Ukrainian Speleological Association expedition to the caves of the valley Orto-Balagan, Arabica, Abkhazia

The leader of the expedition Yuri Kasyan

The expedition of the Ukrainian Speleological Association to the caves of the Orto Balagan Valley (Gagra Range, Abkhazia) has proceeded to completion recently. Traditionally, the main objects of our expedition interest were Krubera and Berchilskaya caves.

Ukrainian Speleological Association expedition to the caves of the valley Orto-Balagan, Arabica, Abkhazia

Krubera cave.

The international team led by Gennady Samokhin worked in the Chamber of Soviet Speleologists (-1710 meters). During the further underground exploration the team began engineering work to overcome the obstruction on the top floor of this camber. Within the previous expeditions the excavations were conducted at the lower parts of the Chamber of Soviet Speleologists but that direction was considered prospectless so this year it has been decided to conduct a small “reconnaissance battle” on the top floors. After several shifts with the use of engineering equipment, the tunneling works were stopped and this direction is also considered unpromising for this moment.

The second task of the group was to plunge through the siphon in the tributary at the depth -1650 m. The first attempts to lower the level of the siphon and dive into it were made in the expedition of the Ukrainian Speleological Association in 2008. This year the main diver of our team Gena Samokhin had to make the further attempt to dive through the sump. It was quite spacious and with good visibility. The diver unwound 60 meters of the cord and the depth of immersion did not exceed 20 meters. The siphon continued further, but the submariner decided to return, using an acceptable part of the air. In future expeditions submerging into the siphon at -1650 meters will be continued.

Berchilskaya cave.

Ukrainian Speleological Association expedition to the caves of the valley Orto-Balagan, Arabica, Abkhazia

During the expedition in 2016 such a long hoped-for continuation of the cave was found and it reached the depth - 630 m. The further way was blocked by a huge boulder choke where we were able to find some passes and go down the vertical for another 20 meters but the further lump passage was not found. The boulder choke looked gloomy and unfriendly that is why it got the name “Why not to live a year more? »

This year we have got ready to work in the rubble quite thoroughly. First of all a new underground camp was set up at the point - 450 m. Then a water pipe was installed to supply the camp with water and the approaches to the blockage were expanded. Besides, some shorter and simpler transitions were found.

Thus, a year after the first acquaintance with the boulder choke, it no longer seemed so awesome. Two outbreaks were found rather soon which were leading to completely different new areas of the cave. At the end of the expedition in one of the new sections the cave reached the depth -770 meters. The last 50 meters vertically were passed through the next boulder choke which was called the South Wedge but we did not manage to find a way out of it.

Ukrainian Speleological Association expedition to the caves of the valley Orto-Balagan, Arabica, Abkhazia

During the expedition a re-survey of Berchilskaya cave was conducted. It turned out that the cave goes strictly to the south towards the neighboring valley and accordingly, completely in the opposite direction from Krubera cave. Finally, our plans to join Berchilskaya and Krubera seem to collapse. Though previously we were morally ready to explore and “grow” an independent cave as well. And it is exactly what we are going to do during the expedition in 2018.

Ukrainian Speleological Association expedition to the caves of the valley Orto-Balagan, Arabica, Abkhazia

The expedition members

  • Kasyan Yuri Ukraine
  • Samokhin Gennady Crimea
  • Kosyakin Vitaly Crimea
  • Feigin Leonid Israel
  • Gorbacheva Olga Ukraine
  • Kioseva Liliya Ukraine
  • Tashevsky Andrey Ukraine
  • Timoshevskaya Julia Ukraine
  • Fedotova Daria Ukraine
  • Fedotova Anastasia Ukraine
  • Fedotova Maria Ukraine
  • Bardash Alexander Ukraine
  • Rebrik Maxim Ukraine
  • Gili Eilor Israel
  • Lily Zeb United States
  • Egilmez Hakan Turkey

In the expedition we worked in several caves. Of course, the main objects remain Krubera and Berchilskaya, but we try to explore in parallel other promising caves in the Orto Balagan valley.

Several videos from different caves:

Krubera cave:

Results of the UkrSA expedition to the Krubera cave, August 2017

Zhemchuzhnaya (Korolitovaja) cave

For four years we worked in the cave of Berchilskaya without even knowing that we are literally a few meters from the entrance to another cave ...

While watching the video, Volodya Nasedkin recognized this cave. This is the Pearl cave. Exactly 30 years ago, Nasedkin visited this cave and even managed to crash into the well (5.00 - 5.50 m) and break with a fall ...

Yanich Gallery cave

Very interesting cave and located in a very good location. It is possible that in the future it will even become one of the deepest caves of the Orto Balagan valley. There were little things left ... pull a few cubes (dozens of cubes) of stones to the surface.)) A worthy task for speleologists who like to open caves from the surface.

Berchilskaya cave. Collapse of stones

On the last day of the expedition in 2016 in Berchilskaya cave we went down to the next collapse of stones. The blockage did not make an impression of a safe and comfortable place. During the reconnaissance, stones and blocks fell down and disappeared. The water ran along the walls, it was not very comfortable and slightly alarming. We decided to retreat until next year, giving the name of the blockade "Do not live for another year")) ...

Berchilskaya cave, museum of speleology:

When we started working in the cave of Berchilskaya, we often met in the cave the equipment left by our predecessors. This equipment was not suitable for further use for its intended purpose, but it seemed to us that it could be collected in one place and become museum exhibits. So we did. At a depth of 320 meters, on the site of the underground camp we equipped a museum of speleology. I hope that the speleologists of Kishinev will watch this video and remember the times of their youth.

Berchilskaya cave 2017

Berchilskaya cave. Gagra Range, Abkhazia. The height of the upper entrance to the cave is 2430 meters. The depth of the cave is 770 meters today. The video was shot in the expeditions of the Ukrainian Speleological Association.