Caves in Finland may be small, but fortunately also claustrophobia-inducing. Caves are also not well known, but this one has an actual road sign and a parking lot!
On the last Sunday of January, we collected our regular team of experienced cave researchers, ranging from 11 year olds to adults, and headed to Lohja. The Torhola cave is easily reached, and the longest karst cave in Finland. It has been measured to be 32 meters in length, and the difference between its highest and lowest parts is 12 meters.
The winter makes caves and entrances to them icy, but it also makes rock even prettier than usual. Ice stalactites grow from the roof and floor. And beautiful frost covers surfaces!
The main entrance to the cave is big enough to walk in. Or as it may be, slide in on your bottom. The main chamber begins right from the entrance. A large, open space chamber by Finnish standards, blocky rock forms covered by that frost.
There are cracks and even some side entrances to choose from, and exploring the cave, despite its size, can take a long time. We didn't explore everything, and even we stayed for three hours in the cave.
The main attraction of the cave is at the furthermost point of the main chamber. If we had not read about it, we would not have found it. A narrow hole lets you drop into a lower level a meter and half below. You'll not see what you are dropping into, so it is a bit of a leap of faith. And the hole is very small, it is easy to get stuck or claustrophobic.
When you get to the lower level, there is a small chamber where two paths split to the left and right. I thought I had read the right one continues further, so I tried to take that path. With a small stream of water at the bottom, and ice forms constricting the already narrow path, I started to get very claustrophobic. I took myself half way through the tightest point, but then decided to crawl back - backwards. My friends from the Finnish Caving Society didn't feel so scared, however, apparently you can go through even in these conditions and turn around in the very small chamber right after the tight squeeze. In a pool of water. I don't know, way too extreme for me. What if you get stuck?
Fortunately, we decided to look down the left path as well, and realised that I had remembered the instructions wrong. The left path continues a few meters further down through relatively narrow passages, but ends in a bigger space called the Torhola Basement. From there on, the tunnel continues just a meter or two until it is blocked by a rock. The rumour is that if you reach your hand around the rock, and someone reaches their hand from another entrance to the cave, your hands can touch. We tried the other entrance later, and it was way too small for me to enter. My head does not fit through the hole, let alone my fat ass! Although the hole might be easier to go through in the summer, if the leaves at the bottom of the hole could be pushed aside. We'll have to return.
Aside from the other entrance, there are also a couple of other smaller caves around the area, away from the lake towards the forest.
Photos and videos (c) 2016 by Jari Arkko, Jarmo Ruuth, Olli Arkko, and Janne Arkko. This blog is also available at the TGR website. Tämä blogi löytyy myös suomeksi.