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Veggfjellan IX Winter Expedition

↓ Veggfjellan IX Winter Expedition
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A moment before diving in one of the siphons in the Veggfjellan cave system.
Author: Sami Paakkarinen
A moment before diving in one of the siphons in the Veggfjellan cave system.

The Vegfjellan cave is located beyond the Arctic Circle, in the landscapes of the Nordland district in Norway, in the massif of the same name. Its entrance is located on the slope of a fjord, 60 meters above sea level. This mysterious cave first attracted the attention of Norwegian professor Stein-Erik Lauritzen in the 1970s, when he observed water flowing out of the mountain slope.

In 2016, a series of expeditions began to uncover the secrets of the Vegfjellan massif and the cave cutting through it. Twice a year, teams of explorers ventured deep into the massif. As in many similar caves located in the north, there is a clear seasonality here. In summer, the cave is relatively easy to access, but there are large water flows that make diving difficult, and often impossible. In winter, the flows are relatively small, but snow, ice, and low temperatures make access difficult and logistics very challenging.

The access to the cave itself is complicated: it requires first a several-kilometer boat trip to get to the base of the mountain rising directly from the fjord, and then at least an hour's climb up a steep slope. Because the cave is located in complete wilderness, explorers must return the same way every day and tackle the journey again the next morning.

The inaugural expeditions to the Vegfjellan cave, which took place in 2016, opened up an undiscovered world to the team. The dry sections of the cave discovered that year stretched for kilometers, separated by three siphons. These water-filled passages led to an extraordinary chamber, which was named Crystal Cave.

Over time, more discoveries were made. The year 2018 brought the discovery of a hidden gem. A cascading waterfall hid a stunning secret, which only revealed itself when it froze during the harsh Scandinavian winter, opening access to Waterfall Cave.

Subsequent expeditions brought more spectacular discoveries. After penetrating Waterfall Cave, the entire system, along with Crystal Cave, encompassed about 3 kilometers of corridors in the dry parts of the caves with three siphons in Crystal Cave and another two in Waterfall Cave, one of which remained unexplored by divers.

Exploration of Waterfall Cave

The winter expedition Veggfjellan IX began in quite challenging conditions – a one-and-a-half-meter layer of wet snow turned the usually easy one-hour approach into a four-hour ordeal. Upon reaching the entrance, it turned out to be completely covered in snow, and shoveling several tons of snow was necessary to access the interior.

On the second day, expedition members managed to pass through an unexplored siphon in Waterfall Cave, leading to the discovery of a new dry section and another siphon. This siphon led to a huge chamber and a flooded tunnel running downwards. After about 80 meters, divers reached a depth of over 20 meters, which was the limit for the team's configuration. Diving in earlier sections of the cave reached a maximum depth of 8 meters, so further exploration will require a completely new approach and equipment.

During the dives, team members continuously collected data for scientific purposes: they measured water levels and temperature in different parts of the cave, and in one of the siphons, they placed a small device to record parameters at specified intervals.

For more information about Veggfjellan IX Winter Expedition, visit:


↓ Date of the project


↓ Location
Sagfjord, Nordland, Norway
↓ Goals

Exploration and mapping of the Waterfall Cave in the Veggfjellan massif.

↓ Achievements

Discovery of new sections of the cave beyond sump II in Waterfall Cave, including a vast chamber and another sump descending to a depth of over 20 meters.

↓ Team
  • Ian France
  • Toni Rasmus Ruokonen
  • Sami Paakkarinen
  • Riikka Haakana
  • Antti Apunen
  • Veli Elomaa
  • Anders Hansen
  • Rui Luis
  • Chloé Maréchal
  • Ben Raymenants
  • Armando Ribeiro
  • Yana Stashkevich
  • Laura Tuominen
  • Jenni Westerlund

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