Cambridge Underground 1990 pp 13-20

Description of 1623/161 (Kaninchenhöhle)

by Wookey

Lat : 47° 40' 40" Long : 13° 48' 50"
Altitude : 1790 metres Depth : 499m
Length : 4022m


The entrance to 161 is located on the limestone ridge between the Hinterer and Vorderer Schwarzmoos Kogels, about 200 metres up towards the Hinterer from the col, and about 20m down the east side of the ridge itself. 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 45m entrance shaft lands in a small chamber with four ways on. The most obvious being a 20m shaft leading to a 3rd pitch through an eyehole, 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.

Rabbit Warren Series:

The second route out of the chamber at the bottom of the entrance pitch, into the Rabbit Warren Series is a 2m climb after a stoop on the left hand side of the chamber. This leads via a small phreatic tube and several short climbs-down to a series of shafts and rifts - Adrian's Route (after Adrian the Anaconda - the 130m rope used to rig it) - with pitches 10m, 40m, 46m in length eventually ending in a draughting sand-filled tube with no way on at a depth of 170m. Halfway along the entrance phreatic there is a blocked 12m pitch and just beyond that a fork to the right leads to a tight stream rift and a couple of nasty but undescended pitches.

Big Sainsbury's:

The key to the system is the third way out of the entrance chamber. walking round the corner reveals the open space of Big Sainsbury's - a very large passage about 100m long and 10m diameter. This is reached by a 20m pitch (Automatic Doors) down to the boulder floor. The fourth way out of the entrance chamber (a 1m diameter hole in the floor) comes out in the wall halfway down Automatic Doors.

At the lowest point of this end of Big Sainsbury's - to the right of the foot of the pitch a rift leads back through to the '88 second pitch and on through the floor (undescended but probably connected to The Dungeon passages at base of said 2nd pitch). On the second pitch you descend approx 12m before penduluming off on to a ledge giving access to this connecting rift.

The Dungeon:

At the bottom of the '88 second pitch is a chamber with an eyehole into another short (4m) pitch. At the bottom of this a passage leads off to three different pitch heads. Two of these pitches are short and choked but the last goes, however the pitch head consists of a large pile of unstable boulders and is accessed by crawling under one of the biggest and thus remains undescended.

walking 20m up the boulders of Big Sainsbury's takes you to the highest point of the chamber. In the left wall is a pair of eyeholes overlooking Skull pitch, a 10m pitch and high aven with two short blocked passages at the bottom. A few metres further along the left wall is a short low passage which chokes after 12m. Another 25m along Big Sainsbury's there is a 2m x 4m hole against the right hand wall. This is the start of Drunk & Stupid, a steeply descending rift which goes down to -200m before connecting with the Left Hand Route at French Connection Pitch.

Alternative Shopper:

20m beyond this is a pair of very high avens with associated pitches. There is a traverse line along the left hand wall which takes you to a col between the two drops. Along this traverse is a passage in the left hand wall which goes for 25m before choking. The first drop is Checkout, the main route on. The second drop is Alternative Shopper, a funnel-shaped 30m pitch followed by a 10m pitch under a big boulder at the bottom. At the bottom is a tight rift leading to a chamber where both the rifts out of it are too tight.


Descending the top part of Checkout to the second rebelay, it is possible to stand on the rock ridge between Checkout pitch and the Alternative Shopper 30m pitch. Along the ridge turn left below loose boulders, traverse a few metres, and climb 3m up a steep slab to gain the continuation of Big Sainsbury's passage. This traverse should be lined.

The continuation descends for 30m past windows into a large rift on the right, before closing down. The route continues to the right into a narrower section, and soon leads to a pitch, with two ways down.

A hole to the left descends a 30m pitch (measured but not surveyed beyond a window on the left). At the bottom, this closes down to a tight rift to a sharp corner and drop, which was not descended due to the near impossibility of rigging and return.

Climbing off the pitch through the window, and continuing round to the left, pass underneath jammed boulders which form the floor at the pitch head, and enter a chamber. The second way down the pitch, ahead rather than to the left, lands at this point.

Climb up a couple of metres at the back of the chamber and pass through an eyehole. From here, a vertical climb down for some 6m in an elliptical tube enters a bedding plane. To the left, the bedding plane continues to the top of a pitch which has not been descended.

The examined route goes ahead, as the bedding plane opens into a rift. From here on, the passable passages are widened sections within the rift, until the limit of exploration is reached, where there are two or three possible pitches.

Down to the Squeeze:

Checkout is a 10m pitch followed by a very unstable boulder slope leading to a further 26m pitch in an inclined rift - Loose Bowels - the head of which is known as Death's Door. This is followed by a free-climbable rift - Rift Sans Nom - ending in an 8m pitch Becka Falls with a very tight hammered squeeze - The Squeeze - at the top. 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.

Drunk & Stupid:

The beginning of this route is best rigged on one long length as pitch follows traverse and so on. An 8m pitch to an uninspiring boulder slope, ignored in 1988. This should be rigged with a traverse line to reach a tube at the bottom leading into a large rift with a 20m hang to boulder strewn floor. There is a possible route 10m down the pitch, and a tight side rift to an undescended pitch at the bottom. The hole in the floor beneath the boulders is about 10m deep to a dead end chamber.

From the bottom of the 20m pitch, a traverse line is required to lead down a slippery slope to the head of an excellent 30m pitch (rope pad for the belay knot). The main route is now washed rift with traverse lines and a couple of short hangs.

At the bottom of the 30m pitch there is a very tight rift leading back which is too tight, and also a parallel rift to the main one, reached by climbing up 7m to find a bolt to rig it. This rift heads down and enlarges with a 15m pitch at the limit of exploration in 1989.

The main route comes to a 20m pitch, where several alternatives are possible. The continuation of the D&S route is across into another passage at the head of the pitch.

10m down the pitch is a ledge and a good natural rebelay. From this ledge a 1m diameter tube descends a series of climbs and is unexplored. At the bottom of the 20m pitch is a 3m diameter chamber with nice fossilized bivalves set in the floor. A very tight damp rift heads off from one side. At the other side is a very tight squeeze through an eyehole, White Hole, into a neighbouring shaft - the continuation.

Follow the passage from the head of the 20m pitch (minding holes in floor) to reach a superb natural belay with natural backup in the roof - Parallel Universe, a 20m pitch (the rock is too rubbish to bolt). Again incredibly sharp, stream-washed passage down a couple of 5m climbs/pitches to a Y-hang for YATMP (yet another 20m pitch). Finally the rift is done with one 5m pitch into a 10m x 5m chamber, Wet Nappy Chamber. The water way becomes too tight, the continuation is a climb up on the left into a nasty, muddy hading rift, Bacon Slicer, which requires a traverse line to reach a ladder pitch some 15m down. The walls of the rift slope at 65°. The rift is relatively tight and awkward although a reasonably easy route was eventually discovered that involved doubling back to the streamway 15m below the head of the ladder.

A short climb out of the rift leads to a larger section with a trench in the floor. Within 20m the passage closes down into a very loose looking boulder choke. Beneath this is a short section of narrow rift leading to the head of a fifteen metre pitch, Darkness Dooms. At the base of the pitch, the stream disappears down a 3m trench that slopes steeply downwards for about 15m. A handline is useful here. The trench gradually widens until a sharp right turn where large rift passage is again entered.

After a short section of wider passage, a 2m boulder climb leads to the head of another hading rift. This is much larger than the Bacon Slicer although the walls slope at the same angle of 65°. The boulder climb marks the start of a spectacular climb down a boulder slope with a vertical descent of 18m. The boulder slope ends in:-

The Helipad:

This chamber is approximately 10m across and 20m along. Along the left hand wall is a sandy shelf approximately 1.5m above the floor of the chamber. There are several routes from the chamber. At the far end is a stream inlet. However, the rocks in the inlet look extremely loose and it has never been ascended. The stream disappears into boulders in the floor and it is possible to climb down through the boulders to an undescended pitch. Immediately to the left of the boulder climb is a 5m section of 2m high passage that ends at an 8m pitch, Dead and Buried. All ways on from the bottom of the pitch were too tight.

To the right of the waterfall in the Helipad is a short climb up leading to a section of small, twisting phreatic tubes. These were not surveyed but were explored to the head of an 11m pitch that landed in French Connection Chamber, thus connecting the Left Hand Route to Drunk and Stupid. Immediately behind the French Connection Pitch is a large phreatic passage approximately 5m high. This leads to a small sandy chamber. A climb into a rift from the chamber leads to a small section of ever diminishing rift that ends at a pitch; this is in fact the other side of Dead and Buried and thus a survey connection was made between Left Hand Route and Drunk and Stupid.

Left Hand Route:

This starts as an inclined rift (crawling continuation at first corner explored for 25m to undescended pitch) and becomes a zig-zagging keyhole passage with a very deep narrow canyon in the floor. Two sandy passages off on the right after 30m lead to the Left Hand Route camp-site and a climb up a boulder slope to a choked aven.

Arrow Chamber:

Along the main passage you continue, avoiding the many holes in the floor. The passage changes back to a hading rift at the last corner and eventually leads to Arrow Chamber where there are three shafts and a passage off to the right leading to two short undescended pitches after about 15m. The three shafts are Butcher, Baker and Candlestick Maker and only the easiest to rig one (Butcher) has been descended, although they are thought to all be parallel shafts to the same place.

Butcher is found by climbing down under some boulders by the left hand end of the far wall of the chamber (the arrow of the chamber name points to the relevant boulder). This 45m pitch lands on a choked shaft floor where a further parallel shaft can be seen at each side through slots in the walls. A large eyehole into the shaft on the right shows the way on, being a traverse followed by a 10m pitch.


walking across below a huge aven and sliding left behind a rock into a tight rift takes you into a series of shafts which continues down with ledges hindering your descent, until a large, wet, black hole is found. This is Niflheim - "A realm of freezing mist and darkness under one root of Yggdrasall (the world tree) which hell lies within" - a 51m very wet pitch which lands on a rock bridge about 45m down. Here the shaft splits - most of the water goes down the French Connection side and the rope goes down the other side to land on a ledge about 7m above the floor.

French Connection:

From this ledge traversing round to the right leads into a 5m canyon passage which emerges in the other part of the shaft at the head of French Connection pitch descending to French Connection Chamber where the water coming down the pitch has cut a small canyon across the chamber floor to the 6m pitch into rift at the other side. At the foot of this pitch the rift goes 5m round to the left before becoming too tight. Also in French Connection Chamber there is a hole in the wall about 2m up on the same side as FC pitch. This leads through to an aven with a 4m pitch and a 2m climb up into another too-tight rift.


A ladder gets you down the pitch/climb from the ledge at the foot of Niflheim to where there is a 1m diameter hole which goes 10m to a 6m pitch (undescended). This hole takes the rest of the Niflheim water. From the foot of the ladder you can walk 5m through some large fallen blocks to gain a large fossilized phreas, Ragnorok, at a T-junction. Turning right takes you to a large sand ramp which reaches the roof after 10m. Turning left takes you into a narrower canyon section for 10m which is choked with boulders at ground level, but an easy climb up 2m at the start of the boulders takes you into the passage proper. It is about 8m wide with sides sloping down towards a central 0.5m wide canyon in the floor which can only be seen occasionally as it has largely been covered with rock fall and sand.

About 25m after the climb there is a boulder slope down to the left. Climbing under these boulders gives access to a 17m pitch followed by a 10m pitch with two ways on at the bottom. The first goes through a small chamber (2m high) and then chokes, the second goes along a descending rift for about 25m before becoming too tight.

At the foot of the boulder slope there is a walking passage which joins back to Ragnorok in about 15m and a 4m pitch down to the foot of a sandy slope. Climbing up this slope and around a corner to the left leads to an open area with a pitch/climb down about 10m to the left and a sizable stream canyon to the right. This is a major way on.

Back in Ragnorok just beyond the pitches is another small wet hole in the floor (undescended) and then another 30m of passage (with a choice of either a 2m climb or a squeeze through large blocks to get past one particularly large boulder) leading to the Black Lagoon - a perfectly flat area of cracked mud at the end of the passage, presumably a silted-up sump. A 1m diameter hole in the right hand wall at the edge of the Black Lagoon is the start of Hellgrind, a tortuous tube going for some distance with a few unchecked offshoots, leading to a 12m pitch into a boulder-floored rift. Climbing up the sloping floor and then down the other side leads to a 20m pitch down to a wet passage. A couple of metres to the left is Thumper the Talking Sump and to the right is a couple of short climbs up to an aven where the sump water comes down.

Right Hand Route:


This takes the form of a large phreatic passage - The Chunnel - which is covered by a thin layer of moon milk. After walking round to the right for 30m a short 5m pitch breaks up the passage. At the foot there is a 5m climb down to the right which leads to a deep hading rift pitch (undescended) via a small 1m long tube. Continuing along The Chunnel for another 30m brings you to an area with large rock pinnacles, odd water-worn clefts. At the start of this there is a small sandy passage in the right hand wall which goes downhill for 15m before reaching an undescended (but bolted) large rift pitch.

Over the Rainbow:

A 3m climb down from the end of The Chunnel puts you in an open area of fallen boulders and several holes in the floor. At the foot of the climb, by the left hand wall is Pot of Gold and across the chamber is a wedged block allowing a traverse over a deep pitch followed by a steep slope upwards; this is Over the Rainbow. To the right of this hole is a rock pillar and the other side of it allows a safe bypass. Two other holes in the floor in this area connect to Rainbow Pitch which becomes too tight 10m down.

Pot of Gold:

A short climb down through boulders about 4m before Over the Rainbow leads into a small maze of phreatic passages. Down and to the left is a short pitch to a false floor. A rift to the right has not been descended yet. The way on is through the floor below the pitch leading to another slightly bigger pitch which can be entirely rigged using very small and dodgy belays to a small chamber which has not been extensively explored. The way on is to the left and down a steep and quite long climb to a fossilized streamway - Trembling. It is tight in places and leads to a 25m pitch ending in an impossibly tight rift. An inlet off the streamway leads to a maze of phreatic tubes, Free Attics, and an active streamway that is too tight to follow.

Poxy and Bungalow pitches:

The large phreas now continues with a step at an oxbow to a wider boulder- floored section with avens coming in by the left hand wall. A short pitch Bungalow Pitch on the right hand wall goes down 7m under a HUGE wedged boulder (The Bungalow). The passage has now become a wide boulder-floored rift. 10m on is the 6m Poxy Pitch, again on the right hand wall. You then climb down through a massive boulder collapse area to a flat slab and an apparent junction. To the right it merely chokes in about 5m but it looks like the obvious way on when returning so most people have checked it out in detail!

Boulder Alley:

Continuing round up to the left takes you to the top of a large 45° boulder slope Boulder Alley which descends for 45m passing a pitch in the left hand wall. At the bottom there is an extremely high aven with about 15m of pitch below it which can be seen where it intersects with the right hand wall 3m above the floor. A short sandy slope goes up from the foot of Boulder Alley and then the steeply descending boulders continue, passing a 4m climb down into a stream canyon in the left hand wall. A traverse line starts just after this climb, taking you down what is now a false floor, past a couple of holes to the edge of the huge open space of Knossus.


A 30m mostly free-hanging pitch deposits the intrepid caver on the sloping boulder floor of a 60m diameter domed space. Up in one corner the rift that has just been traversed comes down a smooth sloping wall to the chamber floor, and a very loose continuation can be seen beneath large boulders. There are also a couple of drippy avens and a short canyon over at the opposite side of the chamber, and a frozen manganese oxide stream.

Star Wars:

Just downslope from the foot of the pitch, following around the wall is a walking sized route through a boulder choke, Star Wars. Through this is lots of jumbled rock and open space. Over to the left a gap looks over the cliff into Tower Blocks and to the right is a steep, loose climb down and a small rift passage in the right hand wall. At the foot of the climb you can go left down a climb into Tower Blocks, or right over boulders into Tower Hamlets.

Tower Hamlets:

The first part of Tower Hamlets is an 11m high chamber about 12m by 4m with a boulder-strewn floor and a narrow passage coming in from Knossus about 3m up the right hand wall at the far end. Around to the left in the near end there is a 3m climb up to a tube through to Tower Blocks and a steeply sloping sandy passage connecting to the other half of Tower Hamlets. This consists of a large sand ramp sloping up into the roof and a couple of steep 1.5m diameter tubes going up at the sides. walking back down the sand slope takes you onto the col between Tower Blocks and the passage to Waterfall Chamber.

Tower Blocks:

This large domed chamber is about 20m high in the centre and contains some really big fallen blocks. It is normally reached by a 4m climb down from the Star Wars boulder choke. Keeping to the right hand wall brings you to the foot of the Tower Hamlets sand slope and the start of an 8m diameter phreatic passage leading to Waterfall Chamber and Carrefour. Across the other side of the wide open space there is a shelf leading to a short, choked, sandy inlet, and just to the right of this is a climb over a boulder into Olympus. Further around to the right the floor drops steeply down to the foot of a high drippy aven. A dodgy climb up 10m by the left hand wall will also bring you into the start of Olympus.


This is nice walking passage for 40m to a junction with a big passage coming in from the left - B-Meal. walking up the slope in a 10m high arched passage for another 40m leads to a 3m climb up with a hole at the bottom of it. Through the hole is a tight climb down 4m to a rift leading after 5m to the bottom of a 6m pitch, choked both at floor level and at the top. At the top of the climb you can turn right to jump down 1.5m onto sand leading round a corner to another choked pitch extremely similar to the first, or you can climb up another 3m to the left, to reach a high chamber. A few metres walk further brings you to the edge of a 5m drop into a very high chamber and round to the right you can look back down to where you just climbed up from. Going down the pitch and walking down the sloping, rocky chamber floor brings you to another 6m pitch into the foot of an active stream pot. The water goes off down a rift by the foot of the pitch but disappears into a boulder choke another 6m down in the bottom of the rift.

The main Olympus passage continues for another 30m, passing a turn off on the right hand side. At the end of the passage is an impressive cemented shingle bank on the right hand side and a narrow and steeply descending rift on the left hand side. This continues for 25m before becoming too squalid, too tight and blocked all at the same time. The way on is found up the passage passed on the right hand side. This is another inlet blocked by cemented shingle, but climbing over the shingle bank on the right through a low arch leads into pleasant phreatic passage which is between half and nearly full of sand and shingle at various points along its length. Passing a couple of crawls with an aven between them brings you into larger passage with yet another choked inlet on the right and a very unlikely-looking zig-zag ending with a crawling passage to the left and a 3m climb up into a rift straight ahead. This rift leads straight to the top of Flapjack, directly opposite the way in from Carrefour.

The crawling passage leads to a 2m climb down after 15m with a phreatic going left to a 2m climb into a high, choked rift, and right over boulders to another view into the Flapjack pitch and a complex collapse chamber with various climbs and passages through boulders.


Coming over the col and down the boulder-floored passage from Tower Blocks brings you into a wide open area - Waterfall Chamber with a deep blocked pit to the left with a large wet window through the wall behind looking over Flapjack. A lot of water is falling from the roof into the pit. Continuing by the right hand wall leads to a junction with a very big phreatic passage with a narrow floor slit containing water some 10m below. This junction is Carrefour.

To the right is YAPATE Inlet (Yet Another Pitch At The End) which goes for 100m with a couple of climbs up, an inlet on the left and a large wet pit about half way along. At the end is a dodgy traverse over a hole in the floor to a boulder-floored area with a way on 5m up the end wall and a 12m pitch Gob on You (due to a nasty spit) down a hading rift, to reach a bedding plane going back to the foot of the hole that was climbed over, and another 25m wet pitch - Wish you were here (not me) pitch leading to a choice of ways on down a dodgy hole in the floor or over the boulders around it into a tight rift.

Straight across Carrefour takes you into the Toilet Block, the camp-site for the Right Hand Route. A short walking section leads into a very high cross rift via a 2m climb. This rift is chocked at both ends, but going straight across takes you into a 3m high 2m wide sandy floored passage to a crawl into a chamber containing a damp climb down to a choked streamway.

Turning left at Carrefour leads past the very wet window into Waterfall Chamber to Flapjack, a large pitch leading straight down 30m and then down another 29m over a series of ledges to a ledge with a tight rift going off 10m to the left to an undescended pitch and steps going down to a 28m wet pitch. At the bottom of this the water goes down an 8m rift but you go over this rift using a traverse line, over a 2m climb into a small sandy chamber; Bat Corner. Carefully avoiding the bat skeleton on the floor takes you into a traverse along a 1m wide rift to a 25m narrow rift pitch which comes out into a big shaft, with the water falling down the opposite end of it. This lovely freehang - Bat Droppings - is 36m long and lands in the active stream at the bottom. This cuts down quickly until it disappears into a very tight rift - The Beehive. 5m off the floor the rift is wide enough for cavers and a very tight pitch descends 8m to a small chamber where all the water goes through a .5m diameter hole in the floor. Passing through this leads to a very wet steeply descending rift and 15m along at the end of this is a ridiculously wet 32m pitch to a vertical sump, which is at least a couple of metres deep. The Bottom!