This summer, Cambridge University Caving Club will be continuing its highly successful series of expeditions to the Loser plateau in Austria. This document sets out the principal goals of the 2003 expedition.
This summer sees CUCC's 27th expedition to the Loser plateau, which lies in the Totes Gebirge mountains, about 80km east of Salzburg. CUCC is the principal group exploring in the area, which continues to yield new discoveries.
The principal known systems in the area are the southern Schwarzmooskogel system, comprising Stellerweghöhle itself, the stunningly beautiful Schwarzmooskogel Eishöhle, and a number of other smaller caves, much of which was explored by CUCC in the 70s and early 80s; and Kaninchenhöhle, an extremely complex system discovered by CUCC in 1989 which was the main focus of expeditions between then and 2000.
For a long period these caves were known to approach each other very closely but a connection between them proved elusive. This was finally achieved by a German group last year, bringing the total length of the Schwarzmooskogelhöhlensystem to over 50km and its depth to 1030m, placing it in among both the world's deepest and longest caves.
Over the last three years the principal focus of CUCC's work has been Steinbrückenhöhle, a cave lying to the north of the furthest known reaches of Kaninchenhöhle. This has quickly yielded over 5.3km of passage reaching a depth of 454m. As well as its considerable potential in its own right, it has a number of promising leads pointing in the direction of Kaninchenhöhle, in particular the Razordance streamway which is currently the deepest known point in the cave and is no more than 300m away from the Fuzzy Logic series in Kaninchenhöhle. This area of Kaninchenhöhle has a number of large unexplored leads which will be reexamined in more detail now that a connection to Steinbrückenhöhle seems possible. One of the deepest caves in the area is Eislufthöhle, which is to the southwest of Steinbrückenhöhle. This was actually one of the first caves explored by CUCC on the plateau, in 1977-9. Not all the leads were fully explored at the time, and it is intended to return there this year and finish off the exploration.
David Loeffler - Last updated 28/5/03