21
November - 2017
Tuesday
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Discovered: 1996

Length: 9,896.40m

Vertical Range: 210.28m

Connections: Cloud Cave

Part of: The Cobra/Cloud/Bridge Caves System

Rock bridge outside Bridge Cave | photo © Matt Kirby

The main entrance to Bridge Cave lies in the deep dolines south west of the Hidden Valley gorge. It was discovered when explorers were traversing around the eastern side of the deep Third Doline opposite Perseverance Cave. Finding themselves on a steep arete they traversed forward to discover that the ridge on which they had been stood was in fact a tall bridge over the end of an open depression. Further investigation revealed an entrance within the depression from which was a dramatic a view out though the bridge into the third doline, the feature after which the cave was named.

Immeditely inside the entrance is the bivi site from where the majority of the cave was explored. Although this entrance was only 700m from the base camp in Hidden Valley, the terrain between the two was incredibly severe and time consuming to traverse which necessitated an advanced camp for carrying out the exploration.

Bridge Cave is a multi-level cave. The route to the main levels passes through some small, 1 x 1m passage and a tight squeeze. One of the small passages leads back north to emerge only a few tens of metres above the base of the second doline, close to Arch Cave which was probably once associated with the Bridge System. The main passages are easy going through large chambers with sediment floors.

Split-level passage in Bridge Cave | photo © Matt Kirby

Much of the cave is typified by white, deeply scalloped walls and roofs with floors covered in deep guano deposits from the large swift populations that live here. The main passages lead to an entrance situated in the fourth doline on the same level as the Cloud Cave entrance and only 100m to the south. The route between these entrances has never been traversed. The cave extends to the south running between the entrance passages of Good Luck Cave and Cobra Cave but more than 100m higher.

High up on the southern side of the second doline are located the highest entrances to the cave. It’s easy to speculate that the upper passages (the ‘Tombraider series’) form the oldest known outlets for the Hidden Valley waters. They are a complex mix of chambers, climbs and short sections of passage, never more than 10 x 10m in diameter. The two entrances at the highest part of the cave were only discovered from the inside and have never been located on the surface!

Bridge Cave is connected in two places to Cloud Cave down deep pitches. One of them, a huge 30m diameter, 95m deep shaft, the Abyss, has never been descended despite two attempts, although markers dropped down it were found at the base of a huge aven in Cloud Cave, proving the connection.

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