Erica Cave and Jubilee Grotto
Anthony Hitchcock and Peter Swart 13 December 1994
Erica Cave and Jubilee Grotto are different entrances to the same cave. Although voice connections between the two caves were established, the passage was too narrow for humans to get from the Erica entrance to Jubilee Grotto. The plan shows the cave has developed along a network of joints, and the many entrances have been formed as the cliff has receeded. The crack from which the perennial stream emanates shows evidence of horizontal displacement of a few centimetres.
Survey & Exploration
Joan Vlok, Peter Swart and I, braved the heat wave to climb the mountain in search of a cave to explore. We started walking before 08h00, before it became too hot, or so we thought, but this was obviously not early enough. Overcome by the heat, we shought shelter amongst some rocks and trees below and to the right of Spes Bona Forest. Peter and I explored the rocks and crevices and small holes amongst the boulders, but could not get into any cave system. Sensing some potential, we explored further and found a low sandy passage and a scattering of porcupine quills. We decided to return another day with a spade to remove the sand. We cleared bushes from the entrance of a small hole nearby and entered a small broken and unstable chamber. A strong breeze could be felt in a boulder filled passage, but further progress appeared dangerous. Peter called this Ink Pot because of the black, sticky humus which covered walls and floor. We then made the final dash to Jubilee Grotto to escape the heat.
This proved the ideal cave for such a hot day. Due to its sheltered southerly orientation and the stream which it provided for tea making. We took advantage of the available water and consumed numerous cups of both tea and coffee. We first explored the grotto where I discovered a narrow stream passage. Peter was persuaded to push this passage, but could only progress for about 10m. There must be a reasonable system behind this, as the stream is perennial. We then surveyed the narrow passage, and I entered the very narrow passage linking the main grotto with Jubilee pool.
We found a 3-4m deep vertical crack halfway between Jubilee Grotto and Erica Cave. I pushed a narrow section of Erica cave, and broke through into a new passage, which soon became narrow for further progress. We left Joan at the vertical crack between the two caves, in an attempt to try to establish a voice connection. We had no success. When we returned to Joan, we found her 2 metres away from the crack in question, and fast asleep! We did however establish voice connections between Erica Cave, and Jubilee Grotto, and between Jubilee Grotto and the half way crack. With both cave systems surveyed, we headed back to Jubilee Grotto for tea. Mist began pouring through the Spes Bona Valley, and the wind turned icy cold. After consuming peaches and ideal milk, we packed up and left for home.