plateau - Fishface and prospecting

Sat 13 Jul 2019

blog post

For months leading up to the start of the expedition the assault on Fish Face had been discussed, carefully planned and plotted over drinks late into the evenings. The entrance being under several meters of snow has been an unfortunate setback. Michael H spent a part of Tuesday evening kneeling in the snow hopelessly attacking it with a shovel until the handle snapped in half. This wouldn't have been half so painful if we hadn't spent the previous evening with Becka getting excited over the survey from last year, with its numerous continuing passages and undropped pitches.

As our cave was inaccessible we decided to find another one. Me, Michael H and Reuben spent the next two days tramping back and forward over the plateau looking hopefully down every crack in the limestone pavement waiting for an entrance that connects through to the caves below.

We found lots of promising horizontal entrances leading a few meters to small, drafting holes or choked continuations. The snow plugs in every depression this year have unfortunately probably hidden some entrances. Our most promising cave was a shaft we climbed down on Wednesday which went horizontal, widened out into a reasonably large rift and continued on above a bold climb.

Reuben's exploration fever carried him flailing up the overhanging climb with impressive determination. Sadly after another aven the cave ended in a pair of choked crawls. Reuben then got an introduction to solo surveying when I passed him up the tackle sack, as I had no intentioned of repeating his feat of strength to see these short crawls. In the end the cave was around 50 m in length. We dropped a nearby shaft, which led to a remarkably similar cave to the one we had just discovered, which was *definitely* not the same as the first one, according to the first explorer. Once someone else got down there, it was very clearly the cave we had just surveyed.

The forecast for the weekend is poor, and most of us are now back in base camp sheltering from the rain. Yesterday's pushing trip down Homecoming ended up being another slightly embarrassing excursion as the team drove up from base camp and walked across the plateau before realising they had not brought any bolts.

The weather is due to improve after the weekend, and pushing trips are planned into Homecoming, Balcony, and into Happy Butterfly which hasn't been touched since 2017. Happy Butterfly is likely to connect with Fish Face and allow us to bypass the new snowplug, and reclaim what was lost.

Peregrina, SUSS