Summary of Črna Gora’s (Montenegro) International Caving Expedition

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Katarina Kosič Ficco, Penelope Vorster

In 2014, during the Karst Without Boundaries Conference, Katarina Kosič Ficco fell in love with
Montenegrin Karst. With karst springs that deliver up to 50 m3/s, a dramatic karst landscape, the
Adriatic Sea, and one of the largest lakes in Europe, what’s not to love?

Having resolved to return and explore caves, Katarina and partner-in-crime Mike Ficco worked
to identify the most promising area. Mike pinpointed the area surrounding Korita, a village
located on a karst plateau at the border with Albania. To the east of the plateau lies a 900-
meter-deep canyon of the river Cemi; 14 km to the west, the gorge of Mala Rijeka (Little River).
The limestone unit dips toward Mala Rijeka, where no springs have yet been identified. To date,
the area has seen minimal cave exploration efforts.

Figure 1: Canyon of river Cemi, Črna Gora on one side and Albania on the other. Photo: Sara Fleetwood

A team of four embarked on a reconnaissance trip in 2017 and, after four days, had identified
thirteen features, including an 80 m deep shaft that the team named Kavka Pit. In the following
years, a continuously increasing number of participants identified and mapped over 70 caves
and 5 km of cave passages. However, without any significant breakthrough, the project’s future
remained uncertain.

Figure 2: Kavka Pit with Joe Myre for scale. Photo: Mike Ficco

In 2022, during the last days of the three-week expedition, we finally found our worthy
adversaries. Tommy Cleckner led us to the 50 m entrance shaft of Vručični snovi (Fever
Dreams), a cave that had previously been identified via aerial imagery. Our team members
descended to a 25 m tall canyon with two leads, each with a distinct airflow. We followed the air
into a paleo passage with scalloped and moon milk-covered walls. Fever Dreams continues to
yield more and more passage, with the other blowing lead waiting to be explored. This year we
also discovered the 90 m entrance shaft of the cave Još tridesetak metara (30 more meters),
which has the potential to connect to Fever Dreams. Our team looks forward to returning to
Montenegro in 2023! Stay tuned for more updates in the NSS News.

Figure 3: Entrance shaft of Fever Dreams Cave with Tommy Cleckner (on the rope) and Mike Ficco (at the bottom).
Photo: Katarina Kosič Ficco
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