Tony collected Wook from house then headed to the T-store where we found Nial & a huge pile of gear. It was clear that it wouldn't all fit, but we got most of it in, just leaving the expo computer monitor and printer plus some of the first aid stuff behind for the people coming out after week 1.
Ferry was a couple of hours late and for some strange reason we couldn't wait in the port so were given an exit passs and sent out to wait in Dover for an hour. So had some chips.
Uneventful drive over apart from when smoke started coming from the dashboard. Fiddled for a bit but couldn't get dash apart so turned everything off and continued. (Turned out to be fan relay crimp.) No rain all the way. Arrived at about 3pm Sunday 17th.
Mark & Nial had rigged the entrance whilst we fettled tags and generally sorted the bivi somewhat. Finally got underground at 2.50pm weighed down with 300m of rope. Overheated getting to the top of Gaffered, with Earl giving Wook the [illegible] tour on his first 204 trip.
Wook rigged down with 100m rope; Earl added rebelay 40m up that he missed. Did some gardening at the top of Tape Worm then rigged on down. Faffed somewhat rigging traverse up to LX Tape. Got as far as the top of Trihang. Wook too much of a wuss to reach Earl's spits, so rigged off a different one. Good trip. Long way back up Gaffered. Out 10.15.
We carried up a load of gear the night before, but sadly the water butt I'd carried up a few days earlier had only managed to collect a few inches of water. The first job was to get out the gear we left in a cave (to small to have a number or name) at the end of last year. This should have been easy, except what had been dry last year now had enough of a trickle of water to have lots of ice. Some of the gear came out easily (food was fine) but I had to sit in the drips for half an hour hammering out the tarps from the ice; fortunately we had a bolting hammer to use. Next we set up the water tarp and my hands thawed! The water we had left in the bottles in the cave seemed to have survived fine, probably due to being frozen most of the time.
We looked at 76a and noted that there was still a lot of snow and no entrance, though ~30cm had melted in the last 2 days. We walked over to 97 which had more snow than last year but looked open; reexploring this became Plan B. We headed back to 76a and whilst Ol took photos I kicked out snow from the entrance. Finally we had a cave to explore again! We headed back down the hill, me to carry a load I had left at top camp a few days before, and Olly to find a more direct route to the col not via old Top Camp - in the process he re-found some old caves (see below).
The earlier explorers of 76 speak of a "super direct" route from the col to 76. The route we used last year went via top camp (handy for stopping for a drink!) and then swung out onto the plateau, then back to 76 with a few awkward climbs, so there seemed scope for improvement. So I started from the tent pitched near the 76 bivi cave (2004/01), and headed along the break of slope towards the col. The route seems pretty promising, and partly already cairned. At one point I walked across a snowfield which might be harder once the snow melts. Eventually I popped out on the open limestone pavement to the far right of lower top camp as you look out onto the plateau from there. Just by a squat cairn I noticed faded orange-ish paint. Hard to be sure, but it seemed to say "80". Took a few pics. Looking later, this is in the right area to be 80, but 80 has a tag and the paint is/was on the shaft wall, not on pavement by the cairn. Need to go back to look for tags... Backtracked and aimed up and left to catch the start of the 161/204 path, which I succeded in doing. With a bit of fettling and some more cairns this is a very promising route!
Jenny would be a while longer so I ambled down, diverting onto the terraces before Bräuning Alm. Investigated a few holes, and then the foundations for what will presumably be another hut. There's currently a cement mixer (orange) and a large tarp-covered object (green/blue) next to the foundations. Just below this I discovered a gaping entrance unbered "96" in orange paint - this is an "exact location unknown" cave, so needs a GPS fix - mine was at 76 so will try to fix it later, although the new hut will make it hard to miss (it'll be the only hut on the other side of the path to all the others!). Wandered a little more, then rejoined the path just before the Stogerweg turnoff. Crossed the temporary electric fence and waited a few minutes for Jenny while fending off inquisitive cows.
[Annotation in Jenny's handwriting]PS: The Renault garage down the road is very good + cheap + quick.
Back to Gaffered to carry on rigging down. Rigging the steep "traverse" up to Cerberus is a right pain. (Bring a skyhook.) It would be best to leave this rigged in future. Got to the bottom of Cerberus to find that the "50m" we were going to cut off the bottom of the 200m rope to rig Gardeners World with was only 12m long, so our plans were a bit buggered. Also we had forgotten the Sirens traverse rope so used a little 7m bit we had. Trundled through the Underworld soily bits and rigged Gardeners World traverse with the 12m bit. Added one extra bolt before the end and then tried rigging down with 33m. It wasn't long enough to get to the bottom. So Wook put in a bolt on the LH wall to try and improvise the rigging. Then we pissed off out from -250m. Out at 9.15.
Shortage of cave food (flapjack and choccy) staved off by Wook's sausage and sweetie pot.
Relatively short + easy trip as we wanted to go down the hill and had run out of cave food. Went down to Cresta Run (some fun passages) to the chamber [Toothless] at the end containing a wet lead up a dodgy climb and a continuation leading to a pitch.
Decided not to do either of those & instead aimed for climb back up to solution level we had just come down from. Wook shinned up, doing some gardening en route. Good thread near lip made it reasonably non-scary despite high level of chossiness. Passage went, so we spent the next couple of hours surveying it. Nice passage, depite not being huge. Lots of small leads. Still going at the end and quite chilly, so must have a draught.
Gardened choss above Rhino Rift pitch en-route when Wook tried to shift loose rock & whole pile became unstable, rolling a rock onto Nial whilst he was tring to have a piss. Some very big rocks shoved down pitch.
Walked back up to 76 in the afternoon, discovered that the "80" found the previous day was 80, was tagged and is practically on the 204 path. Much sorting out of gear later we got underground about 3.30pm and Olly proceeded to rig the thick 112m down Plugged Shaft. I followed and took the bolting hammer to the ice in the entrance, which was quite satisfying but made ice water go in the holes in my gloves + gave me cold hands for most of the rest of the trip. Olly rigged down, adjusting the rigging a bit from last year (adding a rebelay instead of the guide line that didn't work), he then wanted to add a rebelay, so I prussiked back up to the entrance where I had left the pot of spits + the drill bit - oops... The new bolt definitely improves the rigging, as does one less snow plug (it seems to have alread melted and collapsed). Olly continued rigging down (probably one more bolt needed between rock bridge + epic deviation) past the ledge, down to the ledge below, and so down to the bottom of Plugged Shaft, where the rope ended (without much to spare) and we came back out.
Woke up planning to go into Brave New World and begin ticking off QMs, but there was a message on the phone asking Ol to phone home or check mail; we didn't know how urgent it was, so he SMS'ed home + we surface surveyed whilst waiting for a reply. We discovered that the disto isn't worth using above ground on a sunny day. We surveyed from laser 6 to 2005-[blank] to 2004-02 and 2004-01. The phone message turned out to be about our house alarm and therefore not urgent, but Olly wasn't feeling so enthused about 76 any more and time was pressing on. So we re-explored 99 instead. Olly rigged down using the original spits + naturals (rigging shown over the page); there was more cave than last year (because there was almost no ice) but still a fair amount of snow and one hell of a draught. Just as the the 39m rope ran out we got to what had been described in the 1970's as an "impenetrable rift", it was still impenetrable (obviously...) but we could see ~2m away the cairn Ol had built in the Test Tubes in 76 last year, so it had connected, and pretty much where we expected. This is where most of the draught was coming from. Ol continued down, the cave was now much smaller, but less draughty and much less snow. We got to the limit of 1970s exploration, at an undescended ~20m pitch. We had no slings left, or the drill, but found two reasonable threads + Ol went down. The pitch turned out to only be 7m deep, and there the cave ends - may be a good thing as 99 is cold + snowy + nasty! We set off back up, surveying as we went. Olly was very cold as he had to wait at the 76 connection for a while whilst I got the tacklesack + me up the bottom bit. So we postponed surveying the top half of the cave, and left the 39m rope in place. I gave Olly the tacklesack to take out as I had brought it in and some way out, and I thought carrying it would help him warm up. I regretted this most of the way out as I hadn't realised Ol was ill - he kept saying he might be sick and I was lower down the cave. Ol managed to get both himself + the bag out of the cave without being sick, which was nice. We sat around eating mashed potato trying to warm up enough to go back + finish surveying. In the end we gave up + walked down the hill, still wearing our furry suits.
[DIAGRAM OF 99 RIGGING]
[DIAGRAM OF PLUGGED SHAFT RIGGING]
Mainly uneventful; I spent most of the journey asleep, having only recently returned from a trip to Argentina (14h plane flight back). The only noteworthy incident was an irate German who tried to have us arrested after Frank forgot to turn his lights on before pulling out of a service station (turning them on a second or so later). We sat on the hard shoulder waiting for the police to arrive, but they didn't, so we buggered off.
Finally woke up at 11.30, having walked up the previous evening in the last of the light, and found myself being talked into looking for caves in the vicinity of No Ways Aven in 76. [Footnote in Jenny's writing: Well if you had woken up earlier we could have all gone caving.]
Slightly to the south of the GPSsed point, near the path from Top Camp to 76, we found 2005-92, a narrow shaft with a strong draught; Jenny descended and reported that it choked.
Not far from here was 2005-93. This had a rusty but usable spit, but no evidence of a number or other marking. I abseiled in to a snow plug; a slot down one side required caving gear, so Jenny had a look, but it was too tight.
2005-94 is a small shaft, descended by Jenny to an impassably tight rift.
2005-95 is a somewhat larger cave with three interconnecting surface shaft to a snow plug; there may be a way on under the snow but it could not be reached with the present snow levels.
2005-96 is somewhat to the north of the others, the other side of the bunde clump which marked our best guess at the position of No Ways Aven. It is a narrow (~1.5m dia) tubular surface shaft to a pebble + snow choke.
In the last of the light, surface surveyed to 104.
Scored lots of QM's between Earthenware and Hardware, surveying lots of loops and trying to make sense of the survey. Mostly ticked things off, just leaving a QM down a narrow, rifty passage with a small stream in it. Going to be a pig to draw. Dave had made a blown-up laminated survey just of Subsoil which was the bee's knees for checking off QM's + re-finding survey stations.
We all slogged down to the Taproom with a tacklesack each, and Ol began rigging across the shaft to QM 77-04 A. An interesting pendule/traverse ensued:
Eventually Ol reached the other side and Jenny and I surveyed across, derigging the middle anchors of the traverse en route to leave a classic pendule. Meanwhile Olly had wandered along the rift to the next pitch. We elected to rig down this, rather than descending the shaft with the pendule, as it wasn't drippy.
Oddly enough, the second pitch landed in Keg Series (at the ledge just before the 2004 limit). Olly was feeling a bit tired and ill, so I took over the drill to bolt up to the window in the wall (04-47 A). This led to 20m or so of pleasant passage with a slot in the floor. Jenny thrutched into Razor Prance and we established that RP was the bottom of the aforementioned slot. The new passage (Razor Advance) continues until the floor runs out (where the slot widens to the whole width of the passage), at which point a rope is needed to descend to the floor. This lines up pretty neatly with the undescended pitch at the end of Razor Prance below, and will be much easier to get to.
Surveyed the pretty bits + then steeply up in tight passage until got to a pitch head (p20?) with a possible continuation of the passage on the far side. Very cold and windy so checked out the various QMs on the way back. Went down via Helter Skelter - much better than Swings + Roundabouts.
Earl rigged the slot in Earthenware we step over (04-26B) whilst Wookey + I surveyed 04-25B for 30m or so (Software) until got to a a very draughty pitch. (04-27A and 04-24A don't exist). [The survey sketch from this trip suggests that such passages did exist but they connected to Software.] We ticked of 04-33A (soon choked) and 04-38B (ditto) + double-checked the pitch at the end of Hardware (04-40B, probably downgradable to a C, as is 04-39 B) [Footnote: Horrible loose pitch head but strong draught. We checked + this didn't connect to the stuff [Software] we surveyed down 04-35A on 26/5/05.]
Back to Earl and Wookey: went 25m down his pitch (Firmware) to end of a rope + a ledge. Dropping rocks revealed a further 20m pitch + then further rattles - rather damp. Then onto Heavily Soiled + Soiled Passage to end. Surveyed the chamber [Night Soil] just with an 8m handline around the spike and then Earl put a spit in to descend 04-55 to a fine large, ascending passage with a strong draft - QM A++. Out, leaving three strongly draughting leads (Software, Hippocratic Oath and end of Hardware).
In the morning, Olly + Jenny went down 99 to complete the survey + derig, while I slogged up to 204 to collect some blank tags. We then indulged in some tagging:
Jenny tried to find 86 but without luck.
Surveyed for two hours, me moaning + cold, in quite small, awkward passage, with a break in a largish, loose chamber with a pitch, and another through rocks in the floor, still going down pitches but not terribly exciting. One tight, drafting horizontal lead left, just after the drippy small chamber.
The second part of the ferrata down the western ridge was easier and much less busy, and we soon emerged on the snowfield. Here we swung to the right to rejoin the cables across the northern spur at Steinerschart'n. Three of us laboriously trekked down the other side, while Frank bumslid down a snow slope at an angle of about 50°; he was with difficulty persuaded not to climb back up and have another go.
By now it was getting really hot, so we hurried (as best we could on soft snow underfoot) back to the shade of the cable car station, returning via Liezen in absolutely stifling heat. This is definitely the way to do it: get up early and do the walking before it gets seriously sunny.
Surveyed from Hippocratic Oath up a very steep ramp in lovely shaped passage. At the top, took the main left, following the draught. A sling is handy to traverse around a small hole, after which the passage got smaller + more wiggly + we ticked off all but one small draughting lead. Efficient trip, given I'd had to start from base camp.
We headed into 76 with a heavy tacklesack each, planning to go down the 1970s route, with Ol bolting on down + me rerigging ropes to free up the 93m rope without needing to cut it. So we entered the cave, with Ol in front. Just as I was starting to abseil down Draught Bitter, I heard a Bad Noise, followed by the sound of Olly swearing. My first thought was that I had knocked rocks down, although I was in a freehanging bit of the pitch. Then Olly shouted up that he was OK, but that something in the rigging had "changed" and that he was going to prusik back up to the rock bridge rebelay. Once Olly was safe, I could abseil down, inspecting the rigging en route. It turned out that the middle rebelay was no longer fully attached - that is, the rope was still attached to the hanger, which was still attached to the spit, which was still attached to the rock, but that ~20cm diameter piece of rock wasn't attached to any other rock on the wall of the cave. We calculated that it was a fall factor 1/2 and the hanger above looked fine, as did the rope, though the bit Olly's stop was on was quite elongated. Most importantly, Olly didn't seem to be hurt. Once I had checked the rope was safe for Olly to ascend, we decided to come out, partly to check that Olly really was OK and partly because we had packed the drill at the bottom of the bag, planning to sort stuff out in the Taproom, not hanging in Plugged Shaft. Having safely exited the cave we had somewhat less enthusiasm for going back underground than normal, so we did some surface wandering instead, hoping to find 2004-04. We did not succeed in this, but we did discover several other interesting holes:
We wandered down to the Taproom, with interludes while Olly bypassed a dodgy bit of rope in Plugged Shaft and Jenny rerigged the Boulder Chamber stuff with a shorter, thicker rope. In the Taproom, the promised lead at the far left corner didn't seem to exist; rigging down at the far right corner revealed a long, narrow, straight rift with a pleasant traverse level to follow. [Annotation in Jenny's handwriting: In fact the route dropped down on the right, but continued on the left, so the two leads kind of merge.] Around 30m later a short pitch led to a small chamber with a deep hole in the floor.
Olly attempted to right down this, while Jenny and I followed behind surveying. Having put ina rebelay 5m down Olly declared himself too cold and too psyched out to continue. On the way out we went into BNW - the Test Tubes are nowhere near as bad as I had feared - and all of us had a try at the climb in All Ways chamber; soon all of us decided it needed rope and bolts, and finally we came out.
Andrew took photos whilst we flash-serfed. Unfortunately, the shot of Gaffered didn't work out. Then we surveyed to the right from the top of the steep ramp from yesterday, into a chamber where Andrew found a failry obscure way on through a narrow rift on the left. This led to a small chamber with two ways on that soon fizzled out and a boulder choke. We were about to pack up when Andrew wriggled up behind the boulders and disappeared ... for some time. Bum. I moaned and whinged all the way up a 45° slope of perched boulders covered in impact marks. Lovely-jumbly. This led to a big space at the bottom of a huge aven with just one small lead off in one corner heading down steeply (needs a rope to be sensible). We ended up way above all the Underworld level - potty.
In the course of a long and inordinately tiring surface walk, visited the following caves:
[Sketch of entrances, labelled]
All the above numbers are from Wook's Garmin GPS12, which was persuaded to produce dataset coordinates with the following settings: Position Format: User Grid; Longitude Origin: 13° 20' E; Scale 1.0; False Easting 0; False Northing 4800000; Austrian datum.
A rocky start as Andrew's light died in the entrance crawl (good place to do it though) so he went back out to borrow Frank's and got very hot. Went slickly after that. I grumbled big-time when I realised that the pitch Andrew was going to rig wasn't the large one over a dodgy traverse but was another wriggle down through boulders following the draught. A psychological backup looping a rope around one of the boulders was followed by an efficiently placed spit in the middle of the boulders down to large draughty passage ... which went for about 30m to a squeeze up through yet another set of boulders + to the bottom of a large aven with no tempting ways on. Back in the 30m of passage there is a small draughting pitch on the left but with yet more boulders balanced at the top. We headed back out to the junction just after the drippy chamber + I had a look left down the passage that Wookey, Andrew + I hadn't surveyed on 2005-08-29. It went down, down, down for over 10 minutes of crawling with a couple of squeezes over wedged boulders. The draught seemed to gradually weaken + it got a bit smaller but I couldn't manage to kill it. Out nice + early for the stomp down the hill for the dinner.
I wasn't feeling too well, so we decided to do some surface stuff. We headed back to 2005-99 with oversuits + got to where I got to 2 days before. Olly said he wasn't really in the mood for nasty tight cave, so I went in, wriggling along the rift, I was fairly sure it seemed to continue + get wider. It was tighter than it looked, and whilst it did get wider, it wasn't wide enough to turn round in, and a few meters further on it got too tight. The draught present at the entrance seemed to vanish down the boulders on the right, not down this passage.
Olly very kindly moved rocks out from behind me + helped me wriggle backwards, generally it was a bit crap. We surveyed + put in a hole for a tag, but currently it is untagged, because Dave + Wookey had the tagging kit.
We walked out further west and thought we had find the elusive Tantalus Schacht, but it didn't have bunde nearby for the "bunde belay". We then re-found 2004-08, which had more snow than last year. GPS 33 410647E 5282162N 1616m.
We walked further west and re-found 175 (33 410551E 5282186N 1656m) and 176 (33 410573E 5282249B 1682m) which was nearby - from here lovely views towards the Bräuning Wall + the col. We looked for 174 but didn't find it. We walked back to the bivvy refinding 2004-07 (33 410612E 5282159N) on the way.
Rigging guide for 76 - Saved Shaft to the Tap Room
Over the past year Robert Winkler and I had coordinated a joint CUCC/ARGE trip to resurvey the upper levels of Wolfhöhle + look for possible horizontal connections to nearby caves. ARGE had spent four days up near Griess Kogel (complete with helicopter gear lift) to a new cave there but unfortunately it had finished at -350m.
We set off with an astonishing set of three survey teams (1 - Andrew + Marcus Shauermann, 2 - Becka + Marcus II, 3 - Jörg, Heiko + Martin from Holland) plus a rigging team (our Martin plus Robert). All the rigging gear was ARGE's - thank you!.
Me in team 2 - we surveyed from the entrance, me doing poor old Marcus's head in what with leapfrogging stations + havign multiple survey teams all using number "1" for a station (weird system...). We managed to rip the end off the tape early on then unfurled the whole sodding thing doing the plumb on the first pitch - I stood at the bottom just drowning in tape. Upper phreatic levels are very attractive + the first pitch is also nice + fortunately we didn't have to do any of the squalid lower stuff.
Andrew + Marcus Shauermann: Down to first pitch to find Martin + Robert at the first pitch. Video + camera gear out. Lots of light. Surveyed back out 1 leg 1 video 6 photos. (See guide to how to do things really slowly.) Met team 2 coming in and sent off to survey side passage leads, very dull. Down the pitch, more photos, more video. Then sent off to survey back from 83m pitch. Took down hill turn at the bottom of the small sloping pitch. This is not recommended, gets very small and muddy, yuk! Found pitch, surveyed, back. On the way out more video in Wolf Chamber. It was pissing down on the surface, horrible.
Walked up to 2004-18. Descended to check out continuation from yesterday's trip by Mark + Olly. Rift narrowed to the size of my boot, so I gave up and declared the cave done.
Meanwhile Mark had been checking out some holes further down the same gully. These were:
[These GPS coordinates later turned out to be quite a long way off, possibly due to the position of the caves on a steep hillside.]
I bolted down 04 while Mark attacked 05. I encountered a wide daylight shaft for perhaps 5m to a constriction, then a free hang to a snow floor, where the other shaft could be seen coming in. A freeclimb of a couple of meteres leads to another pitch down a narrow sloping pitch between snow + rock. Descending far to the right led to a snow choke. Another route further left led to some horizontal, wiht a pretty ice slope and a choked upward crawl. Finally, descending far left then swinging to the right part-way down led to a ledge overlooking a pitch into a mercifully snow-free chamber with an aven above.
Prusiked out to find that it was raining on the surface. Mark had descended his tube, which had grown steeper; I went down (having more warm gear on) over a snow + ice slope to a floor with passages sloping down to left + right. We were both absolutely frozen by this point so we buggered off back to the bivi in the clag; putting the coords back into the computer (Mark had his laptop up the hill) confirmed that they were well placed for the end of High Hopes.
Earl at this point had to to an evening trip into High Hopes to collect his gear, and he kindly volunteered to go and put down large crosses of conservation tape on the floors of the two avens at the end, so we would recognise them if any of our shafts dropped in from above.
[Diagram of 2005-04 rigging]
The Spit Driver: I was using Olly's driver, and it knackered itself very tediously, the screw thread getting stick in a spit. So to use the spit marked "X" in the diagram, screw a broken driver into it + tie the rope to that!
Having finally walked up the hill, I decided that an easy trip would be in order. So I gladly accepted Olly + Sarah's invitation to go & push some "C" leads in Swings + Roundabouts. A prompt set-off saw us underground at noon. After a brief argument with 204e, I found myself travelling down Crowning Glory passage. Here, Sarah + Olly played in the oxbows. And then we went on. Olly climbed up the crazy, crazy climb in the aven just west of Treeumphant south of the junction with Crowning Glory. Olly got a good 10-15m up before he declared it a bit airy and came down. And then we went on to Magic Roundabout. Went up Ermintrude, and by the survey notes we have, got a good 2m further up the passage. At this point, Sarah found a tight vertical squeeze, and forced herself into it. At this point, my memory becomes clouded by the mists of hypothermia. I seem to remember Sarah screaming & ranting 'cos she couldn't get any further. I explained that I was (a) cold and (b) definitely not going up the bit Sarah got stuck in.
And then we went on to South Circular, where we sent an Olly up the horrific boulder slope that is QM 01-94 B. This gets too tight after ~10m. QM killed! Hurrah! DOES NOT GO! And then we went on to QM 01-85 C. This appears to be an ox-bow on the west wall of Swings & Roundabouts. But it isn't. Leads to a funnel-shaped hole which leads via an easy climb/corkscrew into some phreas. This rapidly degenerates to a faintly tight 2s drop. Needs a rope.
Went to have a look at 01-84 C. Got distracted by the huge hole in the floor (01-92). Lots of hanging death here, so we kicked some of it down. It went BOOM. Quite a long way down then. Pitch now looks in a reasonable state to be dropped. Nice natural spike (big!) on south side of pitch.
And then we went back to 204e and prusiked out. Unfortunately, Sarah forgot to unclip her cowstails after passing the re-belay, and got severely strung-up at the following deviation (see diagram). Cue more screaming + ranting. And so I prusiked up to the rebelay and put my weight on that (rather than the rope) allowing Sarah another 4" of slack, allowing her to escape. What a hero, eh! Emerged to find Earl off on a solo mission to Cresta Run to get his gear.
Woke up to find the weather was still minging, so we elected to avoid it by going deep. Nial guided us down through the Underworld and Fat Worm; I put in a 1999 rope on the Cerberus traverse, which we can leave there permananently. Dour and I inspected the rig on the big pitch in Apocalypse, and decided it was fine, despite Nial's reservations. I abseiled down to the floor (below where Martin + Nial had swung off on their previous trips), noticed another pitch (~5m, with another beyond) and a side passage leading off from a ledge slightly above. This was a peculiar spiralling tube in very sharp rock, which I followed for some distance past a tight bend until it closed down. SRT kit removal was needed to get out past the tight bend, and somewhere en route I had ripped my oversuit.
Prusiking back up to the swing-off into the Underground, I found a somewhat frustrated Dour, who had dropped his dangly bag - containing the Hiltis - down a pitch. He abbed down off one bolt, and I hauled up the dangly on the end of the rope and put in a proper Y-hang that we could safely prusik back up. Much fun was had with the next pitch, a funnel-shaped hole through boulders. Nial located a large but loose thread, and I put in a bolt for a Y-hang and a deviation off the other side. Unfortunately I put it in a bit close to the edge, making a very tough get-off. At this point we realised it was time to go. Took nearly 5 hours to get out; Nial + I surfaced at 1.20am, Dour somewhat later.
Walked up the hill in the morning in the rain + clag. I told Olly that seeing as we had walked up, we ought to do something, either go caving or do surface stuff. I kind of imagined Olly would pick caving cos it kept raining, but he didn't; I couldn't back down. We walked across to 175ish, turned left and saw 174, which was where it should be. Saw a cairned path with red painted spots (interestingly only painted on the side of rocks as if you were walking back to old Top Camp or the Bergrestaurant or somesuch); followed this to 1996-05 which we figured wasn't the purpose of the path as it continued north from here with cairns + more paint splodges. The cave really didn't seem to have been descended before - no evidence of bolts, paint, random bits of gear tape, sardine tins, and as the path doesn't stop here there is no reason to think it's been explored. It looks an interesting area to prospect, as there were lots of big holes, it's in a blank space on the map + it is easily reached by a good path from near old top camp (near 174 at least).
We headed back to 175, walked up to 176 and continued in the hope of re-finding 98. We looked quite thoroughly but didn't have any luck. I wonder if we were in the wrong place, or the paint was no longer visible?
After a magisterial faff I led S+S to the new holes, via 204D (which is a terrible route, utterly hopeless). I showed Sarah how to put in a bolt for the 2005-05 tag while Stuart descended. Being more adventurous, or less sensible, than I, he got further than I, descending the right-hand passage at the bottom to reach another pitch with conservation tape at the bottom!
Before surveying this, S+S went to survey the other hole (2005-04), while I walked back to the bivvy for my caving gear. On returning I went down to meet them on the ledge by the horizontal side series, and I left them to survey that while I went down to the pitch I had seen on the previous trip to bolt it properly. And at the bottom was more tape!
I prusiked back up to meet S+S warming up on the surface, and I went back to bolt 05 while the finished the survey of 04. Ran out of rope at a rebelay bolt form which I could have descended to the floor. Waited for S+S before walking back via 2004-18. View of sunset across plateau from by the entrances is absolutely gorgeous.
It was pretty wet, so we decided the 1970s route + Keg Series might well be really wet + nasty so headed for BNW instead. On the last 1970s route trip we had taken half a dozen of our hangers back out for such an eventuality. Unfortunately Dave had carried them up to 204 by mistake. We found we had a clown, a twist with no bolt and a home-made 1970s hanger with no bolt rescued from 99 earlier. Then we found a bag of bolts and things looked up. I derigged 4 "non-essential" hangers on the way in as well. We carried the drill + a 39m rope into BNW and I looked at QM 04-19B first. We had run out of decent slings so the rope was attached to a boulder by two retired cowstails. This concentrated my mind on not falling off. I traversed across the pitch (QM 04-18A) which actually looked quite pleasant and on, the roof tube QM 04-20C reconnects trivially here, and the passage continues, gets low, then reaches another pitch (~2s drop). I traversed back, whimpering a bit at the shit belay and the distance I was horizontally from it. I then bolted a Y-hang to descend 04-18 A. Olly took over setting the second bolt as I am crap at hammering. It was a lovely free hanging 20m pitch, landing in a pleasant rift passage, gradually descended for ~30m until it reached another pitch (~30m deep). This turned out to be halfway down the big pitch from the Four Ways junction; thus Olly named the passage Pleasant but Pointless. We surveyed back along the top, and Olly started to bolt across the Four Ways junction pitch to QM 04-23A until we got cold + tired + went out.
The all-important List Of Things To Do included retagging the new KH entrances (161G + H). I vaugely remembered walking to 161G with Brian and Martin two years ago so it made sense to add my memory to that of the GPS.
Took a fairly circuitous route over the back of the Hinter, and eventually found 161G, with the help of a couple of cairns. The GPS put us within 10m of the entrance. Entrance was duly tagged. Then we attempted to find 161H. Got to where the GPS said it was, but it wasn't. Looked around a bit on various levels, bunde-bashed some, then gave it up as a bad job, not really knowing whether the entrance was (a) tagged or (b) what it looked like.
We ended up doing quite a lot of climbing to get up to a sensible level again. This time the GPS came up trumps and led us straight to 240. 240 is tagged as 240, and is where it should be according to AJ's GPS. The GPS took us to a hole I thought I recognised, for 2003-07. There were no markings of any sort, as far as we could see, but I may have a memory of sitting at the top of it whilst someone (Brian?) descended. So said candidate cave has been photoed and is on the Expo machine (usefulphotos/julia). It as deemed sensible to leave it unmarked, as it may or may not be 2003-07, and we wouldn't want two caves with the same number now would we? Skulle ønske at jeg skrev litt på norsk i løpet or Expo. [etc - I can't be arsed to transcribe this - DL].
Nial had had a long trip yesterday + I'd walked up from Base Camp first thing in the morning + did a second carry to fetch stuff from Wolfhöhle in the evening so a short afternoon trip was in order. Nial wanted to get a series of photos of the trip down Gaffered so we set off with our basic digital cameras. Got some surprisingly good shots - Nial's hot tips seemed to work well:
Took photos as far as the traverse line on Gaffered. Then out to check out Crowning Glory [that is, QM 01-10A at the northern end of that passage]. The handline up was still rigged, and, mysteriousy, there were still the two hangers left for the pitch down. I then put in a hand bolt to descend the next (3m?) pitch that last time Martin had gone down by just trailing the previous pitch rope down. From here there is a pitch down (QM B?) and a climb up that would need to be bolted (QM B/C?). The previous survey ends at the top of the handline climb so there is ~20m more unsurveyed from here (the 4m pitch down to a small chamber then the 3m pitch to a small aven + the QM B pitch).
Plan was that Andrew and I would survey the far end of High Hopes while Stuart + Sarah surveyed down 2005-05 (now 204G) so we could tie in the survey to that and the previous day's survey of 2005-04 (now 204H), with S+S also putting in a leg to connect the other shaft next to 2005-04 (now 204I). We got a bit lost in High Hopes for a while, but found the two avens + surveyed out. No sign of a survey station in G, so we put paint on the wall + decorated it with cons tape; found the marker in H without trouble. Couldn't find the point in High Hopes either.
It transpires that Stuart had knackered his knee surveying I->H and jacked, so 204G remains unsurveyed. This is probably a Good Thing as there is a pitch to look at in the chamber at the foot of the G entrance pitch.
Walked down the hill. Ate lots of stodge at Loser Hütte. Drank Gösser. Listened to Metallica. Drank more Gösser. [Repeat and fade...]
Whizzed down the by-now pretty damn slimy Gaffered ropes to Fat Worm + then the Four Pitches of the Apocalypse. Moaned at the single spit rig for the third of these. (What's the point of taking a drill down the cave if you don't use it to rig properly? Moan, moan.) Also griped at the pitch out of Turnstile Chamber that Dave had rigged as you had to get off below the deviation so effectively whilst dangling over the pitch with no traverse line. Great. Down the final series of very short (2m etc) pitches to a traverse. Nial + I then handbolted a traverse line along the traverse across a shale bank to new stuff. Surveyed up to a big ramp. Down soon choked + up got very steep + pretty small but a passage on the far side of the ramp was drafting strongly This quickly led to a series of holes in the floor with what sounded like a roaring stream in it. We then surveyed down a very steeply descending tube that eventually choked. Partway down another tube led off very steeply up with an extremely slimy, muddy floor. We surveyed up this until it got silly. Finally we put in another couple of spits to drop the pitch back at the traverse line, on the right. Only I went down to check it - there was a drafting tiny mud tube at the base with the sound of water. The third of the Four Pitches of the Apocalypse was really wet on the way out and I got cold putting in a second spit for it on the way out. Still, an efficient trip.
Got bored of sitting in the tent in the rain (there are only so many games of I Spy you can play...) and went back to BNW. Olly continued to bolt across to 04-23A and traversed over the secondary pitch that joins the main lower down. Sadly the passage it reached soon was choked with lots of rocks which was a shame. We surveyed and moved to the climb in All Ways Chamber, using a sling to stand in to place the first bolt, then I came down and Olly climbed up and placed the second, higher bolt and scrambled over the top. Whilst our methods seemed to work, they don't seem to really match those in "Alpine Caving Techniques"...
The climb led to a passage on the left, up and over boulders to an aven, with no way on. Back at the top of the climb, another climb up on the right led to a short section of promising looking passage and a choke. Olly derigged the climb, but the bolts are still there if anyone else wants a look at an aven or a choke. We moved on to No Ways Chamber, where I climbed up the aven to the west with the aid of a bolt as a runner. This was also choked, although there may possibly be a way through that I couldn't see, for small people, but it didn't look likely. We gave up for now, somewhat disappointed at the lack of horizontal passage, and went out.
On the way out the big snow plug had gone, presumably due to the large amounts of rain. And the draught was reversed! It was almost like being in a different cave, quite freaky.
Nial + I aacted as flash slaves + Andrew took 50-odd photos through the tirp including a fair few in Magic Roundabout Chamber that should look pretty groovy. Off to Faith Traverse + Nial set off with a 48m rope. After a reccy rigging off a thread then a rebelay bolt he got to ... the end of the rope. We derigged + had a quick look down Unconformity. Unfortunately I'd forgotten the 5m pitch down to the chamber so we had to use our only rope on this so we didn't have enough rope to rig the ramps - I'd wanted to check out the QMs west of Cat's Claw but we couldn't get down so we went home.
Woke up to see it had snowed in the night + the snow had settled ... we decided to walk down the hill, the bit across the plateau was during a snowstorm + quite epic - slippy snow-covered rocks and stuff. Once we got to the col it was much better + less snow.
Off to the holes with the sound of water that we'd got to on our last trip (2005-08-06). Andrew + I put in pitch head bolts by hand then Andrew took down Anthony's drill to finish the rig whilst Nial + I surveyed down. Descended to a largish chamber but it fizzled down to a small damp drippy hole - not exactly the master streamway I'd been expecting. From here a scrawny rift led off that Andrew hadn't thought mcuh of (narrow + sharp) but I went a bit further + found a pitch so Nial + I kept on surveying down whilst Andrew jerry-rigged the pitch using my retired sling round a thread. Rather nice 15m pitch down but the only way on was through a squeeze. Andrew took off his string gear and got through + reported more of the same thin rift so we called it a day + derigged. We then showed [shoved?] Andrew down the left pitch at Nial + my traverse of 2005-08-06. Didn't go; no surprises there. We'd pretty well ticked off the leads beyond the traverse so we derigged it + went upslope where Nial + Martin had surveyed on 2005-08-01. Andrew climbed the short traverse + put in a traverse line + we surveyed up walking size but steep (up + down) passage to a pitch + to a rift. Time to call it a day.
As I set off back over the short traverse I wibbled a bit at the bold step around a rock nose + started to garden it. Watching me, Andrew decided the belay on the rock nose looked loose, so I came back + he kicked it + it wobbled ... unfortunately we'd left both our handbolting kits + the drill on the far side of the traverse. Andrew climbed back over the top including a couple of what looked like exposed moves on desperately shoddy rock. Safely over, he passed the drill back to Nial who put in a spit for a higher level traverse so us two could escape. As I came back over I gave the original route belay a gentle boot + it plummeted down the pitch. Heading up the third of the Four Pitches of the Apocalypse we realised it must be raining up top as it was horribly wet. I was up first. As Andrew started up there was loud swearing - the lower deviation had snapped. This had been rigged using the crap thin green string + without using a mini-maillon so the string had just been cut by the hanger. Andrew got away with some bruising + a fat lip, but it could have been much worse as he ended up hitting th efar side of the shaft + under the worst of the downpour. Poor Nial also had a hard time as he had to prusik up slowly + gently in the wet until he got past the rub point. Having got soaked at least I didn't overheat on the long prusik out.
[Barely legible paragraph scribbled in bottom margin]Note: The only properly wet pitch in the whole of the trip is the third of the Four Pitches of the Apocalypse - though the first of these pitches is also quite damp, expecially with the current rubbish too-tight rig which means you get stuck in the worst of the water trying to get off rope.
Enticed by tales of easy caving **with no tight bits**, I decided to join Dave on a "quick" bimble down Hauchhöhle. Some four hours later on, I was crawling backwards through a muddy wallow. How? - read on, dear reader.
Following a protracted faffing session by the Underpants, we finally arrived at the entrance to find our Hero sweating buckets, wheezing, and not having an inhaler. So a return to the bivvy (in oversuit, neofleece + black ninja fleece) to collect inhaler. Subtrackt 2 litres of sweat to find a faintly crap Phil, who found *abseiling* a bit hard work. Carried two loose + heavy dangly bags through the awkward hading rift "Oh, yeah, I'd forgotten about that" and through Tacklesack Fucking Blues "I'd forgotten about that bit as well". Went down the pitch series p, and reached the handline. Went off to the left, to find a medium sized chamber. Collapsed into gibbering heap, whilst Dave went off in search of the mythical "6-second drop". Drank some water. Felt a bit better when Dave came back. Felt worse when he said "We've got a lot of surveying to do". Dave had found a going horizontal lead. Knob.
Actually not too grim, except for the muddy wallow bit. Very rough sketch below. No really, it's very rough. Gösser's great. Surveyed the wiggly passage - now Pi R Squared, or possibly Pie Arse Scared. Then we surveyed out to the known bits of survey. Never did find that 6-second drop.
Back to Faith Traverse with the original 48m rope and a 62m rope, determined to finish it. Andrew handbolted his way down the lovely but sloping shaft which would be ideal drill territory. He kept warm putting in spits in acrobatic places while I froze at the top. Eventually I went down as he said he was at a ledge. After an SRT obstacle course (free hanging rebelays, deviations way out there on the far wall and a knot pass) I got to a small slopy cleft in the shaft + stuck in a spit to keep warm. Andrew rigged the last hang only to find - we'd sodding run out of rope again. Andrew suggested prusiking up, then surveying back down again but that seemed daft so we left it rigged + went home.
Wandered over the Quarries in the general direction of the new 204 entrances, which we found easily with the aid of Dave's GPS on the last section. Nial put in a tag bolt at the I entrance, and also a new tag bolt at G (the original having been placed in a mobile boulder). Frank and I surface surveyed from 204I to G and connected to Frank and Earl's earlier surface survey from 204D -> 2004-18.
We then festered on the surface for the better part of 2 hours before donning gear to commence the underground survey. Frank went down with an extra rope to complete the rigging. Apparently the rope was too tight - he could barely rig his rack - so some slack was introduced. The tight rigging at least had the advantage that when a 1m3 chunk of ice detached itself it completely missed the rope. Then we surveyed in, which was moderately tedious in a 45° ramp. About halfway down, a parallel sloping shaft appears which would give an ice-free descent. Some serious gardening is also required, as there is lots of loose crap at the top end which goes all the way down the main hang.
With the survey complete we had run out of time, and so escaped from the Land of Hanging Icy Death.
Walked back up to the bivi in the afternoon attempting to find 1999-OB-01 and 1999-OB-02 on the way. Failed in this, though we did find 101 and 102, which are tagged (though 101a isn't and the paint is very faint). These were duly photographed. Discovered that the bearings for 1999-OB-02 line up quite near Pancake Aven, so plan to look harder for it next year.
Having decided that I would have a slack day, I got "persuaded" into finding + tagging some caves. We originally set off for 2002-X11, so we set off from 204 on a NE bearing and walked for a bit. Stopping to check on GPS, we found that our target was a long way away across a big valley of bunde + choss. So we re-aimed for 2002-X18. This also seemed to be across a big valley full of bunde + choss. So we compromised and went for 2002-X14.
Elevation for 2005-05 / 2002-X14
2002-X14 (2005-05) Big hole in a cliff. Has been photoed and drawn up by Pete - two routes, which both lead to pitches (probably the same pitch). Due to tagging cock-up tagged as 2005-05.
Plan - Grade 0-1 for 2005-05 / 2002-X14
2002-X13 (2005-06) Found by Dave's GPS. Tag placed. Looks like it goes down a bit. Needs a ladder / rope. Photos taken - tagged.
2002-X12 (2005-07) Found by Dave's GPS. Explored by Pete to Conclusion - Does Not Go. Survey to go on computer. Photos taken. Tagged.
2002-X11 (2005-08) Found by Dave's GPS. ~8m dia shaft, with another shaft adjacent. Looks about 15m deep. Bottom has snow plug, and looks typically chossy. However, rift visible in North end of rift [sic]- could go. Could do with visiting. Tagged, photoed.
And now it's time for bed. Goodnight. Hugs + kisses, Phil
Having met Olly, Stuart + Peter passing by when Phil + I emerged from Hauchhöhle on the 9th, I went underground again armed with a Frank, a drill and a detailed location sketch.
Some slightly tedious surveying in small tubes served to connect the previous day's survey to Olly + Emma's floating "Wowoland" survey. We then paused to look at an alternative side branch, with a climb up + short pitch down to where water disappears into a narrow sharp crawl. No thanks, I've already knackered my gear enough this expo.
Continued up main passage, surveying in, until we reached a pitch. Threw a stone. Waited. BOOM! Having established we were in the correct place we went back for the gear, and I put in a Y-hang. Descending about 5m I reached a constriction witha bomber thread for a rebelay; 20m or so further down was a big ledge and a good venue for rebelay #2 in good clean rock off to the left. At this point the drill ran out. Bugger. Meanwhile Frank had been poking around in some phreatic stuff over the head of the pitch, which apparently leads to another pitch + some more horizontal stuff, which we didn't get time to survey.
While getting out I became aware of a pain in my left foot. By the time we reached the bivvy it was severely unpleasant, and my foot was covered in huge red blisters. The cause of this is obscure, but the fact that I hadn't washed my wetsocks all expo probably didn't help.
The Expo website features not one but two pictures of 161H: a closeup and one with a Brian for scale. We thought we should get the job finished, so we pottered back over that way. A gemse very helpfully stood on the skyline for quite a while and was very photogenic. Anyway, after some searching, AJ located 161H, quite a bit lower down than we'd looked on the previous occasion. So we tagged it as 161H. Anthony then used his homing beacon to find his namesake entrance and we surface surveyed 161E->161H->161G, getting rained on half the time. One of the stations on the survey was a part-drilled spit hole above a hole with a cold draught blowing out of it, as the 161 entrances do. Entrance is wide (4-5 metres) and lowish. The right hand side of the entrance (as you're facing the hillside) slopes downwards at about 45°. Anyway, having put the data in, we found out that we'd located 2004-13.
There's nearly no data about this, don't know if anyone's been inside. The entrance is ~30m from stuff in KH. [more comments in Norwegian]
This was to be the first derigging trip down Gaffered so we knew it would be a long one. I derigged Hippocratic Oath on the way down so we could take that rope out with us, then we went to the pitch next to the upslope traverse that we'd had fun with at the end of the 2005-08-08 trip. Andrew + Nial put in spits midway down the pitch (Pig's Ear Pitch) - the top was rigged off the huge rock column and then a roof deviation. We surveyed down + got into large (but mostly loose-boulder-filled) steeply descending passage.
Some good long legs led us to a muddy pitch head with some of the worst rock any of us had had the displeasure of trying to rig - like chalk with a thin coating of peanut brittle stuck on. Andrew + I managed to get two so-so spits well back from the edge but then Andrew had half a dozen or more attempts at getting a main hang spit in. He eventually got one that didn't totally crater or fall off but he didn't sound at all happy about it. We surveyed down (Dog's Dinner Pitch) to a small boulder-floored chamber then Nial put in two more spits (again in rubbish rock) to drop a final rather attractive pitch (Dog's Bollocks Pitch) to get to ... a sump! At over 500m depth! Well, that's what Andrew + Nial reckoned. To me it looked like a shallow pool with a tiny alcove above it. I tried to have a celebratory peein it but was disturbed by, first, the quicksand at the edge that kept eating my wellies and, second, Nial dropping rocks at me as he ascended.
We left at 5ish (after our customary 9am start) + I think the other two were ready to derig + head out but I persuaded them to look at a steeply sloping up tube in the main passage below Pig's Ear Pitch. This went up (including two successive >50° clino legs) in an almost-too-steep-to-climb way then choked - but just before this point a passage doubled back on itself and headed steeply downward. We kept on surveying though time was ticking on as the legs were long + it was frustrating not to come to a definite end (we expected a pitch or to link back to the main passage). Nial eventually decided to call it a day when it looked like it was closing down - but a quick peek beyond here showed it still to keep going in walking sized passage so that's somewhere that needs returning to.
We derigged except for the short traverse line, then Andrew took the 90m out to Turnstile Chamber then swapped that for the drill + headed out. I derigged all the small pitches up to the third of the Four Pitches of the Apocalypse [*] then Nial and I took out all that rope plus the 60m at the bottom of Gardener's World. We headed out tired + slowly, the ascent enlivened by Nial kicking more rocks on me down Tape Worm pitch as I tried to suck water out of the 2mm deep puddle at its base. (I got badly dehydrated on this trip - as usual I'd taken no water with me + I had to steal some of Nial's as I started to feel pretty parched heading out.) Stats: we surveyed 349m (vertical range 96m), put in 7 hand bolts (+ endless other attempts) to drop 3 pitches derigged about 10 pitches + took out 2 bags of rope and the drill. Too much!
[*] After two dry days on the surface this was now not very damp at all so it responds quite fast to rain.
Went into BNW with the drill battery to climb the final good up-lead (04-30) then look at some of the down pitches. Olly climbed up to a ledge and put in a bolt, and traversed across placing 2 bolts on the way. The climb/traverse wasn't too epic, except the only rock good enough for bolts was at foot level.
Olly successfully reached the passage without falling off. And we decided that the best way to retrieve the hangers was for me to second the climb climbing-style, which was quite exciting as Olly had placed a bolt to protect him stepping across the exciting bit, but I had to remove it first. Anyway, we walked along a short way to the top of 04-29V as expected, and scrambled down (still attached to the rope) onto the fairly stable boulder slope and walked up it. The main way on choked, but a walking passage led off on the left. This shortly split with the right-hand passage choking (though quite possibly diggable on the left, but that seemed to reconnect). The two left-hand passages soon connected, with the second being the easier route, another passage led off on the right which we looked at later. We headed down the main passage, initially crawling then walking in the roof tube of a rift passage. I predicted it would reconnect near where we started the climb and Ol predicted it would join the Oxbows. We reached a junction, where left continued in similar fashion to arrive near where we started (04-31C) and I hated being right... Straight on got small, right went for 25m to a choke. We headed out, surveying it as we went. When we got near the start of the rift, Olly looked at the last lead, which very soon connected with the Oxbows (ticking off 04-43B in the process, so for the first time for me at least, our first and last stations were the same and we connected to two stations from last year, and ticked off 4 QM's!).
We left the climb rigged, leaving the end of the 2000 39m rope there. Then went to look at 04-40A. Olly put a couple of bolts in what looks like a lovely pitch - NO CHOSS, not anywhere. Very echoey, but sadly the rope didn't reach the bottom. We went out carting the rope + drill + SRT kit through the Test Tubes. BNW is weird - all the QM's seem to either choke or reconnect to known cave. Whilst we have surveyed more cave, the maximum extent of BNW is virtually unchanged. There are still good leads there, but they are either small or pitches.
My last day of caving so the spirit was willing but the body was oh, so weak. We were determined to crack the pitch series so set off with another 50m rope as that had to be enough to bottom it. We surveyed down. I'd forced Andrew to do notes because my pitch sketches look like random placed ovals. Unfortunately he insisted on making a good job of it which meant none of my trademark joke plumbs were allowed, + instead I got to do lots of grimly athletic instrument readings and it was all slow going. We finally arrived at our previous mini-ledge + rigged the new rope ... it only just reached the bottom but it did get us there, yee-ha. The excitement was short-lived - Hanging onto Faith is a beautiful, large, airy pitch series, which would make a lovely trade route, but it just ends in a boulder-filled chamber.
We wrapped up the survey + derigged out. We'd brought 2 tacklesacks in + I'd thought there were more down but there weren't so we ended up with a sack each and four or more chained ropes. By the time we'd got Taking the Piss pitch derigged I was feeling wiped out so was persuaded to leave the rope we couldn't fit in bags in Magic Roundabout chamber + I pottered out. Then I got given 45 minutes at Top Camp to change, pack + stomp off down the hill to Base Camp.
Frank assured me that it would only take a couple of hours to tidy up some loose ends in High Hopes and fish the rope out. This estimate turned out to be wrong by a factor of 150%, so this could almost be called a proper caving trip.
Went in the 204G entrance, leaving Nial to follow us in and derig the rope. Derigged a traverse in High Hopes. and recorded a couple of legs to link the surveys. The rope was left on the next muddy downclimb, though the hanger and tape were retrieved (the rope is left tied round a natural). We then came across a blind pit in the floor with a rope down it. Frank went down with an end of rope for a quick Grade 2 sketch and then derigged it. The down (coming from G side) pitch-cum-climb into the chamber near Pile Driver was left rigged [i.e. Wookey's original up-climb from Toothless into High Hopes]. All other ropes between there and the down-pitch into Swings were removed.
With that we staggered out of the E entrance with 3 bags between 2 feeling depressingly unfit. A nice tourist through some bits of the cave I've never previously visited.
Went down Keg Series, leaving the drill at the Taproom for tomorrow, and derigging up to the Taproom. We cut off the end of the rope for the climb into Razor Advance, and cut off the top end to leave the pendulum rigged - so the 80ish metre rope with no end markings left is the 2004 rope that was 101m or 103m or somesuch. I carried the bag out and was tired.
Went down to the Tap Room to push the 1970s route as far as possible, survey + derig. Got to the ledge we got to last time (which is now called Spent Ledge because of all the carbide there and some reference to popular culture that Olly thought of that I didn't get). Olly bolted down like this:
to land on a ledge with a ~11m pitch below. We turned round here + surveyed back, and derigged to the bottom of Saved Shaft, getting the 4 bags there, 2 of which we took out.
Derigging Saved + Plugged Shafts didn't go too badly + we got 4 bags out of the cave - trip wasn't epic like I thought it would be. And we did a carry down in the morning before caving. The carries down were worse than the derigging.
PS Thanks for coming to rescue us, sorry we didn't need rescuing. Actually, no, I'm glad we didn't need rescuing, but I am sorry you thought we did.
Went in. Took some photos from the bottom of Pie Series to the top of Monster Munch. Went out. Observed that it was raining. Cursed loudly.
Pie Series: OK with use of Traxion + foot jammer hauling rig. Upper horizontal stuff: extremely tedious! 3 return trips through Tacklesack Blues, much fun all round.
Down to the rebelay above the eyehole pitch. 180m of rope does not fit, even in a big tackle bag. Magic Roundabout with 3 bags, lots of bits and rope hanging out, was I glad to see Phil who helped get them out.