A breezy summer is appreciated, humid summer heat of up to 38 degrees is not really fun. But how to cool off? “If the donkey gets too cocky, he goes onto the ice” or … climbs down into a cave.
Here is a “cooling presciption” about my cave tour into the NIDLENLOCH in the Swiss Jura near Solothurn. The entrance is at a height of 1.274 meters, but it is easily accessible. Stable footwear and warm clothes are of course mandatory, no matter how warm it is outside.
With a length of more than 8 kilometers, the Nidlenloch cave is the largest accessible cave system in the Jura. It is under conservation and can be explored together with a guide from March until November. Difficult areas are secured with ladders and ropes. A general fitness is a prerequisite and of course one may not have claustrophobia, because inside it is pitch dark and partly very tight. The minimum age for visitors is 10 years and the tour duration is about 3-4 hours.
Equipped with a protective suit, helmet, gloves, knee pads and headlamp, at first we descend on ropes approx. 20 meters down into a rock hole; inside all walls are wet and there is complete silence – what a strange world. Down here, all year round it has about 8 degrees and it is largely dust-free – a paradise for those suffering from allergies. Sometimes bats get make their way into in the cave system, but apart from one exemplar there was no life sign at all (not even a grotto worm).
After getting used to the darkness, we slowly step along a slippery karst/ limestone passages. In some places, water drips down and small stalactites have formed. In stooping posture we move on, wand often hit against the ceiling with our helmets … plopp … In a side passage, water gurgles in a so-called siphon and our guide immediately checks the water level for safety reasons.
A wrong step and a simple injury like a sprained ankle can have consequences, because there is proverbial “radio silence” (no mobile contact). To get help, at least one person must crawl back to the surface. Therefore, it is common practice to register at the nearby inn “HInterweißenstein” and leave the expected return time. If you do not return by the agreed time, a rescue team will be alerted.
The sense of time is quickly lost as we focus on each step forward. Finally the narrowest part of the underworld called “virgin’s hatch,” is in front of us. On all four extremities and partially in reverse motion we squeeze through the small rock opening. Done, now we need a small break.
Photography is difficult, but at least we try to capture some of the white-yellowish limestone formations. The cave is about a million years old and made from melt waters of the last ice age.
How far have we got into the cave? It feels like 800 to 1200 meters. But far from it, after progressing 1.5 hours just 450 meters were completed. You definitely need to save power to return safely and therefore we decide to go back.
After another 50 minutes we can already assume the pale light of the exit hole in the distance. One last climb and we are back to daylight and regular grounds.
A truly “cool” experience”. By the way, anyone who wants to go completely under water and dive with bottles/ compressor technique can do so in the “BLAUTOPF” on the Swabian Alb near Blaubeuren. The hugh water cave really is a blue wonder. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blautopf
All too much action? You are right as well. Especially tropic temperatures may invite you for “holidays from holiday” .… at least from early afternoon on, doing nothing, just some reading, listing to Bossa Nova music or splashing in the inflatable pool … this is what I am doing right now …. sorry, gone fo today !