Thursday, July 20, 2017

Basic Caving Course in Turku

The Finnish Speleological Association arranged a basic caving course in Turku in June. The course started from the basics, like crawling. A slide to teach crawling! And walking, for that we had another slide. 

The course covered basic techniques, safety, geological formation of caves. We also practised in the nearby Luolavuori cave in Turku. This cave is relatively large by Finnish standards, 45 meters long, dark, and progressively difficult cave. Perfect for training! It is easy to reach the cave (coordinates: N 60.429993 E 22.277781) as it is just a few kilometres from the city centre and 100 meters from a parking lot, bus stops, etc.

All the participants were eager to crawl even the tightest passages in the cave. In the right hand side of the cave there's a drop to a small lower room that I had not dare to go in on my earlier visits with just my son. But with this group we knew what we would find there.

It was an easy drop, but what came next was much harder: a very tight, triangle-shaped pass to the next room. I would not have done this if it weren't for Tor's knowledge that there's another path back to the rest of the cave behind this tight stop. On my first try I bailed out and didn't go through. Too scary to feel the rock squeezing me. I knew it was going to be ok, I felt I was able to move, but it was just scary. But with others going through, I made a second attempt and pushed through. This was my first experience of a tight spot where one has to breath out to make my body smaller. And hold one hand up and one down. But I made it through, and afterwards, it felt easy!

After the cave we went to look above the cave to possibly find the small light holes that we could see in the cave's roof, but this proved quite difficult. But we did find a place to try out chimney techniques in a crack above the cave. This was easy... but once again quite scary, even if we weren't that high or in a difficult place. Going up was easy, coming back ... I struggled. It was all in my head, but in the end I made it back :-) 

The 12-hour course day ended with a refreshing dip to the sea at the nearby Ispoinen sea beach. After caving and walking on a hot day, this much was much needed.

The instructors on the course are Ralf Strandell and To Paulin.

Photos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko and Ralf Strandell.

Remember that pointers to all my stories about caving and skiing can be found at the ​ and ​ web sites.

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