Su Bentu (Grandissima Frana)
Tuesday, 17 June 2014

After some much needed rest after a stressful and arduous trip across the Selvagio Blu, Noel and I headed off for our first caving trip in Sardinia ‘ a pleasant stomp into Su Bentu. After lots of consideration of current water levels we decided upon the high level route. The reason being that Fleur and Pete had been there in May and had been unable to climb out of one of the millpools on the way into camp as the water levels had been so low. So having had practically no rain since arriving in Sardinia two weeks previously we considered that the low wet route probably wasnt wet enough.
In order to be prepared we decided to head up to the entrance the day before to make sure we knew where we were going. This is a total waste of time because the entrance is so easy to find and as I was once told by MadPhil regarding Er Wang Dong in China if you cant find the entrance, you should probably give up caving. And so is the case for Su Bentu. To get to the entrance you head to the car park up at the top of the Lanaittu valley. Once parked head to the visitors cottage, through the garden and out the gate on the other side. Then turn left and follow the path all the way up to the entrance (about 10mins). There is no way you can miss it. And if you do well then you know.

But all was not lost as we hadnt realised that we needed to pay to visit Su Bentu and the centre didnt open until 10am each day. So, being efficient we paid our dues a day early so that we could get an early start the next day (2 euros each). Whilst we were paying we also met some Southampton Uni cavers on a jolly holiday caving trip who were entering that day. So had a pleasant chat whilst they tried to eat their lunch. They had also advised us to use steel krabs on our cowstails as much of the high level route is protected with steel cables. Very useful info, so thanks guys.

So the next morning we were up bright and early, heading underground for 9am! Noel and I had discussed at great length what we should wear and after texting Beardy our outfits for trip comprised:

Holly ‘ green shorts, purple knee-high wetsocks, blue t-shirt, red and black AV oversuit, green wellies, etc
Noel ‘ black speedos, minging off-white t-shirt, blue knee-high wetsocks, red and black AV oversuit, green wellies, etc
Really, really glad we didnt wear anymore as we would have boiled half to death. (Note: you definitely need wetsuits for the wet route.) We also took in some neoprene for the anticipated out of depth sections as the high level route still involves joining the streamway in two places, once just before camp (no out of depth sections here though) and the other just before LAutostrada.
The entrance to Su Bentu is fairly big and you soon find a short climb up to a gate, which isnt locked but is kept shut. As we were heading through here we took some pictures of the strange, slimy looking geckos on the walls.

Route finding is very easy. We followed the obvious way on through the entrance and onwards until we reached the start of the traverses. The traverses are interesting for about 5 minutes. They took us about 45 minutes. It was tedious. On and on they went, following a telephone wire. However just to break up the monotony Noel and I went wrong at one point. There is a short pitch, but the telephone wire goes over the top of the pitch, diagonally across to the other wall. At the bottom of the pitch Noel and I made the mistake of climbing all the way down to the stream level. Which is still a reasonable amount of climbing. We realised soon enough that we had gone wrong as there were out of depth pools and we knew we did not need to swim to get to camp. So we headed back up to the bottom of the pitch and followed the direction of the telephone wire. This involves a short climb up on the left and we were soon back on more traverse lines (hurray!) But not for too long as soon we were back in the streamway, where we were meant to be and looking for the rope on the right that takes us to camp.

Once we arrived at camp we climbed up on the right following the obvious footpath and found the exciting tyrolean. Noel really enjoyed posing for pictures here! Once across we carried on the obvious high level route. Eventually we ended up in the streamway and it wasnt long before we found ourselves at an out of depth pool. So we changed into our neoprene and carried on. Turns out we easily traversed this pool, but we thought that perhaps well need the neoprene soon anyway which in the end the waterlevels were so low that we didnt need our neoprene.
Once in LAutostrada progress was fast and we reached Grandissima Frana very quickly. So quickly that we werent quite sure where we were. We had crossed Sahara not really realising we had passed through as we were expecting more impressive sand dunes. However on the way back we realised that it probably used to be much more impressive, but unfortunately it is now trashed from footsteps.

Not sure if water flows here in the rainy season though

Entering Grandissima Frana was quite exciting when, as I was climbing under some boulders Noel asks me hey – whats does that writing say on the wall next to you?, so I backed out slightly, turned my head and read hanging death. Here Noel got an earful as I proceeded to get annoyed at the fact that I was spending time under hanging death reading signs for him.
Grandissima Frana is a very impressive chamber with a very large boulder slope at the end. Noel and I started climbing this, but quickly turned around after I did a little boulder surfing.
Headed back out without incident and got very hot from the tedious traversing back from camp to the entrance.
Really lovely trip but I think it would be more fun to do the sporting wet route when theres a little more water!

Images
Gecko!
Posted by: Holly Bradley
Size: 114kb
Width: 600 pixels
Height: 450 pixels
Posted: 18 September 2014
Noel just inside the entrance
Posted by: Holly Bradley
Size: 95kb
Width: 600 pixels
Height: 450 pixels
Posted: 18 September 2014
Happy poser
Posted by: Holly Bradley
Size: 56kb
Width: 600 pixels
Height: 450 pixels
Posted: 18 September 2014
Bit blurry, but pretty – in the streamway in L’Autostrada
Posted by: Holly Bradley
Size: 79kb
Width: 600 pixels
Height: 450 pixels
Posted: 18 September 2014