Padis (Bihar-mountains, Romania) © Szabó Bors © Molnár Ágnes

The Lost World (Lumea Pierdutâ)
   Twin-pothole (Avenul Gemânata), August 1999.
   Black-pothole (Avenul Negru), August 1999.
The neighbourhood of the Castle of Wonders (Cetâtile Ponorului)
   Porcika-pothole (Avenul Bortig), August 1999.
   Hamlet-cave (Pestera Câput), August 2000.
The Barsa-cirque (Groapa de la Barsa)
   Zapogye-cave (Pestera Zâpodie) August 2000.
   Black-cave (Pestera Negrâ)
   Barsa-icecave (Ghetarul Barsa) August 2000.
The Arieseni-cirque (Ocoale-Scãrisoara)
   Zgurestyi-icecave (Ghetarul Zgurãsti) August 2000.

How to get to the caves of the Lost World

The minor road closed by a barrier starting out towards the South from the Glavoj-meadow branches to two after one and a half kilometres. On foot, the Avenul Negru can be reached more easily from the southern, while the Avenul Gemanata from the northern road; by car it is better to approach both caves from the southern road.

The Northern road: We turn left at the branching and pass by a building, (from which we can reach the entrance of the Pestera Caput in about a minute), then after walking a further 1.5 kilometres, the yellow cross yellow cross trail crosses the road. Identifying this point is made easy by the yellow Padis word painted on a pine-tree on the left. Here on the right side of the road we can find a spring abounding in water; from this point on we have to follow the yellow cross up to the right on a steep path yellow cross. The path starts to narrow, and loses from its steepness soon. It branches to two after a kilometre, and there we have to turn to the right. We soon reach a small glide, in the middle of which a board fixed on a tree shows the direction towards the Covered- and the Pioneer-pothole to the left. For reaching the Avenul Gemanata and the Avenul Negru we have to turn to the right again. On the narrow path taking us through a thick forest, we reach the pit of the Avenul Gemanata in about 1-2 minutes.

The Southern road: We turn right at the branching, the road is gradually ascending by the side of the stream, and then after 2.5 km it widens and ends. From this point we follow the wide path up to the left, which is a bit steep, and after a while branches to two. Here we have to keep to the left. In about 750 m from the road on the right handside a wide sinkhole is visible, opposite to this there is a narrow path, the identification of which is made easier by the yellow arrows painted on rocks on the ground. We walk through a thickening forest following the winding path, and finally reach the Black-pothole's enormous sinkhole. Getting back to the road from the small path and walking a further 50 meters, we reach another small path on the left, in another 700-800 meters we are at the Twin-pothole.

Descending into the Twin-pothole (Avenul Gemanata) © Szabó Bors

technical plan The rigging of the cave should be started from the steeper side, (  ), the opening rein can be started from the trees beside the pit. Under the 2-3 m long slanting ground of 45 degrees the rock and the first bolt can be found, from which if we descend straight down, we can easily find the others as well. At the last rebelay there are two bolts, from among these by using the lower one the rope will not abrase as much. At the depth of 45-50 m we reach the highest of those giant fir-tree trunks, which were thrown into the cave by the forestry. From this point we have to descend between and by the side of the trunks, at first we can get by them, but as we get further down, more and more attention has to be paid to them. At approximately 57 m deep down, we can use a thick trunk, which is deeply pierced into the debris, as a belay. The last section of the rope from this point to the riverbed requires much attention and carefulness. We are descending here through 15 m long beams of about a ton’s weight, between which shorter trunks, branches and rocks are deposited. Try to put your weight on the rope, and lean on the debris carefully and only when needed! It is highly recommended to start the descent on this part only when the person in front of us is gone from the bottom of the pit. When ascending we have to pay attention to the rope below, which can easily get caught on the trunks!

When reaching the stream, the SRT equipments can be put aside. The upcoming parts of the cave consist of two riverbeds, a short dry section which connects them and some short side-branches. When the water-level is not risen there are only a few parts where we have to step into a water reaching higher than the top of our boots, the water is usually shallow; we can climb over the deeper parts easily.

Following the flow of the stream from the pit, we have to climb over some shorter trunks, which are stuck in the tunnel. After this the passage widens, and this is the point where the dry crack taking us to the other stream branches out to the left. At first it is practical to follow the present stream, since here our feet will stay dry. The bed slightly slopes, the passage gets narrower, and then gets wide again as we arrive to the High-hall. Here we can only see the ceiling by using really strong lamps. We can follow the stream further without any difficulty, then after a small climb downwards the shrinking passage ends suddenly in a wide siphon. Here we turn back towards the pit through which we entered, but in the room preceding it we go into the crack on the right, which starts to ascend quite steeply. After a few minutes we get to a small room, where we can get some drinking water from the small pond on the left. Here the rumbling sound of the stream cannot be heard anymore. The passage seems to go further horizontally, then starts to slope and then reaches the riverbed of the Avenul Negru’s stream in the Confluence-hall.

Before going further, it is recommended to climb into a tight side branch of about 10 ms length on the left. At first we follow the stream on our left; the passage of which is ascending relatively steeply. After 40-50 ms a spectacular, dry passage branches out to the left, which is about 50 m long. A bit further ahead on the right side of the passage a pit towers above us, which is easy to climb up to, but its top is not visible from even the height of 10 m. As we follow the stream, the passage narrows into a meander. Climbing over the water is quite easy here as well, but there are a few risky parts. Calcification is strong, thus we meet many white tufathic surfaces, which make a bed for the dark debris. At parts some lime silt is also present. The passage starts to ascend very steeply, and we reach a waterfall, which we can only pass through by getting wet from top to toe and there is only a short part of the passage still to be visited. Thus we get back to the Confluence-hall and go to the other direction. Here the water even at drier periods might reach up to our knees and due to the width of the passage, we can only avoid getting wet by climbing on one wall, which is not too easy at parts and surely is slow, thus it might be worth it to put those feet in the water. The width of the passage is various; it broadens to a hall and then gets narrow again. In one of these halls, there is a high inactive dripstone-cascade on the right. Later the tunnel starts to get narrower and we can climb further on rocks stuck above the stream, then we reach a constriction, which we can overcome by climbing on the left side. The riverbed is tight, a bit higher we can climb more comfortably. A climb slows our pace down, there is a prussic left there, which might help. (It might be worth it to take a short rope since the prussic might be gone.) From here the passage gets wider again, and after a sharp turn to the right a trunk-dam closes the way. The Avenul Negru's pit should not be too far from this point; the debris most probably originates from there. Getting through is not impossible, but extremely dangerous. The giant inactive dripstone-outflow on the left side is also worth to mention.

We can try to get back to the entrance pit, (finding the way to the dry connecting passage is easier by the stone doll built there) facing the flow of the stream, but the water is deep and climbing above the stream is difficult. The passage ends in a siphon in 50-60 m, this is where the water of the Confluence-hall reappears.

Visiting the Black-pothole (Avenul Negru) © Szabó Zoltán

technical plan Rigging the pit should be started from the eastern side, which is nearer to the path (  ). The opening rein can start from the fir-tree on the left side of the clearing and we can secure it by a strap placed on another tree-trunk a bit below. The wall of the pit slopes more and more steeply. After a descent of about 20 m we find the first hardly visible bolt on the edge of a rim. A further 25 m deeper the wall bends over, it would be practical to put a bolt in here. After another descent of 25 m we reach the bottom of the pit, which is a false bottom consisting of snow. A huge tree-trunk is frozen into the snow on the right; this will be the rebelay point. After this we climb down a further 15 m between hanging tree-trunks and moving rocks. We arrive to an edge of snow. Both around and above us tree-trunks are visible. On our left there is a small, dark hole, which is our route to the cave. Here a 2-3 cm big crack can be used as natural belay, after a 5 m descent from which we reach the active, meandering main passage of the cave. The water appears from under the debris and creates a sizeable pond. We found no use in experiencing the depth of the pond, but continued to go to the other direction. We can use those parts of our rope, which are still left over for rigging the meander on three natural belaying points up till the first room to secure our climb above the stream. A few meters above the water a tight passage can be found, which then gets attached to the temporarily active passage at the back of the room.  Following this passage we arrive to a tighter part that gradually opens out. At the top of the dripstone-wall, which cuts our passage off, a small, black hole is visible...

How to get to the Porcika-pothole

Following the minor road closed by a barrier, which starts from the Glavoj-meadow towards the South, we need to turn to the right after about 700 meters following the blue circle trail-marking. (The bridge indicated on the turist map is far off from this crossing.) The trail-marking is on a wide path at first, then leaves it and goes further on on a narrow path to the left, which is indicated on a board by the side of the road. In a few minutes we reach the fourth balcony of the  Cetatile Ponorului, then we reach the third, the second and finally the first balcony. Walking further we soon get to a crossing, where we need to turn to the right and follow the yellow circle trail-marking. A steep slope is ahead of us, which leads up to the ridge of the hill. The pit of the Porcika-pothole is situated exactly on this ridge, a bit to the right from the path.

Visiting the Porcika-pothole (Avenul Bortig) © Szabó Bors

technical plan The southern side of the pit is easily accesable on a slight downward slope, but the wall of the pothole is quite loose, covered by moth, thus the northern side is more suitible for rigging, where the bare rock wall reaches the surface in almost a vertical angle. We can use the tree on the edge of the pit as a natural belay (  ), to which a 6 metres long opening rein can be tied from another tree further up. Descending down from the tree, at -6 metres the first bolt can easily be found, however descending from it further down, the rope scrapes against the rock. A further 11 metres lower we reach a sloping rim, on the left side of which the next bolt can be found. Using this, we can descend down to the bottom of the pit, which is covered by snow all year long. Turning face-to-face with the snow-slope, and then turning to the right, we see a wall in front of us. The vertical wall bends over here, and on the edge of it there are two pitons, using them we have the next belaying point. Getting under the rock, a few metres further inside, we can look back on the pit through a window. The ground is not of snow anymore here, but of ice. A bolt is in the rock by the side of the window and by using it, the descent down the ice-slope is possible. The descent should be started on the right side of the slope, where the ceiling is quite low. Since by starting on the other side, we will slip back to this part anyway. The angle of the icewall is various. At first it is mildly sloping, – at this part it is worth it to observe the icecrystals on the ceiling, – then comes a longer vertical section. On the bottom we reach a small terrace, in the middle of which some icecoloumns are standing. Passing on the right side of these, we can continue or descent. A steep section follows, then another terrace, from which a short section is still in front of us. The ground of the hall is partly covered by ice, and partly by debris, but on top of these there is also a thin layer of ice. Under the icewall a few metres long ice-tunnel can be found, it is worth it to crawl inside it so that the others can see the light of the lamp visible through the ice. The room ends in a tight crack, in which we can climb up for a while. When going outside, be aware not to leave a knot on the end of the rope, for it can easily get stuck between the rock and the ice. The cave is rather cold, but is clean, thus it may be useful to use trekking boots instead of rubber boots inside. For the descent on top of the ice, an empty bag used as a sleigh might be useful.

Visiting the Hamlet-cave (Pestera Câput) © Szabó Bors

technical plan

In most of the caves of Padis there is an extensive danger of flooding to be feared, the most shocking proofs for this can be detected in the Hamlet-cave. The entrence to the cave leads a wide stream inside the heart of the limestone-mass. On the left side the riverbed consists of smooth bare rock, which suggests that occasionally there is a huge amount of water descending down in it. The stream enters the cave with a cascading waterfall, but by using the roundabout passage our feet can stay dry. The first room and the following passage both contain an enormous amount of bolts down till the bottom of the pit, the ropes can be secured by everyone according to own needs and the amount of water present, thus the exact coordinates of the bolts will not be a matter of further description. The opening rein can be secured on the huge rock on top of the slope on the right handside of the waterfalls. A horizontal passage starts from this point to our left, which takes us behind the waterfalls by skirting a huge rock. Walking along the passage we get to the next room, where 8 meters below we can see the flow of the stream. Bolts can be found on our right behind an edge on the rock. After a few short horizontal sections on the rope we can relax in a water-carved cauldron. The room below us grows narrow, but we can proceed further on horizontal sections above the next waterfall. By climbing a further 5-6 meters ahead, we will get so far from the waterfall that in case of low water output we can descend from this point to the bottom of the shaft, but can also choose the other way, which leads further straight ahead on the opposite wall, and thus we will descend only at the end of the crack, which is a safe way even when the water is high up.

The shaft is about 30 meters deep and the bottom of the riverbed with its pebbles and deposits is rarely visible to our eye. On most days throughout the year the ground is covered by a contiguous lake. On those days going further into the cave is either absolutely impossible or even if it is possible, it is extremely dangerous. The heavy tree-trunks can be moved by the flowing water at any time, and in the steam and noise of the stream both the distance of vision and that of hearing are much shortened. With much luck – in times of long drought or lasting frost– the passages may be totally dried out, and at these times the furthest point of the cave is easily accessible within 15-20 minutes. The width and height of the passage is quite significant all throughout the way. The ground of the chambers, which follow each other, is covered with pebbles and rocks, while in narrow passages, in curves the stucked deposits and branches form twig-dams, which consist not only of brushwood, but of tree-trunks 10-20-30 cms in width. Their stability is various, but by taking good care of our steps, we can pass these in safety. These dams are regularly rearranged by the floods, thus we cannot hope for the less stable constructions to have fallen down throughout the years and only the stable ones to have remained. Both in the sidewalls and ceiling stuck beams can be observed, which unambiguously refer to the possibility of water filling out the whole diameter of the passages. The wide, winding corridor is cascading into the depth, in many chambers sidepassages can be seen, the water of which covers the bigger rocks of the main tunnel with smoother and smaller pebbles and sand. The corridors connecting the chambers form sifon-like forms on three parts of the cave, where the riverbed is a few meters higher than normally. Finally we reach the end of the cave, where a sifon can be found, on its bank signs of subsiding can be observed. It is probable, that in times of even longer draught the waterlevel of this lake may fall as much, that there would be free passing to the inner sides of the cave.

How to get to the caves of the Barsa-cirque

We go northwards from the Glavoj-meadowon the carway towards the saddle. The road turns widely to the left, then curving to the right it goes straight ahead in a valley between two hills, and passes through a wide pasture. Here it first crosses the red stripe sign. (The sign is not visible, but on the right side of the road, about 20-30 meters farther a board signals the way.) A bit further ahead on the left a gully-like road leads us to a saddle, this one is the yellow stripe sign, on which we proceed further. When reaching the saddle – which is the border of the Bársza-cirque (Groapa de la Barsa) – the road crosses different paths, wide roads, goes through small clearings, spots of forests, then finally starts to slope downwards. We reach a wide crossing, on the other side of which, a bit to the right the entrance of the Barsa-icecave (Ghetarul Barsa) is visible. On the road we go towards northeast and follow the yellow circle sign. The road is winding frequently, and at times it is hard to follow the signs. But by the needed amount of attention we soon reach a steep valley, which the sign leads down to. Here we find the Zapodie-cave's (Pestera Zapodie) 8 meter high entrance.

Visiting the Zapodie-cave © Szabó Bors

technical plan Since the ground of the steep entrance passage is covered with snow, ice, rocks and rotting trunks, the rope necessary in the inner parts of the cave can already be used in this passage. In the rock on our right handside we can find suitable rigging holes for this manoeuvre. Starting off from this wall, we can find the first bolt at shoulder-height, which is followed by two others in another 3-4 meters. These rope-sections are almost horizontal, the third bolt is above a stuck-in stone, by the side of which we can make our descent. (It would be advisable to put in another bolt on the other side of the stone to make the way of the rope smoother.) After a few meters' descent and another few meters of iceslope we can make a deviation with the help of the edge of the opposite wall, though we have to be quite careful since from this the strap can slide off easily! 40 meters of iceslope comes next in a winding passage of changing steepness, the rope touches the walls at quite a few places, avoiding this would be possible by inserting 5-6  new bolts. Then the passage widens out to a small chamber, but the lessening steepness of the passage is only temporary, since a few steps ahead the chamber continues in an 8 meters deep pit. Rigging points are on the right handside.

After the pit our way continues in a tight, meandering passage, where there is no need for a rope. The ground is still covered with ice for a short while, but after a small downward climb it is succeeded by debris and the temprature rises as well. The characteristic passage width is 20-30 cms, and advancement is made difficult by stuck-in stones and iceblocks. The height of the passage is much bigger than its width all the way through. The meander is relatively steep, with many easy and one quite difficult downward climb. At this latter it is advisable to use a 7-8 meters long clutching rope, which can be rigged inside a hole on the left side. Then the height of the passage lowers, and after getting through an S-shaped tight passage, which is followed by a short crawling part – where we can feel a significant draught and thus we get inside a much wider passage, which is significantly warmer, than the previous parts. The entrance passage of the cave is extremely flood endangered up to this section! The tight and crawling passages turn into a sifon even at the minimal amount of water flowing in and also the almost hundred meters long meander can easily be flooded.

From this part on, we can proceed easily on the wide passages of the cave. The stream runs into sifons at some parts, but we can get round these in ox-bows, at other parts we go through enormous chambers. The Clay-chamber (Sala Argilei) is 138 meters deep down, its length is 57, its width is 24, its height is 80 meters. The dripstone and sinter decoration gets richer towards the end of the cave. A passage divided by pools and small waterfalls leads to the pond at the end point situated at the depth of 162 meters, where a 10 meters long clutching rope can be very helpful.

Visiting the Barsa-icecave © Szabó Bors

technical plan On the left side of the cave's gate a small path leads us to the other entrance of the cave. Although this entrance is smaller than the other, getting into the cave is much easier. This first room of the entrance is also lighted by a pothole on top of the ceiling.

On the steep slope of the "main entrance" we can carefully descend, but at times we must get round tree-trunks and spots of snow. Where the passage widens a bit, we can hide or unnecessary equipment inside niches inside the left wall, but we should be aware of the fact that even tourists dare to descend down to this point. From now on the ground is covered by a continuous sheet of ice, present even in the summer months. We can secure an about 30 meters long clutching rope to the ring on the left side, thus making our safe descent and ascent on the slippery slope. Another chamber follows, where the ground is almost plain, but is still covered by ice. There are short cracks starting out to various directions, we must enter one of them on our left. After a few meters we get to a crossing. To the left the other entrance of the cave can be found, if we enter through this, there is no need for ropes. Turning to the right will take us to the inner parts of the cave. There is no ice in this widening passage, that takes us to a chamber. We have to climb up the opposite wall to a few meters height. The ground in this crack is covered by muddy clay, which is soon changed into a meander out of rock leading to a 6 meters deep pit. After the descent we have to go through the small crack opposite the rope, then by climbing down a bit to the left, we get to a wider passage. We follow the flow of the water. At most parts this tunnel is not wider than a meter. The active waterflow has carved out a 20-30 cms wide bed in its bottom, which crosses the older, inactive bed many times. We get to the first waterfall without any difficulties. The opening rein can be started from a strap tied round the stuck-in stone on the right side, and a bit further ahead there are three bolts to be found above the pit. (Two to the left, one to the right.) To avoid getting wet, do not descend down to the bottom of the pit, but try to find the white dripstone columns about 2 meters above the bottom! Fixing straps on these, we can continue our descent. It is advisable to use more than one of these columns, since the damage done to them by ropes is already visible on the lower ones. This section is covered by a mass of fluid clay, which is quite slippery. We get to a spacy chamber, on the opposite side of which the stream disappears inside a closing crack, thus after a feww meters we have to climb upwards. The upper passage – at about 10 meters height – widens out a bit and we soon reach the next pit in which we descend a further 13 meters. Bolts are on the left side, in the upper third of the descent – by using an edge of the rock, parallel with the wall of the crack – a deviation has to be made. The descent beside the waterfall leads us to the streambed again. From now on there is no need for ropes, but it is not worth it to leave our harness as well, since the end of the cave is quite near. Following the stream, the way is barricaded by two dripstone cascades. The first can be skirted to its right, but the other forms a tight passage on the other side of which a puddle is awaiting us. Feet first, on our right side is the method to start off here, avoiding the water. On the other side the passage widens out, and we soon get to the last waterfall. By climbing up to about 5-10 meters above the crack we can get back to the stream with dry feet. The water flows through chambers decorated by dripstones. From here we get easily to the pond, which forms the sifon at the end point and can also follow sidebranches on the right side, most of which end in chimneys.

How to get to the caves of the Arieseni-cirque © Bagi Attila

There is a paved road going out towards the north from the main square of Girda de Sus. We need to follow its ascent in a narrow valley. After about a kilometre the valley splits into two, here we turn to the right, and go straight ahead for another kilometre till we see an enormous cavity on our left, on the other bank of the stream. This cavity is an excellent bivouac, 20-25 people can in it comfortably, there is even a bridge to the other bank, and there are benches at the entrance, as well as drinkable water a bit ahead by the side of the road. Proceeding on the road, in about 50 meters we find another bridge, which takes us to the John Gate Cave (Pestera Poatra Lui). Through the day entrance to this 120 m long cave is only possible with guidance, by paying the appropriate entrance fee, but at night it is easy to sneak in through the entrance door. Going back along the road from the bivouac, the riverbed widens a bit after 50-100 m. Here we can cross the water and follow the ascending path through the trees on the steep and rocky hillside. There is no tourist sign along the path, but it also passes by two smaller caves. For a glimpse at the first one, we have to leave the path towards the right, whereas the other is on the left side. From this point the huge collapse in the hillside is easily accessible and that is the entrance to the Zgurestyi-icecave (Ghetarul Zgurasti).

Visiting the Zgurestyi-icecave (Ghetarul Zgurâsti) © Bagi Attila

The path leads exactly to that side of the collapse, from which we can safely descend to the bottom of the chasm without any ropes. In humid, wet weather the descending path can be very slippery, thus we need to be very careful. The entrance chamber is 53 m deep, nearly 100 m long and 60 m wide. Its bottom is full of debris, which is covered by a thin layer of muddy sediment, signaling that the chamber is often filled with water. The depth of the periodic pond here can reach 23 meters, and at such times the inner parts of the cave are not accessible. Finding the way from this point can take a long while if we do not know where to seek. With our back to the entrance slope, we have to cross the pond diagonally to the left, towards a huge rock. From its top there is a passage starting out to the left, when we reach the crossing we have to turn to the right. After 10 m we reach the iron door, which was open at the time of our visit to the cave. A 6-8 m long passage comes next, where the ground is usually covered by water. We can easily climb in opposition above this. The passage goes to a short pit, on the left wall of which we can find bolts for the opening rein and right above the pit there are eyeholes as well. Here an about 10-15 m long rope is needed. After the descent we get to the bank of a pond, which fills the whole chamber in times of high water. We can proceed on its right side, where we need to go through a squeeze and then turn to the left before the sump. We need to climb down on a 1.5 meters long built-in rope ladder, and proceed on a cascade, then finally we find a rope left here on which we climb up and get to another chamber, where a passage full of dripstones shows the way forth. We get to the next chamber after a small ascent, the size of which is almost as big as that of the entrance chamber. The ground is covered by a pond, which is at least 60 m long, its bank consists of slimy, liquid clay. For crossing the pond a boat and a 150 m long pulling string is needed.


15 - 22 August 1999.:

Bagi Attila
Balázs Gábor
Csomós Áron
Juhász Imre (Papp F.)
Kiss Tamás
Kovács Júlia
Kovács Krisztián
Lukácsi Emõke

Mikic, Djordje
Molnár Ágnes
Németh Ákos
Seres Anikó
Somogyi László
Sorecz Éva
Szabó Bors
Szabó Zoltán

Szendrõi Zsolt
Tóth Zsófia
Tusz Károly
Varsányi Zoltán
Vass Szilvia
Vászovics Nóra
Verespusztai Gábor

13 - 19 August 2000.:

Bagi Attila
Gyõrfi Zsuzsa
Molnár Ágnes
Nagy Balázs
Nagy Géza

Seres Anikó
Sorecz Éva
Szabó Bors
Takáts Pál
Török Zsófia

Tusz Károly
Varsányi Zoltán
Vászovics Nóra
Verespusztai Gábor

Last amendment: 15.05.2002