Sternloch 3/S -


New Entrance


LUSS 1987-8

Underground Description

A narrow slot (1m x 5m) with a small capping roof, soon bells out to a landing after 17m on a boulder-strewn ledge. The second pitch, Virgo, follows immediately, bolt belays giving a fine hang of 21m. Ways down through the boulder floor soon choke, but a step up into a small alcove reveals a small hole dropping into a rift. This is the take-off for Aquarius, an 85m shaft in six sections. Halfway down, the water cascades in from the roof, usually in large quantities.

From the base of Aquarius, traversing forwards gains a drier hang for the next pitch of 16m. A pendulum 10m down avoids the worst of the water, which continues down a clean circular shaft (see below).

The pendulum reaches W.C.S. series where two short drops in a rift lead to a bolt rebelay in a massive jammed boulder. Just below this, a window opens into a narrow shaft which is undescended. At the foot of the rift, a short section of hading rift gets wetter at the head of the next pitch, whose 11m are always lashed by spray from somewhere above.

A short traverse into a large alcove escapes the spray and facilitates a dry hang for FUDE, a 14m pitch with natural belays set well back and soft squidgy choss at the pitch head. Two climbs lead to a rift/ramp area where the way on is tight and thrutchy. Nil Desperandum soon drops to the head of a short pitch and more climbs down into a chamber.

The rift outlet is too tight, but a 5m climb up gains a bypass where a short traverse leads to Ardua, a pitch of 11m. Down the slope, the water sinks in boulders, but the way on is a slot in the wall behind a large boulder. This immediately bells out onto Astra, a 38m pitch where a pendulum onto and over a huge chocked boulder reaches bolts for the second part of the pitch, a superb 25m drop down one end of a large rift.

Climbing down at the far end of the rift, an area of breakdown is reached. Up the boulders, a rift enters from the right (presumed to be an inlet, but not explored), while water can be heard away to the left. However, the loose nature of this area, combined with the pitch below, precluded anything more than a cursory examination.

Under the boulders, a short pitch lands in a chamber where the water is rejoined shortly before it cascades over the lip of another large shaft, the limit of exploration in 1987.

The pitch is 57m and quite wet, dropping into a sizeable chamber (50m x 10m and 40m high), The Planetarium. This chamber is formed along a fault, with breakdown littering the floor. At one end, under a large waterfall, is a pitch between the wall and the boulders. This drops 15m into an extremely loose boulder choke Religious Places, with no way on. No other route out could be found from the Planetarium, giving an overall depth of 331m.

The wet way on from the bottom of Aquarius descends pitches of 7m and 27m. The latter is arguably the best pitch of the cave, hanging free for 23m beside a column of water. Unfortunately, the way on is a tiny impassable rift.