gordan. Alan arrives without television camera but with the third battery and more tea. Gordan makes a visit at the moment when there are only about thirty minutes missing to the end of the deco. At the exit, after 209 minutes some curious tourists and Gordan with dry suits on are ready to take my equipments out of the water.

Friday 8: the day passes by calmly, with photos shot, tanks filled, memories expressed in words. The evening and the night, while a violent storm throws down bucketfuls of water, the thoughts turn to the consequences that it will have on the spring.

Saturday 9: the forecasts have not been wrong about the quantity of water that would have fallen; the stream formed on the road has dragged away our sandals and the river Kupa has turned brown and turbulent. At this point, as I consider that the game is ended, I begin preparing the equipments to be definitely loaded into the car, but Alen, who is not convinced, takes the bicycle and pedals towards the spring. Upon return he tells that in the little pool formed by our spring, the visibility is not changed and the reason of the turbidity that we observe from the place where we are now, which is in the valley, derives from a small spring that discharges at about halfway between Izvor Kupe and our position.

Pleasantly amazed, at midday we return to our spring because in spite of the weather we can dedicate to another beautiful try of explorations and this time, with Alan and Gordan who will make the documentation, it will be the Piper who, as I can easily imagine, will have the pleasure of the discovery and the explorer's shiver.

Report of the Piper - the "Pifferaio": 09/08/2008

- after the storm which has raged for the whole night, partially in my mind I am already in Italy. From yesterday afternoon in fact, the heavy rain anticipated by the meteorological office, had led us to consider the exploration in the spring of Kupa practically to be finished. After breakfast therefore, I was getting my equipments organized and I had also started to load them into the car while Gigi, for his part, was writing some notes on the Mac... In this moment Alen, returning from a visit of the spring in bike, informs us in excitement that the flooding that we see passing down the river next to our base camp doesn't derive from the principal spring, but from some smaller springs, downstream in the same valley, and that the spring itself is in good conditons. I hear Gigi saying: " …well then we go diving…"; a lamp is switched on inside my brain and starts a rush of emotions that still I can hardly describe. The day before, when because of the concern about bad weather we had decided to "shut down" the principal exploration that Gigi was doing in the first shaft, all the same he had announced the possibility for me, if the meteorological condition allowed it, to continue the exploration of the second shaft that I had begun five days before.

Needless to tell that what Gigi was proposing me was an exceptional occasion that had to be taken advantage of in the best possible way. In an instant I prepare my dry suit, the undergarment, take the computers, the masks, a check of the calibration of the sensors and I already find myself in the car on the way to the spring. Gigi, with his experience, succeeds with some words, suggestions and also with some clever jokes, to make me feel as already under water, focussed on the dive. And still, during the whole phase of preparation of the rebreather or during gearing up, to feel him as near to almost feel his breath on my neck and to know that, even if he doesn't let it be noticed, none of my movements, remains unseen by him, continues to give to me some unbelievable sensations. My job normally brings with it to be " in tension ", to feel observed and checked, but this time, it is different: for a long time already, I have been assisting him to dress, to set up the reb, to pass him material before the dive, to make assistance in water for him, but this time the roles are changed. For me it is a great honor that I don't want to betray him - I cannot betray him as well. The second shaft of the spring is situated in the same little pool of the fisrt, at only a few meters distance. According to an old sketch, afterwards revealed being not too reliable, presented on a board at the edge of the spring, the two shafts go down parallel and should have a connection at about -50-/60 meters. Already during my first dive, up to -58m I did not find any connection, but I was certainly not assisted by the visibility which didn't pass 3/4 meters.

Today the visibility has worsened a little bit, but at least for a little while I will have the guide line, which have layed out during the first dives and the elastics on which to hook the tanks during the descent are already prepared. The walls of the shaft, substantly vertical, are very smooth and one of the difficulties that I had found, was in fact finding good points for tie offs. Gigi allows to me to use his 20 liter tanks 10/80 as diluent and I also take one of the emergency bailut tanks with me, which I have recovered the day before: a 15 liter tank containing 52/25. A last look over to Gigi and there I go. Alan, who is filming the phas of preparation at the surface with the video camera, will follow me immediately after up to -21m where I will leave the tank. I dedicate the first meters of the descent to get used to the 20 liter tank that reaches up exactly to the position of the diluent injection button; I decide then to position it in another way on the series of hooks and resolve the problem... trying the injection button however I have reached an asset which is too positive, so that I have to do some fin kicks with head in down to succeed in descending. Little later I am at -21m, I leave the 15 liter tank and continue the descent… I don't realize when Alan stops and in any case after about ten meters more, I am all by myself to follow my line.

The visibility doesn't allow me to see the whole shaft but only the wall that I use as reference, the one more towards west, the one that is toward the first shaft. In every case I have the confirmation of the impression that I had had during the first dive: one of the sides of the shaft, which could be identified as the base, continues to go down, slightly inclined and leeding towards north. During the whole descent, I continue to encounter relics of trees and branches, and upon arrival at -58m, I have the second confirmation of another impression that I had during the preceding dive. The bottom, even though still highly inclines, is revealing a slide of stones and rocks and from this point the presence of branches and trunks increases. I still keep to the west side of the shaft as reference and go down further, keeping on to follow a light inclination towards north. The quantity of branches increases, some of them I discover only after having bumped into thembecause of the scarce visibility, and also because of the dimensions of the trunks which start to become notable. Thinking about the information had by Gigi about the first shaft, I believe that it can be supposed that I am approaching to the level in which the shafts flatten out… Around -70m I have a shudder when with the torch I illuminate a little opening leading in direction of the first shaft: will it be the passage that we are looking for? Unfortunately, as soon as I put my head inside and when the torches of the helmet succeed to illuminatie it all, it reveals to be only a couple of meters long. I continue the descent for some meters; the branches continue to be present and now, despite of the walls that are always very smooth, there are also some isolated rocks of greater dimensions.

One of these seems perfect for a tie off; a glance to the computer: -79m. and we are already 16 minutes into the dive… I cut the line and try to aim the torch in various directions looking for some information about the dimensions of the environment in which I am,: unfortunately the only thing I see is " black ". I start to ascend, and after about fifteen minutes I reach -21m; I pick up the bailot tank, increase the PPO2 of the circuit a little bit and I also start to see a glimpse of the light of the sun above of me. The decompression continues in a regular way and while I am at -6m, turned towards a wall occupied to follow the movements of a little fish, I feel a hand that touches me: I turn around and see Alen who asks to me if everything is all right: I signal the OK to him and I communicate that I still have about ten minutes until finishing the decompression.

Upon arrival to a few meters from the surface, I hear the noise of stones that someone is throwing into the water, exactly above of me: I suppose to have some idea on who the author of that gesture can be and I feel like smiling. After 66 minutes, it is time to return to the surface: I hardly put the head out of the water to see that the spring has definetely become "crowded" because some executives of the Parks of Risnjak and Udruga-Kupa, some friends of the DDISKF (among which Tihy, equipped with video camera) as well as some passing tourist have arrived. The first person that I am looking for is Gigi and it is a wonderful feeling to see his naughty expression. I hand over some equipments from the water, then I get out and sit on a rock. It's in fact he himself that it helps me to gear off the reb and we immediately start to exchange opinions about the cave. He seems to be satisfied and this is the thing that makes me feel better. In these years, following him in his explorations, some of which really "at the limits", I am learning a lot of things, even by only observing him, being nearby, asking questions… I don't know if and how, I will ever be able ever thank him enough… certainly today I have a further motive to thank him: Thanks Gigi!!

After the dive of the Piper is over, at the outside of the spring, besides of tourists, some executives of the Park and friends have arrived, bringing strong reinforcements to load the stuff for good and thanks to them, in a single trip, we are able to transport all the equipments to the car. Although the routine of the exploration is combined with work and discomfort, we are also enjoyers: back at the shelter we enjoy food and drinks crowned by a gigantic cake of whipped cream offered by the association Udruga Kupa to celebrate the result.

(We would like to thanks our friend and member Gigi Casati, for more stories of his explorations and results please go and visit his web site: http://www.prometeoricerche.eu)

Prilog: skica i tlocrt izvora Kupe

Kupa - profil Kupa - tlocrt Izvor Kupe, arhiv 1938.

Ažurirano ( Četvrtak, 06 Siječanj 2011 10:27 )

Skup speleologa Hrvatske 2012.

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