Base camp - the potato hut - is where the expo as a whole is organised from. We do not have a centre of operations in the UK during expo.
Shopping for food and equipment during expo is centered at base camp, not least because this is where we have the beer fridge.
Obviously it is vital for safety that we know where everyone is and to ensure that callout times are set and cancelled for every caving trip.
We also have to keep formal, legal records of who is staying at the Staudnwirt Gasthof campsite and when because (a) we pay the Gasthof for every person-night and (b) it is a legal requirement because of tourist tax payments.
These records are kept in two bound paper books which are pre-printed and bound (including the names of all expoers) before the expo begins.
Your next of kin, insurance and emergency contact details (and your own phone number) will need to be manually written onto your page of one of these (the bierbook) on first arrival at base camp as a double-check that we have the latest correct information.
We have a hard-cover book where we record every caving or surface exploration trip that has departed or returned to base camp. This includes sketched SRT rigging guides and some cave survey notes - in addition to those recorded in the waterproof underground surveying notebooks.
The text in the logbook is typed up trip by trip as the expo progresses (e.g. see the 2017 logbook). The sketches are scanned on the scanner in the potato hut.
We have a hardcover book recording who has left base camp to go directly on a caving or surface trip, when they are expected back and the callout time: the time at which rescue preparations will begin if they have not returned.
We have the use of the new potato hut, its loft, and a cupboard - externally accessed - in the old potato hut. At the beginning of expo the cupboard and the loft are rammed full of stuff from last year and need to be emptied.
One of the first things to do is to put down the floor covering and gaffer-tape table-cloths to the tables in the potato hut. But the absolutely first thing to do is to turn on the fridge and to put some beer in it.
The bier tent (mess tent) has to be erected - a complex job for 2 people as it has a steel-tube frame and very stiff waterproofed canvas. Then the bier tent kitchen (tables, cookers, gas cylinders, pans and plates, and all the stored food) needs to be set up. The "kitchen" in the potato hut is just a sink and an electric kettle - and we deploy our bread-making machine there.
The tarp needs to be erected which extends from the end or, from 2018 the side, of the potato hut to provide a shaded and rain-free area for piles of expo stuff and for people to lurk.
Part of the area next to the hut is the winter curling "rink" - a lower area of gravel which we can't use for pitching tents as it floods in heavy rain.
Another big job is connecting and configuring the WiFi router, the networking netbook, the expo laptop (and extra screen and extra keyboard), the WiFi antenna, the printer, and the scanner. These are installed on top of the wood burning stove which we don't use. We also install mains power extension cables with UK-style sockets everywhere in the hut.
Every year we bring out A0 and A1 printed posters of the cave surveys of the caves which will be the focus of exploration. These are stuck up on the walls of the hut.
Base camp and top camp both have phones using highly-reliable, low-bandwidth Austrian phone company SIMs. We use phone calls and text messages to coordinate callout times for caving trips. See these instructions for using these and for renewing the SIM each year.
There is a whiteboard in the potato hut and another in the Steinbrückhöhle top camp.
These show current important and urgent information: what needs to be brought up to top camp from base, what we have run out of and needs buying (hangers, custard powder, drill batteries...), what has broken and needs fixing, who is planning to come down the mountain. The top camp board also records who is out on which caving trips and when they are expected back; and also promising leads to be checked out in the coming days.
The Gasthof has an A+++ "Constructa energy" washing machine in the lobby of the gents toilet/washroom area (down the side of the building).
You pay €3 (2018) cash at the reception (access from the front of the building) to get the key. The key turns on the power to the machine. Return key to reception when you are done.
Expo buys washing liquid (for washing things by hand) and Ariel washing-balls (for machine washing). These are kept in the potato hut.
The washing machine has many complicated options and is labelled almost entirely in German.
Each programme has a different combination of time, temperature, spin etc. which is described in the display panel on the right as you turn the knob to select the programme:
You probably want "Kurz" (30 minutes) wash or the "Hygiene" (2 hours 40 minutes) wash.
We also have a bike which we use for shopping when all the cars are up the toll road and there are only a handful of people at base.
See the How to get to Expo page for details of travel around Grundlsee and Bad Aussee.
Also relevant for expoers is how to get from base camp up to the plateau and back. The Loser Panorama Strasse toll road leaves from the "Losermaut Skiarena" close to Bla Alm, which is up a dead-end road from Alt Aussee. This is relevant because if you hitch and get a lift from the Loser Alm car park at the top of the toll road, you will almost certainly be going through Alt Aussee.
There are buses between Alt Aussee and Bad Aussee: route 955. See the 955 timetable here. Note that some of these are anonymous minibuses not full-sized Post buses with "955" on the front. While frequent over lunchtime, there is a 2-hour gap in the late afternoon.
Here is the timetable for bus 956 which goes to base camp and then on to Grundlesee. This also may be replaced by an anonymous white minibus with a taxi company logo. Don't get caught out by not getting onto it.
Here is the link to all the bus services and timetables for buses from Bad Aussee. If you want to go to Salzburg, you will change at Bad Ischl.
At the back of the campsite, behind the potato huts, on the side-road, are two glass collecting containers: one for white, clear glass and the other for coloured glass. These are for the odd-shaped bottles, not the Gosser bottles (and similar) which we give back to the shop and get a deposit back on them.
We generally leave the odd bottles (port in recent years, also schnapps) beside the old potto hut until the pile gets in the way and then someone takes the lot to the glass containers about 20m away.
This is not the same as is the UK.
Some of Austria is covered by the "yellow bin" scheme, but apparently not the area we are in. There are regional differences in waste separation laws: "Following consultations with the respective municipal governments, Vienna, Lower Austria, Salzburg, and Carinthia focus on the separate collection of plastic bottles (in some regions together with metal packaging), as plastic bottles can be sent for recycling. Other types of light-weight packaging are collected together with municipal solid waste", i.e. into the black bin bag.
In Bad Aussee, Austrians recycle plastic bottles, but no other forms of plastic:
The plastic bottles must be PET bottles: the normal fizzy drink type.
There is a bin bag for PET bottles (no caps) between the new and old potato huts.
There is a bin bag for aluminium and steel food and drink cans between the new and old potato huts. We also put the bottle caps from Gosser beer in there.
There is a cardboard collection box for old batteries by the tills of most supermarkets. There is certainly a collection point in the big Unimarkt in Bad Aussee.
There is a bin bag for food waste - putrescible waste - between the new and old potato huts. This goes to composting or digestion, so no non-food items should go in here. The Biomüll bin truck drives past every Thursday morning, but you need to catch his attention to get them to take it away. Twice a week you need to re-bag the food waste , double-bagging if necessary to keep the flies out.
Flies, and wasps later in the expo, are a big problem. They lay eggs in the food waste and it can be crawling with maggots: which hatch into new flies.
There is spray bleach in the bier tent (mess tent) which should be liberally applied around all the bins between the old and new potato huts to keep the flies dead. If this runs out be sure to buy some more.
Behind the Gasthof, following a path from the toilets, is the river which comes from Grundlesee and goes to Bad Aussee. There is a small dam making a swimming pool and a raft to sit on with your feet in the water while drinking Gosser. The river (Grundlseer Traun) is not only a cool festering spot and excellent swimming location, but also provides us with some turbulence from a weir which is an ideal place for washing ropes and other gear at the end of each expedition. See the festering guide for other non-caving activities to do from base camp.
In July 2018 the Gasthof nearly ran out of water because so many tourists were visiting for a music festival, and Hilda asked us to use river water if possible.
We have a complex installation of internet-connected computer hardware and WiFi in the potato hut - all running on donated or loaned gear. This is primarily for recording the surveys of the cave we discover during expo. See base camp computers for more details.
See our photo gallery of base camp through the years. We have been at Staudnwirt Gasthof since 1983.