Cambridge Underground 1991 p 43

A Jacker's Guide to Mallorca

Olly Betts

It is probably best to make clear from the outset that there are, broadly speaking, two classes of jacker. First off, there's your run-of-the-mill, amateur jacker, for whom jacking is a way of avoiding having to strip naked to put on a damp furry suit or wetsuit in a hailstorm on Leck Fell, most likely by lingering in Bernie's 'til the Marton Arms opens. Then we have the true, dedicated, professional jacker, who will quite often walk several miles to the cave entrance before 'discovering' that he/she has no helmet/a completely flat cell/no sit harness, or in extreme cases, no caving gear at all. You won't find a professional jacker being lured down Kingsdale Master Cave after being thrown out of the Marton. The Waterfalls Walk in a torrential downpour is preferable.

This article is aimed squarely at the pro-jacker.

It has to be really.

After all caves in Mallorca can be done in shorts, T-shirts and trainers (or less), take less than three hours to completely explore, and are crammed so full of pretties that formation-fatigue starts to set in ("Oh look, another chamber twice the size of Gaping Gill, and every square inch plastered with foot long, pure-white helictites. Let's go out - I'm bored!"). The only potential excuse that an amateur jacker might produce is that his woman doesn't like caving (or her man - or even his man/her woman - though these have not yet been observed in practice) and even this can be overcome by dragging her (him/them/it/...) down just one Mallorcan cave - even the most stubborn anti-caver will become hooked!

So what can a pro-jacker do in Mallorca to avoid spelunking?

Well ... walking is one alternative. The book 'walking in Mallorca' by June Parker (Cicerone Press) is well worth getting hold of. The walks detailed are graded from A+ to C-. The grading seems to be fairly reasonable, so beware of getting out of your depth (probably not the right idiom since most of the walks are up mountains). It is worth noting that the back page of the book contains a list of amendments, worth checking as we found someone was building a housing estate over one of the walks.

Here are a few, possibly useful, comments on the walks that I've done:

Serra del Cavall Bernat (Walk 8) - A wonderful ridge walk with incredible views (and an incredible thousand foot drop to the sea below - not a walk for those with vertigo!). Some impressive windows (caves that didn't quite make it!). You can easily cut across country at the end, taking a more direct route back to Puerto Pollensa, but watch out for the gorse and sharp rock if you're wearing shorts.

Puig Roig (Walk 20) (note amendments in 1988 edition) - well worth doing. There is a good solid path around the mountain itself - apparently used by smugglers in the past - with some spectacular views down to the sea.

Escorca to Torrente de Pareis (Walk 21 a & b) -The book suggests each as a separate walk, but with several cars it is easy to drop off a car at the bottom, and pop up to fetch the other cars. It's worth taking swimming cossies, since there can be a fair amount of water in some of the pools. Someone has helpfully painted red spots and purple arrows in the Torrent de Pareis itself, which give a plausible route - though there are alternatives. [Please read "A Warning" before descending Torrente de Pareis, Webeditor]

Sa Fosca - Not really a walk, more eight hours of discomfort, culminating in hypothermia. Worth doing if you're into that sort of thing, but I 'spose it counts as caving, and so not really of interest to professional jackers. Take care on the walk back up not to lose the path like we did. If you do Escorca to Torrent de Pareis first, make a mental note of where the path comes down.

Other pastimes are possible. Drinking excessively 'til the not-so-small hours for example, since Mallorcan licensing hours seem lax if they exist at all. Another related activity is lying in bed all day with a hangover (ask Matt!). There are also the ice cream eating contests in the eat-as-much-as-you-like buffet (this year's best was fifteen, I believe).

There are a number of show caves around the island (eg. Drach and Artá) which may tempt the weaker willed pro-jacker, and will certainly attract mere amateurs. All in all, Mallorca offers a more varied jacking ground than Yorkshire (and is certainly a wee bit warmer in early January), with plenty of scope for pushing back the frontiers of not-going-caving.

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