Monday, June 17, 2024 | Dhu al-hijjah 10, 1445 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

What it’s like to explore the 6 km tunnel that connects three underground caves in Selma Plateau

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My four friends and I had to wait for two years before we could finally manage to have a holiday at the same time in order to cross the tunnel joining the three-window cave to Al Tahiri Cave in Selma Plateau in Muscat Governorate.


Ahmed, Justin, Joe1, Joe2 and myself embarked on this fantastic journey to Selma Plateau, which plunged us 270 m below ground for a walk that covered around 6 km. We reached the entrance of the three window cave sink hole around 2 pm and started fixing the rope for the first 30 m pitch.


Yusuf, a friend, accompanied us in order to drive the car and park at the spot, which we were to reach around 14 hours later, according to my estimation.


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Joe1 was the first to go, disappearing in the hole at 2h 45. We all reached the bottom of the sink hole three hours later after having abseiled 10 drops in total, ranging from 4 to 34 m.


Then we started to progress in the flooded horizontal tunnel. In the beginning, we managed to avoid getting wet by doing traverses on the side walls using the ropes that some cavers had fixed earlier. This part of the tube was very hard as we were carrying heavy bags. Eventually we could no longer avoid getting into the cold and stinky water, as there was no other way to keep on advancing.


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The water temperature was no more than 20 degrees, according to Joe1!


Progress in this part of the tunnel was very slow. The passage was very narrow, and the roof was very low forcing us to progress on our knees for a long distance. This tube joins the gallery coming from the Seventh Hole (another sink hole in the same cave system) and continues underground through Al Tahiri Cave. I did the trip between the seventh hole and Al Tahiri Cave many times and knew it by heart.


To reach the junction with the other sinkhole, it took us around ten hours. We stopped for a short break to eat and put on dry clothes because further down the gallery is supposed to be dry.


After a short while, we reached a pool full of water and realised that the gallery was flooded. We managed to avoid the first pool by doing a traverse, but soon after we were on the ledge of another one that we could not escape!


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The next part of the crossing was very tough, as we had to swim several times and started to feel very cold.


The group reached the entrance of Al Tahiri Cave around 8h30 am.


From there we had around 1h30 of hiking to get to our car, which we drove back to the entrance of the three-window cave. Joe1 and Justin went down in the sinkhole again to retrieve the ropes.


We were all exhausted but very happy that we had achieved this extreme caving trip after almost two years of waiting.


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