- 1392 m
deepest pit in Croatia


   In August 1990 a group of Slovak cavers, members of the Speleoclub of Komenski University, Bratislava (SUK) started exploration in the Strict reserve Hajdučki and Rožanski kukovi.


How Lukina jama has been discovered

By Branislav Šmida


In the beginning of autumn 1992 we are back at Velebit. Seven of us were here this time. On the first day in the mountain, boring rain showed that we have missed good weather. Work in underground would be much more difficult and dangerous. It is pouring.

Equipped by umbrellas, on 28th September we are looking for caves in rough area of Hajdučki kukovi. We have reached craggy plateau, from here deep doline could be seen. By its side, through fog, we have caught glimpses of two entrances. The task of the youngest, 18 years old Stan is clear, we just couple of years older, send him to scout the situation. He goes, grumbling something about democracy. We watch him by carefuly. He yells something, but we cannot hear, it is raining so heavily.

"What's up?" we shout all together. He waves by hands. Passes by the bigger entrance and we know it is not deep. Than he stops by the smaller one and throws a stone. One, two… listens for long! Climbs on the higher edge of cave. Searches for a stone. This time he throws bigger rock, heavy maybe some ten kilograms. Listens for long time, lining at the edge… Now we know the pit is deep. He waves and shows by his hands all the time.

Slovakian caves who found the entrance of the pit in 1992.

"What have you found?" We ask impatiently. For joy and excitement Stano cannot express himself well about depth of the pothole. Abyss! After several hundreds of meters rumbling of a stone disappear in the depth. Manual. That is the name for the pit, for all cavers that do not talk much, do not speculate, and in caves work as miners and do not refuse heavy work that is so common in underground.

After the seven days exploration of pit Manual Slovakian cavers stop descending at icy meander at -195 m. due to poor weather conditions. Two cavers slipped on icy slope and strong water torrent convinced Slovaks that is better to give up from further descending. At departure from Velebit, they have met caver Damir Horvat - Surla at Alan, who advises them to visit Croatian cavers from club "Željezničar" in Zagreb, what they have done and left notes about explored caves.


Expeditions in Lukina jama




by Darko Bakšić



Speleoklub Univerziteta Komenskog (SUK), Bratislava, Slovačka:
Zoltan Agh, Stano Gajdošik, Marcel Griflik, Erik Kapucian, Jaro Meluš, Branislav Šmida, Jan Vykupil
Speleološki odsjek Planinarskog društva Sveučilišta Velebit (SOV), Zagreb:
Neven Andrijašević, Darko Bakšić, Teo Barišić, Tanja Bizjak, Sanja Ćirić, Iva Dobrović, Robert Erhardt, Sunčica Hrašćanec, Lovro Hrust, Čedo Josipović, Neven Kalac, Dubravko Kavčić, Damir Lacković, Pavle Mintas, Ivica Radić, Siniša Rešetar, Zoran Stipetić, Ana Sutlović, Darko Troha, Vida Ungar, Vedran Vračar, Boris Vrbek, Ivančica Zovko
Speleološki odsjek Hrvatskog planinarskog društva Željezničar (SOŽ), Zagreb:
Nela Bosner, Tina Bosner, Vlado Božić, Robert Dado, Svjetlan Hudec, Branko Jalžić, Željko Jelenić, Mladen Kuhta, Gianfranco Labignan, Vladimir Lindić, Damir Lovretić, Želimir Ludvig, Bojana Markotić, Gordana Petrovčić, Milivoj Uroić,
Speleološka sekcija Hrvatskog geografskog društva (SSHGD), Zagreb:
Anđelko Novosel
Speleološka sekcija Društva za istraživanje krških fenomena (DISKF), Zagreb:
Zoran Gregurić, Krunoslav Hornug, Jasna Zmaić
Speleološki odsjek Hrvatskog planinarskog društva Dubovac (SOD), Karlovac:
Neven Bočić, Igor Jelinić, Branko Šavor
Speleološki odsjek Hrvatskog planinarskog društva Japetić (SOJ), Samobor:
Tomica Rubinić
Speleološki odsjek Hrvatskog planinarskog društva Mosor (SOM), Split:
Stipe Božić (AOM), Raul Brzić, Ivan Marinov, Zvončica Mimica, Ivica Mulić, Danica Ozretić, Silvio Smerdel, Emir Štrkljević
Club Alpino Italia, Rim, Italija:
Hrvoje Korais
Speleološki odsjek Hrvatskog planinarskog društva Dubrovnik (SODU), Dubrovnik:
Ivan Kvestić
Speleološki odsjek planinarskog društva Kamenar
Ešref Bajrić, Srećko Meić


Speleological expedition Lomska duliba 1993.

Lomska duliba 1993

From 19th July till 15th August 1993, The Speleological Committee of the Croatian Mountaineering Association (KSHPS), organised caving camp in Lomska duliba at Northern Velebit. The camp was separated in two parts. In the first, from 19th till 31st July the leader was Anđelko Novosel (SS HGD). The cave was rigged till -170 m when, due to inexperience with icy caves, descending is stopped till arrival of other explorers. From 1st till 13th August the leader was Branko Jalžić (SOŽ), while on 14th and.15th August Damir Lacković (SOV). Under their leadership exploration of the cave, still called Manual, were restarted.

When the Croatian depth record was achieved (till then it was pothole Stara škola on Biokovo, deep -576 m), on proposal of Damir Lacković pothole was renamed "Lukina jama" after caver u Ozren Lukić - Luka, killed in war at the southern Velebit a year earlier.

Feeling of exploration euphoria dominated the camp. Teams entered the cave one after another, depth increased daily. Practically every team ran out of rope.  After a week of descending into depth, group of there: Damir Lacković (SOV), Siniša Rešetar (SOV) and Robert Dado (SOŽ) on the date 7th August 1993 about 9.45 p.m., reached the bottom at the depth of - 1355 m. Seven days was needed for cave to be rigged till bottom including setting up of two bivaques (from 31st July till 7th August 1993), while derigging and transportation out of cave took four days (from 10th till 14th August 1993).

Team of explorers of Lukina jama 1993.

By Damir Lacković, Saturday, 7th August 1993.

We took ropes for further descending, but left 100 metres at the beginning of long pitch, beyond a crawl. Penetrating deeper, at 7.30 p.m. we run out of rope at the beginning of another long pitch. Siniša climbed back to pick up rope left ahead, and was back by 8.30. p.m. We have used the rope on the pitch, to conclude it is the last, at 9.45 p.m., all three of us, descended to the bottom, Damir first, than Siniša and finally Šišmiš.


Speleological expedition Lukina jama 1994.


Since the end of 1993., or better to say, straight after the end of camp Lomska duliba 93, Speleological commission started to prepare a new expedition in Lukina jama. Several actions forerun the expedition. The first exploration, on a weekend 4-6th March 1994, was the combination of ski tour, speleology and mountaineering; its aim was to find a new entrance to the cave. Ranko Žnidarić, a member of alpine section of "Željezničar" and Damir Lacković (SOV), escorted by Dubravko Kavčić (SOV) climbed extremely difficult route in subterranean ice of Lukina jama. At the depth of 65 m they climbed icy waterfall 27 m high with the average incline of 70-90%. Unfortunately, they have not found new entrance that could increase the depth of the cave.

 At the depth of 65 m D.Lacković and B.Žnidarić climbed icy waterfall 27 m high. Photo: B.Jalžić

During the weekend of 1st-4th July rigging was done till -637 m by cavers from Zagreb: Svjetlan Hudec, Bojana Markotić and Gordana Petrovčić from Željezničar and Damir Lacković, Darko Bakšić and Ana Bakšić (Sutlović) from Velebit.

On 16th and 17th July Darko Troha, Vedran Vračar and Ivica Radić, members of SOV continued to rig the cave till the depth of -743 m, the place of 1st bivouac.

Slovakian cavers explored Trojama (Manual II) pothole in the period from 23rd till 28th July till the connection with Lukina jama at depth of -558 m, so the depth of the cave system Lukina jama - Trojama increased till -1386 m.

By Branislav Šmida
In early night hours at 28th July 1994., when three tired Slovak cave explorers Z. Agh, M. Griflik and D. Kotlarčik returned to the camp in Lomska duliba we have found out that the depth of system Lukina jama increased. It was surprise when, after a hundred meters deep pitch, Zolo reached the ledge and Croatian rope on it! He started to scream: "SUK (pothole Ledena jama in Lomska duliba), we connected to SUK!" Marcel, still, far above him did not understand what he is talking about. Only later, guys realised that Lukina jama is deeper. In this moments they got an idea to call this pothole, as a higher entrance of Lukina jama, symbolically Manual II.


In period from 30th July till 13th August expedition Lukina jama 94 was realised, under leadership of Branko Jalžić.

On this expedition cavers from all parts of Croatia were included: members of Speleological Section of Zagreb University Mountaineering Society "Velebit" (SOV), Speleological Section of Mountaineering Society "Željezničar" (SOŽ), Speleological Section of Croatian Geographic society (SSHGD), Society for exploring karst phenomena (DISKF) from Zagreb, Speleological Section of Mountaineering Society "Dubovac" (SOD) from Karlovac, Speleological Section of Mountaineering Society "Japetić" (SOJ) from Samobor, Speleological Section of Mountaineering Society "Mosor" (SOM) and Speleological society "Špiljar" (SDŠ) from Split. From Slovakia members of University Komenski Speleoclub (SUK) from Bratislava.

Team of explorers of Lukina jama 1994.


Two teams were formed to rig the cave till the bottom. In the first one were: Darko Troha, Dubravko Kavčić and Sunčica Hrašćanec, and in second Damir Lacković, Darko Bakšić and Ana Bakšić (Sutlović). After the second group rigged the pit till the bottom, Damir Lacković dived in siphon-lake on breath and finds out that scuba diving is possible. Transportation of gear has been done by Tanja Bizjak, Ivica Radić, Lovro Hrust, Svjetlan Hudec, Brano Šmida, Erik Kapucijan, Zoltan Agh, Marcel Griflik, Jano Vykoupil, Branko Jalžić, Vladimir Lindić and Vedran Vračar. Members of the transportation team brought the news about possibility of scuba diving, so divers Teo Barišić and Zoran entered the. Igor Jelinić and Neven Bočić repaired anchors below the Whiskey chamber. To enable easier and faster communication Branko Šavor and Ivica Mulić spread telephone cable from the surface till 2nd bivouac.

Diving in the siphons at the bottom of "Lukina jama"

Standard diving equipment has been used, but divers had limited air supply (5 litre cylinders). Dived-through siphon has length of 57 m and counts as one of the longest in Croatia. After it follows a similar siphon, so the diving will continue. For next attempt dry diving suits are required because of very low temperature, regulators for diving in cold water conditions and heavier diving cylinders that should be left at the bottom. Cave diving at the depth of 1349 m (counting from the lower entrance) represents a kind of world record accomplished by Zoran Stipetić; and Teo Barišić.The diving was planned to continue in 1996, but was postponed by the accidental death of Zoran Stipetić.

Well known Croatian mountaineer Stipe Božić joined the expedition to shoot a documentary film. He was helped, by Ivan Marinov and Vedran Vračar who transpotred equipment for him.

Siphon at the bottom of Lukina jama. D.Bakšić

Results of expedition:

Team Damir Lacković, Ana Bakšić (Sutlović) and Darko Bakšić explored side passages on the bottom, and on that occasion, on 3rd August 1994, Ana Bakšić (Sutlović) discovered a new animal species -an endemic leech. Cave divers Zoran Stipetić and Teo Barišić dived in the siphon-lake at the bottom of the cave for 57 m in length and 6 m in depth. By diving a siphon on this depth a new World record is set and system Lukina jama reached depth of -1392 m. Damir Lacković, Sunčica Hrašćanec and Darko Bakšić explored "Vjetroviti kanal" (Windy passage) which entrance is on -1102 m, and the bottom on -1311 m depth. Biological, geological and pedological samples were collected, and the measurements of air and water temperatures were done. Stipe Božić, cameraman and director of film about Lukina jama, beside his numerous mountaineering ascents on the highest peaks of World added a valuable speleological result. Than the cave system Lukina jama - Trojama was on 9th place among the deepest caves of the world.


Speleological expedition Lukina jama 1995.

Same as previous years, several rigging actions forerun the expedition. Timing of expedition is changed to 2 weeks earlier due to speleo-mountaineering expedition "Andes 95", so it lasted from 8th till 22nd July 1995. Traditionally, the leader was Branko Jalžić. Too early period of expedition was probable source of many difficulties. In fore - actions during June bigger quantity of ice is observed, some of earlier used bolts could not be used. After the 2nd day of expedition an avalanche of ice and snow covered rope at the depth of -140 m, where new rope had to be rigged, and at the depth of -550 m it had to be dig out. Telephone cable, used a year before, was broken too, so it needed repairing. During repairing phone cable one caver got cramps in hands due to long hours in the harness and on rope. He was pulled out the cave by windlass. This difficulties slowed down descending into the cave, so this year only two cavers reached the bottom: Damir Lacković and Robert Erhardt. During the short time at the bottom they have collected two specimen of endemic leech.

© 2008The Speleological Committee of the Croatian Mountaineering Association