Caving in Finland
There are countless glacial boulder caves and tectonic-glacial crevice caves and rock shelters in Finland, over one thousand in total, although these tend to be pretty small.
Boulders, boulders, boulders
While Finland hardly is a country known for its caves, we have quite interesting boulder caves boasting up to 260m of maze-like crawl size passages. These boulder caves are also very stable as the rock is insoluble — a perfect playground. If you love boulder chokes, you’ll be in heaven.
The cave featured on the map below is nearly 300m in surveyed length and it has 50 exits. It is a very challenging cave nevertheless, as many of its corners are incredibly cramped.
Caves have their story to tell
Rock shelters have an interesting history on the shores of the ancient Litorina sea after the latest ice age (Weichselian) and as housing for the people following receding ice. This makes these caves archaeologically interesting and archaeological finds date back thousands of years to the days when eastern and western stone-age cultures met. The earliest mentions of caves in literature date back to the 13th century (Luolala near Turku). In the 15th century they were used for hiding coin at least (in Masku near Turku). It is conjectured that a coin treasure hidden in a cave in Masku is related to a nunnery that was raided and destroyed. This happened around 1405. Oral tradition has it that many many caves were also used as refuges during the Great Northern War (for Finns it was anything but great, though).
Not just caves
In addition to caves, there are other underground sites such as partly demolished Soviet second world war bunkers. We can recommer Jari Arkko’s website Planetcaver.net, which acts as an index to his caving related posts. There you will find blog posts on Finnish caves and bunkers.
Finnish bedrock comprises mostly insoluble stones and there are no major karst regions suitable for cave formation. A handful of limestone caves do exist, but they are small.
Torhola limestone cave
Torholan luola (Torhola cave on Karkalinniemi near Lohja), the longest accessible limestone cave, only has 107 meters of passage (surveyed length).
Toskaljärvi limestone cave
There is another one, Toskaljärven luola, a very confined place with an active stream of meltwater, near Kilpisjärvi in Lapland. The cave is only a three days hike away from the closest road.
Olhava crevice cave
SRT is probably not usefull in any but possibly one crevice cave (Olhavan vuoren luola, ten metres down).
Repouuro boulder cave, Koli
The longest boulder cave in the country, Repouuro (260-280m surveyed length) near the Koli mountain is our only “showcave”: guided tours are operated by Koli Active. They offer a Cave Adventure in the cave. Free entry if you find it though – but it’s also a maze.
Korkberget boulder cave, Kirkkonummi
The likewise confined Korkberget boulder cave in Kirkkonummi near Helsinki also boasts nearly 300m of surveyed passages.
Luolavuoren luola, Turku
In the city of Turku there is a cozy little boulder cave, Luolavuoren luola, offering crawling and optional committing squeezes for those so aligned. It is conveniently accessible by city bus and located on the slopes of a wooded hill next to and amidst residential areas.
What to expect
A cave that fits two or three people comfortably is fairly sizeable by Finnish caving standards. A cave that extends for 20m or more is considered to be long.
Finnish caves can typically be visited with a minimal amount of equipment: a helmet, a head torch, and durable clothes are typically sufficient. Kneepads would be nice to bring as there is hardly any walking in our caves. You will spend a major part of your caving trip on all fours. It is not unusual to spend more time looking for the cave than actually exploring it, though. A number of cave surveys can be found on our cave map page. With the notable exception of Korkberget in Kirkkonummi west-south-west of Espoo, a cave map is hardly necessary…
Finnish Caving Society
Finnish Caving Society (Suomen luolaseura in Finnish and Finlands grottförening in Swedish) is the one and only Finnish club focusing primarily on dry caves. The club was founded in 2010.
The aim of our society is to promote cave-related activities and to increase public knowledge of caves and caving. The club has around 60 members, including both people who mainly visit, explore and catalogue Finnish caves and those who spend their vacations visiting large cave systems abroad.
What we do
We organize trips to both Finnish and foreign caves, offer training courses, provide online information on Finnish caves and caving, maintain a discussion forum, promote cave surveying, publish an annual printed journal, acts as a liaison between Finnish cavers and foreign clubs, and represent Finland in the European Speleological Federation.
Cave diving, too
We do not focus on cave diving, but some of our members dive sumps and caves in general. For cave divers there are other organisations centered around a number of lovely diveable mines with bustling activity: Haveri mine (Tampere) and Montola mine (Montola, Pieksämäki, Central Finland).
Join our discussions at Finnish Caving Society on Facebook