Cambridge Underground 1989 p 18

Description of 1623/161 (Kaninchenhöhle)

by Keith Millar

Lat: 47° 40' 40"
Long: 13° 48' 50"
Altitude: 1790 metres

The entrance to 161 was located at the start of what proved to be a very successful year for CUCC. The entrance is located on a limestone ridge, just along from the col between the Hint. and Vord. Schwarzmooskogel. Due to its location, the cave has been unaffected by the large amount of rock shattering usually found blocking shafts in the area.

The relatively free hanging entrance shaft lands in a small chamber with two ways on. The most obvious being a 20m shaft leading to a 3rd pitch through an eye hole, being 10m in length landing on a boulder strewn floor, with two ways on.

The left way continues as a 12m pitch landing on a loose boulder slope ending in a choke. The right way through a small hole under a huge boulder resting on a loose boulder slope, this continues at an angle of 30 degrees to a further pitch, this has as yet not been descended due to the unstable nature of the boulder slope.

The second route out of the chamber at the bottom of the entrance pitch, known as the "Rabbit Warren Series" leads via a small phreatic tube to a series of shafts of 10.5m, 40m, 47.5m in length eventually ending in a sand filled tube with no way on at a depth of 170m.

The key to the system is to be found on the second pitch, where, after descending approx 12m, you pendulum off on to an inclined rift leading to a large boulder strewn chamber. This leads after some distance to a 10m pitch followed by a very unstable boulder slope leading to a further 26m pitch known as "Death's Door" in an inclined rift. This is followed by a free climbable rift ending in a very tight 8m pitch "Beer Belly Blues". This rift then enlarges and merges with another, entering a huge phreatic passage. This gives two possible ways on, the Left Hand Route and the Right Hand Route.


This consists of an inclined rift which you continue along avoiding the holes in the floor. Many ways on have been seen, but none pushed, along this rift. The rift eventually leads to Arrow Chamber where there are two shafts. These are thought to join, and so the easiest to rig being the one found by climbing down through some boulders in the middle of the chamber was descended. This 42m pitch lands on a choked shaft floor where a further parallel shaft can be seen through cracks in the walls. A large eye hole shows the way on, being a traverse followed by a 10m pitch. This series of shafts continued down with ledges hindering your descent, until a large black hole with sheer walls is found. This, the "Niflheim" has as yet not been fully descended. The word Niflheim comes from the Norse Myths and means "A realm of freezing mist and darkness under one root of Yggdrasall (world tree) which hell lies within".


This takes the form of a large phreatic passage which is covered by a thin layer of moon milk. This continues via a short 5m pitch to an area with rock pinnacles and highly weathered rock slabs. Once yu have picked a way through this mess the phreatic level continues via several climbs needing handlines to a large 45 degree boulder slope "Boulder Alley". The passage continues descending with the roof gaining height all along until a 32m pitch is reached at the edge of a large black space. This pitch lands in a very large sloping chamber (60m x 45m approx) called "Knossus" containing a frozen manganese oxide stream and house size boulders.

A walking sized route through a boulder choke "Star Wars" leads to yet another large chamber (possibly a continuation of the first) called "Tower Blocks" in which you can quite easily get lost. Various routes lead off, none of which have yet been properly looked at.

The 1989 expedition to Austria will be concentrating mainly on further pushing 161 as there are many wide open leads to be looked at left from last year's expedition.

  1. The Niflheim (Left Hand Route)
  2. Phreatic levels of Tower Blocks (Right Hand Route)
  3. Skull Pitch (possible by-pass to Death's Door)
  4. Passage above Death's Door Pitch

Also it is hoped to investigate by diving, the known resurgence in Altaussee Lake.