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  1. #1

    Default Orda Cave in Russia

    It was a great adventure diving Orda cave in Russia. Not only was it my first time in Russia but it was a first time diving a cold water cave.

    Orda Cave is the largest gypsum cave system in the world and the second longest cave in Eurasia. Because of the gypsum walls and no river inclusion the walls are white and clean. The line even looks like it was laid yesterday. It's cold, about 5C (41F) and clear.

    I was surprised by the geometric shapes of the cave. There were lots of rectangular rock and a surprising number of triangular rocks. Many areas are layered like corduroy. The natural pillars are amazing. There are several air domes which make light rays dance. Tunnels ranges from huge to tight and dusty. The Big Hall is about 100m (300 ft) long and 40m (130 ft) wide. It's too big to illuminate it all at once.

    The mainline runs 850m (2800 ft) and many of the passages are lined. With an average depth of about 50 ft, it's possible to reach everywhere on back gas. The lines are well marked. The most common ones have name plates. A week would not be enough to explore all the passages. It is speculated that there are lots of new passages to find. There are lots of side passages and lots of opportunity to jump around.

    The locals will do one or two 90 to 120 minute dives per day. Cold is often the limiting factor so it's important to have a dry suit with 400g or better undergarments. An extra layer or two of thinner garments would be wise. Dry gloves are also highly recommended with thick glove liners. The locals dive rag-wool liners. If you can find one, an 8mm or thicker hood is a good idea.

    I dive this temperature of water every winter and I used last winter to try different glove liners and socks to see if I could keep warm for longer than an hour. I also got used to reaching d-rings with all the thick undergarments and I got used to using spools and reels. It wasn't that hard really.

    By the second day at Orda I had dialed in my thermal protection. I'd added a thin thermal top and added more lead than I thought I needed to avoid having suit crush near the end of the dive. By the end of the week we were doing 80 minute dives and I was running spools.

    Andrey Gorbunov has built a comfortable complex of buildings on the site and it seems he's continually improving it. There are several two bedroom/four person cabins, a common building with kitchen, showers, toilets, a large change room for gearing up and a hot room for drying suits which often is used for donning suits. Nitrox is available.

    The cave entrance is 120 stair steps from the complex. The stairs were new, made from thick timbers and was safe and easy. Once in the cave entrance there are another 100 stair/ladder steps to reach the dive platform. These steps looked harder then they were. Made mostly from steel rebar and angle iron the steps are sturdy but a little rough. There are two areas of mud/gravel slope. There are handrails on everything. The dive platform is large and lined with benches suitable for holding lots of doubles. Once geared up it's about 15 stairs steps to the water.

    One of the services offered is "sherpa" service for tanks and gear. With 220 steps, I recommend you rely on the strong locals to haul your gear. Divers seemed to carry their cameras up and down, although some may have trusted the sherpas with pelican cases. We left our gear on the dive platform all week so the sherpas only hauled tanks up and down every day.

    Orda Cave offers sidemount and double backmount tanks for rent. They have v-weights and block lead available. There isn't a dive shop so bring spares.

    Orda Cave is open year round for diving. The water temp doesn't change much but the outside temp can drop to -40 (C or F) or lower and the stairs become snow covered. I visited in early June when the weather is comfortably warm.

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  2. #2
    Administrator Forum Admin
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    Default

    Very nice write-up, and great pictures. Thanks!

    Forrest Wilson (with 2 Rs)
    Any opinions are personal.
    Sump Divers

  3. #3

    Default

    Sounds like an awesome trip, thanks for the report. What is the place you were staying called? Do they have a website or something?

    Also, is the place rebreather friendly?

    Sent from my SM-G930W8 using Tapatalk


  4. #4

    Default

    We stayed at Orda Cave. Andrey has several log cabins for rent. I stayed in a two bedroom/four bed cabin. We also purchased the meal plan, which was good food. The total price for the week in Russia was about USD$1,000 or Rubles. Aside from snacks and beer that's the week all-in. We used bank machines there to get Rubles.

    I did notice two containers of 'sorb tagged with diver names. I suspect they were brought in by local divers. They blend nitrox on-site so you should be able to get O2 fills and EAN diluent. You should ask Andrey about tanks and sorb.

    You can reach him through his facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ordacaverussia/

    Since Orda isn't well advertised it's a hidden gem that isn't heavily travelled. It's quite special.


  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks for additional info really appreciate it.

    Sent from my SM-G930W8 using Tapatalk


  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jvanostrand View Post
    We stayed at Orda Cave. Andrey has several log cabins for rent. I stayed in a two bedroom/four bed cabin. We also purchased the meal plan, which was good food. The total price for the week in Russia was about USD$1,000 or Rubles. Aside from snacks and beer that's the week all-in. We used bank machines there to get Rubles.
    Did this include your diving fees? Could you describe the costs for diving?


  7. #7
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    Default

    I would love to see that, but I couldn't deal with that cold water! Great pictures.

    Land of Enchantment -- not so great for cave diving, but mighty scenic!

  8. #8

    Default

    Thanks for posting this. This is on my list of trips for late 2019. I'm still debating going CCR or Open Circuit. Seems like a hassle to lug a rebreather to Russia when the cave is only 60ft deep. Did you see a lot of people using CCR?

    When I had emailed Andrey they said he had CCR tank rentals and could fill O2 but couldn't get sorb but there was definitely a language barrier there. I'd go CCR if I don't end up having to use expired Russian submarine sorb


  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by macado View Post
    Thanks for posting this. This is on my list of trips for late 2019. I'm still debating going CCR or Open Circuit. Seems like a hassle to lug a rebreather to Russia when the cave is only 60ft deep. Did you see a lot of people using CCR?

    When I had emailed Andrey they said he had CCR tank rentals and could fill O2 but couldn't get sorb but there was definitely a language barrier there. I'd go CCR if I don't end up having to use expired Russian submarine sorb
    There is a deeper section of cave there that, at the time I was there, was not fully surveyed. Its even colder and darker.

    Tom Johnson / tj
    Administrator/Sponsor
    Dayo Scuba Center LLC
    Orlando, Florida


 

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