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Saturday - The preparations of the equipments and the filling of gas for the planned dives of this summer begins at eight o'clock in the morning after the usual breakfast. The compressor fills the chosen tanks with gas, the booster fills the small O2 tanks of the closed circuit while I dedicate myslef to the maintenance of the lights. In the most beautiful moment, when everything spins perfectly, I hear a dry hit in the area dedicated to the refill of oxygen and, after a couple of seconds, there's a strong blow: I race out of the shed and see flames jumping over 5m high fed by the 40l oxygen tank. The situation is precarious because there are other 40l tanks of O2, helium and argon near the flames: I jump forward crossing the jet to remove the ten big tanks from the point of the biggest heat, I succeed to close the air valve that feeds the booster and after a few instants the jet of fire is calming; at this point for stopping the flames I don't have to do anything elser than closing the valve of the O2 tank. Result: of the booster doesn't remain more than the connection unit, of the feeding hoses doesn't more than the metallic part of the connections and of the big monkey wrench that was near doesn't remain more than the head and the tail, because the rest has melted like it was made of wax.

Distressed and resigned to have lost a comfortable support and more than 1.400 Euros but happy not to have been hurt, I continue to fill the tanks with the classical and reliable system of overflowing.

In the late afternoon Jean Jacques arrives and takes an incredulous look at the poor remains of my ex equipment of oxygen recompression.

We have therefore a lot of work to do and after some reflection we begin to unload the van to select his equipments. Fortunately Davide arrives to pick up some tanks and, for a good part, he lends us a hand.

Sunday - Long day of preparations: we begin at eight o'clock in the morning and after having finished filling the tanks, we effect that little of maintenance of our two closed circuits Voyager, which is necessary before an expedition, disinfecting them, cleaning them and replacing the scrubber. Jean Jacques towards evening decides to modify the foot piece of my new fins and I am thankful because it is a work that I hate. We end to load the van at eleven o'clock in the evening.

Monday - Departure at 03.00 when it is still dark and the most unusual thing, considering the season, is the outside temperature of 13°. With the sun rising as predictable, the temperature will reach the seasonal levels and the trip becomes a sauna considering the fact that the van of Jean Jacques is without air conditioning. I cannot do to other than imagining Paolo and Emilio who, leaving from Lecco more or less together with us, follow the same route and enjoy the refreshment of the air conditioning.

Arrived at the place, even before we go to look for a place to sleep, we go to the spring: the things are changed completely in comparison to last year since some plants have fallen and partially obstruct the passage; I slip among the branches and arrive at the metallic ladder that is still in good state even if at the first piece two bolts that anchor it to the wall are missing and the ropes that hold it tgether don't seem to be in good shape. I put everything in order in the best possible way, I approach the water that has a visibility which is definetely better than last year and I knock on wood that everything will succeed in the best way.

With a lot of fortune we find a hostel at Piaggine with three free rooms, since at Laurino where we planned to stay, there is a Jazz festival and everything is booked.

Tuesday - In the morning the tasks are divided in the following way: Paolo and Emilio will clear the entry removing the fallen plant by cutting branches and roots that currently block the passage; then they will double the ropes that hold the ladder; Jean Jacques, Lorenzo, arrived from Genoa, and myself will arrange the equipments and chose the material to take to the spring. The requested time  is longer than expected and when we reach the spring at 12.00 o'clock we still have to transport the whole material to the entrance.

While Jean Jacques is preparing for the first dive, me and the others arrange all the necessary equipment next to the water. At 14.00 o'clock everything is ready for the departure of Jean Jacques: his task is to verify the conditions of the shaft, that from the entry leads directly to -64m. He is back on the surface after one hour: he has laid out a new line up to the beginning of the tunnel at -67m and he has positioned a couple of decompression tanks. Around 15.00 Mario arrives from Caserta. He will stay for a few days to help us.

It is by now past 16.00 when it is my turn to enter the water to take some pictures: we descend the shaft quickly even if Jean Jacques has stirred up the visibility in the first piece quite a lot; the visibility, also in the zone not passed by Jean Jacques is about 3m, not really the best for taking pictures. Once reached the exploration reel left at -67m, I begin to lay ot line while Lorenzo takes pictures. We reach -82m where I leave the exploration reel after having tied off the line. I also leave a 12 l tank with 16% of oxygen for emergency. As the visibility is not worsened unless in some points we return still taking pictures.


When we reach the shaft that leads to surface, I observe enormous tangles of line, from which cautiously stay distant. At about -54m, on the left side in ascent, I observe an opening that I go to take a look at: an intersection to be explored. I finish the decompression about ten minutes before Lorenzo, I succeed in climbing the ladder of the shaft before he is back on the surface. Lorenzo, who is not a caver, troubles a little to ascend but the will that has driven him until this point, the will to take pictures in such a different environment from that in which he works normally makes him overcome every handicap in an admirable way. We leave a part of the equipment on the edge of the water: fins, lightings, exploration reel and bailout tanks.


Wednesday – Lorenzo and myself dive for first with the intention to take some more pictures. I go down quickly to continue laying out line and to take a 20lt bailout tank the most distant possible. I reach the exploration reel of Jean Jacques, I begin to lay out line, I reach a corner of about 90° on the left: in this point there is the old line, after the winter and spring floods, it has been transformed rather into a danger than a reliable guideline. After having laid out about ten meters of line, the exploration reel that I am using is blocked: I am at -90m. I don't waste time for trying to solve the problem, I decide to cut the line and to continue my progression using the line of my long exploration reel with 280m of well meter-marked line. I continue, but a little before reaching the following shaft that leads from -100m to -125m the old line that, not being tense, is twisted to the handle of my exploration reel and blocks it, which forces me to stop; for resolving the problem definitely, I cut about ten meters of dangerous line to small pieces. I finally reach the shaft: the line seems to be well positioned but it is not meter-marked, for which it is better to lay out a new one that will be useful for the topography of the cave.

I begin the return after having left a 20lt emergency bailout tank on the edge of the shaft at -101m and 168 m from the entrance, and at about 80m of depth I meet Lorenzo who immediately takes advantage of the situation: he turns on the powerful lighthings to take pictures. Everything continues well: at -65m I start to rearrange the heap of old line pieces accumulated by the floods so that they are not presenting a danger anymore, helped by the powerful lights of Lorenzo who perfectly illuminates the environment around me. We ascend slowly: strangely I am more cold than usually, even if the water temperature in this spring is not very cold: 12° (thermometer of the VR3). At -12m I feel some pain in the right knee, I lengthen the decompression a little and I continue to ascend very slowly. The shaft to be climbed up with the equipment to reach the outside doesn't help for sure for which, at the surface, I continue to breathe pure oxygen for about ten minutes from my Voyager for precaution and everything passes.

Mario dives for taking a bailout tank to -36m and to remove the old lines from the initial shaft.

Jean Jacques has gone to the station of Paestum to pick up Josè who arrives from Switzerland and stays for a few days to lend to us a hand.

Back in the car, the pain returns in an acute way and, reaching the hostel, I decide to lay down in my room.

At the time of supper I still have shivers. It might be the cold accumulated in the two preceding days, the work, or who knows: I opt for staying calmly in bed.


Thursday - Due to a pain in the knee that has not allowed me to sleep very well, maybe an inflammation of the usual ligaments, after breakfast I stay at the hostel to dedicate to the maintenance of various equipment. Lorenzo and Eva, his companion, pick up the equipments and prepare their return to Genoa with some sadness: already, by now Lorenzo has routine in climbing the ladders with the whole equipment on the back and Eva succeeds in wading the river without getting her feet wet.

Jean Jacques is dedicating himself to the topography of the initial shaft, even if the visibility is decreasing because of the continuous dives: as there is no exchange of water, the clay present on the walls remains in suspension.

Josè gets in contact with the spring. Paolo and Emilio as always do everything to help with the transport of the material.

Friday - for precaution I still remain stopped, even if the pains have disappeared. The desire tells me to dive, but logic recommends to me to wait. Mario says goodbye and returns home.

Jean Jacques, hardly entered the water realizes to have a big hole in the right foot of the dry suit and after a few minutes he finds himself wet up to above the knee. He decides to call the dive, aware of the fact to have the possibility to continue the topography only the following day.

Josè goes down in open circuit to verify if the intersection in the initial shaft at -55m continues, but passes only a few meters, the fracture ascends to end in a dead end. In ascent the view of the shaft is a pleasant variety.

In the evening, after an endless trip because of the traffic, Massimo joins us arriving from Livorno.

Saturday - The only one to get into the water is Jean Jacques, he will work on the topography: the run time of his dive is 95 minutes and the topography is effected until -90m. Unfortunately the visibility has deteriorated terribly and the drawing of the sections of the tunnel is not possible.

Sunday - Finally after three days of impatience, I pick up again with the diving. The days available for the exploration by now are few. My minimum objective is to reach the limit of exploration of last year. Everything has already been prepared yesterday: Today I only have to put on the dry suit and go.

I feel clumsy in the big dry suit as I have to go down the shaft loaded with the closed circuit and 12kg of additional weights that serve to compensate the volume of air that is inside of this dry suit. Once reached the water, I put on the fins, gear up with the two big 20lt bailout tanks, pick up the lighting, the emergency reel and after having prebreathed the scrubber, I begin the descent. The visibility is worsened so much that I don't see more than one meter in distance; I reach the bottom of the shaft at -67m, I set the PpO2 to 1.2 and enter the sub horizontal tunnel that remains for about twenty meters until the depth of -70m: there I am at the second shaft that leads me quickly to -80m. In comparison to the preceding one the tunnel now leads to the right, I pass it for about twenty meters and reach -90m at a distance of 152m; after a little while there is another sharp curve of 70° to the left, about ten meters more and I am near the third shaft. I reach the exploration reel at -101m, I grasp it and descend: having passed it last year, I know that I will reach -125m at 234m from the entry. On the bottom of the shaft I find the old line broken and dangerously entangeled: I try to fix it somehow but the low visibility doesn't help me and I decides to leave it in a corner; I almost take one minute to look for the horizontal tunnel, I finally find it, I fix the exploration line to a comfortable tie off point on the bottom: once entered the tunnel, I have the impression that in comparison to above, the direction change is of 90°. Now I am swimming with all necessary calm: after this section of about twenty meters, there is a curve to the left; from -127m I ascend a couple of meters and there I am on the edge of the fourth shaft. The visibility is so low that not even with the powerful and penetrating HID lamps that Giòsub has furnished, I succeed in seeing the small continuation that leads to the left a little before the fourth shaft, that I observed last year. I tie off the line on the top, descend quickly and make another tie off at the bottom. At -138m and a distance of 248m there I am at the same point that I already reached last year: the desire is high and I give in to the temptation, I start to swim in environments never seen before by man using an inferior rhythm to the one that I use in less deeper parts. After about fifteen meters and a sharp curve to the left, the tunnel indicates to be in ascent but in effects, it ascents brusquely just another ten meters further: I decide to stop here. I have to pass the tunnel before beginning to reach a lower depht; I am 25 minutes into the dive when I ascend from -138m: from here starts the slow ascent that will bring me to the levels of longer decompression stops.

After two hours Josè arrives with warm tea, the battery of the electric heating vest, the ankle weights and the writing slite on which I write how much decompression I still have to pass and the result of the dive. The time passes by and when the visits of Josè finish, it is Massimo's turn to replace him in the pleasant tea service and change of the battery. As Massimo has never been to this spring himself, once verified that everything proceeds for the best, makes a stroll to the bottom of the shaft.

I am back at the surface after 275 minutes and for precaution my closed circuit is brought to the surface by Massimo while I can go up the ladder relieved in all calm.

I change, I take the bag with the undergarments to take them to dry and take the steep path that leads to the van; I have just arrived when I start to feel a pain in the knee; without wasting time I get into our portable decompression chamber, where Jean Jacques ricompresses me: at -1m the pain disappears, nevertheless I go down to -6m for 30 minutes so that when I get out everything has passed.

Monday - Castelcivita tour: We go to see friends and we enter to visit the beautiful tourist cave that a couple of us have never seen before.

Tuesday - Jean Jacques enters water to position a scooter at -65m and to continue the topography, admitted that the conditions of the visibility are improved in comparison to Sunday. I remain at the hostel to prepare my equipment, after this I reach the others at the cave doing a little joging of 6-7 kms.

The dive of Jean Jacques lasts two hours and the topographical relief is maded up to the shaft at -101m.

Although the visibility has slightly improved, in many points it is not possible to draw the bigger sections.

Wednesday - Last available day for diving. I am ready early to leave the hostel and at 10.00 we are already at the cave. The day is fresh and I think that I won't suffer the warmth while wearing the dry suit. Jean Jacques goes away for some errands while myself, who in theory should get ready and depart, I discover some little surprises. In fact, verifying the 20lt bailout tank that I should use as emergency and also as diluent for the closed circuit, I find out with enormous amazement that there are only 40 bars left in the inside. The strange thing is the fact, that at the end of my dive of Sunday, there were 240Bar in the tank, that the cylinder remained for three days in the forest, was closed and geared up with a regulator and that the O-ring between valve and tank for sure is in a good state: will the elf of the wood have made a party breathing 5/80? Unfortunately, for this reason, almost one hour is lost for restoring the material.

I speed to the hostel and prepare another tank; when I reach the cave again I assemble the tank, I put the small things in order to be brought to the edge of the water, I take out the things to wear from the sack and I realize that the cable for the electric heating vest misses. This time it is Massimo who goes back to the hostel to pick it up while I begin to change. This costs us another half an hour.

Finally with all the necessary equipment I succeed in getting ready, I reach the water, that has gone down more than one meter in this week and it has almost reached the low level that we have observed last year. For precaution we have connected a cave ladder to the fixed ladder in order to facilitate the entry and the exit from the water.

An instant before departing I try to switch on the two lamps on the helmet, but they don't want to work. Furious with myself to have forgotten to try them once connected to the helmet like usually I always do, I decide to depart anyway. With me I have still two 1W LED lamps, the White lux and a 10W HID hand lamp from Giòsub.

The visibility is of about 3m: Once reached the bottom of the shaft, I pick up the scooter Lorenzo has lent me, that is more apropriate for this type of cave than mine and speed off. I stop immediately to shorten the tie cord, and to fix the hand lamp to it. I reach -126m after 11 minutes: even if the visibility doesn't want to improve, after only 2 minutes I am at the last shaft that goes down to -138m (VR3 computer, while the depht meter indicates -142m). After about thirty horizontal meters there is the exploration reel that I had left, I grab it and continue to pass the tunnel that ascends losing some meters of depht; a brief horizontal section and it starts again to be in ascent. I am at -124m.: the tunnel ascends brusquely again for which decide to leave the scooter and to continue by fin propulsion but alas, after having reached -120m, the meander continues in horizontal. Leaving the scooter I have also left the 10W HID hand lamp because it is fixed to the tube of it and as a source of light, I now have only the two small White lux with me that don't even allow me to even see the sides of the meander in this turbidity. It seems definetely not to be my day, even if I have succeeded in exploring 65m of new tunnel. I feel psychologically tired and although the autonomy of the closed circuit would allow me to go still much further, I stop, I tie off the line to a nice stone, and begin the return.

I realize only now not to have positioned the line well during penetration, even if obviously the layout, advancing with a scooter, often is of little precision: in fact the return is slower than expected. After being descent to -138m, ascent the shaft that leads to -125m, descent to -127m, I arrive at the bottom of the shaft that will lead me to -104m, the depht at which I will start with the decompression. 30 minutes have passed and I am in the middle of the shaft to wait that the last 2 minutes of the deep stop pass. Then after respecting the various stops, I reach the initial shaft after 80 minutes: I pass the time transporting the bailout tanks, which means three 20lt tanks and one 12lt tank. The scooter also serves me to pull me through the more narrow passages and I can avoid to work more than necessary. The extraordinary is to verify, by observing the design of the erosions (schellops) on the walls, the confirmation of the hypotheses of an inversion of the current: probably, in a remote epoch the water entered the cave that therefore acted as drainage while in our days with the water that comes out, the cave has become a spring. These phenomenons are not rare but with the imagination it is necessary to know how to imagine other scenarios.

In the shaft, while I am am in ascent, I pick up the decompression tanks placed at -50m and -36m, and after 185 minutes, while I am at -25 m, as planned I am met by Josè. I put on the ankle weights, he passes me the battery and the water bottle while I pass him a part of the material, slowly, to avoid that something falls on the bottom of the shaft. The relief that comes from the warmth of the electric heating vest is always pleasant, the tea after having tasted is always hot and I leave it to cool; with the contact of the water in a couple of minutes it will be perfect. Just as I finish drinking I see Josè, this time with the writing slate, on which I write down the total result of the exploration: 95m of new discoveries for which in total the cave measures 343m (the flooded part), the depth at the end of the exploration limit is 120m, while the maximum depth remains 138m.

I pass the whole rest of the equipment to José who leaves; I remain only for about fifty minutes, when again I hear an infernal noise: it is just the noise of the bubbles that pass over the walls. I see some lights draw near and it is Josè again who thoughtfully brings me some more tea and a new battery. My decompression proceeds well, I don't need anything else; Josè waits that I finish drinking, he signals me that at the next visit he won't be there anymore and ascends. The time goes by quickly: among the many thoughts that are on my mind those about the decompression problems come up in these last dives worry me: I conclude that they are caused by the lack of training due to a forced stop because of a stay in hospital for a necessary heart control and the medicines that I am forced to take among which a beta blocker, etc. I continue the decompression following the chart but above all following my instinct and my feelings.


The last visits with the bottle of tea and the exchange batteries of the heating vest is made by Massimio, as planned. By now I am at -6m and I let my companions take away the whole equipment in excess while with me, besides the closed circuit, everything that remains is the oxygen tank and a tank with an EAN mixture. After 30 minutes I ascend to -3m and everything is all right but when I reach -2m I start to feel a pain in the knee: there we are again, I return to -6m and continue with pure oxygen: the closed circuit has still t a long autonomy which allows me to stay another 30 minutes in all calm, before I begin to ascend slowly. At -1m again some small pain, what to do? I am not cold, I have enough gas, this time I return to -3m and I stay another about twenty minutes, I try to ascend again and this time everything is ok.

409 minutes have passed since my departure. For precaution, while I am taking off the whole equipment I keep on breathing oxygen from the circuit at the surface: After 15 minutes I definitely finish: I hand over the whole stuff to a Massimo who by now is shivering a little, considering that he has almost remained one hour more than expected waiting with the damp wet suit. The moment in which I take off the circuit is in fact a moment of fear because with that gadget on the shoulders, I could manage an emergency and get back to recompress, but without I have to ascend the dry shaft up to the exit of the cave to have any kind of help. Fortunately there is no more pain and I decide to ascend the ladders; outside the cave I see that almost all the equipment has been brought to the car: a good job from all the members of the small team.


Outside the cave before I get changed there are some smart jokes of which I cannot escape, a brief description of the dive, a look at the plants that overhang the entry of the cave, with the hope of seeing them again in the same place next year and not to have to take the axe again to enter the cave. I change, we gather the last things and we move toward the cars, from this position we can see the castled village of Laurino in all its beauty, surrounded by soft white clouds.

At supper it is impossible not to remember and to share the various moments spent in water during the exploration with everybody, the assistance dives, the tasks of preparation outside the water, the transport of the material to the car, besides the synthesis on the achieved results: we have succeeded to effect the topography of the cave from the entry up to -105m.

Lorenzo calls from at home and tells me that, considered the precarious conditions of visibility, we have succeeded to get a good photographic documentation.

On my behalf I am not only sufficiently satisfied for the achieved result but, considering my physical conditions, also for the way I have passed my personal test.

Emilio Casari
Eva Bacchetta
Jean Jacques Bolanz
Josè Lamblelet
Lorenzo Del Veneziano
Luigi Casati
Mario Mantio
Massimo Ziino
Paolo Cesana

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