In the massif of Krakova hola (1753 m a.s.l.) on the northern side of the Nizke Tatry Mountains (Low Tatras) one can find the deepest Slovak caves - V Zaskoci Cave, Stary hrad (Old Castle) Cave and Javorova priepast (Maple Chasm). Owing to the depth of 424 m primacy belongs to the cave Stary hrad, which is over 5 km long. In giving this name to the cave the discoverers were inspiredby the impressive rock formation which at the heigth of 1488 m serves as an entrace way into the underground.
The cave is composed of a system of narrow passages interrupted by chasms 7 to 44 m deep and passing in the lower part into more massive canyons. These spaces, developed 160 - 580 m deep below the massif surface prevailingly in the dark-coloured limestones of the Middle Triassic, are only a minor part of the so far undiscovered system which drains the waters of Krakova hola into the springs at the bottom of Janska dolina Valley.
The cave of Stary hrad was discovered by Petr Hipman and Hana Kynclova in August, 1967. Exploration of the cave, which is still bringing new discoveries, is pursued by Zvolen Regional Group of the Slovak Speleological Society.
The network of entrance meanders with the passage called Slepa chodba (Blind Passage) at the level of the entrance leads to a system of 4 chasms falling to the depth of 150 m. The largest of them - Hlavna priepast (Main Chasm) can by skirted by a dug spiral passage at present. In the year 1979 the spelunkers found continuation behind the cave in at the depth of 152 m. Through the long meander ended by Studna radosti (Well of Joy) 44 m deep they managed to penetrate to the Siphon '80 at the bottom of Sien prieskumnikov (Parlour of explorers; -272 m). The water hindrance was overcome by pumping the water out into the rubber tank in the year 1980. Behind the siphon they found the passage Biela chodba (White Passage) whit aragonite decoration and the dripstone formation called Etna under which you can see them refreshing themselves before the ascent to the surface. Behind Etna the cave continues in Revajov dom (Revaj's Dome) and at the end of the Kanon (Canyon) it is confined by the as yet not overcome siphon Marcelova zumpa (Marcel's Cesspool) at the depth of 343 m. In the year 1982 the spelunkers managed to dig the way from Revajov dom to Velky kanon (Great Canyon). The way to the depth leads along an impetuous underground torrent through Riecna priepast (River Chasm) with the waterfall 20 m long. The water stream with small cascades gets lost in the impassable joint in the depth of 400 m.
At present the survey continues not only to the depth but also in the counter-current direction of the torrent, in the cave-in at the end of Velky kanon and in the confluent branch above Studna radosti where over the manhole called Mydlikova hroza (Mydlik's Terror) the spelunkers ascended nearly to the level of the entrance.
The cave of Stary hrad is not open to the public. It lies in the undisturbed and protected mountain environment, on the territory of the Nizke Tatry National Park, in the Dumbier State Nature Reserve. A visit to the underground of Krakova hola is allowed only to the experienced and able spelunkers under the guidance of the Zvolen cavers.
Written and taken a snap by Petr Hipman, chairman of Zvolen Caving Group.