Patkov gušt pit

At the mountain of Velebit the second World pit has been discovered by Speleologists of the Speleological Section of the University Mountaineering Society "Velebit" (SOV) on 2 August 1997. The exploration took 7 days and was done by 12 cavers from the Speleological section Velebit and one from the Speleoclub Had. The shaft is 553 m deep, with ice. Here are some photographs and a diary of the exploration.

The entrance to Patkov gušt. Photo: Vesna Troha

The pit is settled in the Nothern part of the Velebit Mountain in the Strict Nature Reserve Hajdučki and Rožanski kukovi. It is named after Zoran Stipetic Patak who dived a syphon on the bottom of Lukina jama (-1392 m). The pit was explored on the speleocamp Lubenovac '97 held by the Speleological section Velebit.

In 1999, some Polish speleologists from the speleoclubs "Gawra" Gorzow and "Bobry" Žaganj visited the pit and descended to its bottom. Between 1999 and 2000, there was an avalanche of snow and ice in Patkov Gušt which closed the passage at a depth of –105 m. Since then, it has been impossible to descend any lower.

In November 2000, Polish speleologists (Walbrzyski Club Gorski and Jaskiniowy) attempted to dig a passage in the snow and ice, but did not succeed in progressing further than 100 m. Since the last 12 years have seen a visible trend of snow and ice melting in pits, the passage in Patkov Gušt is expected to become passable again.

Davor Perić-Štrik, Darko Bakšić and Zoran Stipetić-Patak. Photo: SOV

Making a topo on a bottom of the Patkov gušt. Photo: Darko Troha


Bakšić, D., 1997: Opis jame Patkov gušt, Velebiten, br.27, Zagreb.
Bakšić, D., 1998: Patkov gušt (-553m), La deuxieme verticale du Monde, Spelunca No. 70.




Location: Gornji Kuk, Northern Velebit, Croatia

Depth: -553 m

Horizontal length: 40 m

Entrance at altitude: 1,450 m

The largest shaft: 553 m

Explored by (1997.): Speleological Section Velebit - Zagreb, SK HAD

Topo: Darko Bakšić, Damir Lacković, Ljiljana Novosel

Measured: Ivančica Zovko, Ana Bakšić, Nataša Josipović,
Darko Troha, Mladen Novosel, Ana Čop

Cave discovered by: Speleologists of the Speleological Section Velebit - Zagreb
 on 2 August 1997.


Patkov gušt topo. Edited by Darko Bakšić.



The cave Patkov Gušt is 553 m deep. What sets this cave apart from other speleological sites is the shaft extending from the entrance to the bottom, which has earned Patkov Gušt the second place in the world in terms of shaft length. The cave was named after the speleologist Zoran Stipetić – Patak, who dived in the siphon at the bottom of Lukina Jama (Lukina Cave) in 1994.
The sinkhole, with the cave entrance in its western point, has an irregular shape. It is elongated in the N-S direction and has dimensions of about 100 x 75 m. The cave entrance itself is about 65 x 30 m. The cave is entered from the west side, where large boulders are lodged in a small depression. At the entrance edge there is a majestic spruce tree. From a depth of 65 m pit descends across snow and ice to a depth of 105 m, where there is a passage in the ice sized 2 x 1.5 m. This narrowing, which was made impassable in 2000 by large quantities of snow and ice, is the narrowest point in the cave. This point is daylit. The melted snow and ice drips with increasing intensity going downwards, so that water pours to the very bottom of the cave. After a depth of 130 m, the cave widens and descends to the bottom with the approximately equal profile. The rocks are completely or partially covered with a layer of ice up to a depth of 300 m, whose breakage poses a permanent threat. At 465 m there is a small balcony in the rock, which provides a safe foot support but you must be attached on rope. The pit ends with a chamber of 40 x 30 m. Under the shaft there is a large quantity of snow. The lowest point of the bottom chamber finished with a small muddy side channel, in which water percolates between the rocks and mud, is found in the northern part of the chamber.

Climate: Air temperature was not recorded, but in the upper icy parts it is probably about 0 °C. Most explorers agree that the cave Patkov Gušt is one of the colder Velebit pits.
Specific features: This cave is exceptionally dangerous because of movement of snow and ice in summer months.


Speleological Section of the University Mountaineering Society "Velebit", Zagreb:
Marko Andreis, Darko Bakšić, Tanja Bizjak, Dean Bratušek, Ana Čop, Tihana Dasović, Ivana Gregorić, Marko Grgin, Nataša Josipović, Damir Lacković, Tomislav Marić, Mislav Marohnić, Jagoda Munić, Ljiljana Novosel, Mladen Novosel, Davor Perić, Ivica Radić, Siniša Rešetar, Ana Katarina Sansević, Leonara Smirnjak, Irina Stipanović, Ana Sutlović, Vedran Šimunović, Darko Štefanac, Darko Troha, Vedran Vračar, Ivančica Zovko, Ronald Železnjak
Speleoklub Had (SKH), Poreč:Ivan Glavaš

How to cite:
Bakšić, A.Bakšić: Speleological exploration of pit Patkov gušt. Croatian speleological server,, 2008.

© 2008Speleološki odsjek Velebit