Safety advice for Kolkina


Prevention and reduction of the risk of incidents in Kolkina dupka. 


To share advice, experience and way of thinking for adequate behaviour, actions and approach during entering, exploration and leaving Kolkina. 


During the lengthy exploration of Kolkina the idea for the complex and tough nature of the cave was born and still develops among the active team of speleologists working there. The length, the depth, the geomorphology, the active nature of its meanders and the need for precise and skilled approach, lead to long and exhausting progress to the deeper cave parts. As an example, the progress of a speleologist (who is there for the first time) to reaching II bivouac, can be anything between 8 and 12 hours. The most efficient approach towards incidents in such places is to never happen in the first place! 

Leading intent for each who decides to explore Kolkina should be that, whatever kind of compromise one would do in another cave, it shouldn’t be done in Kolkina! This refers to compromises or experiments of any kind, e.g. speedy work with the established single rope techniques, solo climbing of easy or short passages, exploration without the needed fitness level, etc. Kolkina, is not, and under no circumstances shouldn’t become a polygon for testing one’s capabilities! 

What you should know 

  • Without the experience from serious caves there is no way to even imagine what is expecting you down there, i.e. the progress is slow and exhausting 
  • PVC cave overall, or cave overall with reliable waterproof isolation, is mandatory 
  • Bivouacs ‘Sluntse’ (I) and ‘Kaloian’ (II) are well equipped, i.e. there are: gas, stoves, pots, food, sleeping bags and mats, through/to both  bivouacs there is cable connection, ensuring connection between the bivouacs and the surface. In case you are planning to use these bivouacs read the ‘Bivouacs Rules’ here (only in Bulgarian) or ask for assistance from your friends. 
  • The first pit is the only one from which the equipment is partially removed, i.e. when entering this is the only pit to prepare needed equipment
  • Dry bags are mandatory for supplies and equipment transport, anything that is not in a dry bag is wet.
  • Prepare a piece of cloth and foil, that are always with you, of course in a dry bag : ) 
  • Lighters – take some, e.g. two each; you will need them for the stoves 
  • Watches – mandatory, you will need them for the adequate respect of set control hours

What you shouldn’t do 

  • Don’t enter alone – although there is a cable, that ‘leads’ you through the cave and albeit you feel motivated, the safety of a lone speleologist is compromised
  • Don’t make you way out alone – applies same as per above plus the feeling for already knowing the cave and the urge from our normal, above ground, life (such as work, plans, engagements, etc.) are crucial here 
  • Don’t climb if not secured 
  • If not feeling with the right fitness level don’t enter. Think well about your fitness level or simply prepare in advance. 
  • Health conditions – if not feeling well, simply don’t enter. In case of existing health issue, you should advise your fellow team members 
  • Each member should have a watch, or other device with a watch function. Having a group without a watch, even when entering, making their way out or moving from one bivouac to another, can cause enough of trouble  and headache for the ones expecting you or your control call 

Advices that work 

  • Progress group – the best is to have a group of three. In critical situations, two are not enough. 
  • Exhaustion – bivouac ‘Sluntse’ (I) e is a good shelter in case you can’t continue due to exhaustion. The communication in such cases is crucial, i.e. call! 
  • Communication – until now we were using the following model: take three radios, one is at the surface camp and one for each bivouac . In case your control time to the II bivouac is more than 9-10h or you are slower than expected in reaching bivouac I, plan to make a call and do a call. 
  • Broom – when making your way out, the most experienced group stays last (together with a radio). In case of an incident, it is expected that these are the people to make the most adequate assessment of the created situation and to reach the surface camp. 
  • Over ground team – prepare such a team to wait for you
  • The fresh team members to listen to the more experienced, regardless of eventual age difference 
  • Plan when you will be out, during the winter this might have serious consequences, i.e. when is dark, often with low visibility, low temperatures and exhausted form the long way, plus the platou relief of the area, all of these are often combination for a ‘perfect storm’ 
  • Control time – regardless of are you entering, exploring or making your way out leave a control hour, be real and committed with the given control time 
  • Be careful – don’t overestimate yourself, don’t relax too much and always be cautious, more on risk management in outdoor activities you can find here* (only in Bulgarian at the moment) 


Congratulations for your decision to take part in the exploration of Kolkina. The experience and the pleasure from exploring such a cave will be memorable and rewarding, we promise! Also, thank you for the development of the speleology in Bulgaria and that you will help us with what you can. Here everybody is useful and welcomed! 

We hope that this material will help us all to be more careful in what we do and will reduce the risk from incidents and unpleasant situations. 


Speleo club ‘Pod RB’