Author Topic: Under Etna...  (Read 3078 times)

Offline Ed W

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Under Etna...
« on: September 13, 2009, 08:43:51 pm »
Just spent a week looking at some of the lava tubes on Mount Etna.  Managed to visit about half a dozen or so of the 200+ that have been recorded.  Caves visited were;

Grotta di Ladri, which is signposted (sometimes as Grotta Ladroni) from the road.  It is only an 80m walk from the car, but the cave is only about 50m or so long.  Many adventure companies take paying guests down here for a pretty uninspiring experience.  The cave has some interest however, as it wa smodified in the past to turn it into an ice store.  This involved driving a series of shafts into the roof of the cave, and carving steps into the steep entrance slope.

Grotta di Cassone is unbelievably even more conveniently located, possibly the shortest walk from the car of any cave I have ever visited;

The cave consists of about 200m or so of pleasant large passage upflow to a seal and a short unstable choke below the road down flow.  Again tourist companies take adventure tours down this cave - bythe coach load!  We declined a visit to the nearby Grotta del Coniglio due to the amount of refuse tipped in it by picnickers from the nearby parking spot.

Grotta dei Lamponi is a bit more remote.  Requiring about a 1.5 to 2 hour walk in.  Either along a forested track, or across the 2003 lavas from Piano Provenzana.  This lava flow caused quite a lot of damage;

The walk is worth it, as the cave is a fine braided tube with about 700m of passage.  Plans to visit the nearby Grotta dei Inglesi (Cave of the English) and Grotta del Labarinto as the weather broke and we hurried back to avoid the worst of the storm.

After taking the cable car to the top of Etna, we visited a couple of caves on the western side of the mountain.  Grott dell'Intralio is named after a small hill and is again located close to the road.  Interesting cave, with several branches and a small shrine in one end.  Grotta del Santo (aka Grotta San Nicolo), the entrance lies about 800m from the car, and contains a shrine to the local saint (hence the name).  Apparently there is nearly a kilometer of passage in this complex cave.  Most of the passages are low and there are lots of bats.

The final trip we did is perhaps the best that we saw.  Grotta dei Tre Livelli (cave of the three levels) is 304m deep, and 1150m long.  Again the entrance is right next to the road, and a 25ft ladder and line is needed for the 6m pitch just inside.  A short bit of tat (5-10m) is useful as a handline below the pitch.  The cave leads both up and downflow from the bottom of the pitch.  Downflow is fine large passage for about 400m to a lava seal, with one low section er route.  Upflow leads under teh upper entrance (no exit without tackle) then to a low section followed by a remarkable sttep slope, which is tiring to ascend as the floor is loose scoria.  This gets ever steeper until the final seal is reached.  This is a fine cave!

« Last Edit: September 13, 2009, 08:53:22 pm by Ed W »
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Offline richardg

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Re: Under Etna...
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2009, 08:05:08 pm »
Wow Ed you certainly get around!

Really interesting write up and photos.

Thanks for sharing your adventures, I look forward to reading more, does your group do a journal as well?
I'd like to see some maps etc of these places you visit.

Keep up letting us know of your interesting explorations in exotic places. :thumbsup:


Offline zippy

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Re: Under Etna...
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2009, 11:11:19 am »
Nice pics  :)

Have visited Grotte dei Ladroni myself - as you say, more interesting for the history than for the speleology!  An attempt to visit Grotta dei Lamponi, Grotta delle Femmine and Grotta delle Palombe this year was thwarted by a torrential downpour, thunder & lightning, 6 inches of snow and a major pulling of a can't-be-ar5ed muscle - all within the space of two hours!

Sicily also has some very interesting Limestone areas - in particular the Madonie mountains in the central north are hosts to some fair sized caves - the deepest of which is knocking on 400m deep if memory serves me correctly. 

"The world is a book.  Those who do not travel read only one page"  St. Augustine.

Offline zippy

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Re: Under Etna...
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2010, 01:04:05 pm »
Just got round to publishing a few snapshots from our furtles under Etna - a similar tour to Ed's - although this was more by coincidence than by design.

For any cavers heading out that way, some of the systems make for a worthwhile addition to a day's hiking, and several places need little more than a hand torch!.  If anyone is heading that way and wants further info - just PM me.

"The world is a book.  Those who do not travel read only one page"  St. Augustine.