Lamprechtsofen Cave - Austria

The Lamprechtsofen is located in the northermost outcrop of the Leoganger Steinberge. It is the youngest of the Dachstein Caves.

Since 2001.01.06 Lamprechtsofen is no longer deepest cave in the world. It was beaten by Voronya cave reexplored by Ukrainian - Russian team in Arabica massif in Caucasus mountains in Georgia.  Exploration of Lamprechtsofen is still in progress, and extending the depth of this cave still is possible. For geological reasons it can reach about 1720-1750.

A legend explains how the cave got its name.  

Many centuries ago, Knight Lamprecht, who owned a castle in this valley, is said to have brought back a treasure from a crusade. His two daughters inherited the treasure, but soon the greedier one stole her sister's share and hid it in the Lamprecht Cave.

local legend. 

For centuries to come, many people searched the cave in order to find the fortune and prove that the legend was true. Their fruitless efforts assumed such alarming proportions that the regional government of the prince-bishopric of Salzburg had the cave walled up in 1701. Obviously this is rather fruitless, as the entrance is due to heavy floodings. The cave river leaves the cave through this entrance several times a year during snow melt and after heavy rains and destroys any installation pretty fast. 

Neither impressive sinter formations nor ice can be found in the Lamprecht Cave. But a waterfall, subterranean brooks, lakes and the enormous dimension of the cave make up for that! 

 And although the cave is a show cave, it also is a river cave. It is impossible to visit the cave in times of heavy rain or in the spring. The cave has an alarm system to prevent people from being trapped in the cave, but still it happens. In January 1991 a party of for cavers from Nuremberg, Germany was trapped in the cave. In the two days, they spent inside the cave, the weather outside changed and melting snow caused the flood. But they were rescued by a team of 17 Austrian cavers, including two divers, after several hours.

In August 1998 a team of ten cavers from Salzburg and Krakau found a connection between Lamprechtsofen Cave and the PL-2 cave system. The height difference of this united cave system is 1,632m and made this cave the worlds deepest cave! Its new length is over 50km which is also remarkable.

Just a few days after this discovery, once again people were trapped in the cave. A group of 14 cave tourists, among them seven children, had to stay in the cave from late afternoon until they were rescued at 23:00. The water had risen very fast, because of heavy rain. This situation is a bit anoying, but it is not dangerous at all. Only a short passage is flooded, most of the cave is still dry. It just becomes a bit cool after some time, so the cave administration placed a big box with warm blankets and food inside the cave.

The fame of Lamprechtsofen being the deepest cave of the world lasted only for three years. In June 2001, a deeper cave was explored in Georgia. The deepest cave of the world is now  Voronya pestera (Krubera Cave) in Abkhazia, Georgia, which is 2,140m (OCT-2005) deep. 

Article from 1998

The Polish expedition linked cave labelled Pl-2 to Lamprechtsofen (the Leoganger Steinberge massif, the Northern Calcareous Alps, Austria) on 19 August. Andrzej Ciszewski was, as almost always in the past, the team leader. The expedition explored Vogelschacht cave, which has been a part of Lamprechtsofen since 1995. More than 1 km of new series was discovered. The series led to Pl-2 cave at the level of about -400 m. The new depth of Lamprechtsofen reached 1632 m. Thus Lamprechtsofen became the deepest cave in the world. 

part of PL-2 and Vogelschacht

This achievement crowns 24 years of Polish exploration of the Leoganger Steinberge massif. In this time almost 30 Polish expeditions carried out exploration in the massif. They worked in Lamprechtsofen, as well as in Nebelsbergkar area on the slopes of the massif. The most significant steps in the exploration of Lamprechtsofen carried out by Polish cavers were: (1) 1979 - reaching the vertical extent 1022 m in Lamprechtsofen during climbing up from the cave entrance; (2) 1990 - linking of N-132 to Lamprechtsofen which became the deepest cave traverse (1484 m); (3) 10.08.1995 - linking of Vogelschacht to Lamprechtsofen which made the depth of 1532 m, Lamprechtsofen became the second deepest cave in the world; (4) 19.08.1998 - Lamprechtsofen became the first deepest cave in the world due to the link with Pl-2 cave.

Michal GradziƱski
Caving Commission of Polish Mountaineering Association