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In the Wielka Sniezna cave Exploration
of the deepest
cave in Poland
- Jaskinia

Witold Jokiel
Sekcja Grotolazow Wroclaw

The limited surface of the karst area in the West Tatra and the intense exploration of the homeland mountains by Polish cavers resulted in a general shortage of obvious exploration targets on the surface. The era of spectacular discoveries of sizeable new caves is practically over. It does not mean that finding an entirely new cave in the Tatra is impossible. Such cases still occur, but their importance within the whole scope of caving in Poland became marginal in the recent years. The main stress is now oriented at the underground exploration of the caves known for decades, searching for new series and discovering new parts. Several major exploration projects are now underway in the Tatra; the most important and the most advanced among them seems to be the exploration of the longest and deepest cave in Poland Jaskinia Wielka Sniezna (Great Snowy Cave). By coordination through the Tatra National Park, which covers the whole of the Polish Tatra, the work in Sniezna is conducted by nearly all caving clubs in the country; the most persistantly by cavers from Wroclaw. Sniezna cave, discovered in 1959 for a short time occupied the sixth positon on the list of the world's deepest caves. In the course of time it connected with other caves, and finally, after connecting in 1996 with Wielka Litworowa it became a very extensive alpine-type system with numerous entrances, 814 of vertical extent and over 18 km of total length.
The system now comprises Jaskinia Sniezna, Jaskinia Nad Kotlinami, Jaskinia Jasny Aven and Jaskinia Wielka Litworowa. The first three of them are situated in the higher, western part of the Mala Laka Valley, the last lies in the neighbouring Mietusia Valley in a hanging cirque, named Dolina Litworowa. The whole area belongs to the nest of high peaks in the main range of the Tatra - Czerwone Wierchy. The exploration of the main series in the Jaskinia Wielka -Sniezna was ready in the sixties; this must regarded as a success, as despite the now obvious downward direction of exploration, the techniques and equipmet used at that time, as well as psychological barriers connected with the depth and distance, controlled the progress of exploration. All obvious downward leads were pushed then. Section of the Wielka Sniezna cave, click for bigger one
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