Thursday, 15 September 2011

Mallorca Trip - 16th-30th April 2011 - Part 1

This posting may seem a bit late, but bear in mind the trip was before this blog existed - so I have a legitimate excuse! This is more to give people a feel of what the club is all about and what my experiences have been.

The Mallorca trip was my first out of the country with the caving lot (I joined the year before but was in India during the last trip - poor me I know...). Some of the club, like me, were going over for the full two weeks whilst others were joining/abandoning us part way through. I decided on going for the full time so that I didn't feel like I had to cave every day - obviously the benefit of going somewhere like Mallorca is that it has a lot of stuff to see above ground as well. Little did I know during this trip I was going to overcome my natural laziness and go caving or canyoning most days!

In order to get cheap flights we were scheduled to fly from Liverpool at something like 6:30 in the morning, so I had a shock to my system after having the entirety of about 3 hours sleep and having to drag myself back out of bed for my lift to the airport (I am unequivocally not a morning person) . Everything went surprisingly smoothly at the airport, other than a security guard being mildly concerned with something in my bag (turns out it was a stack of flatpack batteries which did look worrying like some sort of incendiary device in the scanner) and before I knew it we were touching down in Mallorca!

After the boring first-day-on-holiday stuff was over we arrived at our villa in the North of the island and all scrabbled to bagsy the best beds. Quickly we settled in to holiday mode, the sun was shining, the beer in the fridge and the pool looked inviting (it was in fact really cold, but that didn't stop us from piling in - or splashing those that were silly enough to get too close). Ben, Mike and Sara went off to a cave whilst the rest of us, after a quick trip to formentor - one of the jagged peninsula's in the north, bunkered down to a night of drinking and relaxation - it's a hard life!

The next day dawned and we all slowly appeared, drawn to the coffee machine like flies to a strip light. Slowly trip plans began to form - some wanted to canyon, others cave and I ended up on a trip down Forat 502 a cave that had evaded the club on the previous year due to being unable to find the entrance. In common with a lot of the good caves in Mallorca, getting to Forat involved a 40 odd minute walk from where we parked the car - slightly arduous but worth it not just for the cave but for the beautiful weather and idyllic scenery as well. Annie, Jinni, Adam and I were the first group off and up to the cave the small entrance hidden behind a bush. The entrance to the cave was a 25 metre pitch so Adam started rigging whilst the three of us lazed around in the sun for a while - this period led to some very attractive strips of sunburn on my legs as my boilersuit was slightly too short! After Adam I was the next to enter, descending through 5-10 metres of entrance before the pitch opened out into the first chamber filled with flowstone and large boulders. Once I was off the rope I joined Adam to explore whilst the others descended finding cave pearls, a calcified goat skull and some popcorn/cauliflower type formations amongst others. For a relatively short cave there really was so much to see, we must've spent 2 hours just wandering around looking at formations!

Afterwards we headed back to the villa for more frivolity and me attempting not to burn the paella I was preparing too much. Later that night there was the first of many midnight swims in the pool which, oddly, seemed to have warmed up a bit!

The next day Will, Mike, Colin, Matt and I decided to tackle one of the more serious caving propositions on the island, Sa Campana - the deepest cave in Mallorca. The starting point for the trip is two thirds of the way down the Sa Calobra road, probably the most windy, intimidating road in Mallorca - it actually goes under itself in places. Once we had recovered from the drive we set off on the steep hour long walk(see a pattern emerging here?) to the mouth of the cave. Copious amounts of sweat later we were changed and ready, following Matt into the cave and down the first pitch - more of a very steep slope than a drop. Leaving the natural light behind we kept on into the cave, soon coming to a massive chamber littered with huge boulders. It really is difficult to get the scale across to those that haven't experienced it, it was more like being on a rocky mountainside on a dark night than being in a cave, complete with having cairns to guide the way. We spent 5 minutes experimenting with echoes (echoing burps are perhaps not my proudest moment but good fun all the same) before descending the next couple of pitches.

Further into the cave we got to another large chamber, but this one had the best formations yet - huge white clumps of stalactites and helictites (wiggly stal formations) hanging like chandeliers from the ceiling. Some of these had been spoilt by stupid people throwing clumps of mud at them, but again it was somewhere I could happily have spent hours and still not seen everything it had to offer. After a crawly bit that was more reminiscent of British caving we came to the third set of pitches and last main chamber which contained more cool formations and a massive gour pool that was bigger than a jacuzzi! On the way out we spent more time looking at formations and had fun getting back up a slick muddy slope (lots of grunting and profanities courtesy of me) and walked back down the hill in the pleasant (and considerably more bearable) evening sun.

I wasn't initially planning to cover this as comprehensively, so keep your eyes peeled for more instalments, to come when I have time and remember what I did! Not to give the game away but these will also contain caving *shock horror* along with some canyoning, general messing around and a beach (complete with a sea cucumber) inside a cave!

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