Many of the caves described in these pages are in a Nature Reserve (Naturschutzgebiet), in which permission is legally required (and most often denied) for both caving and camping. Austria has a very strict cave conservation ethic - permission to cave is unlikely to be granted without the support of the local caving organisation, who are currently discouraging new exploration by any groups who have not previously worked in the area.
Care should be taken where possible to stick to existing paths. Be aware that knowing the coordinates of a cave, and/or bearings to prominent landmarks, is no guarantee of being able to find it in the intricate and confusing limestone karren fields. Marking of caves or routes by paint is now strongly discouraged, more discreet metal tags being used instead. This makes caves even harder to spot from any distance away.
Many of the caves were explored up to almost forty years ago, using 8mm self-drilling anchors - the hangers were removed. Not all of these were well-placed, and some were placed for ladders, not SRT. All will have deteriorated, even though, in most cases, they were greased during derigging. Some of them are very hard to find (even with a detailed rigging guide) and omission of a critical rebelay or deviation can render a pitch much more dangerous either through abrasion or through greater exposure to floodwater. Many of the caves contain loose rock; many are subject to rapid flooding with very cold runoff water. Rocks can move, ice formations can form in different places each year and may be in a greater or lesser state of decomposition during the summer. What may have been safe rigging during the original exploration may not be safe today. Snow plugs on entrance pitches may collapse without warning. Other hazards may exist of which the original explorers were unaware.
Please take these caves as you find them and treat their descent as if it was original exploration. It is up to the individual to satisfy his or herself that the descent is safe, that any belays used or reused are sound. CUCC does not maintain any of the anchors or fixed ropes in the caves except during their own continuing explorations and even then cannot guarantee their safety. Neither CUCC nor any member or guest of a CUCC expedition can be held responsible for any accident occurring to third parties descending any of the caves described here, even if using equipment placed by such persons. If you are not prepared to assume responsibility for your own safety, please stay out of these caves or take suitable training to ensure that you can assess and deal with the risks.
Be aware that it can take considerable time for any rescue effort to be organised in this location, so visitors should aim to be self-reliant. Although the Austrian rescue organisation may be able to call upon the services of a helicopter, these cannot fly at night, and military operations will take priority over civilian rescue. You'll need a fluent German speaker (ie. able to converse accurately over the phone) to be able to make contact with the rescue service at all. It is in your interest to make contact with any other cavers or expeditions in the area, as well as the local caving groups, before any rescue effort is required. It is also your moral responsibility to offer assistance in the event that another group is involved in a rescue situation. Unlike rescues in the UK, which tend to use huge numbers of haulers, very few Austrian cavers are available for any given rescue. It may be helpful to read the Rescue Guide which CUCC uses on its expeditions.
Finally, information presented here is gathered together from a wide variety of sources, from detailed reports written at the time of exploration to word-of-mouth from memory many years later. Although every care has been taken to ensure that it is correct (for our own use if nothing else :-), neither CUCC nor the editors of this archive make any warranty as to the accuracy or currency of anything presented here. In ALL cases, any opinions expressed are those of the contributing author, and do not necessarily reflect an official position of Cambridge University Caving Club or of any other body which they may appear to represent. Any representation of a legal or 'official' position reflects our best efforts at understanding, but should not be taken as an authoritative source. Errors, omissions and misunderstandings are inevitable, especially when there are language barriers and only one visit to the area each year. Legal positions, regulations, policies and responsible bodies all change, and the latest situation may not yet have come to our attention. In no case can CUCC or the authors of information presented here be held responsible for any conflict, loss or consequential damage arising from the use of or inability to use the information. We would appreciate being informed of any errors, omissions or misunderstandings of which you become aware.
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