These are some pictures my personal friend the extraordinary and famous speleologist Branislav (Braňo) Smida sent me (they all have Copy Rights).
OFFICIAL REPORT ABOUT THE CHIMANTA TEPUY 2009 EXPEDITION
In January 2009, under the leadership of Mr. Charles Brewer-Carias, Mr. Branislav Smida and Mr. Federico Mayoral the 6th international speleological - scientific expedition was performed with participants from Venezuela, Slovakia and Croatia on one of the mesetas (tepuy) of the Chimanta massif in Venezuela.
More than 8,5 km of cave passages were explored. The largest cave named by us as Cueva Colibri (the Colibri Cave) is 4 km long and starts in the abyss which is about 300 m long, 100 m wide and 120 m deep. The cave is formed by 3 huge branches where the average width of galleries is about 20 to 30 m. A large labyrinth of smaller river channels is formed there, too. The system has 6 entrances; 4 of them are situated directly on the outer, 500 m high wall in the northern corner of the tepuy. The largest entrance is formed by the 100 m wide portal, partially covered by giant fallen blocks. In the cave, several until now not described forms of biospeleothems and mineral aggregates were found. The entrance of the Cueva Colibri was discovered by us in January 23, 2009 and its exploration was realized under difficult circumstances during 6 days long stay of 9 cavers and scientists on the northern part of the massif. The next cave, Cueva Juliana, discovered by us in 2007, was prolonged up to 3 km. For the first time in quartzite caves the standard digging methods were applied. In this cave, giant forms of champignon-type biospeleothems were recognized with diameters up to 1 m. Other very important result of the expedition was discovery of the connection between the Cueva Charles Brewer and the Cueva del Diablo (Devil´s cave) to one common system with actual length of more than 7,5 km. The Cueva Zuna was mapped to the length of 2,5 km. The newly discovered Cueva Yanna is almost 1 km long. Some other smaller caves were found, too. Simultaneously with the classical speleological exploration, scientific investigations were performed, too by a scientific team from the Comenius University in Bratislava. Geological, geomorphological and biological conditions were investigated repeatedly in the underground and the surface, water samples were analysed and also microclimatic conditions were evaluated. The Cueva Colibri is now the 4th longest and 2nd volumetrically largest quartzite cave in the world! The entire actual length of the cave systems of Chimanta explored by us is now more than 20 km. This physically and logistically difficult expedition lasted 22 days.
On the speleological and scientifical explorations directly participated:
Branislav Smida, Lukas Vlcek, Jaroslav Stankovic, Tomas Derka, Jan Schlogl, Tomas Lanczos, Roman Aubrecht, Erik Kapucian, Viliam Gula (Slovakia), Darko Baksic, Ana Baksic (Croatia), Javier Mesa (Venezuela).
The expedition was covered by the GE SVCN (Grupo Espeleologico de Sociedad Venezolana de Ciencias Naturales) in cooperation with Faculty of Natural Sciences - Comenius University Bratislava and its Speleoclub UK, Slovak Speleological Society (SSS) and SO PDS Velebit Zagreb.
Click on the images to see the full size picture: