EXPO 2003

Typed up David Loeffler, January 2004. I've done my best to decipher this but bits are still illegible; there are also a lot of dangling cross-references to trips that never actually got written up. Editorial comments (in italics) are mine.

(20th Expo at Staud'n'Wirt)

10/7/2003  --  Journey , Packing and Journey to Austria  --  Mark S, Earl (driving), Olly M, Martin, et al. (packing)

(to 12/7/2003) In fact it's not the 12th July at all, it's Wednesday 16th but we've only just gotten around to buying a log book. It appears that I have the pleasure of inscribing the first of what will


Never look a log book in the mouth. As I was saying,

no doubt be the usual collection of impecably [sic - I can't tell if this is deliberate!] written reports, each written longingly with due care and attention (ignoring distractions such as [illegible] insects), with the authors in a sufficiently sober state so as to recount the superbly accurate tales in the worst manner possible.

Horse flies in Austria weren't the only ones taking the piss. AN excellent sponsorship effort by Julia led to the delivery of 125kg of noodles (912 packets, just think how far those noodles would stretch!) in 33 boxes of varying size. A mammoth van-packing effort, including trips to every corner of Cambridge (and Bury St. Edmunds, root of all evil) [footnote: Greene King Ltd. (PLC?)] managed to cram 100kg of the noodles and an amazing pile of other shit into Mark's van.

The drive out - Mark and Early - was good, except for a few minor hiccups (Eurotunnel had told us the wrong time & we had to wait an hour, etc). Van temperature light came on twice so we paused briefly to cool down. Driving all day - 4am to 10pm - in 1 1/2 - 2 hour shifts works very well - could have done the journey in 12 1/2 hrs without the tunnel + cooling problems. Arrived at 11pm prompt and headed for Hilde's bar.

T/U a bit (in tunnels).

At this juncture Mark noticed that the front two pages of the logbook were stuck together. By gaffer tape of course.

16/7/03  --  Journey , Travel out -- Dour, Julia, Dave

Having quit my job on Thursday, and with Dave dossing on our floor Thursday night, I wasn't worried about packing the car and hadn't done much beyond throwing a few things into a useful box, and packing the top-camp meals into a suitcase (of course). However, first job of Friday was to go to the DVLA in Wimbledon to get a tax disk for Dour. That done, and journey food bought, the morning was waring on so a massive pile of gear was collected and assembed next to the Tunnocks mobile. I then discovered that, whilst an inordinate amount of noodles had safely arrived, there was no sign of any Tunnocks bars. Disaster! Alsoa bit annoying, as I'd confirmed sponsorship to folk almost a month ago. So I rang Tunnocks and left a polite message inquiring about the lack of Thomas Tunnock Ltd products. The result of this was to be told that my e-mail confirming dates and a delivery address was never received...oh poo. However the nice man aat Tunnocks was only a bit grumpy and agreed to send the stuff on to another address. Sorted. I then had a bit of a stress about the size of the shit pile.

** NEWS FLASH 8.51pm - it's gonna rain ** Hurrah!

So went upstairs to a create more gear whilst Dave organised the stuff already by the car. Once Dave had done the hard work (well the flat needed cleaning) it started to look OK, and we ahd a good half an hour sitting around before Dour got home from work. Then we were off. Made it onto the 7pm ferry and after that it was just the occasional coffee + petrol stop. Dour drove pretty much all thru the night. Arrived at the Pötschen Pass to find some major bike race going on, and it was still going on in Bad Aussee, actually quite handy as there were marshals on the silly corner to wave you through when it was safe to go. The three of us arrived; five minutes later Tony arrived chauffered from the station by Hilde. We sat and festered for a bit, then got round to putting the bier tent up. Not long afterwards, when the frame was up but far from stable the heavens opened, and we all lokked a bit silly, stood there getting drenched whilst supporting a massive metal structure. We got bored after a while and went over the road. Karin: "It is funny. You are here ... and it is raining."

17/7/03 -- Journey , Journey -- Becka

Got here ~ 3.30pm. Baking hot + everything locked up. Ate last night's slop + got a beer in. Bad head from no sleep at all last night (blame Richard Branson).

18/7/03  --  204 , Rigging down towards Razordance  --  Dave, Mark  --  T/U 5hrs

Rigged 204a ent pitches to Wolpertinger Way. Stuck a rope down Pot-u-Like; we weren't very convinced by the bolting + came out again.

On reaching surface were soundly patronised by Dour and Becka who went on to rig rest of Ariston.

18/7/03  --  204 , Rigging 204e ent pitch  --  Dave  --  T/U 1hr

Got bored so put a rope down 204E. Couldn't remember route from bottom of pitch so came straight back out again.

18/7/03  --  204 , Rigging Ariston  --  Becka + Anthony  --  T/U 7 hours

Just back up from carry 2 in time to see Mark + Dave emerge. Down with 2 tacklesacks with rope for Kiwi Suit & down Ariston to finish off rigging that & take sacks to top of Kiwi Suit, plus some fettling of rigging.

19/7/03  --  204 , 204 tourist trip  --  Becka, Earl + Julian H  --  T/U 7hrs

Tourist trip, courtesy of Earl, to show Julian the highlights of 204. Walked over to 204D + rigged in - q. lot of snow. Julian did the climb up - we should leave the 8m rope on this. Down into Swings + Roundabouts. Took 2 tacklesacks of rope to head of Gaffered to the Walls for rigging. Up Treeumphant Passage, poking around various holes. Looked at bottom of 204E then Earl + I went to bottom of Helter Skelter. Earl reckoned the climb up would lik to the climb he did at the far N end of Swings + Roundabouts. I moved some boulders from the bottom of Helter Skelter, I reckon I could get through the gap (especially given a lump hammer) with a nice draught through it + tube (q. big) beyond - should be pushed through. Back + looked at 01-10A - rope still on the up-climb (C4) + 2 hangers left from pitch down but our rope not long enough. Since so easy to access this from 204E this should be looked at again. Through short cut (v. easy, recommended) back into Treeumphant + up to Cave Tree Chamber. Found a tacklesack crabbed to the bottom of (still-rigged) traverse, complete with short rope + 4 slings. Presumably been there 2 years, oops. Took it out with us. Back + out via No Pain No Gain (looking into Pleasure Dome from start) + then down to Millennium Dome (looking in from top) + to initial part of Merry Fucking Christmas until climb down. Then saw Mark + Anthony coming up + offering a lift down the hill, sorted. Everybody out 204A. Fun trip.

19/7/03  --  204 , Kiwi Suit rigging  --  Mark S, Dave, Dour  --  T/U 6 1/2 hrs

Abbed down to bottom of Ariston and followed crawl to head of Kiwi Suit. Proceeded to watch Dour shit his pants over the head of the 54m. Two bomber naturals ensured a safe descent. Into a nice stream canyon, down the next short pitch to the top of the 20m. Rope (101m, or so it said) didn't reach the bottom, even though the traverse and backups at the thead of the 54m had been rigged on another rope. We resolved to bring more rope and went home. Met Haines and co. at the bottom of Wolpertinger, at the end of their tour of 204. Prussiked out and went down the hill. Drank Gösser.

20/7/03  --  204 , 204E to Helter Skelter  --  Becka + Martin  --  T/U 6 hours

Walked up hill + Julian+Earl doing traverse at Gaffered to the Walls so thought we'd rig down Gaffered + be sociable. Obviously we didn't think too hard about it as when we got there they were lobbing endless rocks off their ledge. Rigging Gaffered not an option. Watched them a moment + adminred the long drop into space then retreated to QMs back nearer 204E. First went up Crowning Glory to end to QM 2001-10A. andclimb rope left from 2001 up then rigged down (like I did on yesterday's trip). Pit at bottom of this pitch blind. Walked up boulder slope on the other side of pitch + gardeded the next drop then Martin down on rest of rope from first pitch with a tackle sack rope protector. To left was rift with aven (went 3m). In LH wall, 2m up, small crawl (QM C). Straight on, rift continued down moderate pitch (QM B) + above passage continued (QM B) which could be reached by bolting up ~3m. Then went down Helter Skelter to far end. We moved boulders + stacked them up for some time until could finally get under the low wall at end. It went right, under another low squeeze, + then opened into a small pitch which Martin descended on naturals ~8m. 2m slot in floor. Pitch blind + drippy (got wet when we surveyed it the next day + it rained on the surface). Came back up Helter Skelter slowly looking at QMs. Martin found QM 2001-14B, a sandy crawl with a draft + pushed it into new stuff. Yahoo (embarrasing we didn't spot it in the original 2001 survey though). Looked at lots until time to go home. Met Earl + Julian back at the 204E rope + exited together. Good trip.

21/7/03  --  204 , 204E to survey Sandpit off Helter Skelter  --  Becka + Martin   --  T/U 9hrs

Julian + Earl still bolting above Gaffered to the Walls so no point trying to rig below them so off to survey yesterday's stuff in Sandpit of Helter Skelter. Sandy crawl (was QM 2001-14B) leads to small passage. Closes off up + to right; main way goes past dead furry bat to sandy hole which we'd dug out yesterday. This tube goes up steeply. At top, straight ahead leads up into small chamber with a pitch to right + up from there. Go left another rift/pitch which probably links to the first one. Main way from sandy tube follows the draft to the left along a crawling tube past a couple of not-bad straws into a small chamber. Rift, thin, deep, narrow to the right (leading to small shaft?). Ahead, nasty loose hole to left but main way is under low wall + crawl up ramp on right side. Over a loose boulder wall, to the right went to a pitch head with a huge boulder perched on top. It's possible to free-climb down this rift to the left to a drippy floor + Martin climbed a further 2m below this but still not down to bottom of shaft (doesn't look promising though). Various tubes above pitch head, probably don't go. Main way is to left after boulder wall, crawling to edge of ramp. Can climb down to left, to bottom, nasty loose pitch to left at bottom. Ahead, clamber over boulders. At far end, small passage leads off + up but gets too small. At left climb up + then follow up a solution tube several metres up to top of aven then tube closes down. Main way on at ramp is across + up to small sandy tube. Down this + to right. Small crawly passage with odd boulders in it needing gardening + more bat skeletons led up + past final squeeze into q. large drippy rift. Into this + we climbed up two levels (first one a rather dodgy free climb) until too hard to upclimb but aven continued up beyond this point. End of that survey. Back + down to bottom of Helter Skelter + surfeyed down to the pitch we found yesterday (last leg a joke plumb as we didn't rig the pitch). As down there, rain started + everything got drippy + worse. Checked off most of the Helter Skelter QM's on way up (2001 - 56C, 58C, 15C all don't go; 16A downgraded to B). Also M 2000-20C dead from day before this in Treeumphant. We left QM 2001-17C in Helter Skelter which is over attractive white mud, while 2001-56C might go if you want to climb diddly tubes.

22/7/03  --  Loser Plateau , Surface prospect  --  Becka + Earl  --  T/U 30min

Headed off with Martin;s GPS above various bits of 204. Ended up at the top of the Hinterer Schwartzmooskogel then went back to 204 Top Camp near the top of the ridge logging various holes, dead + otherwise. Met Mark, Julian + Dave at camp. Had lunch, then me, Julian + Dave up North to prospect for an hour. Found a couple more holes. Finally Earl + I watched Mark desced 2000-08. Possible way on to side of it - narrow rift, needed a rope. Earl + I found a couple more holes, ended. Back down hill. GPS positions etc. in survey folder.

22/7/03  --  Loser Plateau , Surface wander  --  Dave, Julian T  --  T/U ?? [must have been about 1 hour]

Returned to holes 'up North' minus Becka but plus gear: rigged one hole down pitch (see sketch) + tagged that as 2003/03.

Julian's other entrance, tagged as 2003/04, is a small down-sloping crawl in the western side of a depression visible from the stone bridge. (At the south end of the depression is a short tunnel leading out onto the hillside, the other end of which is clearly visible from 204). Anyway this gives access to some bouldery phreatic passage perhaps 5m wide + high heading westwards [actually it was northwards, as we found when we surveyed the thing some while later] which is choked after perhaps 30-50m (we should really return + survey it, alhtough it has no obvious leads left to push).

23/7/03  --  204 , Razordance rigging (+ pushing a bit)  --  Dave, Dour, Mark  --  T/U Mark 12h, Dave 13h, Dour 14h

Rigged [Julia's handwriting in margin: No you didn't, Anthony did ] bottom two pitches of Kiwi Suit and commenced the merry task of hauling a huge tackle sack containing our 200m pushing rope through Razordance itself. Dour bolted Steady Now, the pitch at the old pushing front (Duncs descended it last year on the rope from the previous pitch, which must have been rather damp). This gave access to some more rift and another wet climb (rigged as a pitch). An awkward climb up through some boulders leads to a sizeable chamber (originally named The Brewhouse, now renamed God Loves a Drunk). Another pitch was visible around the corner, provisionally named The Mash Tun; rather than bolt this we turned around and slogged out, eventually emerging at intervals of about an hour with the last man (Dour) emerging at about 3.30 am. (We must all be nuts!)

24/7/03  --  Loser Plateau , Surface-bashing  --  Dave, Mark

Went with Brian to see 2003-{01, 02} and then on to Damoclesshacht (2003-05) which Brian was to descend. Went on and eventually found Julian T's new cave (2003-06). Spent some time prospecting around here. Found zero caves and one adder. A most unproductive day.

25/7/03  --  204 , Razordance  --   Mark, Dour, Dave  --  T/U 10-12hrs approx

Mark + Dave went to the bottom of Steady Now to start surveying the passage drom the previous trip. Dour followed, to bolt The Mash Tun - an 8m pitch after the God Loves A Drunk chamber. Took Dour a while to bolt it, so the surveyors caught up with him. Descended Mash Tun to land in a pool, leading to a much wider (2-3m) canyon. Very soon the head of the next pitch, Copper Pitch, is reached - looks like a fine shaft of 20-30m. [Footnote: Actually 17m 60cm - Mark.] Rift bends around to the left after the pitch, still looks 3m or more wide. Distinct change in the character of the cave. Drill battery failed afer 1 1/2 holes on the Y-hang so we went home. Took about 4 hours to get out.

20/7/03  --  204 , 21 Bolt Salute traverse (Part 1)  --  Earl + Julian H  --  T/U ??

On our tourist trip yesterday, Julian had spotted a QM across the head of the 70m pitch 'Gaffered to the Walls'. This is on the edge of the current survey and heading south/southwest direction, so Julian's cave detector was off the scale given that this passage is also on the main phreatic level of Steinbrucken. Thus Julian and I returned to traverse around the right hand wall...

There are significant ledges and other footholds around for most of the way, which is just as well given the variable quality of the rock. Starting from the tarvese line by the head of the pitch, we climbed up to a large ledge. I bolted ahead while Julian hand bolted a backup. After about 10m the ledge runs out and we were left hanging on the bolts placed in what limited sound rock we could find; hardly ideal placements.

A pull up onto a muddy ledge brings us to about the halfway point. Here a muddy tube slopes up to a mud/sand choke (dry, QM C, not drafting noticeably). We put on a few bolts on a ledge, and were now on the NW corner of the shaft but not any better able to tell if the QM at our objective will go. Incidentally, the ~4 second drop from the traverse to the bottom of the pitch really impresses! We return tomorrow to finish the job.

21/7/03  --  204 , 21 Bolt Salute  --  Earl + Julian H  --  T/U ??

More bolt traverse fun! Reached the corner of the shaft and climbed into a small slot (hoping this to be a quick way to get to the large QM) but although there is a view through boulders, it didn't seem to be wise to try and get through. Back out of the slot (hmm, kneeling on one's traverse line) and three more bolts bring us to a short abseil onto the target QM's boulder slope. Julian followed across and we explore where this stoking QM goes ... Main way blocked by boulder slope, but a phreatic rift/joint area on the left leads upwards with a strong breeze. Following this breeze we climbed up for about 6m to where boulders blocked the passage, the breeze whistling through a small gap. Julian had a good look and declared that there was 'a lot of cave' around here, just we couldn't get to it. We may return with a crow bar to proddle the boulders a little. We surveyed out, measuring the top of the 70m pitch as over 20m.

23/7/03  --  234 , Hauchhöhle  --   Julia

Went to have a quick look at the pitch lead in Hauchhöhle. Put a bolt in for the hang. There's a friendly-looking ledge not far down, looks like you could scout out a good place for a rebelay, as rocks seem to fall free from here.

24/7/03  --  Loser Plateau , Finding tent spaces + surface wandering  --  Julia + Anthony

Anthony was buggered following his nails 'ard trip down Razordance the previous day. So we festered for some time. At 2pm we were just going to leave and so something useful when some folk arrived. ARGE were doing a long weekend of prospecting and rekkying (almost certainly not spelt like that) [indeed not - editor] something further up. Spent some time with them looking for tent spaces, then headed for a hole spotted last year near 204c which turned out to be tagged 2002-04. Martin had kindly compiled a list of all known caves in the area, 2002-04 was nowhere to be found. I put a tag in at the pitch head and rigged a ladder. The pitch is v.short, only 5 metres or so. Down a slippery climb, the whole passage curves round to the left (it's about 3 metres high, wiht rocks wedged in at various levels) then stops, a tiny bit of a crawl starts but isn't even a Wook lead. To the right is a pitch climb of maybe 4/5 m which I didn't drop as Dour had run away. (It was raining Ahhh...) Doesn't look very inspiring, but a crawl at the bottom might carry on. Collected Dour and we did a surface survey back to 204C. At the moment I've no idea where 2002-04 is, because 204C has never been linked into the data-set - will go back and do an underground survey at some point. Treading on bees doesn't help when you're intending to walk up the hill.

24/7/03  --  204 , Round Gaffered (Traverse + down) + Dutch Beauty squeeze  --  Julian H, Martin, Earl + Becka -- T/U Martin 8 1/2, Becka 10 1/2, Julian 8 1/2, Earl 6 1/2 or something like that

Julian + I in first with new-from-Eisenhof, 50% bigger crowbar to prod boulders. Across Gaffered 21-Bolt Traverse (mmm, acrobatic), up the boulders, to the top of the tube + looked at the boulders. Not much room for manoeuvre, or for a quick escape when they start raining on your head. Nevertheless Julian + I alternated levering them out (all too easy - some came out even from chucking a rock at them) for an hour or two. Bloody cold in the draft. Finally got enough out to see that the good-looking way on was just a solution pocket whilst the draft was coming from directly above + there could be many, many boulders funnelled up there. Decided we'd stretched our nerves enough. Out + I de-rigged the traverse. By then Earl + Martin had turned up. I then went with Martin rigging into Gaffered (we hadn't wanted to start before the traverse was derigged as loose stuff kept dropping down the pitch). Rigged the 70m, the next pitch, the traverse + pitch and finally the eyehole pitch so 4 pitches in all with Martin adding extra spits here + there to beef up the rigging + avoid dodgy naturals. Meanwhile Julian + Earl had been going to look at Pleasuredome for horizontal leads but got distracted + ended up finding the squitty squeeze off Dutch Beauty which Earl linked up to the end of the 21 Bolt Traverse (doh!)

25/7/03  --  204 , Survey Rhino Rift from Dutch Beauty  --  Julian H + Becka  --  T/U 10hrs

Off to survey Earl's link to the end of the 21 Bolt Travese of Gaffered. Having squeezed through, discovered there was much more cave than Earl had described - yahoo! Julian disappeared off for some time + came back very excited. First surveyed up to link to 21 Bolt Traverse with Julian doing the squeeze through the dodgy boulders onto the loose boulder pile perched on top of Gaffer's 70m pitch. He'd missed seeing the passage we'd emerged from from the other direction when I asked him about it yesterday, because Earl had popped out of a tube just below it which Julian thought was what I'd seen. We then continued surveying Rhino Rift until we ran out of time. This was supposed to be Julian's las caving trip before he went home but he decided he'd have to come back tomorrow...

26/7/03  --  204 , Rig Deviated + survey On A Mission  --  Julian H + Becka  --  T/U 9 1/2 hrs

Underground by 10am, ouch. Back through the squeezes of Rhino Rift. We'd intended dropping the short pitch at the end of yesterday's survey but on the way Julian suggested dropping the Deviated Pitch. I wasn't keen, it looked like a modern chamber with more pitches but we slung a rope down with dodgy rubs all over. At the bottom, as expected, two more pitches, dull - but, a-ha, also a walking passage leading off - + bigger round the corner. I went 30m to check it went then told Julian to come down. I let him see a little bit but the wrestled him away from stoping off down + we surveyed in all the way down the main passage. We'd just about run out of time at the end when Earl + Martin turned up + en mass we jerry-rigged the pitch at the end which Julian shot down before Earl had put in the pitch head bolt! He then poked around until Earl had rigged it properly then Julian + I had to run out [footnote: Fortunately, on the way in, Earl + Martin, being well-trained riggers, had fettled Deviated Pitch so it actually did deviate and didn't rub] in time for Julian to head down the hill in the last of the light, drive Anthony's car down + draw up surveys until the wee hours before heading home early the next day. Excellent trip.

27/7/03  --  204 , Continue surveying in Rhino Rift + On a Mission  --  Julian Todd + Becka  --  T/U 9 hours

First went to the end of the 25/7/03 survey of Rhino Rift + continued until we ran out of horizontal + I put a bit (not enough) of conservation tape around the mud pretties. Cold. Then down Deviated Pitch + showed Julian On A Mission. Surveyed Rat Biscuit to frustrating end in drafting boulders (lost most of the draft before then though?) Finished up by surveying into Belief (last leg before main chamber, in the phreatic passage).

28/7/03  --  204 , On a Mission  --  Julian Todd, Martin, Tony + Becka  --  T/U 9 1/2 hrs

Tying up the last horizontal main leads of On a Mission. Martin + Tony surveyed the chamber at the end of On a Mission whilst Julian + I surveyed Swallow Hard, up pretty steeply. All 4 of us then tied up the survey in that chamber + looked at the leads there. Then did a partner-swap: Martin + I surveyed Crimper - tight + awkward + not much draft but is a reasonable horizontal way on at the end, just needs a bit of a clamber, + it's in an interesting place. Meanwhile Julian + Tony rigged into Unconformity. Julian, Tony + I had a quick look down the pitch before we all headed out.

29/7/03  --  204 , Rigging + survey down Gaffered  --  Martin + Becka  --  T/U 10hrs

I'd promised Martin I'd go down Gaffered today if he did On a Mission yesterday but I wasn't particularly looking forward to it, especially as I'd got miserably damp on the 70m last time as it was raining on the surface. In the event, though, it was a fine trip to a very starnge bit of cave with stunning pretties, best I've seen in Austria I think. Down to top of last pitch that Martin + Earl had rigged to (on their trip - on 26th or 27th?) [Not written up apparently]. I looked at the mud tube (Eeyore) that went off from the bridge - it led, after a a short crawl, to a huge chamber. We surveyed to it then I left Martin there + went down the final pitch into the Underworld + walked around shouting but Martin couldn't hear me so that chamber seems to be separate from the Underworld despite being so close. Then we went to the end of Earl + Martin's previous survey + rigged down Poohstyx (Mark's name!) This dropped 25m in a drippy shaft to end in a flat floor with a v. thin rift going off, cold + small stream running. I clambered up 2-3m up a wall at the bottom of the shaft + looked over - a passage continued on down - perhaps not needing rope but looking wet + sharp + not at all inviting given how cold I was so we consigned it to a B QM and went up the pitch. Martin, ever the keen surveyor, then insisted on looking across the top of the pitch - and yes, that went too. A cold survey ended in a fine aven [There is an asterisk here but apparently the footnote it corresponds to was never written.] via some odd, mud-coated passage + random lumps of ceiling that had landed on the floor. Oh, and bat bones which had been washed donw the cave. All rather strange. Had a little time left so Martin pointed out another unpromising QM which I climbed up into - which emerged in a huge chamber (Sirens) with stunning bright white active stalactites, as well as loads of cauliflower and a couple of exciting-looking potential QMs as well as the usual dull pitches. Finished that survey + I was freezing. Martin fettled the rigging a bit on the way out + I'd just about got warm at the top of Gaffered.

30/7/03  --  204 , Survey down Unconformity + push in Rhino Rift  --  Julian T + Becka  --  T/U 7hrs

Down to where Julian + Tony had finished their Unconformity survey yesterday. Julian put in a spit for the pitch/ramp/climp down below the [illegible] whilst I poked around. I found a tube they'd missed yesterday + crawled past a dead + partially calcited bat skeleton into a small chamber (which they'd been able to look into from another passage yesterday but they'd not been able to climb into). A clamber of ~2.5m up the far side got to a bridge overlooking a v. large pitch. This (or the chamber itself) was where I'd made a vocal connection to Julian when I'd gone up the passage higher up Unconformity which ended in sharp limestone + which Julian + Tony had rigged yesterday. We then went down the pitch Julian had put a spit in for. At the bottom was another pitch and, much more interesting, a possible horizontal lead from an easy traverse over the top of that pitch. Surveyed out + up the pitch + into the small chamber. In the small chamber I climbed up ~3m into the continuation of the bat calcited phreatic passage which soon became mud filled. Out, up the Deviated Pitch + along Rhino Rift to the pitch where Julian H + I had ended our survey on 23/07/03. I put in a spit + down on it + a dodgy natural + 6m + 8m of rope. Just made the floor. A mud crawl with little draft let to an uninteresting looking pitch. No time to survey so derigged the 8m to put back on the traverse above Deviated + showed Julian Swings + Roundabouts so he could take some more photos on the way out. Down the hill to showers + bread - oh, + inputted at least 750m survey.

30/7/03  --  204 , Razor Dance  --  Frank, Dave + Anthony  --  T/U Frank ?, Dave + Anthony 11hrs

Plan was for me and Frank to go pushing in Razor Dance (my last chance for a trip down there before going home). However, Frank had a trapped nerve in his back, so Dave got roped in too in case Frank had to jack. Dave and Frank went down so that Dave could bolt the pitch at the pushing front under supervision. I followed 1/2 hr later to find the y-hang almost rigged. Frank headed out at this point to test his fitness, whilst Dave put in a deviation and descended what turned out to be an 18m pitch. Dave inadvertently dunked the drill in a puddle at the bottom, and the battery promptly started discharging itself. Attempted to start surveying, but the clin was terminally fogged. Faced with the prospect of total gear failure, we went for a quick push. From the bottom of the pitch a rift heads off - similar dimensions to that higher up, but the rock is less catchy (have we moved into a different bed?) eventually reaching a pitch. By the time we got back to the bottom of the pitch the clino still wasn't working, so we dragged the rope and bolting gear off to the new pitch. There was enough life in the battery to get 3 bolts in for a descent of ~10m. Dave was freezing his nuts off by now, so I went on for a quick look at the next bit. More rift leads to a bit where the water goes down a very narrow bit. It might be possible to follow it, but it seems foolish given that there is a comfortably wide section higher up. I followed this to a widening - couldn't see round the corner but some rope will be required, either to descend to stream level or protect a bad steop if the traverse level continues.

With that we pottered sedately out. Thanks to Frank & Dave for accompanying me down Razor Dance when they would clearly rather have been somewhere else.

29/7/03  --  Cave 2002-04 , 2004-04 = Tröpfelnhöhle (Dripping Cave)  --  Julia, Anthony  --  T/U ??

Did a surface survey to link 204C tag bolt in, then went to survey Tröpfelnhöhle (so called because the surveyors got thoroughly dirpped on in their dry (ha!) grots). Chucked a ladder down it, this was just long enough to get down the 4m pitch at the bottom, there are a couple of small passages off the bottom of this pitch which are full of rocks. That's it really.

[In different colour pen and noticeably less legible]There might be giants, or worse!

I should do more caving, caving is nice, but I never quite get round to it. I want to go to Hauchhöhle and nobody else does everybody likes pitches.

1/8/03  --  Loser Plateau , Left Tatty Hut after Expo Dinner at 5.55 am.  --  Mark S, Frank, Olly M  --  Time underwater: Julia, Martin, Dave 10sec.

"The survivors

31/7/03  --  Loser Plateau , Surface wander  --  Earl, Dave, Olly  --  T/U Not very much

Walked to 204d. Pottered around a bit, took some photos; had a look at a small nearby cave which has a window to the 204d shakehole.

Mark had messaged up from base camp the bearing + distance from 204d to the position of the end of a passage he, Earl + Olly had found the previous day in On a Mission. This took us to a gully leading down to a huge choss bowl.

We split up + poked around a bit in the bowl. I found a small slot with a slight draft; Olly succeeded in wedgeing himself down it and reported that there was a pitch beyond with a 1 sec drop but he couldn't see beyond this as the light he had borrowed (mine) was too feeble.

This was eclipsed by Olly's discovery - a large entrance, choked after a few metres but with a slot on the right. The slot was low and blocked by pebbles; but a howling gale was emerging. Some moving of rock later Olly (the thinnest member of the party) forced himself in, reporting a walking size passage beyond, which was not explored due to lack of time + gear. Based on the strength of the draft Earl offered to stake a crate of Gösser it would connect to 204.

4/8/03  --  Loser Plateau , The walk back from top camp without using a helicopter.  --  Julian T +Becka, Martin, Earl  --  T/U N/A

Arrived at top camp on 2/8 early walk up all excited, and had a slip-up on the slab below the cooling rock in the stone bridge. It didn't hurt, but I had a lie down. Then I got up and it hurt like hell. Like a piece of razor wire had been substituted for a tendon between my lower back and right knee. If I could just get around without it flexing and slicing through my flesh, it was bearable. But most movements caused pain that amost heated up the region and made my left thumb go numb due to neurological noise across the regions of the humunculus (brain area that has the body map). [I have no idea whether or not he is making this up - editor.] So I didn't go caving. I sat on the slabs the whole day happy when not moving because it didn't hurt. Often I thought I was cured, only to have to get up for a pee and scream with each step. On Day 2 I could move a little bit more. The pain intensity was the same but the barrier was a little further away so I was more mobile. Since I wasn't dead it was probably not a ruptured spleen. It just hurt like an inaccessible splinter. The sun beat down on the carrymat over my head. I sat like a cripple and was driven insane by the inefficiency of team fester who didn't get a move on and leave me in peace until 4.30pm. Man! [As a member of 'team fester' I should point out that I hadn't got out of the cave the previous day until 4.50am and was possibly more knackered than I have ever been in my life before. - DL (editor)] Meanwhile Earl + Becka were doing lots of wonderful caving, discovering lots of stuff and doing useful work. Becka's going to marry Earl if I don't pull myself together. I climbed into bed after it got dark, after team fester had left all the litter all over the slabs until it was dary so they couldn't see it and therefore couldn't clear it up. In the morning I was still sore. I was not going to spend another day like this, like a refugee cowering under a scrap of cardboard waiting for food handouts and for someone to care, just happy to be alive. So while everyone was discussing stretchering me off (not possible) or calling a helicopter (last resort) I drifted off to the path to the derision of people observing how long it was taking me to get out of sight. Once out of earshot I could howl, which helped overcome the pain (I've always been a crybaby). Becka joined me later, carrying my pack. It was better if she walked separately so I could pick my pace, stopping for refueling stops. Martin arrived from base camp and we headed for the Bergrestaurant. Earl followed after an hour and drove us all down. I haven't experienced pain of this sort in a while. I've learnt my lesson. I hope it gets better. I just want to go home and not get carted off to some pill-pusher for some pointless ointment. Get me out of here.

2/8/03  --  204 , Rhino Rift Fester  --  Earl, Becka, Dave + Frank  --  T/U Dave ?6, Frank ?8, Becka + Earl 10.

Me down 204E with Frank + showed him Treeumphant + Swings + Roundabouts on a quick tourist then Earl + Dave caught up with us at the Taking the Piss / Deviated pitches. To the chamber at the end of On a Mission + continued Mark + Earl's survey in What No Butcombe through various loops. [footnote: Notes for this are in file #24 but not yet drawn up as I am going home tomorrow and THE FUCKING BLOODY PRINTER ISN'T WORKING so I don't have a centreline - DL]. I showed Dave the way out whilst Frank + Earl finished surveying. We then derigged everything at the end + Frank headed out. Earl + I then went down Unconformity. Earl snooted at Julian + my rigging then put in one measly bolt with his drill to get across the traverse at the bottom of our last pitch. Pitch itself q. short, only ~10m, but this is only a ledge + the pitch continues. Over the traverse is another 20 or 30m horizontal with holes in the floor + possible QMs up. Needs surveying but we had to get out as our time was up.

3/8/03  --  204 , Gaffered / Underworld push, survey + derig  --  Becka + Earl  --  T/U 10hrs

Tempted Earl down [Comment, in what looks like Mark's handwriting: ooh err!] with promise of long bolted traverses across Sirens. Unfortunately he managed to do it all on naturals (why do we bother with drills?) (Mind you, Earl was eyeing up the v. long traverse to the opposite side of the chamber where it looks like another phreatic passage may head off.) Popped over + it looked like it went - again - so we settled down for a long survey. Strong draft throughout most of the area. Straight on from the traverse, through the bracket-fungus rift gets to a convenient ledge behind a column overlooking what looked v.like the shaft we'd finished our survey on (Martin + me, 29/7/03, see in write-up). Earl rigged another traverse line on naturals along this ledge (superfluous?) + we kept surveying up the slope beyond. Ran out of time with plenty of horizontal QMs - Earl frustrated as we could have stomped around everywhere if we didn't have to wait for him to draw his damn pictures. V. odd little pool filled with ?mud/?calcite which we didn't survey to the end. Plenty to go back to next year - a whole new phreatic level? Derigged; I got 2 bags out + Earl got the remaining 2 bags tied to the bottom of the 70m Gaffered pitch. Another v. fine trip.

5/8/03  --  204 , Derigging Razordance  --  Earl, Frank + Becka  --  T/U 6hrs Frank + Becka, 7hrs Earl.

My last chance to go caving so I persuaded Frank I'd be useful derigging if he could drive me down the hill in time for my train for my flight. Dave + Mark had left 3 tacklesacks at the top of Mystery Wind. Got there + decided the big yellow monster wasn't going anywhere + rebagged it in a sensible bag then double-bagged the drill bag which had holes all in the bottom. Good team effort through the rift then a sociable prusik out. 2 hours down pitch series, 3 hours in + out of rifts of Razordance + packing rope + derigging + 2 hours out; a v.fine, spanking trip. Then down the hill to Gösser + bread + cheese.

30/7/03  --  Base Camp , Grabenbach Canyon -- Martin, Brian, Julian T

(Dinner day) Grabenbach canyon. We did it. It rained on the way down and we made it back to the dinner with 1 minute to spare. Here's the survey.

Walk up: 45mins. Canyon down: 3hrs 30.

4/8/03  --  204 , Razordance attempted derig  --  Mark, Dave

T/U: Dave 15 1/2 hrs (1.20pm - 4.50 am); Mark 14hrs (1.20 - 3.15 approx)

Surveyed from the bottom of Copper Pitch to pushing front, ending at a plumb of the local widening discovered by Dour on the previous push. This task was enlivened by Mark suddenly discovering an urgent need to have a crap, which led to him relieving himself wile squatting half-naked over the top of a 10m pitch. [Margin note:Bloody spicy food! - M.]

Then the derig began, shepherding Big Bertha (Marc Hesse's enormous yellow tackle sack, engorged with the remains of our 200m pushing rope) out of Razordance. Much cursing + swearing got us from Yeast to Copper. Copper was an easy haul, as was Mash Tun. We stopped at God Loves a Drunk to sample a self-heating meal. Unfortunately after waiting 12min it was still stone cold - waste of a fiver. (One incident worth noting occured as I derigged Yeast. It's rigged with a rebelay just below the pitch head; after removing this I swung sideways into the line of fire, and a mysterious brown stain appeared on the stain of my oversuit.)

As we slogged from GLAD to Steady Now we were both flagging noticeably, and the effort required to get the sacks through the tube in the roof below Mystery Wind took a lot out of us. By the time I had hauled two heavy tackle sacks up to the Crow's Nest in the Armstrong fashion I was thoroughly broken, as was Mark, and we decided to dump the bags and head out. Not surprisingly I ran out of steam on Kiwi Suit and crawled slowly up the remaining pitches to emerge at nearly 5am. I was greeted by an enthusiastic Mark reporting that 204 had overtaken Eislufthöhle as the deepest cave not connected to the main system, at over 500m deep.

Mark: Worth noting for the future that you really need more people than this to derig Razordance, even for the lower parts of it if anything else has to be done on the same trip. We probably pushed ourselves too far on this trip.

6/8/03  --  204 , Kiwi Suit + Ariston derig  --  Mark, Martin  --  T/U 7 hours

Went splendidly. Ropes tied together in "paella" style and hauled up pitches etc, which generally worked very well. Left all the rope at the bottom of Wolpertinger for later collection - what a big pile!

3/8/03  --  Loser Plateau , Festering + surveying  --  Dave, Frank  --  T/U 1hr ish

Surface surveyed to 2003-04, Dreieckhöhle (Triangle cave) & did a quick underground survey. Interesting place, full of boulders but with a strong inward draught.

Later on (after lunch) did a surface survey to 2003-03, Kartoffelbreischacht (Mashed Potato Shaft). Unfortunately I seem to have mis-recorded some survey legs as the whole survey makes no sense at all. Frank has volunteered to do this again.

[Note in margin, Olly's handwriting: But he didn't. O. (Under direction from der Fuhrer (M))) (always close bracket.]

Notes for this are in file 2003#23.

2/8/03  --  Cave 2003-09 , Exploring + Surveying Olly's Höhle (2003-09)  --  Olly, Mark  --  T/U 4hrs

Went to look at hole I discovered with Dave and Earl before the dinner. It blows very hard, so we thought it must go somewhere. Surface surveyed to 204d first, then we crawled into the passage on the right of the entrance, where the draught was coming from. (Earl and I had previously cleared rocks from it to allow entry.) After a crawl the passage opens up with scatterings of ice and snow. A passage goes up to the left as the main way on turns a corner. It enters a large (> 10m diameter) chamber with an ice floor, and an ice stal on the floor. There is some passage with dodgy boulders to the right, but the draught comes from a very dodgy boulder slope on the left (reached by climbing round the edge of the ice). Might be worth poking, but it's quite unstable. We looked up the passage on the left but it doesn't seem to go anywhere. (Maybe a tightish meander in the floor might go (blows outwards a bit), but awkward to enter. QM C.) About 100m of survey in total.

[Long list of stuff left in supply dump at the end of Expo]

10/8/03  --  204 , 204a derig  --  Mark, Lucia  --  T/U 2hrs

Went to check 5m pitch at top of Ariston to ensure it was derigged. It was, so we went out again derigging as we went.

9/8/03  --  Base Camp , Searching for an Alm  --  Mark, Olly

Idea was to find the alm visible from the stone bridge (and much of the walk-in) - obvious large grassy patch in a saddle between two hills. Bearing from the stone bridge was 250degrees.

Initial reckonings were that the alm was Hinterer Sandlingalm, also known as Pitzingalm. We went first by road to Bad Ischl, and tried to get access to the alm without a long walk. Unfortunately the way from near Rettenbachalm (the place which is probably the source of the two close-together lights visible at night from the stone bridge) was blocked by a locked barrier at the foot of the Grabenbach valley. We also tried access from [illegible] but the road said "residents only" and we went back - would have been a very long way round anyway.

Went back to Altaussee to try access from the head of the salt mine road. You drive up the road to a large car park, then continue (up the Forststrasse) to the prominent left bend visible on the map, where there is a wooden building on the right and some old cart rails. (Started walking at 4.30pm.) Path leads off uphill, after some while crossing a ski run, to arrive at Sandlingalm. Just above the huts, a path to the right (signed Pitzingalm & marked with single red stripes on the trees) diverges from the main path (marked with the usual Austrian markers). Following the new path downhill through the woods emerges at a grassy area - turning left and following the path over logs placed across bogs leads to Pitzingalm, and a junction to the right with another main path.

Now, unfortunately by this time it was obvious that Pitzingalm was not the correct place, as there was no view of the Schwarzmooskogel ridge. Arse. Next we walked to Pitzingmoos on the main path, but this was obviously not the correct place either. Mark suggested thrashing westwards [No, I don't know why he's talking about himself in the third person either - editor] in the trees (actually easy) as it looked more open up there. This soon hit a much bigger track which we identified on the map, dropping to a point with a quarried (?) section on a corner. (Again this is marked on the map.)

Consulting the map, we identified Hütteneckalm as a next possible target. We actually soon saw this alm, from our newfound path, and it was immediately obvious that it was the intended destination. However, it was not obvious as to how to reach it. Despite it being a relatively small horizontal distance away - and not very much higher than us - a big stream valley was in the way. The alternative route would have been to go back to Pitzingalm and then to Hüttenbachalm via the Lambacherhütte path (201). However, the latter was too far - it being nearly 6pm - so we decided to descend down the current path and then thrash directly up a stream (!) (Mark's idea - Olly) which would then lead directly to Hütteneckalm. Thankfully common sense got the better of us, and when we spotted a path on the other (south) side of the stream which we were descending towards, we followed it - despite the map showing it ending some way from our destination. However, from that point it didn't look on the map to be too much further to the Aml - at least the path would gain us most of the height.

Anyway, we soon reached the end of the path. Two tiny cairns heralded the way on - a tiny path which continued for what seemed like ages. Some thrasing through greenery and assorted undergrowth was required (no bunde tho' !) - but the "path" did eventually pop us out at the bottom of the Alm at about 7pm or so. We were knackered. Just as well we hadn't tried climbing up the original stream valley - looked very steep.

So, there we were on the Alm. Slogged up it to arrive at an area of felled/burnt trees, with (finally) the elusive view of the Schwarzmooskogel ridge we had wanted. (Photos on Expo website.) Looks a long way away and somewhat unremarkably flat - the most striking thing is the distances between the Nieder Augst-Eck/Griesskogel/Wildkogel etc, which is revealed far better from this angle.

Anyway, there we were having walked for ages with no easy way back to the van and under 2 hours of daylight left. Error! We'd thought that we were in for an easy walk and thus didn't have any lights.

The options were two: either to return down the tiny path, thence go (up!) to Pitzingalm and back the way we had come originally to that point. Alternatively, we could go on the main path to the Lambacher Hütte, thence to Vorderer Sandlingalm and then to Sandlingalm, to rejoin the route we'd come on at the junction where we had previously turned off to Pitzingalm.

Given the situation we decided on this second option, as it would keep us on major paths. We headed to the top of Hütteneckalm to start off. There, we found a couple of huts and a Gasthof(!) - plus several cars. There were many merry people being amused outside the Gasthof by a gentleman in some weird garb which I didn't quite understand. Given the cars, we resolved to return on another occasion by road if possible - drinking bier up there would be entertaining adn the place also has FANTASTIC views of the Dachstein range. Would be well worth photographing, when the sun's in the right direction (early morning maybe? not sure).

And so we set off, climbing to reach the Lambacherhütte after quite a lot of path. Took about 50 minutes. Still light. Continued down to Vorderer Sandlingalm, by which time a sunset was starting - nice clouds in the sky (see photo on website). From here, the path was thankfully easy until Sandlingalm. By this time light was fading and it was hard to see in the trees - in the open a nearly-full moon helped a lot.

We definitely set off from this Alm on the correct path, but by now it was dark and Mark's misremembering of the position of a junction (thought to be later than it was) contributed to us losing the marked path (Olly was convinced we were still on the correct path, but Mark wasn't sure). Anyway, we emerged at the top of the aforementioned skirun instead of halfway up it, as we should have. Descended the skirun to the correct path, thankfully obvious. Sometime about now Olly discovered that his digital camera could give quite a lot of light, so we kept that in reserve - saving batteries and not disturbing our night vision. Mark rang Base Camp sometime about now on his mobile, in case someone had come down the hill during the day and was now worrying about us. However, it turns out that we'd accidentally taken the keys to the spud hut with us (precautions against Romany nicking things at Base Camp) - they were languishing in the van! Turns out that Earl + Frank had come down the hill & couldn't get into the spud hut. Since we'd had to take Frank's tent down earlier in the day, as the gypsies had slashed it and Hilde wanted it moved (the gypsies had claimed it was in the way of them oving their caravans, when Hilde asked them to move the caravans so as to accomodate more guests), then he didn't have anything to sleep in. They didn't want to disturb Hilde and so went back up the hill - already late, they were delayed even more by a bottle of squash exploding in Frank's car and needing to be cleaned up. They ended up walking in the dark, presumably without lights. Meanwhile, we were also walking in the dark. Progress was slow but steady - it was hard to see the rocks, pipes, roots, trees and assorted obstacles along the way with only a hint of moonlight to guide us.

However, courage prevailed. No wild animals were encountered and we didn't hurt ourselves. Reached the track near the end of the walk, where the normal route would be to continue down the hillside on the other side of the track to the parking space. However this would have meant more walking down very dark, steep sections and so we took the main road/track back to the van - a lot further but safer and easier.

We reached the van at 10.10pm, a little spaced out. Ate a Tunnocks and then fucked off to Base Camp to get pissed.

9/8/03  --  Base Camp , Searching for an Alm (Abridged) (Olly's Pissed Rant)  --  Mark, Olly

Once upon a time two cavers got pissed. "Wouldn't it be a good idea to walk up a hill which we have no idea where it is or what it's called?" said Mark. "Um. Gurgle gurgle hic hic" said Olly. And it came to pass that we did awake the next morning ato the scorch of the sun and the scurry of ants, and after recovering from the previous night's excesses we needed something to take our minds off the dawning headaches. And with a vague recollection of the previous night's conversation, a compass bearing and a map kindly lent by Hilde we set off on what would become an epic journey (and writeup - see previous). Caving is shit. Getting lost in a wood is worse. We walked for fucking ages, took a few pictures and buggered off into the fading light. It got dark. Fucking light. Bollocks. We got lost. Mark had locked our potential rescuers out of the spud hut. Bollocks! But we finally made it. (You probably guessed, dead people rarely write pissed rants in the log book.) Gösser is good stuff. Drink more! 2 crates and less than 2 days. Well, I've done my bit tonight. Wonder what comments Mark will make to this. Winning the beer tally (Mark) bastard! On the spot Gösser fines for limo aren't clearing it fast enough. This was supposed to be abridged and it fucking is! Stop complaining you cunts. Mark's is fucking pages long. You could have stopped reading it if you were bored. Frank goes to bed. Fucking lightweight. Gösser braumeister says fuck off!