Nial put some extra bolts (3) into the entrance pitch then showed us some of the high level horizontal stuff and the top of the main Gaffered pitch.
Snow greeted us on a snowy cold, misty damp bivy morning. Most of us (except Aaron - who kept emphasising how great his sleeping bag was) had spent the night shivering away and Nial in his £20 Argos sleeping bag was up at 6.30am preparing the stove and everyone slowly emerged. As was I, unfortunately discovered (after mustering all the courage in me - and counter my instinct - crawling out of my sleeping bag) that I didn't have my furry. Great! :( had left it at base camp in the tent where I'd used it as a pillow. So Aaron and I spent a cold day taking turns rigging the tarps (intermittantly taking turns to rewarm our fingers). I was soooo annoyed not to be caving and having to spend my time in the cold bivy - am glad to be back at basecamp - am glad to be back at basecamp in warm hut after having shower :)
It's raining... AGAIN! We are about to walk up the hill
Makes 8 large/12 small or 4 superlarge plate sized
1 packet germ/heffe - yeast
Jam: powidl (damson)
Combine butter + sugar + eggs in pan - heat, with care to avoid making an omelette (in Aaron style!) In a separate bowl put the flour and yeast. Once the butter etc has melted pour the flour/yeast mixture into it, take off heat and mix until no lumps remain. Put in a warm place to rise for 1hr. Divide into the number of required portions, shape into circles, and form a dip in the middle of each. Then put a max of a tablespoon of jam into the dough circle, and fold the edges over to cover the hole.
Put the finished knoedel into a warm place for 1hr ish then steam - super large for about 40mins-1hr, large/small for 20 mins (using collander over pan of water). Pour melted butter over then icing sugar and poppy seeds.
Those who know their expo lore will be aware of the fun and games I endured whilst attempting to tow a decrepit trailer accorss Europe in 1995. Since then I've been pouring money into various European breakdown schemes without further incident - so I was about due for a return on my investment. Somewhere north of Hamburg I noticed that my bonnet seemed to be flapping around quite a lot. Having established that it was actually shut, I ignored the problem for 5 hours until it had clearly got worse. It turns out that the corrosion on the bit of bonnet that the catch was attached to had got so bad that it was in danger of completely unattaching itself - in which case the bonnet could spring open. At this point, I decided to make use of my breakdown cover. To make this a trad. style breakdown I didn't have a mobile with me, so I spent a nostalgic 2 hours sitting in a Gasthof - completely unaware of what (if anything) was happening reminiscing about similar experience at the side of various European motorways all those years ago. Eventually the mechanic turned up, laughed at the state of my bonnet, bolted it together through the remaining bits of good metal and gaffered it shut. Overall I was only delayed by about 2.5 hours, and made it to Austria without further incident.
Tramped along the Stogerweg armed with a GPS location for 115. Neither of us had been there before, but I recalled seeing a marking showing the way to the cave from the main 204 path. This we duly found and wandered off in the direction of the arrow. Spotted a small entrance which we (erroneously) took as a sign that we were very close to the main entrance. Spent 30 mins thrashing around in bunde and teetering down cliffs whilst the distance to the cave remained stuck at around 30m according to the GPS. We suspected we were too high, and eventually got low enough down that we could see the entrance.
Went in for about 5 mins, through a crawl which enlarges to a small chamber before a climb down. The radon detector is hung in an alcove on the right (on the way in) in this chamber to keep it out of the (considerable) draught. Satisfied with our day's work, we headed off to the Loserhütte for a jar.
After quite a few trains and 6 days cycling in Italy I ended up in Venice. Pottered around for a day and a half, then got a sleeper train. Only covering was a sheet, which meant sleeping on the actual bed without anything separating you from the carpet-like covering on the bed. Very comfortable and cooling ... Got up at 5am to be greeted by the guard bearing my breakfast tray (only two Semmel and a cuppa but still - service!). Train from Attnang Puchheim to Bad Aussee, where Dour was waiting next to a Citroen van which was looking significantly more battered than a week ago ...
For the past 3 days, four friendly Hungarians who got in touch with us through Stuart Bennett have visited us. Thery accomplished a tourist trip dopwn to Kiwi Suit, and carried enough gear to camp self sufficiently. More notably, they carried a substantial volume of intoxicating liquids - enough to keep top camp happy for a night or two. In the interest of maintaining contact with these amiable cavers and discovering a potential future source of life-sustaining fluid, their contact emails are: gabor dot losonci at gmail dot com and adam dot panker at gmail dot com. tel. 00-36-20-5200-665.
We left a bag of stuff stored at the bivi cave, most of it survived intact. A mouse appeared to have had a nibble at the food box but failed to get through the gaffer tape, let alone open the lid. It also nibbled the Tunnocks that we accidentally left. We left a tent and lilo in a drybag. The elastic in the tent poles is no longer very stretchy, presumably due to the cold?
We went looking for a 'back door' into 97. Olly found a promising looking shaft (2007-70) which he descended. 2007-70 is located on a slight rise on the edge of a stretch of pavement just beyond 97. The entrance is a approximately 1.5m diameter shaft with a horizontal connection to an adjacent (larger) shaft a few metres down. At the base, an icy snow slope drops away before the roof comes down - possibly passable with less ice/snow. Above this end, and ice fall comes in from a small passage up which I couldn't easily get to. The larger adjacent shaft doesn't have any leads. While walking back Olly noticed a low entrance (2007-71) in a slope. We took it in turns moving rocks out of the way, and Olly went in. It drafts out a fair amount, though not as much as Draft Bitter. I went back to the bivy (twice because I was forgettful in my excitement at finding a new cave) to get my caving gear and we went underground.
After the low wriggly start it improved to walking/stooping/crawling passage. There is a currently undescended pitch early on the right, another at the current end, and a yet to be explored side passage. I have high hopes that it will be a significant cave in its own right, or else connect with 97 or 76...
Went back to look at 148, 20 years after it was last explored. Crawling entrance to a squeeze and climb into a larger passage, so far the same as the old description and similar to the old survey if you rotate it by about 56 degrees. Then at the junction right doesn't actually choke - there is a way on doubling back that ends at a diggable sandy crawl. Left at the previous junction was missing the snow from 1987 and led to a pitch which you could reach either approximately 10m from the bottom of 20m up. Daylight just about comes in from above along with lots of drips presumably a snow plug on the surface above a big pitch very close to the 204 path.
I got really cold cos it drafted a lot and I was only wearing one lot of thermals under my furry. At the base of the pitch left went to loose boulders, a low continuation and before that another pitch. The other way didn't go very far, low down, but level with the lower entry the pitch continued. Olly went here till he got to a big aven/chamber/pitch type thing, and I sat and got cold cos my arm hurt where I scalded it in the morning. We surveyed half of it on the way out and found some old survey notes on the floor - we plan to photo them before moving them out of the cave.
Jenny was (uncharacteristically) not feeling well so she sat in what little shade there was, while I went underground. First, at Cairn cave I put in a tag spit, then used that plus a thread backup and two protectors to descend. The pitch head is awkward, then bells out to land on a rubble floor with a dirty snowplug. A chink of light enters upslope from a nearby shaft, while downslope the roof lowers and chokes. This is the source of the outward draft noted at the entrance.
Then onto 148- I entered in thermals plus oversuit and drilled and set two spits for the pitch which bypasses the squeeze and climb. Then surface surveyed from 148 to 2006-70.
Set off at 3pm following the first wave who had gone in to rig as far as the bottom of Ariston. Met James C in Wolpertinger Way, he was heading out because he was cold, and caught up with the others at the head of Steel Toe Cap. Mark D rigged the last Ariston pitch, I rigged the first Kiwi Suit pitch, then wibbled on the start of the traverse to the second for long enough that Mark D took over again - pausing only to spit in a pot at the head of the fourth Kiwi Suit pitch, i.e. the Brown Trouser Pitch head. Mission accomplished we headed out.
The previous day's team had rigged to GLAD (God Loves a Drunk). Our plan was to continue the rig as near to the pushing front as possible, so that a later team could come in and do a quick push. We also intended to install some radon detectors and tidy up various bits of rigging. I put in a higher bolt on the last hang in Ariston and was preparing to descend Kiwi Seat when Mark's bottom exploded. He elected to carry on and caught up with me at the bottom of the first Kiwi Suit pitch where I was installing an extra traverse bolt. Our next job was a bolt for a handline on Dave Dives. Mark drilled a hole, at which point we found that the Hilti pot was missing. It turned out that I had left them at the side of the previous bolts - fortunately they were retrieved by a later party - so the second wave could use the drill. Dumped the drill at GLAD, and continued rigging through Tun and Copper. Put in a handbolt for a deviation on Yeast which looks to have sorted out the rig a treat. At that pitch we called it a day and headed out, meeting the second wave at GLAD. Out at 19.30 and bolted down the hill.
Dave introduced us novices to exploration in Rhino Rift. This began by exploring a few QM's, giving dull outcomes. 03-57C became too tight after 3 metres, 03-60C looped back into the passage (with a dead hole in the roof), and 03-70A connected to Grater. We then ventured into the seemingly maze-like Piccadilly Junction and tried 03-66B. This led on in a fairly tight phreatic manner, cutting back under itself and twisting into a more rifty character, before coming across a steep slope. This was all surveyed in record time thanks to Dr Phil Underwood's wonderful Shetland Attack Pony - a loveable device apart from its eyeburning laser. This "Shanks Pony Passage" led to "Shetland Incline", at which point Dave grew increasingly excited, rigging in an increasingly swift and worrying manner. We found a muddy rift passage to the right descending this pitch, complete with footprints! Holes in the floor prevented further access, but Dave suspected this to be a link with "Uncomformity" ...
We then decided to get out, but found ourselves to be racing against a 22.00hr call out. Dave and I cut a deal whereby he carried the tackle sack along the passage and I pulled it up the pitches. The 204e entrance pitch at 21.50 thus left me a sweaty blob. We got back to the Stone Bridge at 21.59 after an 11 hour trip!
Leads uncovered by the trip included C at the bottom of pitch descended by Dave and an aven in the roof. This was at the bottom left, looking down the sloping pitch. At the head of this sloping pitch was a B lead similar leads existed on the right and at the bottom. A C lead existed from the muddy footsteps passage.
On the 13th the three of us went pushing the end of Crowning Glory, an A grade lead. As a starry eyed novice, I was expecting a kilometre of passage leading either to Tunnockschacht, a new entrance or Kaninchenhoehle. Instead, the passage just fizzled out! It rapidly became too tight, although we did find an impressive aven on the left, which didn't lead anywhere. On the way back, we bolted and descended a new pitch. A 20 metre descent led to a squeeze down into a chamber that looked like it needed a handline.
On the 15th Kathryn and I, went back and went back into this chamber: turned out to be a 6m pitch with a very dodgy squeeze onto the pitch head. The chamber led nowhere but had a hole in the ground. Standing in the hole, the floor started to vanish beneath us, revealing a deep looking rift which unfortunately looks too tight to descend.
Andreas joined us, all the way from Sweden, hunting meteorites, in order to check out our link from the previous day. A couple of survey legs swiftly led to where we had been. Dave was thus revealed as a prophet of some considerable power and cemented the respect of us novice cavers. Rather an easy task compared to the 200m surveying and rigging task of the previous day. A and B leads are thought to extend from the top of a pitch linking "Uncomformity" to the passage linking "Shetland Incline".
We progressed to explore 03-90A. This involved Dave cutting our old (2003) 11mm rope into lots of teeny bits. We dropped down a very satisfyingly shaped (rounded cross section) pitch onto a stony floor. A climb led to a further pitch. Andreas and I were left here whilst Dave and Ollie went back to peer at some other QM's. As I became bored, I climbed up to watch Andreas rig. I observed that one natural in his Y-hang was not a solid column of rock, but instead two rocks entirely disconnected from anything. Dave had started rigging from it and now Andreas was rigging from it. Andreas later admitted feeling considerable fear when I wriggled the rock he was rigging off! After a change of plan we descended. The end was dull, but Andreas kicked some mud. This impromptu dig was hastened by the sound of water "a sump" Andreas claimed. In fact a tiny grim loose chamber with a 2cm squared puddle! We got out having discovered this "Spitters End". Less than the previous day's 200 metres of survey, but still satisfying.
After an 11 hour and a 9 hour trip, Ollie and I fancied a day off. We travelled to Rundereisehoehle with Aaron in order to wire and start some data loggers. We had installed thermistors 3 days before, Aaron and I not setting a call out and thus prompting a rescue to begin at nightfall! The weather was scorching (hence Ollie's radiation burns all over) in contrast to last week's snow. We did well, apart from Aaron falling and filling his USB cable with dirt, rendering it useless to start data loggers.
Later in the day Ollie and I went surface prospecting. We found a promising hole on the ridge just behind 03-01. We now consider this a rediscovery of 2003-02. Our journey onwards was not fruitful, but on our return leg, not a couple of hundred metres from the bivi, we came across an area riddled with uncharted cave. We tagged 2007-01 and Ollie sent me down (I was geared up). A vertical climb down opened into a hollow plate a few metres down. A boulder floor made the "C" QM in the floor dangerous. An edge exit was too tight. Many vertical openings existed in a similar place. We tagged one, 2007-02, but did not descend.
Given previous Rhino Rift and surface prospecting exploits, I allowed myself to be tempted into a deeper expedition by Nial, despite wise seer Dave's protestations that I wouldn't find much onward in the Underworld.
We firstly took a promising lead from Terra Firma. I was 'on notes' for the first time and had no clue what was going on. It disapointingly linked quickly to Quiz Rift.
We then moved on to peering down a pitch from Quiz Rift. This continued over a ledge to a rocky downward, becoming a muddy upward, as is the way with the Underworld. A sharp rocky crawl led up and back to the pitch and a downward squeeze, deemed too tight without capping, seemed to lead downward onto a pitch.
Miserable squirmings led to the bottom of a pitch which Nial climbed up, making me promise to catch him if he fell. Bastard. He then spied two hard-to-reach 'C' leads up there and a further pitch close by. Two tiny holes linked the bottom of our pitch with this further pitch. I tried digging the lower of these and failed. Thus Nial told Kathryn to squeeze feet first through the tiny upper one, into a 2m drop. Bastard. Sure enough, this led nowhere. We labelled this 'Dangerous Dig and the Gut-Busters'. A rubbish bit of nasty cave.
Sure enough Nial made it worse by then forcing me up an earlier lead. This had a squeeze which involved removing SRT kit and hammering off protruberances. The passage grew rifty before becoming too tight.
We surveyed a reasonable bit, but I resolve to charge Nial a 'shit cave tax' for his transgressions. The upward pitches went on for ever, Gaffered itself being especially epic with horrid rebelay. Lower pitches mud on rope requires manual manipulation of jamming cams. We finally got out for noodles and hot chocolate (mixed with vile spirit Unicum - not as tasty as ejaculate) after an exhasting 13hr trip.
The plan was to rig to the underworld in one trip, so with over 300m of rope between us (200m of 11mm in Big Bertha - which was a mistake!) we set off. The rigging went quite fast and several improvements over the old rig were found. However, we had accidentally left all the spits and cones on the surface. When we reached Trihang and decided it needed a new bolt therefore, we had no option but to turn back. The return trip was much easier given we no longer had any rope to carry! The round trip was 7.5hrs at an easy pace.
After the previous rigging trip I decided that the Gaffered rig could be greatly improved with a few extra bolts. With lots of novices keen to learn to bolt and an abundance of hand bolting gear (well, 3 sets) this seemed like the perfect opportunity to sort the rig out once and for all. Myself and Edvin went ahead to re-rig the Eyehole and Trihang leaving the others to practice some bolting and rigging by installing a traverse line between Gaffer Tape and Tape Worm. Edvin installed two new spits at the top of the Eyehole pitch meaning you no longer have to squeeze through the eyehole. This rig is perfect! Why was it not rigged like this in the first place!? While Edvin did this, I put in an additional spit at the top of Trihang in order to allow it to be rigged as a Trihang (how was this done before?). Further improvements to the rig include a deviation on Gaffer Tape just below the first re-belay (this looks a bit strange, but it stops the rope rubbing when you swing across for the second re-belay). A deviation on the Lx pitch also makes staying out of the slot above the re-belay easier.
Having finished the rigging Edvin and I started pushing leads in the Underworld. We started with 04-15B, now called "Shprinkles Pitch." This is a ~15m pitch down leading to a sharp rifty passage which is too tight. One wall of the pitch is made entirely of mud, which rains down on you as you descend - hence the name. We were then joined by Djuke who had left the other two bolting and had come to join us. The three of us went to look at 03-14B (which looks to be the same lead as 03-15B). This is a steeply sloping tube (-50deg) down near the start of Sirens traverse. It descended for ~15m before becoming vertical. It has a strong draft and looks like a promising lead! However, we were out of time and headed back. the whole trip took 12 1/4 hours.
Meanwhile at the bottom of Gaffer Tape.....
Kathryn Sarah and Djuke started to bolt the traverse between the bottom of Gaffer Tape and the Tape Worm pitch. The traverse had not previously been protected, but a slip there could be very serious, so it was decided that a rope was a good idea. None of the the three of us had much experience bolting, and so we had many aborted attempts. We only had one bolting kit between the three of us, and this meant we got quite cold, so Djuke decideded to find Edvin and Nial in the Underworld. Sarah and Kathryn eventually placed 4 bolts of varying quality and rigged the traverse, by which time it was too late to join the others pushing in the Underworld, and so they headed out.
- Pitches 4-8 can all be strung together with 150-160m rope
- 11mm rope is preferable due to the large amounts of mud
- Take a scrubbing brush to the bottom of Trihang for washing ascenders and wellies
- Tying the bottom of the Cerberus pitch rope to something would be a good idea - it is easy to pull up the end with you!
- Possible QM above Trihang pitch head. Up and behind the pitch head appears to be a tube heading left. Requires bolting up to (although only a couple of metres).
Tourist trip down 204a as far as Razordance to show our Hungarian visitors around Steinbrucken. They all seemed very impressed, especially with the pitches. However, one was overhead to say that there was too much prussiking! Trip took 6hrs. The temperature in Kiwi Suit was 0.4°C.
The Hungarians were very keen to see more of the cave so I took Dodo and Gabor on a through trip from 204e to 204d. The snow was low so the climb out of d was easy. A top trip, I had forgotten how good it was!
We are all invited to go caving in Hungary. If you fancy it then contact Gabor by email.
Surface prospecting northwest of 204e. Descended surface shaft - which panned out as follows:
The pitch lands in a largish chamber 'Professor Rushton's Lecture Hall'. At one end a small room is choked and at the other s a very narrow rift (impassable) from which the draft comes.
We got underground at 9:30 and made rapid progress down to God Loves a Drunk, Mark pausing en-route to swap his radon detectors. Regrouping at GLAD we brewed up a couple of packets of soup and a dehydrated meal to fuel us up for the push.
At 1pm we reached the front and started to rig and survey onwards. Mark wielded the drill, I weilded the pencil and Dour brought up the rear with a shetland attack pony.
Four and a half hours later we had descended five pitches and were looking down a sixth, with no hiltis left and precious few hangers, so we headed out via another very welcome soup at GLAD.
According to the survey data, 204 now has a vertical range of 599.99m.
Went back to 148 with a drill and more rope. Went to the previous pitch and traversed over it to what was 'the pitch' in 1987 nice big aven & pitch Olly found a nice rig down and into a little rift -> thus avoiding the loose choss at the top. Looked at the Ice Castle foute first, this roughtly goes back under the higher shaft past some very cool ice formations (big icicles) and very old snow plugs -> one section the snow plug essentially filled the entire passage except for a small crawl underneath it which I found a bit unnerving. More ice & snow, including a snow plug with clear Summer / Winter layering, I saw at least 30 layers (and it continued high up as well, so the oldest snow was older than me!). This passage ended at an up pitch maybe 15m high. Surveyed back along this (noting that the hanging death in the ceiling was quite varied -- rocks, snow and ice. Back at the 20ish m pitch we took the continuation passage, initially promising -- a huge rift heading for 107, but soon turns a corner and chokes (as noted in 1987). I climbed up before the choke and over the top and sadly no continuation visable. Olly poked under the choke and you could see into the blackness inside...
Surveyed this and left the cave.
It was a bit cloudy so decided that surface shaft might be feasible. Went to look at an entrance Olly spotted in 2005 roughly above Pancake Chips aven. It draughts slightly out and is sloping down on the side of a shakehole. Needed to move some rocks out of the way to get in. Sadly it didn't go much more than 10m, the draught comes out of a 5-10cm wide rift, which appears after a few metres to open up. There is another route lower down which checked and didn't draught. Surveyed this and surface surveyed this to Ice Curtain cave and on to 99. Went out to look for 102 to tie it into the surface survey as the GPS fix is old and thought to be suspect. Sadly failed to find it so will have to return.
Headed in with 2 smallish bags of rope. Met Dour and MSD at God Loves A Drunk, where we heard the grim tales of Mark's loose bowels and Dour's missing hiltis which I had picked up at Kiwi Suit (thanks to Sarah for spotting the pot lying on a rock).
We decided to ditch the 94m pushing rope and continue in with the drill and rope for known pitches. This was a lovely idea but forgot to take into account the bag of rope sitting at Yeast pitch.
Some shuttling of stuff through the rift soon saw the pitches rigged as far as Pepper Pot. Here we managed to totally miss Paster of Muppets pitch and rig the traverse with that rope instead.
Andreas did the drilling to improve the traverse at the 2004 limit. As luck would have it we got as far as the pitch and the drill completely ran out of juice so we headed out.
Thought I'd make myself useful by re-tagging and photoing some entrances. First stop was Skinny Festerers, which has now been tagged with its kataster number 244. We also photoed the entrance. Would make a reasonable shitting grike for those who don't mind a slightly longer walk.
Further down the backside of the Hinter we GPSed a small hole at the foot of a cliff. Body-sized entrance led to a small chamber with a too-tight rift and a choked shaft. Not long enough to be a proper cave. Possibility that this is something previously noted by Sunks. Yep. GPS confirms that we re-found 2002-x09.
Getting a bit out of sequence here, forgot to say that we tried and failed to find 247, had a hunt where the GPS said it was but no luck. Will study the entrance photo and try again.
Found and photoed 2003-01, which doesn't seem to have been allocated a kataster number yet, not sure why. 248 has now been tagged as such and photoed. Wen to Rock'n'Roll Hoehle and photoed the entrance. Found a tagged marked 2001-04B, not 239. No knowing that the A and B entrances are in the same shakehole we assumed that the nearest large hole was 239A. In fact this is probably 2003-X16, Earl and Becka's cave 7.
Went and hid in the shade of the bridge for a bit then walked to 242 and took pics. Anthony set off in search of a hole near 204D that needed re-tagging then changed his mind. On the way down the hill he put the correct tag on Artischokenhoehle. All photos (with notes) on computer under photos/Julia.
Went to 161d partly to place a radon detector for Mark D and because I wanted to see what KH was like. Walked up to the col to get onto the 161 path, it was really hot and horribly humid. The path was fairly clear up to where the Vord path goes up - perhaps this is used as a walkers path to the summit? Path was then less defined and many cairns had collapsed. I thought (wrongly it turned out) that we were too high up the Vord side and we could see a faint path with cairns leading up towards the Hinter. Followed this for a bit uphilll to the crest of the ridge and then down a bit to 161d. Already running out of water and it was so hot. Finally got to VD1 and the path down to 161d. This bit of the path wasn't as bad as I had feared but took a while as a lot of the carins had collapsed and Olly had only been here once before and me never. Finaly got to the entrance after hours.
The draught was amazing and nice and refreshing. Followed in to Triassic Park. Amazing cave, nice and big and stil a noticeable draught. We so need to find something like this in 76, in fact the only thing 76 does better is the hanging death - the Guillotene isn't even trying.
Walked up to the top of Knossos (noticed a hibernating bat on the way) admiring the huge passage. Were able to refill the water bottle at a drip which was very nice. Returned leaving the radon detector in TP qauite near the Guillotene (about 3m from the conservation tape and reflective marker we placed). Had a look at Staud'nwirt Palace and into Zombie Slime which no longer has a ladder in situ (as suggested on the website). Returned looking at the skull in Golgotha on the way.
Surfaced to find it getting dark and a BIG thunderstorm in progress. Decided the walk/climb back in the dark and rain would be unpleasant and might well result in us being lost on a ledge somewhere. Figured it would be best to wait underground till either the storm stopped or the sun rose. Found a sheltered alcove in Mothshag and moved some rocks to make a "bed", made a mattress from the rope, my rucksack and our wellies and both got into a survival bag. Waited couple of hours till we got pretty cold and noticed the drips had decreased. It had stopped raining and was a clear starry night!
Made our way back to the car, managed the scrambles and climbs OK without handlines and Ol navigated very well. Got to base camp at about 6am ....
Have at least got our annual long walk in the dark over with early in the expo and it was made much better by the amazingly bright Princeton Tech headtorch that could spot carins miles away. And us being at 161d with our waterproofs at 76 solved the water shortage nicely as well.
T/walking: lots ...
It all began with one rock, one pitch, a stopwatch and a certain lack of imagination on the part of those naming the pitch. It should at this point be noted that it actually rattles for longer than 11 seconds. But I digress. Armed with 105m of rope, Richard, Sarah and I began the arduous task of negotiating Chocolate Salty Balls on the way to the 11SR, with the minor detour of liberating 33m of rope from 'Taking the Piss.' This rope had clearly been affected by its opressor as it was the fastest rope I have ever witnessed. Still, I got my own back by using a full turn round my breaking krab and twisting the hell out of it.
After rigging the short pitch above the 11SR with a deviation Superman himself would have difficulty passing thanks to a school of rigging that involves ignoring obvious spits and letting the location of naturals decide the path the rig will take, we finally met the proverbial 11 second rattle.
Having carried a full suite of power-bolting equipment with us it seemed sensible to put in a Y-hang with the drill. It is often noted that problems between the keyboard and chair are the main source of computer problems, in this case I suppose the problem existed between the muddy floor and the trigger, when we found that the drill was not nearly as effective in reverse. I blame my thermodynamics lectures for teaching me that reversible systems are most efficient and my education at Cambridge for leaving me with no common sense. With a new burst of enthusiasm after realising our mistake, and the drill firmly switched to forwards we continued to drill. It is indicative of the human ability for learning that during the second attempt at a hole we noted more quickly that the drill was still in reverse.
One and a half holes later the drill decided that all this changing direction was a bit too much and refused to go on.
We went all Old Skool on the hole's ass and cracked out the hand bolting gear. One perfectly placed spit later, and we continued on our journey. I abseiled down a few metres to place a survey station whilst Sarah and Richard admired my beautiful spit placement, awe-stricken at its poise, dedication and charm. One survey leg for good measure later, and it was time to go home. Nothing would prepare us for the following day's events. To be continued ...
We continued pushing the lead that Djuke, Edvin and Nial started on 14th July (03-14/C) armed with a little more rope. the lead is in steeply sloping tube - it starts as a scramble down and then quickly becomes too steep and a rope is needed. After this steep section, the gradient becomes shallower, and it is possible to get off the rope and scramble down again. Exploration ended when we reached the end of our rope (~50m) and the passage became too steep to be able to climb up. At this point we reached where the passage widened and split into multiple holes - "like cheese" according to Djuke. The hole was still strongly drafting - it was very cold surveying.
The plan was to rig down then push an A-grade lead for a bit on the Flat Worm level. So obviously things were never quite going to pan out that way. We got down to the Underworld without incident (although tacklesakcs are an absolute bastard to carry). Nial started rigging Gardener's World and Universally Challenged [sic - University Challenge] (who thinks of these names, seriously!) before realising we didn't have enough rope of the right length. After a bit of cheeky rebolting and jiggling of ropes we managed to get down. A few minutes scrambling around through some pretty passage brought us to the next pitch. It probably has a stupid name [Chalk and Cheese]. Nial rigged this on some 11mm rope so slow you could abseil down it without a stop, and you still wouldn't need a braking crab. The rope was kind of just about long enough. We got to Thin Rift and as far as the previous pushing front where a [lack of] handline had prevented the previous explorers getting any further. Unfortunately, 5m later we realised we needed either a traverse line over the top of the rift along a ledge or another handline down to the bottom. So we only rigged to do an extra 2 survey legs, but the rift was still going so we were keen to go back. Nial will now put the new Gardener's World rigging guide below ....
(mwah ... hah ... ha ... I nicked your space [different handwriting]
damn you Mundy [Edvin's handwriting; note no rigging guide!]
Having forgotten the misery of my last trip down to the Underworld (cold, mud, tightness, nastiness), I allowed myself to be dragged down there by Djuke. Kathryn had wisely decided to abandon this lead.
The chute itself is steep, tight and horrid. A cold wind blows up it and a wet mud transfers itself all over you. Sharp "popcorn" exists everywhere and has rpped the arse from my oversuit.
Surveying with the Pony I was becoming rapidly fed up, even given some interesting phreatic passage branching off. Eventually we were rewarded for our eforts when the shute tipped into the top of a chamber, The Happy Hippocampus". Some bolting warmed me nicely and I soon dangled onto a boulder floor set in mud slopes. Other passages led in to the chamber ceiling (circa 15m up) and other leads included a boulder choke and a steep mud and boulder climb down. The chamber is around 10m in diameter. We decided to leave further exploration for when we have courage, so beat an exhausting retreat.
We returned to the lead Edvin and Nial started on the 19th (Thin Rift off Dead Good Bat chamber in Fat Worm). At the pushing front there was the option of a pitch down or rigging a traverse across the rift. We opted for the pitch option, hoping it would drop into the bottom of the same rift as the traverse rift - unfortunately there was no way on at the bottom of the pitch, so we rigged the traverse instead:
[rigging diagram - flake then big loop of slack for hand line down slope then thread then traverse tied off at end. 20m rope just enough]
After the traverse the passage continued and there was a side passage off to the right (returned to later). The rift continued upwards and to the right until it reached a "toilet bowl" shaped [undecipherable word - underrig?] where we climbed down and doubled back on ourselves to a shallow pool of water. Through the pool to the right led to a climb down into a rift (returned to later). At this point Edvin and Nial went to survey the side passage mentioned earlier (ended in a QM D) while I started to bolt the pitch down the hole that we previously traversed across. At the bottom of the pitch (Flush Pitch), to the right through a crawl (Ballcock Bypass), back to the bottom of the chamber with the pool (The Cistern). We then returned to the climb down across the other side of the pool - this dropped into a rift (Now Wash Your Hands) which went both ways. First we went left down the rift, which was a little awkward and tight - we passed a side pasage at floor level (QM B) and exploration ended at a pitch down (QM A). The passage appeared to continue across the other side of the pitch (QM A), but a traverse line is needed to get across safely. We then explored the rift in the other direction (right after the climb down from the Cistern). This also ended in a pitch and passed a small, upward-sloping tube on the left (QM A).
Having been down the hill and acquired a picture of the 247 entrance I went back to where the GPS said it should be and there it was, I'd been stood right on top of it the last time. So 247 now has its correct tag.
Then I went to 2002-09 and tagged it. The entrance is about 30cm by 30cm and goes in at a bearing of 165°. There's one small chamber with a too-tight rift and choked shaft. Don't think this should be assigned a kataster number as it is v. small. The tag is above the entrance, a photo showing the location of the tag is on the computer.
Next I went to Earl and Becka's cave 7 and tagged it as 2003-16. Photos on the computer. The freeclimable entrance was very tempting but in the end I didn't risk it as I was on my own. Will hopefully get to stick my nose down there before going home.
Finally retagged Rock'n'Roll Hoehle (B) with the correct 239B and checked that the A entrance was tagged correctly which it be. Photos of both entrances on the computer. Yes, this was a very boring logbook entry but that's just tough.
The previous trip down Razor Dance had returned with tales of a deep pool that they had started traversing around to where they could see into a perpendicular rift with running water audible. Could this be the bottom? The target for this trip was to continue the traverse into the side rift to find out whether the sound of water was a continuation or an inlet.
Set off down at 10:30 with Dunks in the lead. I was therefore surprised (and a little perturbed) to arrive at the pushing front to find no sign of him. I soon heard him thrutching through the rift. It turns out that he had missed the traverse level below Yeast pitch had had thrashed through at stream level to emerge at a ~15-20m pitch with no rope on it - presumably where the water drops in at Pepper Pot.
Before continuing the traverse we opted to try one of the self-heating meals provided by Andrew that the Welsh diggers 'swear by not at'. After following the instructions to the letter and waiting the requisite 15 minutes, it was still stone cold, so we scoffed it anyway.
Duncan then started work on the traverse. Andreas had bolted along a ledge on the right-hand wall (opposite the cross-rift). Duncan elected to take out his last two bolts and bolt on the left-hand wall instead, then he bridged across the (narrower) cross rift. Some time later I followed, hating every minute of it (so I took the opportunity to spit into a pot).
It turns out that the sound of water in the side rift comes from an inlet, and that the deep pool is a sump - so 204 is now 622m deep. A bit disappointing that it didn't go deeper, but at least we've bottomed the bastard.
The inlet is keyhole passage with ~3m round phreatic part elongate along the dip direction, and a trench that is typically 5m deep, trending upwards at 25°. We surveyed up this for ~70m before running out of time. Our last survey station is by a junction where the main route continues for ~40m to a climb which may or may not be climbable, and an inlet rift that is passable for some distance. With that we headed out with the drill and spare metalwork at a sedate pace (set by my), pausing for a food stop at GLAD. Duncan emerged at 04:50, and I got out at 06:20.
Duncan had a suspicion that the inlet contained water from the Midnight in Moscow series. Survex reinforced this suspicion: if you project the inlet up at its current angle for ~100m along and ~25m up, it will hit the bottom of Rasputin in 161 - so hopes are high for a connection, which would be a satisfactory 2nd prize after its failure to go very deep.
The trip was originally intended to compose of Andreas, James and myself, but unfortunately James was feeling a touch ill, and so Mark stepped in to take his place. The weather was looking a little overcast, but still dry and we made a late-ish start at 11:00am. All went smoothly until we reached the top of Copper pitch where we heard an ominous rumble/whistling noise in the distance. Although we all heard this noise we stayed quiet until we reached the following pitch whereupon it became obvious that the water levels were rising. A couple of minutes later the water levels had reached impressive heights! After a brief discussion we decided to press on into the drier part of the rift.
Although the lower pitches were a bit damp none of them proved too wet so we carried on to do some pushing. At the top of the long slippery ramp that Dunks and Dour had explored two days previously we took a left turn into a steeply ascending dry passage. We followed this up 10-15 short free climbs, via some quite nice formations. Eventually we reached a phreatic tunnel which levelled out, and then started to head downhill. Sensing that a connection with KH was imminent we ditched the instruments and went for a poke around.
A low sandy crawl emerged 2m up the wall of what was clearly a very large passage. Unfortunately the climb down was a bit on the suicidal side so we tried a lower crawl that emerged a bit closer to the floor. Although still a little on the loose and necky side we all reached the bottom and set up off the large 6m diameter tunnel. Downslope a stream could be heard (Midnight in Moscow?) and upslope gave us some fine long survey legs until an impressive echo started to sound. The source of the echo was a ~40m diameter chamber which was greeted with much whooping. Several leads go off from this and after we did a few survey legs across it we headed out.
Again all went smoothly, we stopped for some food at GLAD, until we reached Mystery Wind pitch where it became clear that the cave was flooding again, only this time rather more so. It was some relief that we reached the bottom of Kiwi Suit which was very cool, windy and wet. The amount of water now flowing down RD was at least 10 x that of when we had entered. I couldn't help thinking that we had got out just in the nick of time. After a long and tedious prussik we all eventually all reached the surface at 00:30 -> 01:00. An excellent trip!
"The Widowmaker" by Sarah White
Abandon hope all ye who enter here.
"The Reliant Swede" by Andreas Forsberg
Rigging diagram - 3 rebelays and 5 deviations
The previous page illustrates the work done on our trip of 23rd July. We adapted the 11 Second Rattle rig to one that can be descended without "Brown Alert" ensueing.
Andreas commented that "this is the worst shaft that I have ever seen" (for rigging difficulty), yet proceeded to reduce Sarah's 7 rope to one trivial one.
Andreas then helped us to descend "The Super Fun Happy Slide" into "Wet Dry World" - via the placement of a bolt using his skyhook and much discomfort.
The slide is a phreatic tube downward at 45°ree;. A pretty bit of cave, dropping into the roof of Wet Dry World, a chamber with a rocky/bouldery floor, a boulder choke, many holes in the ceiling, some squeezes in the walls and some water dripping down one wall.
On the 24th we had a day of top camp festering. Sarah and I completed a Rundreisehoehle-204a surface survey started by Ollie and me previously.
On the 25th we went caving, surveying the slide, Wet Dry World and its link into [undecipherable word - Wtong's ?] Fortress. We derigged it in record time, then taking a peer at "Gosser Streamway" and at "Wot No Butcombe" before our return.
I think it's called Tressenstein, will check in the morning with the map. But if you're at Base Camp it's the hill you see (on the right) if you look down the road (towards Bad Aussee) with the radio mast on top (ungrammatical). Anyway, it's a nice walk with amazing views. If you walk/cycle to the "Bad Aussee" town sign there are paths on the right, you want path no. 19. The sign says 2 hours, it took me 1 1/2 hours steady uphill (slowish compared to most) to the top. You can't really see base camp or Grundlsee, but you do get utterly fantastic panoramic views of Altausee and Loser on one side and Bad Aussee on the other side.
The path is signed. I took a couple of wrong turns but made it in the end. Chickened out of climbing the mast but I bet you'd get a good view of Grundlsee from there. If you're festering at base camp and 2 1/2 - 3 hours to spare walk up this hill!! It's rude not to! Seriously good views, well worth the effort.
We returned to the new stuff we'd found to push it some more. We had cleverly decided to look at the most miserable lead: a narrow rift leading off "Now Wash Your Hands" which needed rigging as a traverse across a hole or down the hole. We got to the pushing front without incident, adding a handline to the climb down to Now Wash Your Hands (how on earth did we ever free climb it?!).
I bolted and rigged a traverse across a hole (now know as Don't Worry Pee Happy) whilst Nial and Kathryn surveyed a miserable QM which went nowhere (actually it carried on - now a QM C - Kathryn). Over the traverse we surveyed round in a loop back to the traverse, passing a QM which needs rigging but almost certainly links in to the bottom of Don't Worry Pee Happy.
Nial rigged Don't Worry Pee Happy, a ~20m pitch. He forgot to take rigging gubbins down the pitch with him so when he realised a rebelay was needed we slid slings, bolts, etc down the rope. There were two ways on at the bottom. The first went down a pit before stopping. The second required reigging and went down a further ~10m down to a miserable looking duck/wet crawl which looked thoroughly uninspiring. We decided not to go through, but Aven tells us that it's only 6-7m away from the Subway level so might be worth another look.
Went to MM [Marilyn Munroe] with the aim of surveying and finishing everything below the 48m rope so we could de-rig it and rig it in 76. Headed down and checked out the 3rd option from the bottom of the pitch (noted in 1987 to end at an ice climb). Smallish rift passage apparently directly underneath the passage above with a boulder floor/ceiling inbetween. Olly climbed up to the 1st squeeze and decided he would need to remove his helmet so retreated. I had a look and got through, and wriggled up the next climb and attempted the next squeeze which had a boulder in the way. I could get all of me through except one leg (could get either leg through, but not both). I got very annoyed and eventually gave up. I believed I could see where the ice climb was - this year it was just wet, but appears to take you back to the passage above (the survey confirms this). So getting through the squeeze wouldn't achieve much.
Survey this and joined together the hanging surveys from the previous week (which made me happy) and surveyed out, derigging the 48m en route. Paused in the survey to look at the remaining lead (the pitch roughly below the aven with daylight). Olly went some way down, confirming that the draught does come from here and that it appears to continue.
Incidentally, the survey suggests that the aven with daylight is ~5m from the 204 path, so please don't throw rocks down shafts in this area ....
Finally got to 76, Olly rigged down to The Ledge and I followed half an hour later to take a bag of rope through to BNW for the next trip and the radon detectors to place. The radon detectors were placed in the side lead in the test tubes roughly opposie the 99 connection. Surface surveyed 102 to 103. Tagged 1998-X01 and Ice Curtain.
Went into BNW with the drill and rigging gear to start looking at the pitch leads close to QM 05- because it had been raining hard for hours and it looked to be the driest option - in fact it was very dry, only a few slightly drippy bits. Olly traversed across the lip of the Pleasant But Pointless pitch, because of all the gear he was carrying it became a bolt traverse this year, not a bold traverse that it was in 2005 when I first saw the pitch. Olly got through to the pitch having scrambled through the rocks (this is called Scrabble) and bolted down the first short drop. This was a little drippy but the water disappeared through the rocky floor. A ramp comes in from above (?perhaps this connects with the boulder choke in Loopy?). This continues into a rift with various holes and rock bridge that all connect, gviing it its name, Sea Of Holes. Olly rigged an excellent Y-hang to a level with solid ledges and started down the next pitch. We ran out of hangers, slings and warmth before the pitch ended, so surveyed out. I coped better with the traverse on the way out.
Sea of Holes has nice, solid rock, isn't too wet, doesn't have much choss and draughts fairly strongly (given the size) outwards which is very cool. On the way out we noticed the draught had reversed (around 11pm to midnightish), hopefully this won't affect the radon detecting.
Went back down Plugged Shaft to The Ledge. I went in to the test tubes to change the radon detector (incidentally the draught was back to normal today). Olly heroically bolted across from the ledge on the opposite side of the test tubes looking for my hypothesised continuation the other side of Plugged Shaft. Sadly it didn't exist, which was a great shame - it was just a big ledge in an alcove with an aven above. Olly managed to reverse the climb/traverse removing the gear as he went (I was very impressed!).
We exited the cave with Olly adding a deviation and switching two hangers on the way. The drill started to go flat having done 17 holes and been up the hill for ages.
Walked down the hill via lots of places - put permanent tags on Lardy Festerers and 250, calibrated the instruments at old TC [Top Camp]. Then walked up to Mystery Plus [?not Plus?] cave. I went in and discovered it choked less than a metre beyond where I had been without a light in 2006. Surveyed it and then surface survey down to a part-drilled spit hole near the cole. I hated the surface survey lots.
We had meant to get underground before 9.00am, but unfortunately Andreas and myself were feeling rather sleepy in the morning and so we managed to get underground shortly after 11:00am. We had a smooth 4 and a bit hour journey down to the pushing front, slowed down slightly by Andrew A's enormous camera case (which was later left in 'The Silk Road').
We commenced the surveying by re-doing a couple of the legs in 'The Forbidden City' that had gone pear-shaped on the previous visit. We also had had a quick look down some sandy crawls at the base of the chamber, but they would all seem to offer only long term digging prospects. We surveyed up the large loose passage at the top of the chamber for approximately 100m. There is a climb there where care needs to be taken not to slip! It appeared as though the passage was going to crap out, but a low crawl led to a complex junction. We chose the RH passage as it was heading towards KH, but the LH passage looked excellent too. A few survey legs with good formations led us to a junction with a passage with a very small trickle of water flowing down it, where we decided to call it a day. Our highest point is now 118m above the sump level. Another uneventful if tiring, journey out had us at the surface at 1.00am ish. Lots more question marks!
In preparation for climbing Trisselwant at some point (YIKES) the four of us set off on a slightly cloudy and humid July morning. Via an absolute fluke we got to the carpark we were aiming for: right underneath the Burgstall (874m; take first right after avalanche tunnel) just by Purg. So there we were, 4 numpties in sandals ... and then it went wrong when we turned left half way up a via ferrata and then tried right over an extremely shoddy path which was nicely exposed. Anyway we got to a face about 5m wide with a "path" running across the front on which you could fit 1 sandal at a time which made belaying really fun;-)!
Whilst Nial set off on something with Dave L, Stuart climbed up a 4+ at a corner. well the climbing bit was fine until he took a lead fall, his first. Climbers seem to talk things up, but after trying to also get up this thing and failing, I too was convinced it must've been harder, or at least more shiny than when it was first ascended. Stuart's lead fall was interesting for me as well as I flew into some briers and Stuart landed in a tree shortly followed by his ankle hitting the ground at a dodgy angle which led to consistent "au"'s whilst walking.
So after the rubbish section that made us feel weak and feeble and getting me more and more lethargc in hot, sticky, lethargic weather myself and Stuart eventually toddled back down the dodgy "path" and after aimlessly wandering for 1/2 hour or so we found 2 backpacks and 2 pairs of sandals underneath some staples. Nial and Dave were nowhere in sight. It seemed sensible to have lunch and follow the staples up as we didn't have the guide book and were sorely hoping they had chosen a route we could actually climb rather than the tat we had seen earlier.
As they say, up is the only way ... sure was as we soon realised we were doing a superb multi-pitch route. Stuart started and soon we were in a fairly smooth rhythm of alternating leading and seconding. Well, "smooth" except for when we would realise (whilst leading) we were on the middle of a slab of rock with no belay opportunities and no quick draws left :-(. Loose boulders, wasps nests, falling rocks, crossing via ferrataists and 2 very thirsty climbers we got to the top where Dave was sitting, grinning, rock boots off having previously done mainly indoor climbing.
We were exceptionally happy when it absolutely started rodding it down ... not so much because it was raining but more so becuase it was raining whilst we were NOT on the climbing route. Nial and Dave had the highly intelligent idea of taking their rock boots off whilst walking back to the car/bags which was fine until they go to the gravel path down past a railway station (!). Crossing the railway tracks we didn't have a dry piece of clothing left on our bodies ... indeed the Austrian climbers sheltering under an overhang looked most bemused at our antics. We decided to spare Tony R's car a bath and pretty much stripped off before getting in (Dave L in his underpants, me driving with a bra on, shirt off, etc). Despite our repeated offerings Dave L rudely refused to let us drive straight to the station in Bad Aussee to pick up his girlfriend who was arriving that same night.
Once again we returned to the Convenience Series hoping to find further horizontal passage. Kathryn and I were first down and started by bolting the short pitch down from "Now Wash Your Hands". When Pete and Edvin turned up we sent them to investigate a QM back from the pitch head. This turned out to connect into the cave we were about to push and how now been named "Shit Chute".
Meanwhile Kathryn and I finished descending the pitch and found large horizontal passages leading off. All of these ended in large pitches which we did not have the rope to descend. One pitch was descended entirely on naturals (and a deviation using the donkey's dick on the tackle sack). This led to a large passage filled with boulders. It rapidly became too steep to descend (and looked horrendous to rig anyway).
I began to bolt another pitch but decided hand bolting it would take too long. Instead we left the new passage (now named "Engaged") and returned to "Out Of Order Rift" to look at a small QM "Urinal Cakes". After ~30m of tight rift this led into a chamber with lots of vertical leads heading off. The chamber, now called "Indecent Exposure", also had one horizontal lead which we pushed for 20m until it ended in a small chamber.
Photo trip to Eishoehle. Excellent cave, although I was very glad that I wore my Buffalo jacket under my furry! Some good photos were taken by Mark S, hopefully our sponsors will appreciate our efforts!
Olly's guts weren't very happy so we picked an objective that would never put us far from an entrance. We decided to survey 81 and 85 and check for leads. We started with a quick look into 82 to look at the ice stal and train tunnel passage. No ice this year at all and very little snow. Train tunnel passage as impressive as ever, we noticed a stooping/walking passage on the right which we followed (just a hole in the floor and a lower passage) to the entrance of 83 - hurray, a connection!
Also discovered another hole in the same doline as 85 which had another 2 entrances (at least) and appears in the 81 doline. Surveyed 81 and looked for leads - the only one was a climb up an aven which turned out to be an inlet only.
Surface surveyed 81 to 81b to 85 tags and went home - will complete the other surveying soon. This is an interesting area with a phreatic level not far from the surface. If some of it heads under the Vord-Hinter ridge (like 82) it should be very cool.
Decided it was time for a final trip in 148 to push the remaining lead to a conclusion and derig. So we packed all the rope in the bivi into a very full bag and set off.
We used a boulder and a spike as backups, then I climbed down the rift, used another spike as a backup and stuck in a spit for the hang. This got me down to where I'd been already via the alternate tight thrutchy route. A rebelay off a thread reached the boulder-strewn chamber floor. I followed the rift off the far side, round a corner to the left, and it ended, far too tight. Shouted to Jenny that it was over, then returning noticed a tight hold down into the rift, partly hidden by the nose of a huge slab of fallen rock. A really strong icy draught blasted up from it! Jenny sounded a little disappointed that it wasn't really over.
A y-hang on spits and some awkward squirming reached a nicely proportioned pitch. At the base, the floor was mostly clean-washed rock, with a gravel bank to one side. The water flowed down a small hole, but a climb up regained the rift. Round the corner to the left, the floor dropped away. Stones rattle down the initial rift, then freefall for perhaps 4 seconds (starting to whistle) then hit something solid, then fell for another similar length of time. Hard to judge the total depth, but a substantal pitch, and the 44m rope we had left wasn't going to reach, so we surveyed out and planned to go back to base for more rope.
Nipped into 76 to change radon detectors. All the rain was easting at the larger remaining snow plug which made me a little nervous but I figured it would last a bit longer so continued. I hope it goes when I am not nearby ... changed detectors and came out - reversed pulsing draught today.
Back down Razordance to take another look at the Far East. Uneventful journey down. Jon took a look at the tubes at the bottom of the Forbidden City. After ¬Ω hour working with a crowbar we decided that it was a long-term job to dig through. We also looked downhill at the end of the Silk Road. After descending a ~6m drop a shortish passage leads to the top of a pitch. This is almost certainly the same pitch which can be reached from below 'Carry on the Khyber' by following the water. After that we continued along the phreatic passage above the Forbidden City (the 'Gobi Trail') to the first major junction. Left here was unsurveyed so we surveyed in, clocking up ~100m of new passage to a point where a vadose canyon intersected. Right (up) led to a 6m aven, reasonably climbable with some gear. Left led, via a climb down, to a continuing rift which heads towards the left zipper/right zipper area in Razordance. The phreas clearly continues over the top of the vadose canyon but would require some effort to reach it. Finally we tidied up a few minor leads. Closing a loop which led back to the Gobi Trail at the climb (where we had previously rigged a hand line). Then out. A long hard struggle back up Razordance and all of us ran out of puff in the Ariston series. Ollie got slightly lost at Wolpertinger Way, but it was his first trip in the cave. Given that he has only been caving a year this trip was a major step up for him and all the rest of us thought he did BLOODY WELL. We can expect HARD BASTARD exploits from this chap in the future. Hats off!
Walked over to 161d. Mark and Phil went in to collect radon detector from the Guillotene. We then picked our way down to the Stogerweg. On the way down we found a promising looking entrance. Unfortunately Mark found that it was a ~30m long through-trip! Going back along the path we made a detour to Schnellzuhoehle. Mark and George went in and collected another radon detector. After that a return to the carpark and down to the Loserhutte with Djuke, Tony and Emma for a meal and beer.
Sarah and I thought we'd try the Loser via ferrata. Nobody died (almost though). The end. [Sarah writes:] But I enjoyed the last part. Sarah.
Frank Tully (for a bit)
Down Gaffered to explore chamber ("The Happy Hippocampus") below Slimy Sludge Shute (a right hand lead just before Sirens Traverse). Found out I should improve future rigging. Happy (aka stresful, muddy, in small, sharp passageway derigging the Slimy Sludge Shute.
Then went into the Subsoil levels (turning down existing A-lead, right hand side as you come down Chalk and Cheese pitch). As expected, bolting down into the chamber at the end of the A lead confirmed that it also emerged in the "Happy Hippocampus" chamber hence joining the Underworld and Subsoil levels :-). YAY.
Surface prospecting and cave tagging in the northern most area of CUCC territory. Tagged one of Anthony Day's cave finds. Also found a new one and then the GPR ran out of battery and we walked back. In addition to doing the Loser via ferrata and walking up to top camp this ended a nicely varied day!!!
A fine diversion as a warm-up for our carry-up to Top Camp. Checked out the cave at the base - graffiti dating back to 1800's - and the very small (5m) cave on the left at the start of the escape route - doesn't go.
Bimbled down Gaffered, all looking very familiar. Before that, had to scrounge rope from the pitch into On A Mission and a bag from the top of Gosser Streamway as there was all of 1.8m of rope left at Top Camp. Rigged from Gardener's World down and then up into the Wares. Andrew slung a rope down QM 04-23C and reported it as short passage to ~8m pitch (QM B) then we went into Software and continued QM 05-73A. Wookey put in a marginal-to-the-point-of-scary rig on small naturals down ~10m to a small chamber. He and Julian surveyed a Quaking-esque tube, drafting slightly, heading down, leaving it as a tight QM C with sound of water. Andrew and I headed left, back parallel to the main Wares passage in gradually smaller passage down to a flat-out wriggle but then it headed up steeply and into a small chamber. Left here probably linked back to near the start of the Wares passage. Right was a steeply descending rift, QM B. Unfortunately the strong draft coming out of Software that had drawn me back there seems to come from the roof rubes above the pitch. Uneventful trundle out, taking out all the rope we'd brought in. Oh yes - had Phil's Pony to survey with and its the bee's knees.
Woken up by Andrew to the news that we were going down Razordance. Hmm, really? I was prussiking out of 204E at 10pm last night + fancied a bit of a mellow, shallow shufty. Still, now or never as the derig loomed + Wookey was keen. Then Julian astounded us all by muttering that he'd come along. He went off for a dump whilst we consulted Andrew who was going to have to shepherd us down there. Why not? says Andrew, so we were underground by 10am feeling a bit old, unfit + generally fragile for all of this lark. Slowly down the pitches then into the rift. And more rift. And more sodding rift, ye gods. Only Andrew had been through before (+ then only once) so we got lost a couple of times, particularly trying to find the oxbow thing but finally we hit the sump + the unfeasible traverse. Don't worry, its easier this direction says Andrew. Hmm, reassuring. Quick chocky stop + off up lots of scrambly climbs - not too bad but it felt a long way from home by now. What's all this about? asks Wookey. We have to go up 120m now says Andrew. Bloody hell. Wish we'd looked at the survey a bit more carefully before setting off - except that would probably have discouraged us from all this nonsense. This is wasting my valuable getting-out energy grumbles Julian. Picked up Andrew's camera case + did some 4-flash shots in the big chamber then split with Andrew + Julian taking photos and Wookey + I continuing Andrew, George + Andreas' Gobi Trail survey ~ SW for 130m including plenty of diddly 2m legs in mainly crawly / stoopy tubes with sand or pebble floor. A reasonable draft heading in with us. It was all quite cosy + friendly and we could easily have notched up a few more hours surveying but Wookey decided that enough was enough so we took some cheesy group shots + left things at a complex junction wuth 2 QM A's and a QM B with sound of water. One to a Razordance-like rift with water, the other with a strong draft coming out + heading up steeply. Derigged the hand line + I picked up the tacklesack of unrigged rope + back to the sump to put on our SRT gear. I failed to palm off the tacklesack on anyone + set off to the start of the traverse. I'd heard Dunks muttering that cutting the rope for the traverse without leaving a tail down to the sump level had been a bit overkeen on scrimping with the rope + the muddy slope from the end of the traverse down had been awkward on the way there but, hey, nobody had actually fallen off it yet. Andrew had mentioned it was easier high but with the tacklesack I didn't want to slither a long way down so I gingerly teetered forward on muddy ledges + eyed up the slot in the sump, wondering if it was narrow enough that I couldn't possibly fall down it. Yes I thought + promptly my foot slid + I decided to check it out. 'Shit'. Then I've got one foot under the water + the other braced on the far wall with the tacklesack dangling like a Mafioso's cement sack from my waist + some serious knee shake. 'Andrew's coming' shouts Wookey. He gets his long cows tail into the traverse + I manage to clip my cow's tail into his footloops + then do a flailing prussik up him and onto the traverse. Still nobody volunteered to take the fucking tacklesack. I hauled myself across the traverse trying to maintain enough stress that my 8pm spit sample on the far side was a good 'un. Right, that was my low point, literally as well as figuratively. Andrew derigged the traverse whilst collecting his spit + gobs as soon as he gets over. Were you holding the spit pot whilst you derigged? asked Wookey. Er, he's good but even Andrew probably didn't have a spare hand there. Tootled up the rift - not as bad as feared, route-finding easier than on the way down + it didn't seem any more energetic than on the way down, especially as all the pitches are nice + bite sized. I didn't let anyone have a cup-of-soup at the camp as we didn't deserve it. On + on, I'd forgotten all the pitches by now. I managed to do an awkward section right at the bottom whilst everyone else wandered around trying to find the way higher up. Then a really long pitch, followed by another largish one. I got a bit concerned as Julian would be slow on this + I knew Razordance started with an awkward section + a couple of short pitches so we must still have quite a long way to go in the rift... Andrew came up swearing at his dysfunctional jammer. How many more pitches? I asked. 12. OK altogether, but how many to go? Well, we've done 1 or 2. No, but the first ones in Razordance are short... ah! You mean I'm not in the rift any more??? Great news - halfway up Kiwi Suit before I knew it. No time out from here. Andrew + I got out + rehydrated, went to bed + Julian + Wookey came out a couple of hours later. Julian did an ad hoc spit sample just to see what euphoria hormones look like (though how he gets his 4am baseline comparison I don't know). A fine trip - once in a lifetime, literally, for Julian at least... Combined age of 4 team members = 152 years, what's the retirement age for this kind of nonsense?
Andrew and I decided to get a bit of gentle exercise so did a walk towards 161d/g and found not v. many promising holes for quite a lot of stomping.
1 2007-03 Elev 1747m 36970 82767 Horizontal entrance to ~3m pitch, slight draft out. Not very promising.
2 2007-04 Elev 1750m 37017 828845 Low, wide entrance at base of 3m cliff - a dig!
3 2007-05 Elev 1758m 37070 82945 5m deep surface hole with two horizontal entrances at either end. The most likely-looking lead probably.
4 2007-06 Elev 1810m 36931 83264 20m deep surface shaft - possible way off from base, to SE.
5 2007-07 Elev 1873m 36916 83559. Horizontal tube sloping down, ends after 10m, no draft.
Despite getting up at a reasonable time, lots of faffing (mostly by Pete) meant we didn't get underground till after midday. There was a serious lack of enthusiasm as we crawled through Germknoedel's Revenge. I had knackered my knee on the previous day's walk up the hill and the trip got off to a slow start as I limped my way down Treeumphant. Eventually we arrived at Engaged in the Convenience series and began to feel a bit more enthused about the trip. Unfortunately, Pete had taken a wrong turn and had dragged the heavy bag of rope down Out of Order rift - silly bugger! By the time he arrived I had put in the bolts for a Y-hang at the top of the pitch series we were planning to rig. I was extremely pleased to find that the power drill we had dragged down there worked perfectly. Four rebelays later and I found myself at the bottom of a very drippy and cold shafter. It didn't go anywhere, but did have two sumps at the bottom. Unfortunately it turned out that me power bolting is considerably faster than Pete and Sarah surveying (despite the fact that they had a Pony and a disto!) so I had to sit and freeze for 1 1/2 hours at the bottom while they caught up. When they finally arrived they were hypothermic too and had failed to finish surveying the shaft. I set off back up the ropes and left them to finish their survey and derig. This took much longer than expected since Pete had forgotten his spanner and in an attempt to give him hers, Sarah dropped it down the pitch! Pete managed tot derig most of it using a maillon but in the end I had to abseil back down to the first rebelay and give him my spanner. Having been sat at the top of the pitch for over two hours, Sarah and I were once again hypothermic so set off out as soon as Pete arrived.
We stopped briefly in Dead Good Bat chamber for soup, but due to the passing of time we were starting t come close to our 9am callout so we didn't stop for long. At the bottom of Cerberus I left the other two (and my tackle sack) in order to get out in time for our callout and extend it for the others. I was extremely glad of Wookey's double strength Ibuprofen which made prussiking with my dodgy knee bearable. I surfaced at 7am and Sarah and Pete emerged at 11am. A ridiculously long trip considering the amount of progress we had made.
Things that went wrong:
- had to derig Dave and Djuke's rope - which got stuck
- Sarah lost her foot jammer
- Sarah's chest tape broke
- My foot jammer broke
- We all got freezing
- Pete didn't have a spanner and Sarah dropped hers
All in all a great trip :-)
Pitch series is now called S.L.T.R. for reasons known only to its surveyors.
(+ Duncan Collis, Mark Dougherty, Richard Mundy + George North) - which somehow have to fit into this schema
Left basecamp for an 'early start' at (maybe) 10am. (Duncan + Mark had been talking about a R.D. trip the day before...) Got to Stone Bridge early afternoon. JonT was itching for a RD derigging trip - already up there for a few days, wanted a 'decent' trip. Aaron + I pulled on our gear quickly, & then the three of us set off down 204A... Duncan & Mark to follow after a few hours.
My second trip in Austria, first one was with Aaron to do some science stuff in a shallow cave. This RD trip turned out to be quite vertical. Not much horizontal caving, at least to start with. Stopped briefly for my 2pm spit sample. We carried on downwards (later learnt that this was the Kiwi series).
After a couple of hours we hit Razor Dance. Much more horizontal & quite tight. Had a few problems finding the correct level - it's quite a deep vertical rift in a few/most places. Lots of grunting. JonT: 'flow with the rock, not against it'.
Got to final pitch before sump at bottom. Jon + Aaron already down. Just as I was half-way down, Jon shouts for me to start going back up. What the fuck? Shouts that it's getting very wet. Bloody hell, he's got a point, this little RD stream has got a lot wetter. Better had get out. Oops, no chest jammer on central MR (in dangly bag) - have to go right down. Thunderstorm?
Put chest jammer on. Jon volunteers to derig - yes please! Start heading out, followed by Aaron then Jon. Bottom pitches very wet - get quite soaked. After a while, bump into Duncan & Mark. Good to see them. Say they've re-rigged Paster of Muppets pitch 'cause it's a bit damp. Follow Duncan up to top of Pepper Pot. Duncan, Mark & I wait there for an hour (damn cold!) until Aaron & Jon turn up. Given heavy tacklesack full of wet rope, carry on pushing up through RD. Duncan goes on ahead.
Turns out that it's quite a mission to push a tackle sack through tight, vertical rift. Almost leave it a couple of times. Arms tired. Actually, there is a technique to it. Push it ahead and wedge it, then follow.
Got to basic 'camp' (stove + food) called 'God Loves a Drunk' [GLAD in other write-ups] - passed straight through on way down. Hot food, courtesy of Duncan. Richard & George also there! Set off again after a bit, following Jon. Hear him now & then at top of pitches.
Leave tacklesack at bottom of Kiwi Suit next to Jon's. Start up, bloody hard work. See Duncan following at the bottom of pitches. Should have brought more chocolate bars. Find my discarded water bottle on way up - very thirsty, quite welcome! Also a flap-jack cache :)
Eventually got to the surface at 2am. 'Job's a good 'un'. Food then sleep. Won't do that again in a hurry. Appears there was a ~7pm thunderstorm.
Down 10am. Wookey + I fetched the tackle sack of rope from Mystery Wind + derigged the two pitches. By the time we were back at the bottom of Kiwi Suit Andrew had unbagged all the rope and done paella number one (and two) up the first pitch by himself... at which point we were committed... to 9 more paella stacks until the last one emerged onto the slabs outside of Top Camp. Ollie came along to help when we were on the big pitch below Wolpertinger Way, which made life easier (down to only one tackle bag each) and on the final pull we had an excellent surface support party of Aaron, Richard, John + Jon to do all the hard work. Rope dried overnight, coiled the next day so all the RD derigged in 2.5 trips - not bad.
Neither of us had been before but the magic of GPS and a good set of cairns got us to the entrance. John then whinged all the way down the entrance pitch about rubs. I just thought he was seeing some standard CUCC rigging but as I went down it went rub, twang, rub along with a hail of loose rocks. On the way out we realized that some of the problem were that the snow level was way down on last year‚ but we'd also not been warned about the three rope protectors needed. After that comes a small sloping crawl. Should I take the tacklesack? Asks John. No, it's OK if you just roll it ahead says I. Oh no - you OK? Er, do you want to go check out this QMC down this little shaft? Fortunately John could get down & reported it kept going as a QM B‚ and fetched the tacklesack. We then looked at 06-19A which looked an excellent lead. After some gardening there was no time left to survey so nosed around the rest of the passage there and then out. Be a lovely cave if someone with a drill rigged the entrance more creatively.
(Maybe others not listed)
Some of the people at top camp decided that caving was effort. They were right. Therefore we decided to look at some hole we had walked past on a previous slack day showing newcomers where Tunnocks is.
We passed 204 E to find some reasonably deep but snow filled holes. Armed with a drill Nial bolted our way down a hole. Our team (Nial, Pete and Sarah) was joined by Jon after Pete had descended and decided we didn't have enough rope. Aided by Jon what we decided was 2007.03 was descended to a snow plug and a slot followed by Jon. We surveyed down the slot to a choke. It turns out this place was probably already explored in 2002. Frank laddered down a hole that had a vital connection to where we had been. Sarah and I looked [continued 3 pages later: 'Quarries continued'] in another hole that had a bolt already in place and found no leads. Sarah + Jon looked at some other places further in the Tunnocks direction which one of them will have to write about. To conclude: Time wasted - 1 day.
Having failed to find 2004-04 the previous afternoon we had another go and it was still hidden sadly. Then went to look for 84 which we also failed to find, I guess it is either well hidden or not close to 83 to the WNW.
Found an interesting looking hole (2007-73) walking entrance down a snow slope which then went down a bit to a chamber. Olly looked at the continuation which was a bit snowy & small. We will return later in expo.
Went over to survey the connection with 85. Shortly into the connection is an aven up to the surface a new higher entrance! As we surveyed we could hear very loudly a thunderstorm overhead, and a waterfall appeared near the 85 entrance. Olly had a look at the continuation of 85 but thought the climb wasn't freeclimbable due to the current snowline position.
It had rained a lot overnight + was still raining so decided the pitch in 148 might be unpleasant, so decided on 76 instead. Went to the end of the Boiling Tubes where we left 3 leads in 2004. None of the leads looked great, but we started with 04-62B, the straight-on lead. This was crawling then wiggling to a boulder which was followed shortly by a stal blockage - unusual for Austria. The stals weren't huge, but neither was the passage. I surveyed back while Olly took notes, and sadly my promising lead heading straight for 2007-71 was no more. (There was a small red spider there).
Olly removed some soil from the RH lead 04-63C and discovered that the soil continued for quite some way, so we left off that and looked at the final crap lead (04-04C). After moving some rocks I crawled down, slightly downhill and over rocks. I was really hoping that I would be able to turn around at some point as I wasn't looking forward to reversing back.
Then I noticed the passage was echoing. In my experience so far, small crawls tend not to make large echos. This made me excited and optimistic that I might be able to turn round. After a few more metres the crawl enlarged enough that I could just turn round, yay! Rocks dropped down the pitch went for ~2.5s then bounced a bit more. Shame it would be a crap place to carry gear.
Returned to BNW and looked at 04-25C, surveyed down to where it got small - is very easy to move rocks though. It looks like it connects with Loopy so probably easier to get through from the south.
Finally looked at 04-26B, scramble in (easily) [something] - the A+ pitch ledges into a narrow walking height passage followed this up to a T junction, left is low crawling and right a bit larger - both are C grade leads. The RH one may join 04-41C perhaps. Surveyed this and left, removing the radon detectors on route.
Went back to 81 to survey the new stuff. Not a hugely long cave but a lot of entrances (which we have put hiltis in for the tags and for 82b tag). There are still a couple of leads to look at later as well. What we surveyed was mostly walking passage and quite pleasant.
Our hopes of an early start were sabotaged by the realisation that the drill battery was (a) flat and (b) broken. Several hours of charging and some gaffer later, we got underground around noon.
At the pushing front, James + I cowered damply while Andreas rigged the pitch with a Y-hang + rebelay 2m further down. This landed in an elongated rift chamber, with a fairly narrow but ruler-straight slot leading off. Andreas went ahead with the bolting gear while we started surveying.
The slot widened out somewhat + a scramble up onto a ledge led to a keyhole-type phreatic tunnel + slot in the floor. Andreas rigged a traverse where the slot began to widen + reached a stance overlooking a deep, dark pool of water.
Andreas attempted to answer the question 'is this a sump?' by traversing out along the ledge to see round a corner, but ran out of battery. So we headed out, leaving the depth certainly over 600m.
We felt like a short trip so went to try & tick off some annoying QMs in the Insignificant area.
01-3C is clearly too tight.
01-7C went to a short crawl & climb up into a tall passage. This went maybe 10m to a big pitch (probably Pleasuredome). Side passages high & low on the right led to the same pitch.
A window just before the pitch was some more crawls & a steep ramp down to a complex loopy junction. On the right is another big drop (Pleasuredome again?). On the left various tubes lead off. QM C.
New passage is 'Swiss Cheese'.
At this point I gave up in disgust realising that my goal of making the survey easier to draw was clearly hopeless, and we exited via No Pain No Gain (modulo getting lost after turning left instead of right on hitting 110 A Day).
Niall felt it was time to attempt the trisselwand again, 15 years after the last disastrous attempt. Wookey 'Volunteered' as a previous incumbent, and Andrew was mugged into coming too. Packed in advance with trepidation and got up by 6am to omlette already made by Andrew. Hiked in to bottom from Sattel to start by 9am. To find the start go down a bit (30m?) after the heli-landing zone open area & just follow obvious path. We went off up wrong scre slope & wasted half an hour faffing. First couple of hundred metres is just scrmabling up path to start.
We decidefd o do 'Hoferweg' route (5) as it is in guidebook with topo. Previpous trips have done the easier 'Stügerweg' route (3-4+). Wook led 1st couple of pitches, getting a bit lost on 2nd. Then Andrew took over for the next couple of pitches back into the gulley. We wizzed up there, mostly moving together. Chilly in the shade. Had lunch at 1pm above pitch 8. We were overtaken by 3 groups further down - 2 heading up 'seeblick' sport route & one pair going our way. They had no gear beyond extenders - using body belay or italian hitch for belay!, but were clearly mch better climbers than us. Soon we were at the headwall where there really is a bench fixed in place to look at view from.
Next bit was obvisouly hard so we send niall first. Turned into proper climbing at this point. 1st pitch (#12, 4-) OK, Next really quite tricky - a fine lead. System we used was 2 half-ropes, leader had no sack, both seconds carried rucksacks, on easy pitches both seconds moved together. Pitch 14 was nasty-looking overhang - not as bad as it looked btill scary & with desperate slab back into gulley, not designed for short-arses (drop onto tiny ledge from one handhold. wobbly piton for pro). more gulley & a couple of slabs, now quite hot after 3½ hours in the sun. Andrew suffering from sun but saved by cave at stance for pitch 18.
Now quite strung out with 2 hard pitches right at the top; tired, hot. Having the hard stuff at the end like this is really rather unhelpful. 2 more fine leads from Niall - bloody good job we brought him along! nasty move out from cave, and marvellously exposed climb round overhang looking right down 800m to lake, finally gets you off horrible cliff to marvellous views that you could have had by walking up.
very tedious 1&quarter;hrs trog back down to well-earned beer. Niall liked the hard bits on good rock (& really didn't like the chossy pitches). Wook and Andrew hated those and liked the easy bits on shitty rock. Finshed at 6:10pm.
9hrs on the rock. ~13hrs total trip.
Not epic, but bloody hard work & quite scary;
The previous night I had been down to 'God Loves A Drunk' with George North. On the 3rd I therefore hurt and my caving gear was thoroughly soaked through. Given no sun to dry it, a day of top camp festering ensued. I erased the memories of prussiking through 2 deg C Razordance waterfalls ("the wettest I have ever seen it" - Mark D) by going on a mission for Dave L; a quest to BS17.
BS17 is about a 1h10 walk away, with no heavy pack in ordinary clothes. One travels over the ridge behind the bivvy and over two subsequent hills, before coming across a fairly low ridge, perhaps 500m long and running E-W. On the far (North) side of the ridge, the limestone takes the form of a series of 5m cliffs up the slope.
Organhoehle, BS17, is likely to be one of the many holes in these cliffs. The GPS point did not correspond to one exactly, but there were half a dozen possibilities within 50m. The area around the ridge appears very promising for caves. The limestone is not very broken-up and there are holes, big & small, everywhere. The side of the ridge is particularily nice in that it offers many horizontal entrances.
I took my photographs using Ollie S's camera before stumbling back in thick fog, hoping the GPS did not pack-up.
My caving gear still wet & cold, we set off to the 'Wot no Butcombe' end of the 'Rhino Rift' area of 204. We rigged pitch 03-79A; a phreatic pitch wead [sic] tackled nicely with a single backed-up bolt. The fortuitous bolt placement occured purely by chance.
03-76B leads out from the opposite side of the pitch head, but would require a handful of bolts to access. Aaron took some time rigging, at one point succeeding in incorporating his chest tape into the rig accidentally. We descended the pitch, now named 'Hollow Sausage.' It is phreatic in character, with a shelf around halfway down before the shaft balloons out, then contracts again.
At the bottom of this 9m pitch, one finds one's body in a small widening of a tall, narrow, and windy rift. This had a small stream at the bottom and had been named "Dover's Last Stand". The crawl to the pitchhead is likewise rocky.
A boulder choke prevents one travelling far downhill the rift. Uphill there are fine mud formations on the left wall. A 4m climb leads to a narrowing of the rift. It gets too tight, but there seems to be a route above of B/C QM calibre. This is tough and may qualify as being a pitch. Would be better explored downhill.
Ollie, Aaron and I went for a 2.5 hour jaunt down 204e. The main purpose was to place some thermistors in Chocolate Salty Balls for Aaron.
Meanwhile, Ollie and I looked at some QMs 01-39 C should be downgraded to a D lead. It seems to be boulder choked.
The nearby B lead, if it corresponds to the hole in the floor, looks really very tight and very steep.
01-36C was pushed. It turns right, then becomes too tight.
It is worth noting that Andrew 'Andy' Atkinson and co have replaced the handline in Cave tree chamber with some red 2006 9mm. I would have put in some 2003 myself, but don't ultimately care.
Top Camp is now home to:
-30 massively fat and well fed insulted mice.
-THE FLAPJACK BEAST
Frank has scored a victory over the mice by altering the food hammock, rendering it inaccessible to them.
However, we saw THE FLAPJACK BEAST (a small squirrel thingy) access the hammocks via running upside down across the Stone Bridge roof. This animal will thus prove hard to defeat.
Needed an easy trip in order to walk down hill for Trisselwand, so picked a QM on the survey which was interestingly above the huge aven in Hippocratic Oath. QM 06-7A at the end of Goesser Streamway. Also took in a rope to replace 1996 traverse line in Cave Tree Chamber (9mm bit of 2006 red stuff ~15m).
Discovered that top of line was tied to 2 large but loose boulders. One moved 3 feet with a slight touch! Took opportunity to get rare photos of large falling boulder. 2nd shot (boulder) was great. Put in 2 bolts to make it safe, using opportunity to teach John B how to put in drill bolts.
Rigged down - cave is not quite like survey. Actually p3 & p6 after ~4m and then ~p8 after ~12m then ~30m of streamway to final p29. Got to end to find [?bury] bolt on far side of pitch but no back-up bolts / threads / anything. Someone had been very necky. Put in 2 bolts for traverse to pitch (drills are great) and dropped to bottom. Nice winding passage sadly went nowhere: solid rock at one end, deepish (0.6m) pool and impenetrable rift [?inuing king] stream, at the other end. Surveyed (2 legs, ~38m) and derigged and went home with big fat bag of rope.
Did the Seemond - Klettersteig. No helicopter involved. Takes about 5 hrs on the face and hours walk either end and cable car down. Bloody hard work but magnificent situations.
NB This is not the same as the Johann-Klettersteig. It is about the same grade but 780m long while Johann is about 500m. Starts from the Kessel spring near Hallstalt, and goes to Gjoid Alm.
FWIW If you are going to do this you must leave early - sun will hit you at 2pm ish, and last cable car down is 5pm.
TW (Time wired) 5hrs
The previous day, we walked to 2007-04 with Wookey. On the 8th we pushed and surveyed this. The cave is in a loose depression on the ridge behind the bivi. It has plenty of snow in the entrances and dramatic slabs of rock hovering above it.
The north entrance leads to 'Slackwell's Stumble', a boulder choked passage with bouldery floor.
The other entrance leads to a snowy slide down into ' John's Winter Wonderland' or alternatively a precarious 3m climb leading to a boring chamber or a bouldery passage into 'Quick wee chamber', with a ledge on the opposite side.
Quick wee has a high entrance inaccessible to us. John's winter wonderland has a too tight passage that echoes and feels as if it may 'go' under the snow.
2007-04 has been tagged by us as such.
We had several 'brown alert' moments on climbs, due to slipperiness and looseness. Another memorable time was when I put in a crap spit, then reached to hang a sling from a natural. The snow under me collapsed, dropping me 4m. Luckily onto more snow. I slid down the snow towards the Winter Wonderland, before the rope became taut and caught me. Worrying.
Given light rucksacks and a nice day decided to investigate doing 161 from 204 and thus check out the practicality of route. Walked to 161d without much faffing. Decided to have a tourist in cags and headtorches and to show John fine passage off triassic park. Nice trip for about 50 mins, including some photos.
Then continued along traverse to 161 e and f. Found a large entrance sloping in, untagged and unmarked. Assumed it was 161e but later research showed that it was further north than 161f which we came across a few mins later. The entrance must be known? Later marked bivi site cave list to say 161e is not tagged/marked, but seems that is confusion not fact.
Continued following traverse which was generally easy to follow. Bit of bunde cutting would make it lovely. Got out from below cliff after 45 mins but then got into complex area of shelves. Not sure best route to take as we had no GPS. Ridge looks completely different from the back side. Very hard to tell which peak is which and a hole load of extra peaks appear. ridge is not really a ridge at all and is about 500m wide. Eventually struck due west and came out 300m North of the bivi.
Found a couple of caves en-route. 1st explored enthusiastically by John B despite not being good in Tshirts and shorts (low, crawly). Slight draft. Unfortunately due to no GPS we won't find it again for years.
Also found large hole 200m from bivi, described in 'slippery hole' entry.
With all the aving and sub-optimal walk whole walk from car park took about 5 1/2 hrs. From 161d it is probably about 2hrs to 204 by sensible route. 1 1/2 to nearer entrance. Route needs some serious honing to make practical for trips, but we confirmed that cliff traverse part is not a problem (in fact its the nicest bit).
Andrew took photo gear, Wook took tackle & rigging gear, Becka took survey gear. Went in to far end to rig traverse over '17s rattle,' via a couple of metres of entrance ice.
Andrew rigged traverse and we threw lots of big rocks, reckoning main pitch to be 45m with prob another similar below. Traverse just led to other views down pitches. Not clear if all three holes are same pitch or not. Put in a couple more spits to tidy rig, surveyed & went back to lead below climb up to cobble pile. Pitch down but c3 into passage went about 50m to another large pitch.
Next went to horizontal QM N of cobble pile. This was nice & flat. Andrew left for 2nd photo trip of day in 82. Becka & Wookey surveyed over 250m of stonking passage "Rhubarb Crumbly". Exceptionally fine trip - lots of QM's. Eventually gave up, utterly sated by too many QMs - chamber with two going off E, NE, NW.
Laser surveying is the way forward -- but keep batts away from SAP.
Back to bag some more horizontal cave, despite having to walk back down (Wook). All underground by 9.30. 1hr to pushing front. Off resolutely North, past some very fine pretties for Austria. Then chamber with pitch below and choice of A-leads. Took northerly one - soily passage, then rift chamber, then descending phreatic, past a tricky c3 up into soily, wide place with passages down ahead and on right (draughting towards us). Another off on L, draughting away. Main lead down terminated at a clean aven & 4m passage blocked by soil choke. Crawls continue. Air probably goes up aven.
Lead on R from soily place in huge passage almost full of soil. Strong draught, goes to smallish aven then peters out in steeply ascending tubes. Aven may be climable.
Lead on L goes only about 30m to pitch.
So went back to major lead at pitch chamber. Passage ascending at consistent 23°ress; to East. Ollie came to join us as we started up here & did a bit of ferreting. Did about 100m of this before Wook had to start long journey home. Others continued, determined to clock up at least 500m.
Passage was up to 1825m (60m below entrance). Wook out in a little over an hour, just in time to get thunderstormed on along with Jon and Morven (who had no cags & got soaked to skin).
Got underground 1pm with intention to head south. After ticking off 06-11C and 06-20C, realized our progress was cut short without any rope to descend the p9. Aaron set off to find Andy, Wook & Becka in South Tunnocks to swipe some rope. Find them he did, and returned with more than he bargained for - Big Bertha complete with drill, misc gear & rope. After much to-ing and fro-ing S to N, following objectives accomplished: Surveyed & derigged 2 pitches Duncan had dropped in N off of big chamber (now called 'Secret Squirrel' and 'Fat Rat'). Frank & Pete left to go down hill at this point. Ollie & Aaron rigged p9 in Sauerkraut; could only find one spit in wall & no naturals, so put another in as considered this a tad dodgy. Dropped 06-31A, to be surveyed next trip. Has another pitch and horizontal QMB at bottom & provisionally called the 'Pantin Sales Pitch.' Also bolted pitch into big chamber in N [traverse into Caramel Catharsis] (where Secret Squirrel begins) which had hung off impressive natural but was awkward to mount / dismount, now much better. Pete and Frank out ~7pm? Aaron and Ollie out 12pm.
With one datalogger installed in Germkndel's Revenge already (upcoming writeup), we set off to install 3 more: 2 in chocolate salty balls (1 hobo(?) with 4 thermistors, 2 wet/dry pairs, 1 easysense with temp, RH, and barometric pressure) and 1 in crowning glory.
[diagram of where stuff is]
Also ticked off QMs 01-40C and 0139C.
After a few hours of fiddling with his homel(?) new sonic anemometer using a picoscope and laptop at the bridge, Aaron threw up his hands and decided to solder the finicky thing into a datalogger and whack it to the bottom of E entrance. The allen key needed to open the logger was conveniently in a peli case in chocolate salty balls. While Aaron was already resigned to bringing laptop and scope underground because anemometer needed to be adjusted after export, trying to solder underground seeme like crossing the line. So Aaron went down to get key and brought a well-calibrated Ollie to put in a spit to mount the anemometer on. On the surface again, Aaron failed to get the logger and anemometer to play nice together and decided to abandon the enterprise until a later date, in the UK or on Expo08.
Down to tick off some leads & start the derig. Nial rigged his "worst ever pitch" - for his sake, I hope it is true - rope slung round a boulder at the pitch head, past a wriggle through loose choss and a few rub points and down to a spit he put in with a 20cm long vertical crack above it. This dropped us down to where the Engaged pitch landed and from there Martin attempted to outdo Nial by rigging the next pitch on even more choss. Got very cold waiting and I was mighty relieved to find, after the first spit had gone in, that we'd run out of hangers (we accidentally only had brought two in total!) & could go out. Andrew took a few photos through the trip and he and I surveyed two shortish QM's whilst Nial and Martin headed out. We then derigged the rope in Convenience and Chalk & Cheese and then I took a tacklesack out leaving just a 55m pushing rope to fish out at the bottom of Gaffered. Overtook Martin and Nial before Gaffered and slowly we all trundled out. Super-muddy Gaffered rope plus a heavy tacklesack is a crap combination.
My first ever cave in Austria, descended down very loose boulder slopes to large pile of snow at bottom of pitches, fun sledging down. First ever injury in Austria soon followed, jumping to avoid boulder fall and landed on lovely smooth icy floor, same effect as banana skin! A fun but painful trip followed. Found Apfelstrudel section of cave; best bit was a chute that looked like a bob sleigh run, great going down, tricky on the way out. Ended survey at exciting junction, pitch on one side, stomping passage on the other. Back up pitches & down to top camp for introduction to Holy Hand Grenade [Hungarian-donated alcoholic beverage].
(Ollie Stevens brief cameo appearance)
Surveying trip down 'great, draughty lead'--left after Wikinki Beach boulders, then second left along passage. Phreatic tube leads down and W. Becoming increasing boulder-filled & uninspiring towards end--[illegible] of large avens though, maybe where ‚---nght comes down. Named "Dubious Pleasure". Morven's back was playing up in cold, so left after few hrs.
Basically I'm working in Scotland so on the Fridat I drove from Glasgow to Bristol. However, it was very very wet.
Took 5 hours to get to Manchester then the M6 slowed down to creep speed. I forgot it was the first weekend of the summer holidays so every caravan in the UK was on the move.
Torrential rain so eventually got to south of Birmingham by 6.30 - another 6 hours driving. Continued driving at snails pace however all was not looking good.
By 8.00 the slow lane north of Tewkesbury was 8" deep in water. By 9.30 the fast lane was 6" deep and the slow lane was too deep for lorries. There were cars broken down on the hard shoulder with the water up to their windows.
I was approx 150 cars back from the point where the police closed the M5.
Then the highways agency took over... The rain stopped at 11pm but it took the highways agency another six hours to notice. I was released back onto the motorway at 05.30. Got an hours kip.
Then to start packing - bit of a rush considering I was to pick up Mr Underwood in Reading. However, the railways were closed south of Birmingham.
So at the last possible minute Phil found a train that was going to stansted.
Anyway, it all came together. Packed in 2 hours - drove to Stansted - found Phil and George. Drove to M25-A12 juntion found Pete. Got to Dover hour late - no problem. Drove to Austria in 12 hours. MCE.
Went to surface shaft Frank & I found a few days ago - a phreatic tube ending in a big bowl of choss, above quarries uphill of bivvy site. [Voed?] ladder & lifeline to survey, only small, loose cave, [blasted?]. Boulders, ah well. Named Pink Wafer Biscuit Cave as it was really only worth looking at after looking at all the other entrances.
Went to 81 for an easy day to tick off the crap lead near the RH route from 81b. To me it looked like a tight, loose & awkward route through a boulder choke that obviously didn't go. Only went in cos Olly thought it was "interesting". Having moved the loosest rocks out of the way I wriggled through and it opened up into a rift. The boulders looked less bad from below, so Olly came through as well. Got into a rift with various holes in the floor to a lower passage in the same rift. I traversed right to the end to where it was easy to climb down. This got us down to the top of a lot of ice which formed a floor to the rift chamber.
Walked carefully around on the ice we saw some cool curved ice formations. At the end of the ice there appeared to be a pitch down between the ice and rock. We were without gear so steered clear, but hypothesized it might drop into the ice castle passage in 148. Surveyed out (checking that the outer lead didn't do anything interesting)..
Walked up to Laser 0/5 and had a look for 1987-02. Scrambled up the hill for a way and didn't see any horizontal entrances. Got fairly near the crest of the ridge, so headed back down by a different route. Olly spotted a draughting out shaft which we numbered 2007-7[MISSING], GPS[MISSING]. Carried on down and got to a hidden valley with a low horizontal entrance with a HUGE out draft. Walked inside and got some big passage going straight on and right, both of which led to pitches. Reading the old logbook suggests this must be 1987-02 (from the U/G and entrance location descriptions).
Surface surveyed this to Laser 0/5/
Oh, in the morning had a look at another new entrance (that has probably been seen before). Collapsed valley entrance with a couple of leads, one might go but not without an oversuit & kneepads. Second lead is a crawling / stooping phreatic passage for ~10m till it chokes. This is 2007-7[MISSING] GPS[MISSING]
Olly looked down the surface shaft near 148 first - down to the snow plug then the ledge to where a narrow rift heads down presumably into the aven in 148. Didn't push down this yet as we have the other route rigged.
We were going to push the pitch shaft in 148 but I was feeling sick so we went back to 81 to tie up a surveying loose end. Olly concocted a plan whereby I sat at the entrance and felt ill, and Olly went down the rift shaft and bolted the hypothesized 148 connection. I figured he would have a hard time with the rope, drill & survey left on his own through the rift & climbs, so I came too & felt ill & whinged a lot. Olly bolted down the pitch at the end of the ice and sadly it didn't go far. We surveyed it and while I derigged Olly looked for other pitches we had missed.
Back at the other end a tight grovel through ice led to a small rift and a pitch. This dropped into 148! Right where we built a cairn which was cool. Surveyed out passing Nial & Andrew photoing ice and raisins.
Headed into 148 with way too much gear, but not enough crabs or maillons. Got to the [saw?] pitch and the water levels rose considerably making it very nasty & wet. Oh well, at least the rigging will be good in high water ... Olly rigged a backup & bolt to get down the narrow bit then got to a ledge where he rigged a nice Y-hang and went down through a tight bit and then opened up lots to a deviation. This carried on down to a big blackness with sadly no routes to drop down. It was quite [no word here] by this point (especially for the power drill) so we came back up - next time we need to rig it further out I guess. Came out of the cave surveying a poxy side bit on the way. Came out in the dark and clag - reflective markers are ace.
Went to survey & explore 1987-02. Headed to the RH pitch first. It had a bolt which, combined with a couple of naturals & fending off from the wall, got us down. Pitch lands at a junction, left (as you look down the pitch) is BIG phreas with another way in from a little vertical oxbow. This goes for a while then gets smaller and lower (but still 5m wide). Eventually the gap between the rubble and roof becomes too low. Would be diggable but doesn't draught. Back at the base of the pitch a daylight aven comes in from straight on. To the right soon becomes a rift, climbing high ends up choking, low down gets to a narrow meandering rift turning left through which a howling draught blows out. We both went a few metres in and noted that it echoes and is a bit tight - the most promising a tight rift could be I guess. Again, back at the pitch, kind of back underneath, is a phreatic passage that ends in a hanging death choke that again draughts. Back at the entrance the other way on drops into the same passage as the other one. Daylight comes in from another shaft. Very interesting to get big phreas here ~1/2 way between 76 and 161 ... worth prospecting in the area next year I think.
Another trip involving ping-ponging to and fro from the North & South of Tunnocks. Went North to derig traverse past scree slope & commandeer rope. Returned through Sauerkraut, surveyed 06-31A which turned out to be an exceptionally smooth p30 duly named the Pantin Sales Pitch. Checked out little horizontal passage to left which didn't go, and then dropped the next pitch, yet unnamed, which surveyed to about 45m. Exciting to find that we had been standing on a wedged pile of boulders suspended above an airy rift. Single hang & backup got us to bottom where it choked. Very likely way on (marked QMB) by traversing around to right into spacious rift ~15m down the p45. Ollie suffered a bout of the keenness so we went back north to meet Becka and Martin who were on their way out and survey continuation of Flying High. Didn't manage very much (~30m) before Aaron had had about enough. Avoiding stals / pretties while maintaining our precarious position high in the rift while surveying involved a form of Vedic Levitation. Rift got smoother & wider; looks like next trip will need to drop down to (easily walkable) rift floor & climb up again shortly. Blows a gale in there though.
Pootled to the Wares & headed off for a QM I'd been hankering after checking. QM 04-49A. We'd left it as a steep ramp needing a handline in 2004. I rigged a handline up (needs ~25m rope) using 2 naturals then hand bolted a spit on the left wall then a very fine thread on the left wall then tied off on dodgy naturals at the top. Surveyed up to find an extensive horizontal level - yippee. Sadly this was a derig trip so we surveyed as much as we could, as far as a complex chamber with several pitches, and we had to run out leaving lots of QMA's. Aaron's light played up then fell apart and he couldn't find his spare batteries, "I think I've learnt a lesson about redundancy today" says he ... Then slog, slog, slog, up the derig. Martin set off first with a tacklesack & then pulled a second sack up Gaffered, I derigged & Aaron did a tacklesack shuffle. We ended up getting 3 tacklesacks all the way out, one at the bottom of E entrance pitch & one tied to the bottom of Gaffered pitch so a pretty good job.
I got to the lowest rebelay on Gaffered & hauled up the tacklesack tied to the bottom then derigged & Martin & I took out a tacklesack each whilst Aaron switched his data loggers.
Second trip of the day: our reward for finishing the Gaffered derig. Hadn't much time (set off from camp at 4pm) so we headed for a nearby lead; the drafting hole halfway along the traverse down Ribs with Knödel. This quickly opened into a steeply sloping, sizeable passage heading steeply up (Stone Monkey). We surveyed until I was cold and it was teatime, leaving QMA's and B's en route and finding large ongoing passage.
Off down to the MP/Flying High junction and surveyed the walking passage on the right (after ticking off a QM just before Dubious Pleasure). This was fine, roomy walking passage. A large passage underneath linked back to the main Maximum Pleasure passage. Our passage went in fine style to a large aven with a smallish passage ‚Ä¶ with snow ‚Ä¶ and pine cones and leaves ‚Ä¶ I got really excited by the potential of an entrance which Martin was perplexed by, since I'd been unimpressed by all the old stal that he'd been getting excited about. We kept surveying past the aven and then it headed up a ramp & gradually became smaller and less exciting before we left it at a c2 in a drippy aven. I checked the snowy passage at the aven; it was small & headed up steeply but the snow was rotten with holes in and it looked a bit dodgy so we left it. We then went back to the MP/Flying High junction & did a QMA near to it, on the left. This headed down steeply to a chamber with large lumps of flowstone. It was really drafty and we were too cold to face more so we headed out.
A fine, sunny morning so we hung around until all our gear was dry in an attempt to have a warmish survey trip in Tunnockschacht. We started by doing the left lead just after the traverse in Ribs with Knödel [just beyond Caramel Catharsis]. This was extremely drafty & rapidly led to a large pitch. We then headed to Maximum Pleasure, taking some snaps en route. We surveyed from where Martin and I had left off yesterday, in the flowstone chamber. We went past a large pitch & down to another, smaller pitch then surveyed a small passage on the left and then did a couple of legs up smaller passages to reconnect to the flowstone chamber, making us feel virtuous. Martin and Olly turned up and we pointed them to the remaining horizontal lead (which turned out to stop after only ~30m). I then dragged Julian to the far end of Maximum Pleasure to double-check that there were no other good leads to the North. Nothing looked very tempting but I persuaded Julian to continue the passage on the right where Wookey, Andrew and I had left off. This headed up into awkward crawls and ceiling tubles and leads of 2-3m legs. Unfortunately there was no good reason to stop so we just plodded on until, thanks be, it finally, gradually lost the draft & fizzled out to too-tight ceiling tubes.
We were feeling a bit tired so put off the 148 trip by another day and went to tie up some loose ends in the 81/82 area. Started with a surface survey from 81b to 148 in hope of improving the loop closure, also tied in the 82 tag to 85.
Surveyed the remaining passage in 81 and checked out all the leads - except for anything we missed there are no longer any leads. There was nearly yet another entrance but it was blocked with rocks, doesn't seem worth opening it up as 81 has more than its store of entrances already.
Went into 82 to resurvey the upper level and check out the 'drafting tube' noted in 1977 - it drafted lots and lots out and whilst it is very tight the floor is muddy/sandy and could easily be dug. It is heading for the similarly big phreas in 1987-02 and less than 200m away.
drawn by Duncan
Decided to derig 76 so we at least only had one cave left rigged. Didn't take the drill in to conserve battery power for 148 so couldn't push deeper. Nice going through the testtubes with only SRT kits to carry. Successful derig. To get to The Ledge needs 16 + 16 + 28 m of rope.
Running out of time so could no longer put off the final trip 148 trip. Only had to carry in the drilling stuff + the survey kit, so got to the big pitch quite efficiently. Sorted out gear we had left there and Olly sety off down. I sat on the ledge at the Y-hang and shivered as I watch Olly getting father away, and every so often there'd be some tarzaning around for the rig. I noticed that Olly seemed to be quite near the water - today it was essentially just water running / trickling down the wall. I hoped it wouldn't rain.
Eventually it was my turn to descend, got down to where Olly was at a huge jammed boulder which made a floor for a bit. There the rift seemed to go 2 ways - rocks went for a long way down the straight-on-left route, but a stronger draft seemed to come from the right. This led shortly down to a bouldery floor. The rift continued over a jammed rock, a big draught comes from here. Olly went some way down - it doesn't trivially join the other route and rocks also fall a long way...
I was cold and Olly had done a lot of rigging so we decided to start the derig. It didn't go too badly (even the tight rift bits) and we got all four tackles out before it got too tiring.
the rigging in Some Like it Pot needs some adaption in case it rains, but currently would be more unpleasant than suicidal.
Hauled datalogger and thermistor out of CSB, along with a tackle sack of rope left from earlier derig. Aaron reprogrammed CSB logger to log for coming year (recording once per hour, memory fills in 387 days). Plunged back down E, replaced the CSB logger and Pete derigged E on the way out.
Pete, Aaron and Dunks had already done a monster carry yesterday, leaving the 7 of us a mere double carry today - we got everything down in 17 loads, packing up the bivi inbetween and heading down the second time at 8 pm with the final rays of sunset pinkening the slabs.
Tony and Djuke had back to collect spit so gave us a hand and Jenny and Olly came down the hill with their rope so, thankfully, there were decent numbers for the mammouth rope washing, checking, chopping and labeling + assorted scrubbing.
I started drawing up surveys at 7am. Around 10 people were starting to emerge after last nights deep fat fried glove extravaganza. The conversation idly turned to ferry times as Tony et al set off home. Dunks decided when on the 19th his ferry went and came back and asked the date. "The 17th". "My ferry leaves in 12 hours." "The 19th is when I fly to China." Fine-honed expo machine spluttered into action and within the hour the wheels were on the trailer, it was filled with rope and the tarps strapped on, Martin had been working from his hung-over lie in, their gear was packed up, they'd been fed a cooked breakfast, sandwiches packed and they were on the road... With a good chance of making the ferry. After this firestorm we slumped for a while then started cleaning and I sketched until 3am, by which time I only had Pete for company who was on a one bender trying to beat Nials beer tally. The last bits of plan for maximum pleasure were a bit ropy but I got there in the end ready for a 7.30 start to catch our train to Italy.