Wednesday 29 July 2015

Crystal and Chaos Weekend

Hi everyone,

On the weekend of the 8th to 10th of August we are going to Crystal and Chaos caves! These are two caves not to be missed as they are the third and fourth largest caves in Southern Africa and are just stunning.

The trip is for members only and you have to be SRT proficient. If you don't have your own gear (Stop or Rack as abseil device), then space is limited as the club only has 5 spare SRT kits... so first come first serve...

We will meet at 08:30 at the garage at the crossing of the R500 and R501 in Carletonville.  26°22'22.90"S -  27°24'23.86"E.
We need to leave there at 08:40 at the latest to meet the landowner, so please don't be late.
The landowner will open the gate on Saturday morning and open it once more when we leave early on Monday afternoon. For the rest of the weekend the gate will stay closed!

For accommodation you can either camp or stay in a very old farmhouse. The farmhouse has a few beds and old  mattrasses.
For everything else you need to be self sufficient. That means there is no water, electricity or toilets and no shops etc. So bring everything you need for the weekend including a lot of batteries and warm clothes.

If you want to join the trip, phone John Dickie at 073 985 8068. You have to confirm with John, especially if you need any gear!

See you there for this awesome weekend of caving!


Sunday 26 July 2015

Batcave, evening of 24 July 2015 - By Jannus van der Walt

I was under the impression that Batcave will be a dry-cave, but this was not the case…. Actually the 200m walk from the garage where we parked to the entrance through pouring rain, was the wet part… the cave dry and warm.

As I have never visited this cave, I joined Gerry Pretorius and 5 other cavers to this magical place. Yes, that was my expectation from read-ups and other’s comments, and they were not wrong. Batcave officially became my new favourite cave to explore. A combination of big caverns, long wide passages you can walk and explore, narrow passages requiring you to eat dirt, together with climbs and drops requiring you to hang on for dear life…not to mention a very exciting fixed steel-cable ladder – a cave that provides something for all enthusiasts!

With the group being pretty small (7 in total) we had to opportunity to explore all over the cave. Some nice crawls and slides as well as spectacular rock formations and a huge wall with flowstone formations left us with some spectacular images from the cave.  Batcave is however one of those caves where you will do quite a bit of squeezing and crawling. I will therefore advise for you to leave the backpacks at the entrance as this will hinder you with your progress through these spectacular passages.

Batcave did not disappoint and I cannot wait to go back and explore even more of this magical place!
Thanks to Gerrie Pretorius, Hani Williams, David Groenewald, and the other 3 gentleman of which I cannot remember their names at this point, apologies. Till the next adventure….

Hidden Cave – July 2015 - By: Karin Human

A cataclysmic event almost two billion years ago, the Vredefort Asteroid, gave birth to some of the greatest places we can explore today. Whether big or small, caves give us a glimpse of our planet’s history and on some occasions, unexpected treasures defining our meagre existence.
Hidden Cave is one such place. Whilst getting ready for our journey into the dark unknown, my eyes swept over the boundless grasslands surrounding us. Here, a few metres under our feet, a maze of crannies and nooks awaited our somewhat eager exploration. A few clouds lazily moved about in the blue sky and an exceptionally cold wind made us anxious to get underground.

A bowl-like area surrounded with wild trees, courtesy of the resident bats, and a few dolomite boulders masks the small crevice giving access to the cave. A flexuous route follows, creating a decent dust cloud as bodies twist and turn to get through some of the restrictions. The soft sand covering the cave floor in the last corridor made for an easy crawl-through and with one last body-twisting curb we landed on a very accommodating ledge.

Steven was already working on proper anchor points for the cave ladder. Peeking over the ledge the cave wall disappeared into darkness. On the opposite side a small winding corridor loomed an alternative. Dave Ingold encouraged the group to attempt getting to the chamber beneath via that route. A tight squeeze and short climb would see us down there. Suegne, Natasha and Stian opted to try and subsequently succeeded. The ladder became the rest of the group’s option. Snaking down, the silver glowing cable dissipated into darkness. The narrowness of the ladder really only sinks in when you’re working your way down. And by saying that, I really mean working your way down. The slit becomes a bit limiting and you have to twist sideways to get past a small ledge. When the free-hanging ladder gets under the roof of the chamber, it yanks in all directions to counteract your weight and movement.

Finally down and waiting to regroup in the chamber, we used the time to explore the cave floor. Some bones were found and upon questioning the possibilities of how it got there, Steven was ready with an answer. During the summer rains it gets washed in. The interesting bit was that seeds also get washed in and actually sprout in the fertile soil being found here. Sadly they die soon after this because of obvious reasons. The imagery of a newly sprouted garden deep in a cave is something one should truly experience. It brought to mind that life lessons are always at our disposal, even here in a world always cloaked in darkness.

The climb down progressed slowly. Lots of loose rocks made for careful stepping. We found a bat all by itself glued to a rock face on one of the descending climbs. His little body was cosily enfolded in its wings and you could see him breathing as his body heaved at almost lightning speed. To me it was a precious moment of being there in his space, his world, his time for a few seconds.

The stalactites were really interesting at this point. Growing high on the roof, blade-like formations enfolded one another to create flowery-cone like structures. Calcite on the walls and some droppings on boulders exhibited nature’s profound ability to create amazing art.

Steven disappeared in small slit in the floor and within seconds his light was gone. We patiently waited our turn to go down this worm hole and due to the danger of rock falls, only one at a time was allowed. It turned out to be a short, body shovelling, twist and turn and you ended upon a very small ledge with what seemed to me at that point, a sheer wall of shiny black manganese in my way of reaching the next chamber. Staring at it in disbelieve I didn’t even notice Steven sitting right across from me in a small cavity. He talked me through getting hand and foot holds and encouraged me to climb down. After what felt like a life time I was standing in the chamber below. It’s in moments like this that I know we grow a bit by doing stuff we deemed impossible. It wasn’t as sheer as my mind told me and really not as high as it seemed. My first ever free climb went really well.

Another wait for regrouping gave us a chance to look around. Stian found the perfect position to sit and a huge boulder became our vantage point. Pity our lights were about to give up, but David’s light was revealing some amazing stuff. A steep slope led to Stalactite Garden. The roof was high and more stalactites resulted in us staring in wonder. Steven eventually joined us after assisting most on the climb down. A pair of fresh batteries for our lights and we were ready to move on.

Stalactite garden turned out to be a garden of awe. Multi coloured stalactites were decorating the low ceiling in astonishing ways. New stalactites grow in all directions. Some have little horizontal branches growing from them. Some are twisty while others formed little rings over time. In between all of this, thin straw stalactites also found some space to grow. Over time they will also form incredible structures like the older ones surrounding them. Being human and wanting to use all our senses to experience beauty like this, it’s hard not to reach out and touch, but this will mean a sure death of wherever our finger prints remain. Moving carefully on a slightly sloped rock floor, we reach the end of stalactite garden and another slit gives entry to the final chamber.

The prized Waikiki Dancers patiently awaited us and instilled quiet wonder as we circled it in an almost holy moment. This cave was once a water cave and these speleothemes were once cone shaped. When the water disappeared from the cave, they slowly started deteriorating and water dripping from the stalactites on them assisted in this process. Because of the aforementioned, most of them are hollow. The caramel coloured dust surrounding them is evident of their breakdown. Two perfect holes in the dust on the far side was also the work of water dripping, although it looks like someone stuck their fingers into it. Would love to see what grows out of that, but I assume none of us will be around that long. One of the Waikiki Dancers has managed to form a hat-like structure at the top and from the right vantage point seemed like the sculpture of someone standing with their hands behind their back.

Another five metres down and we were at the back of the cave. Halfway up the slope we found a really small opening and whilst joking and daring one another to a sheer display of guts, Natasha walked up and decided to attempt a squeeze through to see what is on the other side. The slit was so small she had to remove her helmet. Needless to say, it went nowhere and just became smaller as she progressed. A few wiggles further and she gave us the thumbs down. Suegne had to pull on her legs to assist on getting out. We had some serious explorers in this group and it was really inspiring to watch as they eagerly moved forward. Dave told us the opening to the chamber we so badly believed were there and wanted to see was just around the corner. An obvious joke as it turned out to be just another opening going into the slit Natasha tried squeezing through. Alas, there might be a chamber, but it remains hidden, like this cave, for this moment.
We decided to switch of all our lights to experience the cave on its own terms. As the lights went off one by one and at random, shadows merged as darkness grows. The first minute or so everyone was quiet as we sat in a big half circle with the Waikiki Dancers being centre. Everything felt vast, unreachable. It was as if existence ceased in that moment and nestled within one self, a move closer to greatness. We talked, joked around and had some advice regarding climbing in caves and caves in general while enveloped in darkness. The information was sound and the decision was made from my side. This is by far the best place to learn and gain experience in caving. Steven, Dave and Allen have an obvious passion for what they do and don’t mind sharing their knowledge. Hidden Cave was an exceptional experience, covering a lot of skills needed for caving and still has a lot more to offer to those who need to feed their hunger for knowledge and experience.

Upon exiting, a herd of cattle was grazing not far from where we parked our vehicles. The stark sunlight blinded us for a moment and the wind still raced though the long, yellow-brown grass with a serious note of chill accompanying it. Smiles were abundant and a nice cup of coffee from Allen and his wife completed a perfect symmetry.

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Hidden Cave - 25th July

Hi everyone,

I am organizing a trip to Hidden Cave on Saturday the 25th of July.

Visitors are welcome to join, if it's your first time check this link:

Meeting at 08:30 at the corner of the N14 and R500.

Planning on going to search for Termite City, which evaded me in February and then for the adventurous, we could try and fit through Squeezeball.

Please let me know whether you are joining the trip and whether you need any gear. Sms 072 298 9861 or email

See you Saturday:


Monday 13 July 2015

Climber's Cave - 12 July 2015 - By Georg Laing

On Sunday the 12th of July we visited Climber’s Cave, one of the more appropriately named caves. Our always patient and very experienced guide Steven, along with members Pedro and Hani, were joined by soon-to-be member Georg (that’s me!) and three very enthusiastic visitors: Stian, Suegne and Natasha. 

One of the unsung joys of caving is experiencing it through the eyes of people from very diverse backgrounds. There’s something about crawling and climbing (and slipping and falling and rolling) that reveals hidden recesses of the human spirit that are otherwise obscured by the comfort of every day life. It’s difficult to emerge from a pit of utter darkness not knowing yourself a little bit better.
Pedro was on a mission to discover the cave’s hidden treasures (a secret which we will keep under wraps for now), so we left him near the entrance. The six of us journeyed onwards (or rather downwards), finding the drops bewildering but also exhilirating. We had the added burden of carrying bags containing caving ladders and other gear that tested our muscle and teamworking skills (something I think we passed with flying colours). 

It was at around the sixty meter level that we came to the realisation that going down was the easy part. An arduous climb was in store for us on our way back, a fact we quickly forgot though as we entered the longest and most exhausting crawl that most of us have done so far. Not to mention muddy and spider-infested! (It is a cave after all). At this point, Steven calmly informed us that any rain outside would flood the crawl space and we would be trapped on the other side (if we were lucky) until it abated. Thank you Steven.

Hani unfortunately could not join us for the entire crawl, as she was waylaid by an eight-legged menace. The rest of us pushed (and in one case quite literally rolled!) onwards. On the other side of the almost infinite crawl, another twenty meters of drop awaited us. Beyond this drop was the first descent that could not be done without the aid of a caving ladder. Putting our very lives in Steven’s hands, we helped him set up the first ladder.

Halfway down the ladder a very tight squeeze welcomed us. It was here that I discovered my buns of steel (#wishfulthinking) would not allow me to progress deeper into the cave. Dejected, I held watch over the ladder anchors while the others continued.

There was still about twenty meters of descent left, and the next drop required two adjoined ladders to climb. Beyond this, with no ladders left, the remaining four slid down a drop with practically no grip, into the final chamber where they reached the water table. Steven and Stian tested the waters, but wisely decided that it was probably not a good idea to venture deeper than shoulder height.
And thus began the long trek upwards. Fortunately Hani and I did not have to worm our way up that first ascent by wedging ourselves between walls. Exhausted as we were from that first forty meter climb, the crawl-from-hell did not offer any respite (on the contrary!) and we experimented with new ways of dragging ourselves and our bags through (except for our friend who once again rolled right through). On the other side a surprisingly sane Hani welcomed us. But we were still sixty meters below, covered in scrapes, bumps and muscles on the verge of striking.

How we finished that last sixty meters, I do not know. The climbs looked a lot more precipitous going up, and at times seemed insurmountable. However, courage and teamwork prevailed. The sunlight was a welcome sight and we were back in time to catch up with Pedro, who gave us a short talk on the local geology.

Naturally, Steven made Climber’s Cave look like a walk in the park, but for those of us who are still highly inexperienced cavers, it was a gruelling but thoroughly enjoyable challenge.
Thanks to Steven for taking us down (and more importantly, returning us) safely and for an all-round wonderful experience!

Tuesday 7 July 2015

Climber's Cave - 12 July

Hi everyone,

So plans have changed for Sunday.
The trip will be to Climber's Cave. As the name suggests there will be a lot of climbing and a crawl or two.

The trip is open to visitors. For details of what you need to bring as a visitor or if you are new to caving go and look at:

We are meeting at the corner of the N14 and R500 at 8 to leave at 08:15 at the latest. 26°11'10.22"S - 27°26'27.37"E

Braai afterwards, so bring what you need for that.

Please let me know if you are joining the trip and whether you need any gear by sms to 072 298 9861 or email me at

See you Sunday.


Other upcoming trips:
  • 7th – 9th August: Chaos and Crystal caves – SRT members only, John Dickie
  • 24th – 27th September: Mbobo Mkhulu and other caves – visitors welcome, Sharron Reynolds (Let Sharron know before the end of July whether you are joining this trip)
  • 13th September: Nick’s cave – visitors if willing to SRT, Peter Kenyon
  • 9th - 11th October: Charnel House and Dustbowl caves – visitors welcome, Sharron Reynolds
  • 8th November: Apocalypse – members only, John Dickie
  • 13th December: Armageddon – members only, John Dickie

Thursday 2 July 2015

SEC Friday Night Caving, 10 July, 7.30pm; Westminster

Meet at Oaktree Engen garage, Sterkfontein.
Beginners and visitors welcome;  R50 day membership fee; we will cave for about 3 hours so bring sustenance if you need, let me know if you need a hardhat and headlight; bring 3 x AAA batteries; wear comfortable old clothes.
RSVP Selena 083 460 4828

September 24th to 27th

Hi everyone,
The club is planning a trip over the long weekend in September, from the 24th to the 27th of September in Mpumalanga.
The caves will probably include Sudwala and Mbobo Mkhulu (one of the top mineralogical caves in the world) and others. The area really has some amazing caves.
The weekend is open to non-members.
The accommodation will most likely be rustic camping.
We need details of how many people are interested, but more importantly we need to organize permits to visit the areas, so we need Names, ID Numbers, email addresses and car make and number plates.
We need these details by the end of July! So if you want to join the weekend please email Sharron at