Song of the Earth and Camp Derig

Mon 18 Jul 2016



It was supposed to be a 2 night camp starting on Sunday. But on Sunday we woke up and it had been raining in the night and continued to rain. So we deferred to avoid starting off cold and wet. Instead an "alpine start" was called for and I got everyone up at 6am on Monday. We were underground by 8am and down at camp for a late lunch. The idea was to try and make some good going leads in Song of the Earth. Elaine and Katey went to the downstream limit, supposedly drafting and blowing sediment in your face. Meanwhile I agreed to belay Ian up the upstream lead.

As we left camp I was impressed with Chris and Anthony finding the way on via Tentacle traverse - now a very slippery beast indeed! Luke's Pitch down into Song of the Earth was much bigger than I expected, and perhaps a tad underbolted.

As we entered the master cave, Ian and I went "upstream" via the bouldery awfulness eventually arriving at the limit of exploration. Ian was certainly correct that it was a promising location - howling gale going uphill and the ??? appearing to continue in a ramp translated higher up. However, it was a long way up!

Ian was efficient though, climbing up around 10-15 metres until the rope drap was too much, while I went through my song repetoire. He then rigged a pitch for the first section while I took some photos. Then, after chocolate, we both went up to the belay so Ian could climb the next section. This was mostly a ramp as opposed to a true pitch. Although Ian was efficient again (another 15+m ascended) I got very cold tied off to the belay. Unfortunately at the top of the pitch the passage got smaller, continuing as an upstream canyon with trickle of water, before finishing at an aven. Time to go home to Kraken.

By this time Elaine and Katey had appeared so it was a quick survey before departure. The others had not had much luck "downstream" so it was decided to derig the master cave. I was very tired (+ Elaine very cold) so Ian and Katey did this while Elaine and I took the drill, etc back to camp. We arrived back about 11pm after 15 hours caving. The other two were about an hour to 90 mins behind us.

The campsite was great, and we had a comfy night, oversleeping and not getting up until almost 10am.

It took around 3 hours to get breakfasted and pack up camp. We sent Elaine out first. Then me and Katey. Ian derigged Kraken and we three paelled up the master cave ropes in the base of Inferno. [Note - Octopussy, Tentacle, Luke's pitch etc all left in situ]

I left the base of the Inferno pitch around 5pm. Half an hour later Ian was shouting up about something catching. He and Katey ended up derigging a little more. Meanwhile I prussicked on, catching Elaine up at the top of String Theory. We did the last section together and exited around 11pm.

Ian and Katey returned to Steinbrucken about one hour after us.