Jaskinia Wielka Śnieżna
Jaskinia Wielka Śnieżna ("great snowy cave") is a limestone cave in Mount Małołączniak in the Western Tatra Mountains, of the Carpathian Mountains System, in southern Poland. The cave is within Tatra National Park.
With the length of 23.619 kilometres (14.676 mi), and vertical range of 824 metres (2,703 ft), it is the longest, largest, and deepest cave of Poland.
Wielka Śnieżna has five entrances:
- Jaskinia Śnieżna ("snowy cave") – 1701 m – discovered in 1959
- Jaskinia nad Kotlinami ("cave over the kettles") – 1875 m – discovered in 1966, connected to Śnieżna in 1968
- Jasny Awen ("light aven") – 1852 m – first explored in 1959, connected to Wielka Śnieżna in 1978
- Jaskinia Wielka Litworowa ("great angelica cave") – 1906 m – connected to Wielka Śnieżna in 1995
- Jaskinia Wilcza ("wolf cave") – 1672 m – discovered in 1996, connected to Wielka Śnieżna in 1999
They are connected by a complicated system of shafts and passages. Several of them contain underground trickles, waterfalls, pools, or siphons. The cave is drained by a karst spring known as Lodowe Źródło ("icy spring").
Jaskinia Śnieżna was discovered in 1959 by cavers from Zakopane. In 1960, it reached the depth of 545 m, which made it, at that time, fourth deepest cave in the world. In the subsequent years, the cave was intensively explored and connected with other caves. The exploration is still ongoing, including attempts to connect the cave to Śnieżna Studnia, second largest cave in Poland.