Iceman, Maverick, Goose, Jester and Juicebomb drove Tony's car and Natalie's van in convoy across Europe, a highly efficient military style operation using walkie-talkies to juggle drivers.
2am; We jump start the van. The headlights had been getting dim and it wouldn't start at the service station. Natalie's spare battery was flat!
6am: We jump start the van. This time after pushing it backwards out of a petrol station. Hmm, why does the speedometer stop working when you press the brake pedal?
2pm: We jump start the van. Speedo now oscillates when we indicate! Lights and wipers no longer work and its raining! Luckily, car mechanic Djuke spots the alternator cable hanging loose - hooray, its fixed!
The rest of the journey: roads now filled choc-a-bloc with Dutch caravans.
Things we did right:
1) 2004-234-10B pushed through squeezy bit into aven. ? bottom is too tight, climbed up to top of aven where a QMC goes off to one side. Ahead a passage ends after 10m in a small choked chamber.
2) Rigged down to the bottom of kidney pitch.
3) Put a rope on the traverse before tacklesack blues.
Things we did wrong:
1) Rigged off the spit "to be pointed out to novices as an example of how not to place a spit".
2) Placed 2 unusable hiltis above a climb that doesn't actually need rigging.
3) Had my stop on a rope that wasn't actually attached to any anchors (ask Pete about this).
4) Didn't rig the climb above the pitch that "should really be rigged, given there's a 20m pitch below it".
5) Ran out of rope - might try reading the description more closely next time.
The sun was shining and it was a toasty 5 degrees when I left Longyearbyen. Unfortunately I fell asleep on the plane and missed the breakfast that was served. I had a 17 hr wait in Oslo airport before my flight to Saltzburg. Mostly I tried to sleep, but that was quite hard since I was sat next to a comedian guy who was explaining to 3 young American girls that he was the manager of Black Sabbath - not sure I believed him - but the girls obviously did. I arrived in Bad Aussee station just as it started to rain, and got very wet walking to the Gasthof. Beer and food at Hilde's made it all worthwhile though.
Short trip to rig into High Hopes (cresta run) from 204e entrance. Not quite enough rope to reach the C lead in toothless but had a quick look at the A lead in High Hopes - looks quite promising. Headed out via Helter Skelter and Boulder Coaster - much quicker but quite exhasting!
Whilst Kathryn showed Martin around the upper levels of 204, Djuke added an extra bolt to the climb/pitch in cresta run and Tony and I began bolting down 05-62A. Both leads end in a wide slanted rift filled with lots of loose rocks. To the left, the rift leads into a sandy passage which has a strong draft. To the right, a dig through boulders led to larger passage. A stream enters from above almost certainly coming down from 05-42?? although no attempt has been made to establish a light connection yet. The stream exits the passage down a slot in the floor which appears to lead to a ~40m pitch. Stepping across the slot leads to a large upward sloping mud ramp which ends at a large 40-50m pitch which we are hoping to bolt on our next trip.
Ferry 16.20, Sea France - because it was the cheapest! Basically Julian was ill on Friday so was pleasantly surprised when he had got much better when I picked him up (spare driver is useful). Got ferry ok and drove until 03.00 hr ish (German time). Stopped for 4 hours kip somewhere near Nurenburg. Farm road at back of services. Arrived at Hilda's 11.00 ish.
Filled up Bristol 57667, Belgium 58050 (38.42L), Reid 58543 (39.42L), Arrived Bad Aussee 58634. In summary, its a lot easier drive if we can get the 16.00 ish ferry - arrive in good time for carry up on Sunday, and not too knackered. Will be doing it again if possible.
Left base camp around 10am. Keith drove Natalie's van up toll road. Stopped for coffee in the Bergrestaurant and then headed off into the clag. Low visibility but no rain. Arrived at empty top camp about 3hrs later. I checked the call out book which had a callout for Nial and Edvin - 11pm on 21st [should be 23rd?] August. Although technically I should have called the rescue, common sense prevailed. I checked the phone which had a sent message from Natalie to base camp saying everyone had walked down.
Eventually, Ollie and Natalie showed up having rigged to within 10m of the bottom of tunnocks entrance due to rope miscalculation. I fumed bout the uncancelled callout and premature text. O and N returned to Tunnocks to finish the job.
Keith and I got suited up for a 204e trip, and Nial and team Cresta showed up as we were on our way out. Again I ranted about callouts, and then the others caught me red handed as I proceeded to walk off without leaving one myself. Whoops.
The pitch went fine, Keith had no trouble with the rebelay or deviations. He had done vertical caving some 30 years earlier in the USA, and I had given him one four-hour tree training session in Sweden before leaving for Expo. I went down first and waited at the ledge by the rebelay to watch him closely there, but he required no assistance.
Once at the bottom, I nipped to CSB where to my excitement I was greeted by the flashing red led of the datalogger, still chugging along since over a year earlier. I downloaded the data, which was 89% of the memory capacity. Headed back to Keith and he was ready to head back up so I let him go first. He told me many times how much he was enjoying the prussik and the pitch.
The next day, Keith woke up keen to do more caving and we agreed to do E again and this time have a proper tourist trip, maybe heading on to D. On the way into the entrance I caught a glimpse of his central maillon and noticed that his stop wasn't on it, and asked him if he had it with him. He said yes, so I figured he was keeping it on his gear loop so it wouldn't get in the way on the crawl. I figured the routine of the day before where I waited at the ledge across from the rebelay was unnecessary, and Keith went down first.
I watched him test his stop, and abseil out of view. Suddenly I heard a sound like a tacklesack sliding a few metres down the rope, and shouted "What happened?". I don't remember his response but it made me shout "CLIP IN! CLIP IN!" but then the tacklesack started sliding again, for a much longer period with a loud boom at the end. I believe I made some freakish noises at this point which seemed to frighten Keith more than the 30m fall he had just sustained. "ARE YOU OK?" I shouted when I had regained some sense of mind. "YES" came the response. "STAY CALM" I shouted. "*YOU* STAY CALM," was Keith's insolent reply. I waited until I felt I could do things carefully and then replaced the old style twist with a new one (which Nial had asked me to do the day before before walking down the hill) largely to prove to myself that I was still concentrating sufficiently to act safely, rigged my stop and headed down. I remember passing his stop, which was stll on the rope, using a normal knot pass, and noticing that the upper deviation was not clipped to the rope when I got to it, but the lower deviation was.
Keith was sprawled out in something very close to rescue position at the bottom of the pitch, with the rope about 1 metre behind his back. It was an enormous relief to find that he could talk and move all appendages. I checked briefly for bleeding, cutting his oversuit in the back where he said he felt 'wetness' but could detect no bleeding. I opened his survival bag and draped it over him to keep drips off as well as I could. Leaving him food, water, and the personal first aid kit I prussiked out to call base camp. On the way up, I again passed his stop but this time removed it from the rope. I believe it was about 2m above the rebelay, and am unsure whether the stop crab was done up.
At the empty bivi (everyone but Keith and me had gone down the night before) I called base camp and Tony answered quickly. "Are you serious?" he asked.
I shoved a carrimat in a tacklesack, grabbed the top camp first aid kit, and headed back down E. I started to investigate whether it would be possible to move Keith from the bottom of the pitch and out of the drips. He claimed to have no pain but it became clear he could not so much as roll a few degrees without extreme difficulty. It proved a challenge to get the carrimat under him for insulation - I had to do it piece by piece, hacking bits off and shoving them under, removing rocks from below him. I took another survival bag and attempted to cover his entire body with plastic, duct taping the two together. I kept up conversation and asked him to teach me a song he knew. I placed lit candles under the bag to try and provide some warmth. Keeping these lit was very difficult as Keith would move and extinguish them either with the plastic or his hands/arms. Because I wanted to encourage as much movement as possible to keep him warm, I encouraged this but asked him to warn me before moving so I could guard the candles. This was of little use as he frequently forgot and would extinguish them.
I tried to put my balaclava on him (wearing it first for a while to warm it up), but like so many things so far this turned out to be harder than expected. He insisted it was too small, but the label read "one size fits all". I sliced the back open with a knife and managed to get it on that way. I began to keep notes, not very systematically, but at least every half hour, although there wasn't much to write because very little changed.
After two hours he began to worry about cold and complained of shivering. He was concerned about shivering but I encouraged him to welcome it as a way to produce warmth. I also encouraged him to eat a little food and drink a little water, although he was concerned that water would cool him down and that it would cost energy to digest half a chocolate bar. After around 2.40, I allowed myself to say that the first help would be here shortly. Every minute after saying that became more difficult because of course we were both thinking the unthinkable "what if they've been delayed somehow and won't be here for hours." As it turned out, it was only another 10 minutes or so before Nial appeared, probably one of the most emotional moments in my life although I think I appeared outwardly collected. I prussiked out and Ollie had tortolini ready at top camp. From then on, there was little I could do to help the rescue effort other than going through everyone's bags at top camp looking for something that could replace the 17mm spanner the Austrian cave rescue had forgotten to bring...
The rescue was brilliantly executed, and I am forever indebted to everyone who participated.
Walked up to top camp, actually staying dry, then was bribed into defecting from Hauchohle to 204, and was taken down E on a quick 2.5 hr "sightseeing" trip which seemed to involve Nial looking down every tiny miserable lead we passed. Went up to Chocolate salty balls to look at 2 B leads (02-38B,01-37B), which we decided to come back to as needed to bolt a traverse across a pitch. Then did a round trip down treeumphant passage and back via magic roundabout chamber and boulder coaster.
Checked lead 00-30C in great oak chamber, and, after climbing down loose boulders, found that it wasn't a lead after all, and didn't go anywhere. Came back out of E and got back to top camp at 23.30.
Returned to leads 01-38B and 01-37B in Chocolate salty balls to bolt the traverse and descend the pitch. Had soo much fun hand-bolting while perched precariously over the small pitch - once across, lead 01-37B turned out to be a short crawl to a small chamber, from which a second much larger pitch could be reached through a slot in the wall. Decided to leave descending it until the next day, as the pitch head was awkward, and we didn't have a drill.
Went back to lead 01-38B, and Kathryn descended it to the bottom while I finished bolting the traverse. The pitch was blind, ending in rocks and boulders only about 10m down.
Went back to the pitch that we found the day before to bolt and descend it - dragged Nial with us, much to his delight when he saw the pitch head - the final bolt of the Y hang took two attempts, due to Nial seriously underestimating the room needed to swing the hammer to set the hilti - a space across which a drill can only just fit results in a very amusing woodpecker impression, but no nicely set hilt!!!
After I got wedged in the pitch head due to all the dangly bags and survey instruments I was carrying (Kathryn had to prussik back up to me to take them off me), we descended the pitch, which turned out to be a large shaft about 30m deep, which unfortunately ended in boulders, with the only possible way on a crawl which very rapidly became too tight.
Derigged the pitch and traverse line (which turned out to be too short on one side) on the way back out, and also bolted up to 00-34C, which ends in a chocked narrow rift, and doesn't go anywhere.
Decided, much to the amusement of Tony, to try to drop the pitch 01-68A in Merry fucking Christmas. Set off, and were fine, until we reached the end of Bonsai crawl. From then on, the trip descended into chaos, as we struggled to find No pain, no gain, due to difficulty deciphering the surveys, then proceeded merrily to a large passage ending with a pitch which, upon seeing an ice formation, Nial recognised as Wolpertinger way - a part of the cave off the edge of the survey we were using, and most definitely not where we wanted to be! After a certain amount of confusion, and such plans as "if we go back to no pain, no gain, then try again", and "well, if we go past a branch on the right and keep following this wall", we eventually managed to find the correct bit of passage, at which point we found we had to climb down a small hole in the floor for 3m - Nial and Kathryn managed fine, but for some inane reason I ended up trying, and failing miserably, to fly down it, tweaking my elbow in the process. Nial, who at that point was half way along the very tight tube at the bottom, was told to come back, by a slightly panicky Kathryn who was convinced by all the mutterings and groans that he was suffocating. Due to my elbow, we decided no to push merry fucking christmas and instead went back to lead 03-1B in Magic Roundabout chamber - a journey which took 3 hrs on the way in only took 1 hr to reverse! Once there, we surveyed the lead for a short distance up a narrow tube which carried on from [what we thought was - later found that we had resurveyed a fair bit] the last survey point - will have to return to carry on.
We then decided to go for a bit of variety and to exit through 204 D - which seemed a good idea until we reached the innermost up climb out of suspended solution [apparently the floor had shifted since people were there previously, making it very hard] - Nial rigged a handline down off a rather dodgey boulder, which proved to be necessary as both me and Kathryn had problems with the climb - I ended up going up it backwards, and Kathryn prussiked up the handline. Nial then rigged the entrance climb from the bottom up, and we scrambled out over the snow plug into the blazing sun.
We then returned to base camp, timing the walk to perfection as it got dark just as we reached the cars.
Trundled to dubious pleasures. Killed 2 QMs at the end. 07-39C: 10m crawl to chamber; 10m aven - not surveyed as aven totally blind - dead loss. 07-38C is a 3m blind crawl. Didn't notice 07-35B. Halfway down penultimate leg of survey Ed ?? up rift towards water. 5m rift to 6m drippy blind aven, water disappears off down small rift. Followed ~ 100m. After ~10m, water goes down pitch (~10m QMC), continues as drafting hand and knees crawl. Left unsurveyed.
Headed to crosswords. 07-80B, 07-93B both need rigging - not climbs. Headed home...
Added a spit to the first traverse and attempted to rig the second but the Makita drill died after 1.5 holes on the first battery and 0.1 holes on the second battery, so not enough bolting power or rope to check out more distant leads so we went to 07-49A. Did a dodgy rig on 2 naturals and down a chossy slope. Pitch on L side and 2m drop (with 2 spits, handbolted) to a pitch further on and QM? to pitch behind. Surveyed and out. No rope left to continue but worth returning to.
Yet another attempt to finalise the rigging - got the second traverse rigged on naturals - then off to starfish junction, turned right to the pitch opposite the snow tube (QM 07-62A). Got backup spits in then Ollie traversed out to put in the pitchhead bolt. "Tinkle" Hmm - I think I've dropped something shiny and metallic "Spanner?" "No" "Hangers?" "No" "Oh well never mind". More rigging. "tinkle, tinkle" "Bugger, I've dropped my sky hook" "Never mind, keep going." Drill ready to go - "Ah, I think I know what I just dropped - drill bit!" I decided to go down, throwing the rope over the edge with a tacklesack rope protector. I soon found the skyhook and, after a long furtle, the drill bit and sent them up to Ollie. He rigged down to the large ledge I'd got to, ~20m down, but we'd run out of rope for the next 30-40m drop so we surveyed out and headed home. En route Ollie put in lots of spits for the long (stone-monkey/caramel catharsis) traverse.
Got the final spits into the two traverses and back to 07-62A. Ollie rigged a pretty 5 or 6 spit traverse over to 07-61A whilst I hand-bolted spits for the next pitch down 07-62A which is a spectacular pitch - huge, curtain-like walls of rock in a massive canyon. Pete, Edvin and Steve turned up just as Ollie finished the traverse. Surveyed across and Ollie had a quick look ahead and whooped that it was the biggest chamber he had seen. It looked more like a series of pitches with a dodgey ledge along the left to me but we managed to get across and spotted Pete, Edvin and Steve's light from by the start of the traverse beyond Ykeykey Beach confirming the connection (maybe could close the loop with a disto?). Tried to survey the mess of aven and pitches. Ollie insisted on freeclimbing down to one section. He came straight back up, "OK, I know I can reverse it now." "Ah, jolly good..." After we had exhausted all the leads I was willing to climb to we went back down the 07-62A pitch and Ollie tried to rig down the next pitch but the rock was crap and his spit cratered and he got fed up so we gave up and came home. Left the drill at starfish junction and met Frank, Serena and Olly Madge ticking QMCs in the upper levels.
Tunnocks rigging - extra info from 2008
A. Entrance 1) 28m? 2) 28m 3) 80m? (NB needs 2 slings for long Y hang so can clip in).
B. First traverse, 15m? Two spits at start, two spits mid traverse and two spits at end. All in roof/top R wall.
C. Small pitch - spit + 50-50 natural block and sling
D. Big traverse above Caramel Catharsis - 70m? Probably better to take shorter ropes so can get length correct. Mostly now rigged on spits but needs 3 slings. Starts natural-spit-spit-spit then start of traverse proper then ?spit+natural(sling) and spit + natural (sling) low where stone monkey goes off then spit + ?spit? + 2 slings around natural then 2 spits (last one a clown for pitch).
E. Delicious leak - natural then 2 spits then spit over pitch down the roomy ledge with 2 spits on ledge then spit at top and spit 2m down. 35m rope gets to roomy ledge.
F. Delicious leak traverse - 20m? About 8 spits.
After our last very successful rigging trip, Edvin reread the awesome description and we decided to try again. We rigged the rest of the pie series and set off to try and find the bit beyond Monster Munch. The description again had other ideas so we ended up down pie r squared passage and ticked off a QM (05-1A) with a couple of bolts into a blind pit. We then went back and found monster munch, put a traverse line over it and went to have a look at 06-1A. The drill battery died halfway through the first hole, so we left it and went over to the lead off cascade chamber I had looked at the previous trip (04-5B). We found some interesting stuff down there adding some new QMs. 70m of survey later we headed out.
Edvin decided it was a good idea to take big bertha down Hauchole with 200m of 9mm in her. It wasn't actually as bad as expected - even tacklesack blues was ok. I tried using the action cam to film the fun but all I got was a lot of shaky footage of the wall.
I rigged down monster munch without any drama except for messing around at the pitchhead. At the bottom Edvin put in a really shoddy spit so I decided to put in another for a Y hang. Mine was even worse but I blame the crap spit driver with no mark for the depth. I rigged the rope anyway because 2 shit spits are fine obviously. At the bottom there was a too tight rift. 06-6C and 06-7A ticked off. We then had great fun hauling 200m of rope back up the pitch (we used ~150m) and carrying it out when knackered. Tacklesack blues was far worse than on the way in. Edvin carried Bertha back up the pitches.
Addendum: Edvin stuck in a bolt above 06-1A while I was rigging, which we'll have a look at when we go to derig the rest of the cave.
Pushed a few C grade leads near the entrance series. Connected 2 loops. Met Becka and Ollie on the way out. Impressed by tunnocks entrance shaft in daylight.
[Hauchoehle rigging guide]
We returned to push the pitch in 7/11 Chamber (01-68A) after our last failed attempt to reach the pushing front. The crawl to the pitch was not as bad as we expected (the survey suggested it became narrower after the point we got to last time; in fact, it got a bit wider), though it was still pretty awkward with tacklesacks. We made the mistake of being organised and packing all of our gear the night before. When we arrived at the pitch, we discovered that the drill bits that Nial had carefully packed had been snaffled by team tunnocks, so we couldn't use the drill that we had brought. Fortunately, we had also brought a spit driver, so all was not lost. The first part of the pitch was already bolted. A Y hang at the exit from the crawl leads to a rebelay on the far left wall. The rope rubs pretty badly - a rope protector is needed, and ideally it should be re-rigged. Nial put in two bolts for a rebelay under a large boulder on the far side of the chamber. This gives a clear hang down the pitch to the floor. The pitch is called 'no bits'. We used 62m of rope, and there wasn't much left.
At the bottom of the pitch, a rift leads off. There is a side passage to the left which becomes too tight after about 10m. The rift can also be descended using a thread and a single bolt to form a Y hang. The pitch is quite tight - you need to wiggle into the widest bit of the rift as you descend. The rift can be followed at various levels, but all ways become too tight. Down, the pitch continues with a Y hang at a ledge. This is followed by 2 deviations from the right wall - one from a very very tiny thread that looks like it should break, and the second from a bolting hammer wedged into a crack. The pitch is now called 'Hammer and thong'.
At the bottom of the pitch, the rift continues steeply down. We climbed down, though in future it might be better with a rope (we ran out). We placed one bolt in the floor for a handline, but this really needs to be rigged properly by traversing out further along the rift and placing bolts for a Y hang. After a few more climbs down the rift continues as a short pitch (QMA). The rift that starts at the bottom of 'No bits' and continues down to this QM is now called 'Pussyprance'. To the right at the pitch QM is a window into a large phreatic passage (~5m wide). Right down the passage continues for about 25m to two large (parallel?) shafts (QM A) There was a lot of water falling down the pitches, but could be rigged out of the spray down to the right. Left down the phreatic passage from the window from pussyprance slopes down to a very large chamber (20m across?). A rope is needed to descend (25m rope?) QMA. There is another pitch on the left just before the chamber (QMA) (connects to chamber?). The chamber extends out of sight to the left and right. Just after the entrance to the phreatic passage from pussyprance, on the way to the chamber in the left wall, a passage leads off and could be descended downwards (QMB, needs rope) or climbed upwards (QMB).
7pm, wanted to go for one last trip on the mountain bike before it gets taken back to the shop on mon. Set off up trail to Grundlsee. Aim: go around the lake. Cycled along road, past village and castle, past huge limestone walls with holes in them, to Gossl (village on end of lake). Lots of campers there - left over from the Seer concert? Carried on around lake, up slopes. Forestry roads 'closed'. Through village and to the track that links the final section of lake to the end of the loop. A sign post: 'Track closed due to rock falls and storm, track unwalkable'. Thanks a lot - now I have to cycle all the way back around! So near, yet so far... In fact the return ride only took 1/2 hr, the road is lovely and I'd recommend the ride to anyone, even without the loop.
Plan was to head in with empty tacklesacks, quickly bolt and push 06-1A then head out, de-rigging and have done with this shitty cave forever more. Unfortunately, we found some good stuff so the cave has risen from the dead and is still now going.
Spit and swallow opens out onto a window into a chamber. A backup spit and natural enable a 10m descent to the floor. At the far side are two ways on: The last chance saloon. The right fork winds for a bit before getting bigger and bifurcating: left soon chokes (QMC) and right passes a window onto a pitch (QMA) with passages opposite (QMBs) and then narrows, ending in another pitch (QMA). From the chamber, right is a bit scrotty, ending in a QMC, but it does pass over a hole which sounds like a big pitch (QMA). This bit of cave is vertically above Razordance, but lets face it, it probably craps out.
We took the newly chopped 100m rope through Saurkraut to Patin Sales Pitch area, planning to tick off 06-31A and drop PS and ? pitch trying to bolt around the side of 2nd pitch and get into rift beyond it [that] closes up at [the] bottom.
06-31A turned out to lead to dodgey narrow ledge over main pitch. Traversed with 3 bolts and a natural. On the other side a short pitch with a QMC crawl with little stream. Last bolt took ages - crap battery dying or blunt bit, finished with hand bolted spit/ Patin sales pitch left rigged but not next pitch.
Worked on tunnel all day until Robert Seebacher showed up. Then worked with Aaron till late replicating Robert's outline of how to draw up a cave survey [tube??].
Having typed in the correct co-ordinates (one digit wrong for last time), Julian led Nial, Jess, Tony and others over the Hinter col, down onto the lower plateau and then left down the steep shelves to the flat out entrance perched on a shelf. Julian brought his oversuit, while Jess and Nial followed in T-shirt and fleece. There was no ice in Iceland. All 3 got to nearly below 161G. Nial said it was quite warm. The crawl inside 161h, which was dug to make the connection was quite tight. Julian split from the group on the way back and went over the ridge behind the Stone Bridge, arriving after 1/2 hr.
The mission was to tick of some easy QMs at the far north of Tunnocks left by Becka and co from 2007. We surveyed into 07-70A up an easy passage, across a slippery hole (08-?A) and out of 07-68A. Which was a relief because I didn't want to cross that hole again. Lucky to find a survey point to link into. After some deliberation we surveyed into the rifty 07-69A thrutching about 4m above the bottom of the canyon until a widening and a free that was bottom to top chocked with boulders. Finally we headed to 07-82B, with Becka as usual screaming if we went so much as half a leg beyond the survey front to optimise the position of the next station, and therefore scooped - in spite of the fact that Andy A and Wookey had had a pass on doing such on her 2007 trip as evidenced by muddy footprints and notice of a lake on the 2007 survey several corners beyond the nearest survey station. Steve crossed the lake, which he thought contained dissolves insects, and I thought was bat poo, got his hands wet and was able to confirm that the unexplored crawl next to it that we daren't stick our heads into bypassed it. Several corners and tight bits led to a rift (also noted on the 2007 survey) where we left 3 crappy grade C leads, setting the score at 4 killed and 4 made. Passed the stone monkey team emerging from random holes on the main route on the way out.
On a mission to tick off the QMs off Hedonism Highway. First two QMAs connected together but left a QMB smallish pitch half way along. Next (uppermost) QMA up tight, thin rift and ended in a boulder choke. This is the same rift that continues right under Hedonism Highway. Then up to corner to do drafting crawl. Only Steve crawled through the pool as we found a bypass. Onwards up to a chamber/rift with a QMB climb (needs protection?) which is very close to Flying High. Then back to junction at pool and downslope. Quickly to a c3 down which Steve went down to a small chamber with two QMs off both up short climbs. Cold by now so tramped on out.
Much confusion about who to go with and when was best, as well as a lot of pressure on Becka to experience a rare instance of Julian being keen on a caving trip. As one of the original 1996 explorers of that part of the cave (purile humour) some bits might jog her memory. The log book suggested that we would encounter a pitch in Dead bat chamber, and we would have to retreat to 161C, go over the surface to 161d to rig it from the high side. As it turned out, the hardest part was the walk down to h with big packs (Becka very cross at Julian's lack of a good route) and the cave passage to 161d. The nearly freeclimbable bounce rift (with lots of loose rock) had a rope on it. We put the 9mm we carried, but the 1994 11mm line looked better than it. From there to Triassic was easy walking,k with a clamber up (lined) in Dead bat chamber up a cascade of bat bones and 2 further fixed line traverses. Triassic was so large it had its own weather system. We visited the pitch to Knossos, and climbed out and sat on the hillside of 161d watching the rain clouds gather. We walked part-way back from 161h in the drizzle in caving gear, then changed when the sun came out. It's a difficult route to optimise. Should this be considered as a way from the Stone Bridge to 161 far north connection to Razor Dance, thus saving the stone bridge from being a liability, the timings are:
* Walk Steinbrucken top camp to 161h = 65 minutes (with big rucksack of caving gear and tackle).
* 161h to junction of triassic = 55 munutes with tacklesacks.
* This junction to Knossos = 10 min Knossos to 161d = 30 mins.
Rigging: Bounce rift - 29m rope for p4 down then p4 up - on naturals, needs spits. Rope traverse - 21m rope, protects bold step out of Dead bat chamber. Rope traverse - 10m rope, on naturals over hole in floor. Rope traverse - 10m rope, off single hanger and naturals - needs spit backups (and if so, a longer rope). All currently rigged on 1994 rope.
Rain and misery at the Stone bridge. Becka and Steve left early to do Gravity Always Wins, while Frank faffed and Julian enjoyed the hours of not being in the cave while at the same time looking forward to trying out his inspiration of pouring boiling water into his wetsocks. The first lot was poured out after a long soak and the fear that too many nasty bugs would have been breeding. Frank asked if I was using custard. The second filling scalded my toes. As Frank considered completing the whole cave in nice dry woolly socks, I realised I had made a mistake and had soggy wet feet for the whole trip. Frank rigged 2 pitches until scared off while I froze and took an action picture of the wrong drill. I looked into Andy As horrid lead at the north end. We derigged. I strolled down from starfish junction to Blind and Broken where Becka and Steve had dropped a pitch (blind) and now had rigged a free-hanging traverse across to a second pitch. I crossed, stupidly, and found rope on next pitch heading down at 45 degrees (it was pulled tight to get down next pitch) and shouted. Not much conversation with echoes. Frank arrived. I told him to go away as I crossed the 9mm rope traverse to prevent him from lighting the space below me. Technique was to have short cows tail from one bolt to next due to lack of faith in skinny rope. Took some funky pictures of self on ice shelf. Returned in the dark. Becka and Steve arrived within 10 mins of their callout.
Trip back to cropscicle (crosswords) to rig pitch. Put bolt in below boulder which is ok then on to pitch - lots of cracked rock and thin flutes put bolts in.
Wibbled off at 18.30 headed out to get back to top camp at 21.00 after some photos - spoke to Becka on pitch on way back 20.00 ish. Becka arrived back at camp 10.50 ish - callout 11pm - bit too close. All ok though.
Returned to crawl in Dubious Pleasure (cf 29/7/8); a descending crawl seemed a perfect intro to surveying...
Serena was improbably enthused as we surveyed 38 legs along the crawl. Clean phreatic passage descending ~30 degrees, average 40(w)x70(h) cm. Left wide open draughts outwards strongly (can often hear the wind!) - NB if coming out its much easier *not* to end up feet first... Crawl is called "Naughty Naughty" continues as QMA.
Added later by Becka: Deepest point in the cave as of 9/8/2008!
On the way into tunnocks there's a traverse line. It goes over a hole. It needed doing (Flapjack Choke). P8 off a single spit backed up to the traverse line into a fair-sized rift, leads to short damp pitch, short stretch of passage to 5m pitch, short passage heads to too tight streamway. On de-rig Serena tried to asphyxiate herself with flapjack...(series name - choking on flapjack...) On prussik back up 1st pitch swung off into passage. Leads to short (5m) passage leading to ~p10 (QMB).
Rigged pitch leading off monster[?] boulder in chamber with mud side (crapsides). Lobbed rocks into rattling rift beyond - clear draught and several seconds rattle into [can't read] rift.
Enthusiasm for caving 6/10. weather too good for caving. Intended to be quick pootle into tunnocks, got to end in good time. Intestines good choke [can't read] needs a spade but good choke feels as if it might go... might give it a few hours.
Back to crosswords - interesting belay of boulder down to floor of small rift [chamber?].
Later Steve found edge of floor to be supported by 2" of rock - nice. Decided to drop shaft via hole in end of rift. Decided to head back and look at pitch tomorrow - pitch off boulder needs at least one bolt. Suitable name - cropscicle.
Dropped 'Gravity always wins' - p20 off 3 spits; then short traverse line to Ollie's rig which gave a perfect free hang down to floor - stunning pitch to rubble floor choke ~p40, de-rigged as no QMs at bottom.
Went across Ollie's bonkers traverse (called delicious leak) to the 'chamber'. Ollie's 'chamber' was 3 holes each give ~ 40m drop. Rigged pitch in 'rift' - perfect Y hang drops 36m to boulder ledge down another beautiful shaft. 1 spit rebelay off left hand side (looking out) to 8m hang to floor. Rift heads off - tight but booms - QMC.
Up boulder slope leads to p10 with hole in floor that went 'boom'. Out of rope so put some bolts in (2 on right wall high above p10, 2 for Y hang under dribble ~2m down) and headed off out. V close to callout - oops.
Rigged from Y-kinki beach over big 'ole. Found last year's last station; Becka scrabbled over the top of Blind and Broken to disto across [can't read] hole hole to close the big loop. Rigged pitch head of 2nd stage of big 'ole (3 pits on overhang over pitch); 1 bolt rebelay ~ 18m. 2 crap spits placed at end of rope. Came back up for more rope and a good wibble. Back down, [can't read] rebelay (1 good spit on line) and another (2 good spits just above overhang on line ~ -32m). Straight down to 1 spit just above next hang on line ~ -45m; 10m to steeply sloping boulder slope with 2-3 sec booming drop below - put 2 spits in to start survey.
On the way up Becka spotted the cut rope where I'd dropped a rock on it, the wibble monster got her (hee-hee). Some day off...
Becka: team enthused. Steve: team want-a-day-off-but-badgered... Over Ollie's traverse to 1st blind and broken pitch. Rigged it properly. Down to p10 left 05/08. Becka rigged this and muttered about dribbliness. Gardened 'big' pitch below, rigged 2 spits off BIG boulder at pitch head. Another stonking pitch - good free hand with 1 deviation to blind rubble choke, poor QMC rift outlet. De-rigged and cleared off; Ollie's traverse was fun for Becka to derig... Becka noted QMC on bottom pitch at level of small ledge - *small* tube going off ledge ~15m down/up.
Popped down to tunnocks again to look at small pitch off route between caramel catharsis and Y-kinky. Started to rig down pitch and found rope too short so climbed up and bolted up to known passage from last year - at end is big scary pitch with a 5 or 6 second drop - 40' diameter.
I do not feel like rigging this pitch despite Natalie's insistence that I should... I think this may be the wibble monster's lair.
Decided to look at short pitch down. Rigged it, dropped it, nice chamber with boulder choke in floor.
Started to survey down. Pony failed - disto failed, so resorted to tape + compass/clino boohoo. Headed out - back at 9.30 ish
We set off to tunnocks at noon. Frank went in and Serena and Nat followed (around 1pm for all). Frank went ahead. Serena and Natalie went slowly on. Serena dropped the surveys down the ribs with knoedel hole bacause she didn't have pockets [Serena's writing - True story: pockets on kingsdale oversuits are unaccessible]. We found Frank at Y-kinki beach junction, very cold from waiting for an hour. Went down the new pitch in the rift ('round the corner from big scary pitch') while surveying it. Found big chamber at the bottom ('Maya's veil'). Frank bolted the way on and climbed up to the right above the next pitch (in small rift on left of chamber) to find boreholes (QMA) that look like they go to big scary. The next pitch needs about 50m of rope to get down it. The climb up to borehole needs about 10m. To get to maya's veil you need 30m of rope and 3 hangers. Natalie photographed Maya's veil chamber, with Serena and Frank as models. There is a horrible boulder choke beneath the veil with a possible passage (QMC). The whole chamber is a pile of huge boulder that move!
After surveying the top of the next pitch and the first lef od the climb up, we were cold so we went out. Frank went ahead; Serena and Natalie followed slowly behind, taking their time. We came out at sundown (8.30pm?)
[different writing] P.S. Natalie felt utter rubbish once on surface, and we got help to get back to top camp.
Bolting down pitch at end (Slush puppy pitch?) No write up!
Finishing rigging then I think derigging. No write up!
No trip report! No idea what happened!
More pushing and surveying then derigging at top end of Stone Monkey. No trip report!
On a previous trip with frank and Serena (30/7/08) we had noticed that QM 06-17C, a sharply sloping up tube, looked promising. We returned to that QM and pushed it up the slope and into a small maze of loose boudery passage. the walls are shattered, so it is likely close to the surface. At the top of the tube network a snow slope leads up to an icy rift. Martin J was able to see the main entrance pitch but the ice was too thick to reach it. With more persistance this could be pushed through to close the loop.
At the bottom of the snow slope another tube leads into Stone monkey, popping out at a missed QM. We assumed this was virgin passage because it did not appear to match our survey, so we pushed up to a climb up then down. Djuke lead the climb down (originally marked as a pitch) and we reached very pretty sandy/muddy crawling passage. Exploration ended at a true ~10m pitch. As we surveyed out I happened to notice some nail varnish just beyond the 'dodgy' climb so there was luckily no overlap of survey thanks to the good marking of stations on the survey (once we had worked out where we were). Conclusions: ponies are good, distos are rubbish.
Excited by the upward trajectory of Flying High, we set out to extend it in hope of a new entrance. Walking out we ran into Olly M who was feeling ill and gave us his instruments which we took to his team in Stone Monkey - a longer detour than we expected. We brought rope and a drill but in fact discovered everything was free-climbable.
Pushed it a ways on - appeared to die but after squeeze through choke regained initial riftiness. Some promising QMs if climb down. One appears to intersect phreatic ways on left of passage if heading into rift. Left it with QMA climb up and QMA off to right at end which looks to be pitch.
A quick trip down 204d to show Eeva the upper levels of steinbruckenhohle. Started out by bolting suspended solution and left a permanent rig on it. given how hard the climb up is now (the floor has moved) this is needed to keep 204d as a viable free-climbable entrance. Only required 3 bolts.
Then went to magic roundabout chamber, threw some rocks down Gaffered, 204e, helter skelter/boulder coaster and then back out of s via Cresta run to derig it. Nice trip!
Went in 204d and through to Sand pit to look at 03-33B. On the way we stuck our noses down 03-32C and decided that is should definitely be an A lead! Hand bolted our way down a 15m pitch at 03-33B, but it rapidly became too tight, so we headed out of 204e, taking a quick tour of Sand pit on the way out.
Having seen how promising 03-32C looked the previous day (and with Julian doing a carry down the hill for me - thanks!) we returned to Sand pit with a power drill and 62m of rope. A series of sloping pitches lead to a more vertical section of about 25m. beyond this, the pitches continued with a seconds rattle - this looks like and excellent lead! Unfortunately we had run out of rope so we headed back out, meeting up with Aaron and Serena on the way who offered to carry out the drill and rope - excellent!
This lead is definitely worth another look. A better rig is probably needed as it looks like it might take water in the wet, but the existing bolts should at least provide a good start!
Sent Ollie off with a bag of 62m rope and the makita drill but the rain from the past day was still pouring down and when he emerged two hours later he was soaked... and had run out of rope. Actually there was a second rope already down there he could have used but retreat seemed a more sensible plan.
Two trips rolled into one! We wanted to let Thin red line get as dry as possible before heading down so I persuaded Ollie to take a look at Naughty Naughty. The initial squirm probably didn't impress him and then surveying in the howling cold draft led us to a near jack but it gradually got larger, still heading down at a steady 30 degrees. After a few long legs we really thought it was going to break into something... but no, we finally killed it in a small sumpy chamber - deepest point of Tunnocks in 2008! then we slogged back up out, warming up to bearable and I sat on the same sodding ledge for the third trip in a row waiting for thin red line to be rigged... but this time Ollie cracked it and hit the floor, -123m down. We got it surveyed and derigged and dragged ourselves out of the cave.
Derigged the rope from Patin sale pitch and then derigged Frank's pitch rope. Still some time to spare so we hummed and ha-ed at the head of the poxy 6m pitch along the crawl to the left from Caramel Catharsis. Two dodgy naturals then Ollie put in a handbolt to land on a false floor in boulders with a pitch running under the passage we'd entered along and another pitch beyond a giant vertical boulder. Short survey then hauled rope out. At the next to last rebelay (of the 9...) on the entrance I noticed the huge boulder you stood on rocked so Ollie came up and kicked it down.
Took tablet PC and second datalogger down 204e. Serena got sponsorship snaps while I downloaded and relaunched datalogger A in Chocolate Salty Balls which had a full year of temperature data for 3 thermistors (one shagged). Put a second datalogger in crowning glory passage, logging 2 thermistors. Then went to try and find Nial and Eeva in Sand Pit. Couldn't remember exactly which QM they were in, so went past them and explored all of Sand pit. Gave up and found them on the way back. Took drill and rope and went to push 03-38B. It was a small rift which dropped in steps just long enough to need a rope. Still going as a C lead when we decided to turn around. New section called 'I nood noodles' because that better than 'I need needle', the actual verbal slip.