Departed Cavendish Labs at 4.10pm, having finally got (nearly) all the necessary gear together an dpacked into Earl's van and the Wookmobile (Ol having taken a good amount of gear out already). Mark had passed his driving test a week before, and so I was wondering what the drive woudl be like. I'm pleased to report that it was entirely fine. Mark drove to Dover and we took the 8.15pm Sea France ferry to Calais. Needing some fuel we tried to find the Calais ELF station. As we ended up in a Carrefour carpoark where the 24hr pums didn't take English credit cards, herewith some directions: from the ferry terminal, take the main road out following signs to Dunkirk and Calais centre. At the turnoff for Calais centre, don't go to Calais centre (which is the first exit on the roundabout). Instead, carry on round the roundabout 3/4 to where the ELF station is visible.
Anyway, Mark drove on to just after Brussels. Slightly oddy, we were stuck in a traffic jam at 1:30am getting into Brussels. Quite why was uncertain, but tailbacks several miles at this time of night seemed odd. I drove on from Brussels to within 50km of Frankfurt. By this time it was 6.30am and we decided that some sleep was in order. We pulled off the motorway (leaving he early morning rush hour traffic behind) and found a random layby and deployed carrymats and sleeping bags in the early morning sun. I managed to grab a few hours' sleep before being roasted out of my pit by the sun, but unfortunately Mark was kept awake by a surprising quantity of traffic on this rural road. After a brief breakfast we continued along the A3; I drove to near Regensburg, where Mark took over to complete the journey.
As we were good and paid up for an Austrian vignette for the motorways, we thought we would try the new motorway from Wles to Liezen rather than the more usual Ried-Volklabruck-Gmunden-Bad Ischl route. This would have been a reasonable choice, not much faster, but somewhat simpler. However, the motorway was still under construction so we got to go round mountains, admiring the new but unused tunnels that will one day carry the motorway through them. As a finale, the 5km road tunnel under the Pyhrnpaß is two-way without any central reservation and only minimal lighting... Anyway, continued on to Liezen and Bad Mitterndorf and so to Bad Aussee, arriving on time for a bier at Hilde's.
Having spent the previous week finally fettling the wookmobile to run on veg oil, using the system for the drive to Austria was something of a leap of faith, as, for example, only the day before I had melted the float sensor, and I hadn't got round to making the tank level sensor work (amongst other things) requiring guessing how full the tank is.
Supposed to catch a 9.30 ferry & be at the port at 8.30. Left my home at 5.20, a mere 20 mins late for intending to get to Alex's near Colchster at 6. Unfortunately car died en route. Foud that one fo the 3 plastic T-pieces in the plumbing had melted, despite being OK for various trips in the previous week. Swapped bits around to get going again but dropped cap afer bleeding system (aargh!) and wasted more time looking for it. Finally pinched one off a bike tyre and continued. Took ages to get to Colchester and then got a bit lost trying to find Alex's. All this meant it was 7.15 at Alex's (1 1/2 hours late). At this point realized Colchester is no closer to Dover than Cambridge. Net result is we missed the ferry by 15mins - first time I've ever missed an outgoing ferry. Waited until 01.45 (getting some kip) & then nice 2hr kip on board (Norfolk lines -> Dunkirk). Then usual drive across Europe, elivened somewhat by buying loads of lard in supermarkets & pouring it into system (cheapest oil comes in 1 litre pots!) Arrived at Hilde's ~11pm in time for a couple of beers. Bloody Hell - it works! Only problem was a horrible graunching from rear left whieel which is obviously shagged - hopefully it'll make it back to the UK.
Carry up hill & install bivi, extracting gear from cave to install water collection.
Moved gear to cave. Tried to follow portal row beyond 40e. Thrashed through bunde for a bit but found nothing so came back higher up finding a copule of promising holes, see next write-up.
...well, most of the time was spent in cars, buses or trains, but bang on 12 hours from my bed to the fridge in the tatty hut.
After carrying more shit up hill it was too late to do a big Eishöhle trip so we decided to check out a couple of caves we found the day before (when trying to see if there were more entrances beyond "portal row" after delivering our caving gear). There was a cave in a gully & a huge shaft, neither of which showed markings or signs of descent.
40f: Returned to big shaft (just 20m from below traverse on 163 -> 40s route) to find that the obvious rig point had a shiny stainless fixed hanger - so much for it being new! Wook dropped shaft to see what happened. Classic pitch lands on slope to snow. Down side of snow leads into passage containing ... red climbing rope, i.e. the top of Brennerbeserlschluf (40e) before the snow volcano into SVH - i.e. this shaft is 40f - Königschacht. GPSsed it.
02-W-01: Next went to look at other "new" cave (~120m away from 40f on 349°). On looking to rig short 10m pitch noticed there was a bolt - someone has been here before. At bottom of pitch narrow passage comes back parallel to upper passage to squeeze. Ol went round outside to find another entrance which comes in here. Significant draught comes out of canyon in floor, but this is blocked by boulders. Very easy dig with a crowbar to get in. GPS: UTM 33T 0411445 5281039 (WGS84). Grade 2 survey - see survey book.
Also drew survey of 40f & area plan covering both. Photoed 40f & put in tag bolt.
First off popped some bolts into 204a for an improved descent of the cave. Then went + surveyed the newly found Artischockehöhle. Fine 3m walking passage ends in a boulder choke with a couple of chambers separated by crawls. Dunks the daft managed to entomb himself in the choke for half an hour, eventually digging himself out. Then went to survey Hauchhöhle, but instead spent about 3 hours digging, finding some crawls and a new ~20m draughting pitch
Rigged in. Ol had foolishly removed traverse line at top of "Good Afternoon Mr Phelps" (to stop it getting trapped in the ice). So had to use 5 ice-screw placements to regain the top. Then rigged next climb & pitches down to duck to find the pool very wet again. Pushed sacks through & continued to pendule. Used old rope to get across but put new rope on it as it had been across shaft all year. Then up ramps as far as bottom of "for down". Time to go home in order to get down hill for more gear. Useful start.
Shedloads of gear: 98m rope for connecting down rift plus drill + battery, 2 more bags of rope + small bag of food + rigging gear. Far too much shit for 2. Oh yes, and 20m of hosepipe! Put hose into sump and with some difficulty set it siphoning down big MI pitch. Then on + up, rerigging last ramp above "for down". Fonally on up to last year's QMs at Crack of Doom.
Next went up to rope hanging out of roof. Ol shinned up & took off gear to try squeeze at top. Just got even more miserable beyond. Declared dead. Entertaining time reversing + derigging without leaving hangers behind. Ol succeeded in climbing back down at some risk to life + limb. Small rock knocked down speared a hole right through 10m bit lying at base!
Concluded that draught comes out of thin canyon in roof (as well as Crack of Doom). Went back to main rift where Ol dropped huge rock on his foot climbing back out. Whilst he retreated, Wook had a look up the ramp. Blind at the top but off to the right is a climb up a canyon. Too hard to solo but there is an easy "back way" which lets you look down several metres into a large canyon lower down. Difficult 5m climb down gets to shelf but rope needed to go further. Now definitely time for bed, so made our way out, finding that duck level had dropped ~10cm in 7hrs.
As Ol had bruised foot, went to sort some surface stuff. Went to bowl containing 40s (Gruner Eingang), 217 + 229 + another hole.
229: First put tag bolt in for 229 (explored + surveyed by ARGE in 2000). Point "1" inside cave was obvious. Surface point "0" was less obvious (paint faded) but found it after a bit. Unable to put bolt in here as point crumbled, so put it in middle of W 20cm away. Didn't put in tag as didn't have one. Resurveyed 0-1 (as a check) and surveyed 0-tag bolt. GPSsed nearby (2m away to get out from under cliff a bit). Sketch of entrance area done. Incorrectly thought this cave was 226 at time of survey; records all corrected. Photoed entrance + approach.
2002-W-02: Next went to check out rift hole directly below 229, as there seemed to be no evidence that it has been properly described, despite definitely having been looked at (probably repeatedly). Ent is about 20m below 229 + 15m away from 40s. 5m deep rift, snow at bottom. Upper end chokes, lower end continues into narrow canyon going in direction of 40s. There is a vocal connection at the start of the canyon to 217. (Light can just be seen - far too narrow to pass). Surveyed cave (grade 3-4), put in tag bolt (but no tag), and surveyed to 40s tag.
[Editor's note: Owing to a cockup with lost kataster forms, several caves in this area were allocated numbers that had in fact been given to ARGE, and new numbers were later issued. I have copied out the description verbatim, using the numbers then in use; but these are not the final numbers - see here for a list of the subsequent alterations.]
To 233 area Next went up "path" towards 163 but instead of taking down-trending traverse ledge (above 40f) after very steep slope up, we continued up slope and to left to look at various things Martin + Olly noted last year. All in area SW of 163 above portal row zone + below VSMK summit cliffs. Very broken area.
233: First went to 233 - Drei Eingang Abdrosselnhöhle (3-entrance choke). Put in tag bolt by main entrance + tag. As other 2 entrances are within 10m, putting tags on those seemed excessive.
Snow Skylight (2001-08): Right next to 233 ('c' entrance is ~10m from 233c) is this cave. Impressive view down a hole in an alcove to sunlit snow (ent a). Top shaft entrance is hidden in bunde above (ent b). Big 5m diameter shaft. Third ent (c) is narrow rift connecting to alcove. Descended from single thread over a few rubs to reach bottom (20m rope minimum). Checked it out thoroughly. A proper survey would be good. Very photogenic inside. Photoed down shaft, down canyon/alcove pitch, and views of all 3 entrances. Put tag bolt in at a. Grade 2 survey.
2001-07 Next headed east across choss bowl + steps to 2001-07, Hoffnungschacht ("RATTLE" in the GPS). Very narrow hole in rift with [??, could be "fern"] in entrance. Very good rattle when you throw rocks. Good flake to rig off allows descent. Ledge at -8m then another at -11, now into wider rift. 2 'tectors needed as rock very sharp. Bottoms at -22m. Choked floor. Can see through to continuation below but not suitable for shorts + T-shirt (the whole cave isn't really!) so not checked out to bitter end. If there is a draught it is in not out and isn't strong. Ought to be finished off one day. Put in tag/rig backup bolt. Photoed. Grade 2 survey.
HFG-KA88: Next headed down a couple of ledges, closer to 163 to cave marked by Franco-German group in 1988. Markings hard to read but look like "1623 / BFG-(?K)(?A)88". There is mention of a "HFG-KA" group exploring L&amul;rchenschacht so that's almost certainly what it says. Nice sloping shaft on rift/diaclase. Photoed markings, entrance + approach view. GPSsed as "BFG88" (since renamed "HFG88"). Has red splodge which is probably a "+" rather than a "-". Needs tagging.
163: Climbed around and down into 163 bowl. Photoed ent with cave-marking board + checked it was tagged (so 163 tag left in box is superfluous).
234 (Speedy Ant): Finally followed path towards 162 for ~100m to "Speedy Ant" cave. Put in tag bolt + 234A tag. Dropped pitch to snow + found continuation through small hole into space at bottom. Very miserable in shorts due to snow! Grade 2 survey.
Finally went home for tea!
Ol's foot still poorly in welly so took gear back up to yesterday's caves to survey + finish off / push. Ol found one about 8m off the L of the path, shortly after leaving 40s before steep section past 40f. Unobvious slot entrance looks choked but in fact can be climbed donw 7m to look into largish chamber (~6m across). Needs rope for descent. Did sketch survey, put in tag/rig bolt + GPSsed as 02-OB-01. Photoed ent + approach view, then carried to what we were supposed to be doing.
88F + 230 Ol went and found these two and tagged them whilst Wook was faffing down 234.
234: Down again. Took ages due to solo surveying down pitch after Ol had gone. Then dropped through tight slot after moving a rock - quite exciting as a little committing. Inside large snow slope with 3 avens. Choked at far end. Surveyed as far as possible on own. Pitch off to one side needed Ol down to pass me more rope. Also now able to measure chamber with someone to tape. Pitch went ~8m down past ice to a choke. Off out. Now started raining properly; hid in bivi site opposite 163 for half an hour before heading back to bivi + down hill.
Rigged down Ariston series with Steve + a big bag of rope. Snow levels on 2nd pitch of the entrance series very low, so went via Thread Pitch rather than Stitch This.
Back to the top of MI to look at the continuation of the rift which Wook found last time. Siphon still siphoning the duck - still not empty. Realised that the pushing front we'd forgotten the drill bit (but had carried the drill + battery). Rigged off naturals with the 36m dynamic rope. Looks like the rift is continuing up at much the same angle, but is now somewhat wider - at least at higher levels. Pushed up to waterfall (i.e. floor of rift has risen to our level) and also traversed back to bypass our rigging and return to last ramp of 2001 series. Scaling rift looks hard. Might be possible to regain top by entering from higher window up ramp, but hard to be enthusiastic about yet more bolting up when we're already 100m above our target. Surveyed and derigged to ramp after pendule. Tried to take some photos of MI with Expo camera and also with Wook's digital. Only one digital one worked - hopefully film worked better! Emerged at 5.20am to glorious dawn.
Went in through 204E. Earl rigged the main 204e pitch, adding a bolt, but leaving it in need of another rebelay. Tony joined us and we descended to Boulder Coaster / Treeumphant Passage junction. Walked round to Great Oak Chamber to look at the feasibility of attempting the traverse to the large A lead visible across the chamber. After a bit of thought, we go for it. Tony lifelines Earl out from a boulder on one side of the chamber. As I go, I clear a ledge of loose boulders and add a number of bolts with shiny new drill. Feeding the rope through a carabiner at each hanger means I don't have to tie the knots as I go, plus Tony can give me just the right amount of rope, withough me bothering with a stop or having a heavy tackle sack dangling off me. Also, the rope is always tight, and if I did fall the fall factor is much less than 0.1 as there is rope through the karabiners to take the shock. From what was an uncertain start, a good ledge and taut traverse emerges. When I got to the end I returned to the start, rigging the rope properly to the maillons. Alex and Tony came to see what lies beyond.
After only a few minutes I am called across to bring rope and slings. It appears that the huge A lead closes down within about 15m, and the only way on is a couple of C-grade leads in one wall. We try a small phreatic tube, but it gets rather committing, and climb up a loose flakey wall, but that also becomes a bit risky. We decide to run away.
We leave the traverse rigged for a photography and survey trip, and Earl suggests that the quickest way back might be through 204a (we did not go back out of 204e as it needed another rebelay to avoid a rub). So we go through No Pain No Gain and up to the base of Thread Pitch, which Duncs had rigged earlier that day. However, there was NO ROPE there... "Maybe he rigged Pendulum Pitch instead?" we thought. So we went to Pendulum Pitch to find that there is NO ROPE there either. I check at You're So Veined, and there is indeed a rope there, so the conclusion we came to is that for some reason Duncs has pulled the rope up after him on leaving the cave...
So we return through No Pain No Gain and ehad out to 204d via Swings and Roundabouts. The rubble slope up to Suspended Solution is still really loose and if anything there are more threatening Big Boulders which could be dislodged by the careless/unwary. We pulled-through on the climb donw into Living Daylight Cavern and free-climbed out through 204d. Returned to Steinbrücken bivvy, Tony cursing the "route" which had been mainly chosen for surveying (taking in all high points) and not really for ease of progress... A reasonable trip, combining new exploration work with a (rather longer than expected) tourist around the main horizontal development in Steinbrücken.
Date is actually ??/08/2002
Duncan and Ben proceeded to the top of Kiwi Suit pitches and rerigged them placing several bolts. Carried on down Razor Dance and noted mud on the walls from trip 2 years ago - no major flooding then. Rigged handline climb and placed 2 bolts. We then continued to the undescended pitch found 2 years ago. Traversed out above the pitch head and gained a free hang (approx 15m) well away from the water (3 bolts used), massive hanging "plate" of rock above the pitch head. We then surveyed down the pitch and into the continuing streamway at the bottom. Below the pitch the streamway gets distinctly easier, and continues for about 50m until a climb down (5m) reaches the head of another pitch visible beyond.
At this point Duncan and Ben headed back to the bottom of the new pitch to collect more rope. As we arrived Anthony and Frank could be heard above. Ben and Duncan headed out as Anthony and Frank continued exploration. Ben and Duncan finally reached the surface at 1.30am, a trip of 12 hours. Ben's brand new Meander oversuit was totally fucked after its first ever trip.
Frank and Anthony carried on. Frank put some bolts in the next pitch. Anthony descended 12m to a ledge that the water bounces off. A deviation off what proved to be a temporary natural failed to save him from a thorough drenching on the rest of the descent. This, plus a likely rub point, prevented him from going all the way to the bottom. It is about as far again from the ledge, and it appears that the stream flows off into a rift again at the bottom. There is a parallel route that might provide a dry descent. After that we buggered off out, emerging at 5.30am.
Walked up with parents, and met Alex (who had come down from 204) at Appelhaus junction. Wook had gone to collect Tess from Salzburg airport and they caught us up just as we reached the 40A bivvy (took us 2 hours - not bad going). Had a brew and went on to 40h, descended and toured the chamber. Mum tripped over crampons twice, but still seemed to enjoy it. Alex had a go at ascending the first MI pitch and got strung up on the rebelay while we shouted helpful advice. Journey downhill to 1 1/2 hours (Wook + Tess stayed at the bivvy) arriving at the car just as darkness fell.
Walked up, investigated 2 holes on left of 40a-> Portal Row route, just past the hole we're fairly sure is 40b. Both descend tot he entrance Thilo says is 40d, emerging high on the right wall. Sketch map:
Trogged down to 40D to check thaey did indeed connect. Looked around 40D area a bit:
Mark suggested the flattish sandy area could be fettled for use as a bivvy - it does appear to be inside the dripline, so might not need a tarp - 40a can get very drippy after prolonged rain.
Walk up from car park to Appelhaus junction with Mark. He heads to 204 to collect gear while I head to Eishöhle area. Fettle bivvy tarp back up (it blew down in the bad weather) the over to meet Mark and Steve, doing some tagging of 2001-XX caves. Tagged "Bootlace" (2001-11) and decided that in fact it's free-climbable. Descended. Doesn't go.
Next up to Big Job (2001-10). Tagged. Had another look, but had not light so couldn't reach a better conclusion than last year.
On to Funkberaterschacht (2001-09). Tagged.
On to "3-entrance choke". Attached two tags left before (ran out of bolts!) Then over to meet Mark and Steve. Got back to Bivvy in deepening twilight.
Decided to see if we could find any side leads from older parts of Eishöhle, since SVH has been looked at rather thoroughly. Rigged down ramp and over edge. No sign of spits for rebelay so used a 'tector. Steve followed, Mark reached last rebelay before edge and decided he'd rather go in through 40s. Later turned out he'd fled back to base camp instead. The pitch down has a very spacious feel - the edge rapidly retreats as you descend and you're hanging in the middle of a large, long chamber (Altausseer Halle), partly lit by daylight. Steve reached bottom and we started to explore.
One way (away from SVH) leads to ramp rigged with blue polyprop rope. (Someone must have bought it in bulk!) We put on some SRT rope instead. At base is a large chamber with an ice floor (Teufelberger Halle). You can get a long way along this by traversing along chossy ledges on the right wall. West up breakdown passage leads to a snow and ice slope with daylight filtering in from above (Schneehalle). This entrance is probably 40b. Steve quickly adjusts to life with crampons and we stomp around checking for ways on. Nothing obvious, apart from a passage which it later turns out leads back to Teufelberger Halle.
We return the way we came, cross Teufelberger Halle with crampons, and enter rift at far end. Remove crampons and probe around a bit - looks like there could be several ways on. Retracing our steps to the bottom of the pitch, we descend the breakdown slope to more ice, follow the passage towards SVH, turning back at the rope up towards Grüner Eingang, since we've not met Mark. On the way back up the entrance pitch, we notice a few possible windows in the walls which might make interesting bolting projects.
Earlier that same day ... looked at shaft in corner, close to awkward climb, just before 40A on route from Bunter's Bulge. Chokes at bottom, but tube off shelf just below entrance could be pushed with a small amount of digging - good for a lazy afternoon.
Mark spotted a shaft close by, even nearer the path. Rigged a Y-hang off 2 naturals and descended. Chokes at -16m. Also found very small hole directly above 40a - small stones dripped in sometimes fall through into shaft behind bivvy, and there's a vocal connection to the bivvy. Hole could probably be enlarged as it seems to be surrounded by soil.
We went in A, and went to the bottom of Wolpertinger Way, to try to remeasure a dodgy leg, which turned out to be OK. So I do not know what is going on here.
We did a 3m climb down with difficulty, rather than traversing over the top of You're So Veined. We then explored "Up at 35°" [this is described as "Up at 45°" on the survey and the guidebook] (which is off 110 Bidet). This was some phreatic passage leading to a wet chamber, with a too tight passage. A turning off the main way led to a chamber with a pitch, which I free climbed via a crawl which led back to the chamber, which turned out to have three rifts going off which were all very tight. We then surveyed a passage between Treeumphant and Crowning Glory, which was explored but not surveyed last year, mutter. Simon got cold so I had to finish the survey myself. We then exited through E.
Gloriously sunny, so we opt for staying mostly above ground. I seem slightly keener, so got to take caving gear, while Steve gets to sit in the sunshine. First jot - survey a leg from the remains of a cairn (on the 2000 surface survey from near portal row to 40a) ot the 40b tag (placed early this expo).
That done, we followed the path for another 10 or 20m, then hacked off left up the hill to sort out some caves Martin and I noted in 2001. First was 2001-12. Put in bolt for tag and used it to ab into the large doline. reached floor and checked out the nearest possible lead - a small tunnel which gets smaller - probably too tight without excavations. Then hotice that it's probably possible to enter doline without rope at point where rim is low and there's a pile of rocks. Go round to surprise Steve. We both return to doline and I squeeze through into smaller doline next along fault. Nothing there, so return. Rift at other end looks interesting. Steve finds there's another entrance at the other end, and there's a hole down in the middle - with a spit! It's a crap one, but with a good solid boulder as a backup I rig and descend. There's a draught out. At the bottom a low passage leads off, rising into a ramp then a rift. There's a cairn at the base of the raift just where it becomes too tight. May be possible to traverse at a higher level, but too wide and loose for me to be keen to free climb above. Check out parallel ramp on way out (chokes). Later we conclude this is the cave with a "15m long", "8m high" rift to a doline with a draughting hole in the floor mentioned in one of the writeups by the VFHM people. Put on "2001-12" tag.
Then dropped a (blind) shaft just near the second entrance. 5m deep.
Next up to "Big Job Cave", 2001-10 - I went into tack, freeclimbed down. Chokes to right. Left could be excavated.
Onto Funkberaterschacht (2001-09). Descended on tag bolt and natural. Chokes. Replaced tag and sketched survey.
On again to stick a tag on Sorry Tree cave [that is, 2001-06]. As I drill the hole it starts to hail. Steve packs the drill away while I set the spit and spanner the tag. Then we run for 3-entrance choke and shelter until the hail stops.
Went in 204E with Earl and Dave as well. We went to Brian's Merry Go Round, and went down the 1st and 2nd pitch which were pre-rigged. I then waited as Brian rigged the 3rd pitch, with a traverse line, Y hang and two deviations. Water was heard down the pitch from above, but the pitches above were OK. Earl came and checked we were OK before he went out. Then Brian returned, had an underground brew, and we surveyed 1st and 2nd pitches.
Come up hill as darkness falls the previous evening. [This has to be the most idiosyncratic tense construction I've ever seen in English.] Get up fairly early and I start to bolt across wall at head of big pitch into Altausseer Halle while Steve festers at the bivvy (since it'll be a while). Soon realise that (a) I don't have the skyhook Wookey left for me and (b) this is going to be tricky without it. Come back out after 3 or 4 spits and we decide to derig MI instead, since the skyhook is probably at 40h.
Uneventful derigging trip. Steve ummed and ahhed at the pendule, but when he tried to derig it he crossed it without any problems. Left the old rope on the pendule, and lugged out the dynamic which is now even heavier.
Found Wookey's skyhook at Eistunnel entrance.
I woke up at base camp at 8am, to find by 10am that the plan to get up the hill early turned into a sesh. So I grabbed Dave L, to get a bus into Bad Aussee, with the plan to get the bus up the hill. But the morning bus had already gone. So we hitched, our first lift was after 3km of walking but the next two lifts came quickly. We then walked to Steinbrücken. We went in E, and went down Plan Not Interesting. The drill I took wiht me turned out not to work so I rigged off naturals. I then got Dave to do notes of a survey, to much complaining. "Why should I draw a plan [for this particular station], it is not interesting" "But, knowing that the plan is not interesting is useful information". So Dave wrote "Plan not interesting" in the notes.
Back to bolting across the top of Altausseerhalle. Made better progress with the skyhook. Again Steve waited in the bivvy for a while.
I was hanging in space when Steve started shouting. He just heard on the phone that ArGE had made the connection! Suddenly my antics seemed rather pointless, so I finished off the spit I was working on, and then headed out. We had a brew then headed down the hill to hear the full story from the Germans in the car park.
We returned to Merry Go Round, and I descended the 3rd partially rigged pitch. The previously sloping shaft turned vertical, requiring two rebelays. These were both rigged too tight, with too long loops in the Fig 8. The bottom is a boulder floor, with a bed of limestone with large bivalves. Up slope led to a narrow rift, which looped around to a chamber, which has eyeholes to the first. The roof of the chamber is a very large boulder. Downslope in the main chamber another rift leads off, which continues into the floor, with a very tight rift.
In 10m the rift closes down, but the rift below looked almost passable, so I told Earl that it was his turn to rig. He set at the rock with a bolting hammer to find all the rock was of very poor quality. He did however find a thread in the ceiling, which he rigged with two slings. After much more hammer, Earl decided the vertical squeeze was now large enough, and he descended a few meters into another chamber. After Earl demonstrated that the return was possible, I followed and bolted a Y-hang for the next pitch, deviating on a large natural a few meters down. The rift continued, then turned into a keyhole passage then phreas with a puddle on the floor. The phreas turned back to rift, which looked a bit awkward, so we surveyed and derigged to the bottom of the 3rd pitch where we ran out of time and left, leaving the drill and various gear at South Circular.
Martin Sluka arrived the previous evening but could only stay for the weekend (today was Friday) so we headed up to the Eishöhle bivvy. Martin got distracted by every single hole on the path up, and I got to look at several holes I'd not looked at before. We took the route variant which bypasses the climb by the double arrow - turn left rather than dropping down at the lightninged tree. Not far along, near a fault intersection, we investigated several holes.
[Blank box presumably meant to contain a sketch survey]
Further along the path, after rejoining the usual route, we looked at two holes on the right of the path
[The arrow top right corresponds to a label saying "On 26th: GPS 33 410468E 5280126N 1652m (WGS 84). Had to move rocks to allow entry. ~8m deep. Choked."]
Beyond Bunter's Bulge, to the right of the usual (paint marked) route to 40a:
Finally we reached the 40A bivi and had a snack, then over to Eistunnel for a SVH tourist trip. Martin noticed an odd slanting hole near the base of the 50m snow cone, next to the first of 3 major drip holes. Hypothesize that this is formed by warmer air seeping through floor and so there is perhaps a passage beneath. Passage through ice slopes, for about 12m at 30-40°.
Duncan and Ben were looking for stuff to carry down the hill. Earl and I returned to Merry Go Round, to finish surveying and derigging the 90m rope from the 3rd pitch. Earl derigged and headed out D. I remained to derig the 1st and 2nd, take the rope and our previous day's stash to Magic Roundabout. I then left out E derigging as I went.
Earl and I surveyed down the 70-odd metre first pitch. I drew up the sketches from Dave L and my previous survey, while Earl continued rigging down. When I caught up, Earl had been part way down the next pitch, looking for a route which may stay dry in the wet, with a limit of the 5 hiltis we had with us. He used the rope from the previous pitch, which was attached to a horizontal thread in the rift. He set along [I think that's what it says] a sloping muddy ledge, to a large natural, which he got a sling around, then abseiled down a rope attached to the rope while haging on the rope above with his jammers. [It's a mystery to me what this means, even though I've seen the rig] The pitch went down to the floor of the rigt, which descended in both directions, towards the previous pitch a tight rift went off, away the pitch continued with a rebelay, to another floor. I came down and rigged the next hang off a horizontal thread at the top of the pitch, using two slings and a couple of maillons. This pitch continued in rift passage, and at the bottom the next pitch was a short distance away, but we had run out of rope, so we surveyed and derigged out of D. Which involved 3 tackle sacks, 2 dangly bags 1 blasted yellow box, down climbing a pitch and two tired cavers, who left half the tackle at the entrance to collect the next day.
Had a few quiet beers last night, followed by lots of very noisy ones. A few tins of Weiß Bohnen, Rote Bohnen, Tomaten, etc, etc were exploded on the stove, a few pans were rattled a bit and some very raucous singing was done. Turns out that the man over the road mistook the exploding cans for gunshots and was very close to calling the plod out. Ruffled feathers required soothing, so this afternoon a diplomatic mission was sent bearing a gift of Jagertee and an apology cobbled together in very dodgy German. This seems to have done the trick, we were told to "have a good fart" and that Alice was in ordnung.