by Brian Derby
Wolfhöhle was discovered by the 1983 expedition and pushed to a depth of about 200m to the "Undescended 40m pitch" but more of that later. The cave is situated on the Loser Plateau about 1km away from the col by the end of the Bräuning Wall. The entrance is in the side of a small depression along an obvious surface fault-like feature in the bunde-coveed lapiaz.
From the entrance the draught is followed through a small phreatic level. The passage size is about 1-2m and at least 3 entrances are known to this level. After about 20m the floor of the passage drops away. This is the first pitch of about 20m into Wolf Chamber. The skeleton of a large fanged animal was found here in 1983 and was identified by the expedition biologists (botanists and molecular biologists!) as obviously a Wolf. The skeleton was found at the far end of Wolf Chamber, several metres from the pitch. Whether this indicates another way into the system is unknown. In 1984 we removed the skeleton for the benefit of the Austrians who identified it as a Brown Bear. By now it was too late to change the name of the cave but the blind pitch in Wolf Chamber has been named the Bear Pit. The obvious way on in the chamber is a continuation of the entrance pitch but the draught does not come from here so only a cursory inspection was given and it is believed to choke off. At the far end of this chamber is a short climb up to a hole in the wall. Crawling through this leads to the Bog Seat Climb, a slimy tube down of about 15m which was laddered. The passage enlarges slightly to stooping height and a sandy way leads on to the first big pitch.
The Big Leap is a 90m rift rigged in 3 pitches with a nifty deviation near the bottom. The walls are very dark and drip from a peaty layer which may be remnants of melt flod debris. The highlight of the pitch is Julian's bolting technique. Never one to expend needless effort, the first bolt has about 5mm waving in the air and makes nasty cracking noises now and again. At the bottom, the rift narrows and is blocked here and there by jammed boulders, one forcing a squeeze until it was moved by a thuglike pushing party in 1984. A couple of uneventful short pitches lead on to the first bit of real fun.
Tiddley-Pom Pitch is quite straightforward at first, at least once you've found John Bower's bolt hidden round the corner on the left. In order to place this bolt John must either have secret powers of levitation or very athletic knees. At about this level (10m down) a drip enters. This is in fact a stream with very fast respnse to thunderstorms. Tiddley-Pom goes down 60m to a big wet ledge and then 10m to a big dry one of jammed boulders - Cold Toes Ledge. Here is a good place for a rest of about 16 hours while Tiddley-Pom demonstrates its drainage abilities. For further details, ask Planc or Dobbers. The ledge acted as comfort stop for soup on the way out but we only brought the soup down after our intrepid duo showed how boring it could be without it.
From Cold Toes Ledge there is a sequence of short pitches from further jammed boulders as the rift descends. The water sinks down a slit which was followed down for about 15m before it became too tight (Nobody Knows). The main way on is traversing over this to a pitch leading down to the undescended 40m pitch and the limit of the 1983 expedition.
This is now known as Fear and Loathing Pitch. FLP turned out to be a bit bigger than 40m, in fact it goes down about 150m in several rebelayed sections. Two high spots for their entertainment value were a particularly airy traverse near the top and a bastard flake at Acrobat Point which before it was rigged could only be passed by a move sponsored by Pressure for Population Control and probably banned by the Catholic Church. The rift never widened out more than 3-4m before landing on an unpleasant bit of damp floor - Las Vegas. The way out of Las Vegas is Beezley Street (where the rats have rickets) a particularly unpleasant mud walled slimy rift. The surveying of this was done on the run as we slid down between the walls. Traversing this if possible leads on to the next pitch. Another short traverse follows but this one is clean washed and sharp. Three short pitches now corkscrew down to the Drainage Ditch, a wading depth section of passage occasionally blocked by boulders leading on to another series of pitches twising down. All the water is in still pools which presumably get filled in spring. We are now almost at the end. The Drainage Ditch passage continues for a few more metres and finally reaches a static sump. A hile above leads on to another sump and some avens before closing in. The cave is surveyed as -438m from the highest entrance to here.
The bottom is very dark walled and gives a good feeling of depth. It is here that Wiggy's Premier cap lamp failed and he prussiked out with an Aquaflash between his teeth with me waiting at rebelays to light him till my carbide ran out.... Exit from Tiddley-Pom to surface on one and a half torch lights between two.