After a long (41hr) trip out from NZ, a day setting up basecamp and a day setting up the bivvy it was time for a caving trip! We did a carry up in the morning, so didn’t have time for a long trip. Set off down 107 rigging ropeless. We improved the rigging on last year as we went.
One and a half pitches in ropeless and I suggested we swing across and look at the lead that leads back towards the old route into the cave. After swinging across we went down two short pitches – much bigness opens out to the side of the first pitch. At the bottom of the second short pitch a short section of rift leads off to another drop. We turned round here.
Back into 107 with a bit more rope. Olly rigged the next pitch – I am impressed that he got a clean hang here. Landed in an aven chamber with a big boulder. Evidence of people. We followed the rift on and concluded that it was the 1970s route. Followed the walking size rift to the pitch at the end and surveyed out from their hang bolt back into ropeless, derigging as we went.
Back in ropeless Olly rigged along the traverse with more rope and more hangers than last year. Instead of the free climbed traverse at the end we dropped down to a ledge off to the left. This led to two short segments of passage each of which ended looking down on the big boulder in the aven chamber seen earlier. It is increasingly looking like a lot of cave in a small area! We were cold and didn’t want to miss our call out so headed out leaving the survey for the next trip.
First we tidied yesterday’s survey then went up the short pitch to the ledge, down the other side and up into the main Ropeless passage. Headed towards the northern lead. On a sunny day like today there is a very strong draft from here, cold too.
Got to last year’s pushing front and followed the draft descending short climb/pitch to a ledge with two ways on. Took the RH way with the draft down a rubble slope. Lost the draft part way down but I diligently poked down to the bottom through the boulders until it got too tight. I reckoned that we lost the draft to a window part way down the slope. Olly clambered across, to get into passage the other side. He accidently let the rope drop back down to me leaving him ‘rope free’ hence the name. I threw the rope back and Olly put in a bolt.
We clambered down the other side into a drafty chamber. A too tight hole in the floor is the source of part of the draft. The rest seems to come out of a tight rift. We surveyed the chamber and the passage going off for a bit but we were both very cold. I decided that we were too cold to survey as thoroughly as I felt the chamber warranted, so we decided to return tomorrow.
Headed back into the chamber beyond Rope Free to chase the draft and complete the survey. First I tried in the lower level of the rift – I could squeeze through just (without SRT kit on) and appeared in a widening that led to a pitch – I couldn’t get too close without gear. I surveyed back out to the chamber and we tried higher up in the rift. Olly got through a squeeze (above where I had been) and then to another – he pulled some rocks out so we could (just) fit through. We came out at the top of a rift that we could climb/slither down, leading on a ledge above a pitch that we carefully traversed around.
We followed the draft into big passage, at first we followed it at a high level, climbing over big boulders – this led to a hole in the floor, so we went back and followed at the base of the passage, past some pretty mud, down a climb and some more mud. We eventually got to a pitch that we had no gear to descend or cross. The draft and passage appear to continue. Surveyed out.
Took the drill and rigging gear in, Olly removed some more rocks from the squeezy bit (pushing the envelope) and we realised that we could bypass the first squeeze by being high up. Olly then put in a rope as protection on the slither down, this made me happy because there is quite a pitch below and we removed quite a few of the footholds last time (to clatter down the pitch).
Went to the pushing front and rigged over the pitch, following the draft. Shortly after the passage made a sharp right hand turn into passage that was much more phreatic in character ~2m wide. We then hit another rift was also strongly drafted, doubling the strength of the draft in the passage heading for KH – it is seriously cold and windy. This is “The Coldest Place in Earth”.
There is a short drop which I traversed over to see another pitch (not free climbable) immediately beyond. So we went back to get more rope and Olly rigged it across the traverse and down the short pitch to a gloopy muddy pool below. We continued along the rift beyond, which headed fairly persistently east. We stopped when another pitch blocked our way on. This looked like a longer traverse was needed then we had rope for. We surveyed out getting colder and colder as we went.
Back into Sleepless, re-rigging some ropes along the way to free up what we needed for later. Got to the The Coldest place in Earth, Olly is going first, and he discovers what happens if you use a rack, it isn’t locked off and you don’t keep hold of the down rope. Fortunately the pitch is only ~5m high, he was already down 1m and he landed in soft squelchy mud. Still it was a very scary few moments for both of us…
Got to yesterdays pushing front and Olly proceeded to bolt down the pitch into passage beyond. To keep warm I drew the elevation that got missed yesterday. After traversing over the pitch we followed the walking size rift on (with the draft), over a short climb and a hole and to a widening. This time the way on is down a short pitch to some more squelchy mud pools and sadly another pitch that we don’t have rope for.
Olly comes up with the mad idea that I reascend the previous pitch, throw him the rope so he can see what happens on the next pitch. I took both slings up with me to aid with me getting the rope back. Amazingly the mad plan worked. Olly ascertained that the passage and draft continued below and we both got safely back up.
As ever we surveyed out getting colder and colder.
Yet again back into sleepless and heading ever closer to KH. Took more rope, and the last of our hangers and the last drill battery to the pushing front. Rigged 2 short pitches with one longer rope and headed on. The passage is now much riftier and less obvious what level to be at. We stay at the level of the bottom of the pitch, not the floor trench and traverse along until we have to drop down a bit. A bit further on the passage widens and we rig a short rope to get to a lower level. A pitch drops deeper but we continue along with the draft. We stay either at the base of the rift or <4m above mostly and work our way along. Sadly we then get to another pitch in the way.
Olly rigged round, it took him a while as each time he hammered to dress the rock, flake fell and boomed down the pitch. I kept telling myself it was a really short pitch that echoed a lot... There was nowhere to wait out of the draft and I started to wonder why I had used up nearly a whole years worth of annual leave to sit and shiver in Austria. Fortunately Olly got to the other side with 1 hanger left to rig there. I followed across the traverse and was very scared - the foot holds kept falling down the pitch, each bolt was lower than the one before and half of them needed tightening before I loaded them. Then I got my hand jammer too far away from me to undo with cold fingers and I got increasingly unhappy.
I finally made it to the other side where I told Olly this was the worse thing he had ever rigged and that we might die when we have to return to get out the cave. Fortunately he took it as a compliment...
We continued on with the draft (which might be a bit weaker), until we got to another pitch. It looked like it would be tight to make our call out but we were keen to survey back before we went down the hill.
As luck would have it we didn't die on the way out but I still whimpered quite a lot despite trying to be brave. This is called Too Bold for this Spit as Olly lifted a Hilti out on the way back. We got the Makita drill and batteries out of the cave, and surveyed back to the previous day, Also we made our call out and nearly got to the car park in time, where Julian was patiently waiting to take us down the hill.
Becka rigged Caramel Catharsis then showed Chris and Mike the top of String Theory which Chris made a start om rigging whilst Becka headed out to help Holly, Anthony + martin with top camp bivvy fettling.
Becka re-rigged Tunnocks entrance on the new (+ super slippy) 11mm 100m rope + put extra bolts to protect snow slope section on entrance (as big drop either side of a snow 'bridge' there now) + on nuisance drop + traverse + took a look at the leads in Oompah.
Chris finished Holly's rigging off String Theory from yesterday then Becka started the rigging of Procrastination Pot. Chris put in an extra bolt for last drop of String Theory. Continuing the trend of us re-rigging every sodding rope in Tunnocks we re-rigged the bottom rope of String Theory to waste less rope then had to re-rig what I'd done in Procrastination when the rope didn't reach... note to self - sort out decent rigging guides before Expo next year.
Chris + Becka headed in early. becka finished rigging Procrastination which was dead easy to rig, all the bolts first where Norl's rigging guide said they would be, unlike String Thoery where bolts were heard to spot. Chris + I then bodged the traverse at the bottom to a broken chamber + then an ugly expo rig on naturals down aprrox. 4m. Holly + Mike turned up with the drill + Holly bolted the pitch down which finished. They surveyed + headed out. Chris + I had surveyed the upper section then Chris shimmied up a climb then got the drill when Holly had finished with it + rigged it them added a few bolts - strong draft coming from a small hole in the ceiling&ellipsis; draft good but passage dimensions not great. Chris then bolted a proper pitch to avoid the expo rig then headed up whilst Becka re-rigged with bolts the traveerese at the bottom of Procrastination. We got 11 holes out of one battery - surprisingly good&ellipsis; soft rock.
Becka + Mike down to Oompah + rigged the pitch on the left, down ~15m + looked blind but then Mike spotted a short climb up to another pitch with a good draft which just needs a crowbar to shift a teetering boulder so we left that as a good high level lead. Matt + Anthony caught up + we looked at the snow + pine needle aven which was very full of snow this year so no way up. Then took Mike + Matt to Just for a Laugh + they dropped the 25m pitch at 07-56A which was blind whilst I went with anthony to Naughty Naughty. Unfortunately Anthony couldn't turn to get around the Z bend so Becka went alone to check the leads at the end. Frustratingly failed to find where the strong draft was going to but it was still there at ceiling level in final chamber.
Mike's last day + it was hot. Walked to Tunnocks entrance then hacked N then W in a big loop with Mike + Martin's GPS. Found a couple of areas pepppered with pits + another area with 3 drafting holes which needs looking at carefully as very promising. 6 hours walking.
Changed rope at top of pitch from 80m to 40m then carried on using 80m at large Y-hang at ledge. Hung about on rope for 3 hrs whilst locating spits. was very disappointed in self for not getting to floor and leaving Anthonu to get very cold at top of pitch. However first pitch of this size that I've ever attempted to rig, so happy with self for the attempt at least.
Just to add our part to Becka's report two sides back - took our time on way in to give Becka + Chris time to finish rigging procrastination. All going well until climbing up bouldery slope between usual Susspects + String Theory, when two large boulders slid down slope with a Holly holding on thinking of imminent squishish. Thankfully they stopped slidding with only a swollen and grazed hand to show for [smiley]. Mike kicked boulders down to prevent future issues and we carried on to meet a very impatient Becka! [smiley] We were sent down to rig a '10m' ish pitch with an exciting amount of medium to giant boudlers hanging over pitch held in by mud. (Not a happy place for Holly after String theory excitment). But I 'wo-maned' up + rigged down. After 4 bolts I abandoned the drill for Becka to collect and finally reached the floor with only a couple of rub points to deal with on the way out.
10m pitch turned out to be much biger - probably about 30m so this took a little longer than expected to rig. Floor of pitch was again bouldery hall angled down held together by soil. There was a small hole at bottom which I declared there was no way I was entering this. (I have decided that in Noel's absence Tunnocks is targeting me). Mike heroically climbed in, declared it scary and choked. We surveyed quickly and headed out. Later when writing ip survey notes I dsicovered Mike had called this 'Surfer girl' after my early boulder surfing! Also up to this date this is the deepest part of Tunnocks at -397! Woo hoo! [smiley]
With 3 bags between us, 1 with a drill + two for rope we headed to the far north of Tunnocks for pushing my infamous lead. Mike chose to come with me as he was blissfully ignorant of my lead! [smiley]
Rigged Hoorah for Boobies + cut end of rope for small pitch in the Flap - which turned out to be perfect (this rope was orginally a 39m). Then came the Flap! here Mike releasised he'd been sold a dud! But he carried on relentlessly with his uber-bag + by following survey stations we eventually found ourselves at the top of the pitch. Feeling guilty for dragging Mike here I encouraged him to rig the pitch. We carefully passed rigging items back and forth to each other in order to not drop them down the ptich (we were nicely wedged above the pitch, but smaller items would fall all the way to the floor). Mike beautifully rigged the pitch as follows .
A 39m rope was used, however Mike had to 'elastic band' the rope between the Y-hang + the rebelay in order to reach the floor. At the bottom Mike landed on a ledge with another pitch (estimated as 25m). Having run out of rope and time we headed out with Mike declaring it as a good lead.... MuWhahaha! Muwhahahahahahaha!! Determination pays off! Although I'm not sure anyone else is going to be pleased. More Determination is required for further trips and so it's name is born -> 'The Determiniation Series'.
Lured by tales of an ongoing spacious pitch series, I found myself heading off to Holly’s favourite lead at the far north of Tunnocks. After the usual tedium of the entrance series, a long sweaty uphill stromp through Flying High etc, we found ourselves staring at the start of ‘The Flap’ after ~2½ hours. Having been this far last year I had a rough idea what to expect. I was informed that there was a double bend that Mike had not appreciated due to long legs but was assured that it would be alright. The double bend did indeed prove to be quite entertaining: it took me three attempts with much wibbling and encouragement from Chris and Holly to coax my ample frame through. I’m not used to proper caving at the best of times – especially within Austria!
However the pitch at the far end is most fine – a nice rift pitch that would not look out of place in Yorkshire. Chris bolted the next pitch which is ~35m split by a small ledge about halfway down. The continuing rift at the bottom (thankfully much larger than the rift at the top) continues down, quickly reaching a further pitch with a drop of ~3 seconds. We had no more rope, so Chris put some bolts in in readiness for a future descent whilst Holly and I surveyed out. By the time we got to the bottom of the first pitch (pushed by Holly and Mike) the clock was ticking so the survey was left hanging. With a bit of guesswork concerning the length of this pitch and the undescended pitch it appears that the Determination Series is getting close to the level of the horizontal development at the bottom of String Theory.
With that, it was time to do battle with ‘The Flap/ again. This time, Holly had to perform an overtaking manoeuvre in the rift in order to show me how it should be done. With that obstacle overcame we slogged back to the entrance and staggered back to Top Camp running on empty.
Overall a most satisfying and productive day. Thanks to Holly and Chris for coaxing me through the small bits.
Took five ropes into cave and rigged entrance series to bottom of third pitch. Left rope on final bolt in tackle sacks. Not much snow. Both warm during rift. A lead may have appeared at final slope on entrance pitch due to melt.
Decended already rigged rope. Carried on rigging. Y hang followed by deviation was difficult to rig. Got up to section before Caramel Catharsis before running out of rope. Both rather warm during trip. Exit uneventful.
Fetched the gear we’d dumped yesterday just beyond the boulder choke + tottered down Flying High to dump them at Starfish Junction. Left a tacklesack arrow for the others then up to the snow + leaves aven. I climbed up as far as the window in the main aven but way on blocked with snow – cool draft coming out though. Then to the end of the passage where Matt thought 07-60x looked worth returning to. Back at Starfish discovered the others had missed our arrow but taken our bags to Caramel Catharsis so we went via the Just For a Laugh route to the top of String Theory to meet them packing the gear that Chris and Anthony had derigged Caramel Catharsis so we went via the Just For a Laugh route to the top of String Theory to meet them packing the gear that Chris and Anthony had derigged yesterday. They headed out whilst we gave them a long head start and dumped our tacklesacks at Dubious Pleasure and checked out the pitch 08-40A in Hedonism Highway which seemed to be drafting out and looked a very promising lead to me. Finally Crossword Passage which was drafting strongly – this needs updating on the survey. Out first in time to see the last of the other group leaving the entrance and slogged out with fat tacklesacks.
Becka started bolting across the traverse from 31/7 to reach aven, then Chris took over while Matt froze in the gale. After some time I reached the top:
Stepping across the top to the passage at the top of the aven, initially all I could see was a body sized tube at the top of another 2m climb. But surely all that air could not come from such a small hole? Indeed, another cross passage materialised. Becka came up the now ridiculous rig to look while Matt valiantly volunteered to being prussicking out as time was getting on. The cross passage zig-zagged back after back after a few meters, but a too exposed climb at the end soon saw Becka back thritching up to the body sized tube – it all reconnected up with the zig zag at the head if a big pitch:
At ca. 6:30pm as Becka was prussicking up lower Procrastination pitch there was a sudden roar and a waterfall appeared. Chris looked down in horror from pitch above and a little later Becka appeared looking rather wide-eyed but extremely clean.
Dour + Chris took in over 100m rope to see what they could do with the pitch at the top of Bring on the Clowns. On the way in Chris put in a bolt to shift the Procrastination part II Y-hang one bolt over in an attempt to hand the rope out to dry after Becka’s exit on previous trip. Any further would unfortunately have reached another trickle/torrent in rain.
While Chris spent a while converting the messy crochet into something resembling a reasonable rig up Bring on the Clowns. Anthony begin rigging the pitch down at the top, into the wind. Some 30m down he met the wall of the shaft. So came nack up and Chris went down with the drill and thrubolts (having run out of Hiltis 2 days ago).
* Dour: "Can you remember those numbers while I get my book out?" Chris: "Maybe. Distance 6.66, Clino +66, Ooer!"
At the bottom was a 3s drop down a dribbly shaft, but we eschewed this is favour of a shorter, rubblier, older & windier short drops (2 bolts). At the bottom was another drop – with the wind issuing out of a steep rift cutting down steeply. A couple of spits saw us down this (having run out of thrubolts) to the top of a few metre pitch, which another bolt saw us down to big rift passage with a 4 to 4 second drop and the wind in our faces.
We were out of rope and were down to our last 2 clowns. Sadly we realised there were not going to be enough people left on expo to take this further so we surveyed and derigged out to the top of String Theory, out at 6am.
P.S.: Left Bring on the Clowns rigged but removed deviations (2 slings + krabs needed).
Many people may wonder who the muddy group are who have camped opposite Gasthof Staud'n'wirt over the last 30 years, and what has drawn them
In the hunt for a new entrance to Tunnocks we headed to the area of plateau above the ‘snow + leaves’ bit of Tunnocks (near Starfish Junction). A days prospecting 2 days before had identified a number of holes in the area of which Matt had already dropped a couple. Of these it was deemed Antsinpantsschacht was the most promising lead.
The first pitch had previously been dropped by Matt –> a lovely y-hang off two naturals straight down to a snow and ice bridge 30m down. Becka & I had headed off to AinP ahead of the others to rerig the entrance (the rope had been removed after the prospecting but the slings had been left in place) I re-rigged this pitch feeling a little precarious as I wasn’t wearing my oversuit or helmet! (It was a fine hot day so less clothes was needed here).
Becka then headed down to the ice bridge with crowbar in hand (or stuffed down the side of her harness). The ice bridge was a very large but thin block of ice which we had to climb under in order to proceed further into the cave. We weren’t sure how stable this was and it would definitely hurt if it collapsed on you! So Becka spent a good 15 mins giving it a bash with the crowbar. It didn’t break so we hoped that meant it was OK as we swapped places and I headed under the snow bridge with drill, rope and all the other bits and pieces for vertical cave exploration.
The way on was through a hole in the ice in a corner of the cave. This was tube like with one half made of ice and the other half being the cave wall. Unfortunately this is where I realised that perhaps this wasn’t going to be a great entrance alternative – the hole in the ice was the consequence of water running down the wall of the pitch and therefore I suspect that during a thunderstorm this tube becomes impassable. But as we were already here we carried on regardless (plus it was lovely + sunny with no fear of rain). So I set up a Y-hang + headed on down through the tube. This was rather chilly as I was basically now inside the ice with a constant stream of water flowing down into my wellies! A rebelay was needed a few metres down + then the pitch widened out. About halfway down a horizontal snow tube appeared on the left(?) which appears to provide a parallel pitch through the ice. As this was the drier option I chose to continue with the route through here. As I was putting in the Y-hang to drop the pitch becka arrived to hang out on the snow. By this point my feet were very cold and I was very happy when I got to move my feet from the ice to rock. I then headed down to the floor – which ended on a bouldery floor with no further way on. We were blocked in by the ice. By this point I was pretty cold and so was Becka from sitting on snow. We had a quick discussion regarding surveying as Matt had come down to join us too. Due to logistics Becka + I surveyed out + sent Matt out with our bags. This has to be the coldest survey ever! By the time I was heading up the entrance pitch my feet were so numb I couldn’t concentrate on anything other than the burning sunshine awaiting us outside. Once we were out + the survey was complete we lay in the sunshine drying out and reflecting on what a shame it was that there is still no way through.
The last trip down Determination saw us dropping two more pitches deeper down in this part of the system. No major comments for the journey in except that I’ll quote Becka who said the following about the Flap (rift): “this is lovely” – Yes that’s right – my rift is lovely! Ha! You’re all wimps![Ed: One para crossed out] (Sorry this didn't make sense! It's too early after expo dinner)
Previously Anthony + I hadn’t managed to finish surveying out so whilst Becka + Fleur finished this I headed to the pushing front.(That's better!) Chris D had already placed 3 bolts so I commenced rigging. But before heading down I noticed that large parts of the wall had long cracks. After taking a hammer to these some fairly large boulders fell down the pitch + I carried on. About 10m down I landed on a ledge + needed to put a rebelay in. But this would cause a rub point further up the pitch and there I prussicked back up the pitch a few meters to place a deviation. This took me ages as I kept swinging off around the pitch where my sky hook kept falling off. Eventually after drilling 2.5 holes (oh dear) I had my deviation + headed down to place my rebelay, It would actually be much better (+ easier) to place a deviation much higher up.
Eventually I headed down + landed in on another ledge with a rift in the right hand corneer which opens out onto a second ledge, 3(ish)m down. After placing a couple of bolts I landed on this ledge and discovered a couple of horizontal tubes which led off from here. Whilst I paced a Y-hang + dropped the next Becka + Fleur had a look in here. One is a QMA (though quite small) with strong draft heading into cave + very squelchy mud lining the bottom.
At the bottom of the pitch I landed in a small chamber with another rift on the left. I quickly placed a last bolt whilst Becka + Fleur came down to join me and I abseiled the last mini-pitch (down this rift) of about 3m landing in a puddle. Here is a QMC with a slight draft heading up the pitches. It is another rift which starts with a pinch point that requires SRT kit removal. With time passing by + fear of thunderstorms (this would not be a good section of cave to be in during a thunderstorm) we headed out, derigging along the way. By the time we exited the rift we were knackered. We had 4 uber tacklesacks filled with 6 bags worth of rope (calculated from the number of bags that brought it into the cave). Becka had done the rift 3 times lugging the bags through!
The three of us managed to drag the bafs to March of the Penguins where we then dumped some weight to collect another day & also make our call out!
[Trip dated 3rd in Logbook, but 6th in callout book and survey data: 3rd must be a mistake]
By the time we had dried our gear and got sorted it was way too late for a long trip into sleepless, so we decided to look at some of the other leads in ropeless and to tie together some survey loops. Headed into the end of the traverse that leads into ropeless. Dropped straight down here and did some loopy bits to connect stuff.
Headed to the passage directly above the 1970’s rift and dropped down to tie the surveys together. There are now no leads here.
Went back along ropeless towards the passage heading to 76. I spotted a roof tube which I climbed up into. It reconnected a few meters on, but then continued. We followed the passage up until it rejoined where the rope comes in. Surveyed back.
Went to the lead towards 76. Clambered down and then traversed along at a widening above floor level. It was tight at first then became more keyhole like. The floor/rift trench turned off to the right and the phreas (which was getting bigger) went straight on. Followed the big phreas called Wonderland. We got to a couple of junctions turned right each time (towards 76!). Eventually the passage got smaller and full of soil.
Surveyed out until we realised we were tight for our callout, so left the last bit for later. As we went out we noticed a lot of insects. I think they were dead. It was a bit spooky. Left the drill ready to carry in further tomorrow.
We hoped that this trip would lead us to KH, we set an 8am callout so that we wouldn’t be hindered by time. It took 3 hours to get to the pushing front – carrying in the drill, battery, hangers etc didn’t help. Olly improved the rig on Too Bold for this Spit. At the pushing front Olly spotted that he could ab down to a ledge and climb up the other side, saving precious hiltis and drill battery. The passage continues beyond, but the draft seemed weaker (or it was higher). A few ups and downs and the passage continued, but for the first time there were some small side passages. Past a narrower rift and on to get another pitch intersecting the passage. This was wider (20m disto across) and didn’t look inspiring to bolt round – no ledges and over hanging walls. It would have taken more hiltis than we had and we weren’t sure if it was heading too far north anyway, and the draft was weaker. We explored some of the side passages chasing the draft. Most of them either drafted the wrong way or not at all.
An exception was a rift on the left that led (via a couple of climbs) to a slightly drafting pitch. Olly failed to throw rocks down it as there was a ledge 6m down. I remembered we had a disto and after a few goes managed to get a 46m diagonal leg down. Surveyed back from here and concluded that the larger portion of the draft came from the big pitch at the end of the passage. Went down a chossy ramp, which got us a bit closer to the other side and close enough to see that the passage did not continue the other side but was quite rifty looking.
A small rift led of NW from this ledge which we followed up a climb. This led to another climb down that we didn’t take as it was coated with mud and above a pitch. Surveyed our way out and slowly caved back to outside.
A gear shifting, route familiarisation + lead identification trip.
Staggered with Becka, Matt and Cameron we went to retrieve the previous day’s derig bags from March of the Penguins and the “paella” pile from top of String Theory. Learnt some new routes and identified undescended pitches in Dubious Pleasure. Starting to get a better feel for the system now + ideas for pushing next week.
We were a bit tired from yesterdays longish trip, so planned a short trip into Wonderland hoping to (a) tie up the hanging survey and (b) explore as many of the leads as we had the time and energy for. Surveyed in for once. Only took 1 hour of surveying to tie it in. Started to look at leads, starting in the aven chamber. Sadly the passage reconnected back near the bottom end of wonderland.
Back at the aven chamber we spotted a roof tube in the ceiling but it isn’t quite free climbable.
Surveyed another side thing that ended. The only 2 leads left in Wonderland are the roof tube and the floor trench early on – I had a poke in this and it does continue and get wider.
After a hot, heavy carry in the morning I rehydrated than headed off to 2012-NS-01 and surrounding holes with Chris + Matt. Chris watched Matt descend the furthest of four holes (#1) which led to a window into hole #2. Meanwhile Holly + I found hole #4 which turned out to have been tagged by Noel last year [[see image above]]. Holly dropped her sunglasses down onto the snow bank in it so I climbed down a bit to fetch them + there was definitely a cool cave breeze coming out quite strongly. Matt then rigged #4 + he + I went down but this just led to a window into #3. Finally Matt rigged #2 off a fine pair of naturals + he + I descended a lovely 30m pitch with a gorgeous ice column beside it (when Holly + I returned 2 days later it had unfortunately crashed down after the rain storm the previous day). This pitch landed under a thin but large bridge of very compact snow/ice with a further small pitch below with a weak draft out. I’m sure one of these four holes connects to Tunnocks but whether there is a safe way that isn’t blocked by snow or ice is another matter.
We headed back to area looked at a few days before by Matt + Becka. Refining the bunda-avoidance on route from Tunnocks-entrance down slabs, then along pitted dry valley, to main low point, then up again to the snow pole area – via a dead tree that is visible (when you know where) from Tunnocks.
Cameron went feet first then stood up in first small hole on way downhill – that was choked.
Very drafty but choked hole.
We searched area to find an Austrian tagged hole – with snow slope down.
Nearby is a ~15m pitch that would be hard to rig. But neither drafted. Pete GPS CAMPIT (WGS84 UTM) 1767m. 33T 0410986 UTM 5283404
The team was being toasted by hot sun, and beginning to wander in small circles. This was in area in line between a ‘prominent dead tree’ and of a snow pole. Matt’s pit was somewhat deeper than the other 15-20 pits (all c. 20m deep) seen on the pavement. Although Matt’s pit did not draft, it did seem to be inclined under hill to get away from falling debris. With an initial sling Matt put in 3 hand bolts to go to end of 29m rope. There is a jammed block, then a further ~20-25m(??) to bottom. Hard to judge but 60m rope needed.
Path back to Tunnocks recairned on way home.
So I foolishly booked tunnel tickets for 5:30am which required a 2:45 start in order to collect Matt at 3… this was a silly idea! I awoke at 2:30, turned off my alarm and went back to sleep. (Un)Fortunately Jess had also woken up and I was turfed out of bed and sent to expo.
Things went smoothly until I lost the tunnel tickets somewhere outside Matt’s house. Thankfully everything is automated and an actual ticket doesn’t seem to be required.
Things progressed smoothly as we set off following signs for Brussels. Unfortunately we followed them for a bit too long and ended up in the city centre. After passing through many tunnels we appeared on the NE side of the city, not quite where we intended.
After several dubious U-turns and passing through the same motorway junction about 5 times we eventually got back on track.
At this point we hit the biggest thunderstorm I have ever seen ~3cm of standing water on the motorway and large chunks of tree were flying everywhere.
Things wen't smoothly for about 8 hours as we passed through Luxembourg and germany
Things went a little awry at the Austrian border. Turns out my sav nav can’t join up maps of several countries and doesn’t do international travel very well. We dutifully turned off the motorway before entering Austria and got hopelessly lost. Eventually we found our way across the border and the sat nav locked in. Eventually arrived at base camp around 21:30, ~19 hours after setting off.
Early in the morning (CUCC time) myself and Martin set out for Bullet 2nd Hohle with 150m of rope and all the paraphernalia required to bolt and survey a promising hole in the ground.
After 200m we decided that we were really rather hot and Martin had already fallen over twice. After a bit of extrapolation we decide this would cause us to arrive in no fit state to do any caving so we ditched half the gear on the plateau. After much staggering around the plateau in the heat we eventually got to the cave and Martin set about rigging the entrance whilst trying to avoid the ominous green slimy patches.
After about 40m of progress we jacked for the day. Following much blundering through bunde we made it back to top camp just before our callout.
Having re bolted the entrance we decided it was about time we did some surveying. The upper part of the cave is formed along an obvious fault with 4 ~ 8m deep surface shafts.
The most northerly shaft is a fairly straight forward climb which leads to a sloping keyhole passage. The top of the rift is bridged by small boulders. Bolts are placed for a traverse line on the left hand wall leading to a Y-hang. A flake on the right hand wall below the Y-hang is useful for a deviation and a Y-hang rebelay is rigged on the wide sloping ledge on the opposite wall. Note! One of these spits is far too shallow and generally shit. A short descent from this rebelay (~10m) leads to a small chamber.
This cave sucks in a lot of air so this point is stil quite comfortable In shorts and t-shirt! Much nicer than your usual Austrian cave. We cairned a path on the return journey.
Woke up with a case of mild enthusiasm! At the bottom of the small chamber a traverse along a minimalist ledge leads to a Y-hang which drops around 25m to a big ledge a single spit is placed on the ledge for a very long (3m sling) deviation. Around 5m below the ledge a Y-hang rebelay descends the remaining 35m of what has become a rather impressive shaft.
At its base the floor is around 30mx10m with three ways on. The first of these is a window ~20m off the floor at the northern end of the chamber. This climb was all a bit exciting so we ignored it.
A small crawl at the SW end of the chamber leads to a narrow upward sloping passage full of scary boulders which chokes after ~15m. A smaller hole (OK with SRT kit but not with all your bolting and surveying gear as well) at the western side of the chamber leads to a low sloping bedding plane heading southwest which is full of cobbles and boulders. A hole in the ceiling leads to a short tight vertical rift which becomes too tight.
Prussicking out of the cave the sound of trickling water indicated that Martin and I were about to experience our first Austrian food pulse. This was apparently a really quite large storm and rather a lot of choss was washed down the shaft including some decent sized cobbles. I had planned to sit the chaos out on the nice big ledge but that eventually turns into a waterfall as well. Happily we both made it out unscathed although Martin’s helmet has some new marks.
Finished survey shaft and derigged.
We went to check out the draughting pitch (08-40A) off Hedonism Highway/ Rocky Road. Becka had recommended this one and it was a good call. A dodgy natural thread and bolt in dodgy rocky-hang saw Pete descend a p13 via a rebelay. The pitch landed in a typical hading paddage of crawling/stooping height. The passage had a rift in the floor, possibly passable initiall (QMC) but probably to connect with what happened later. Soon we encountered a larger pitch with a continuation visible over the top. Pete set off around some ledges to bolt a traverse to this, but a rift entering at the corner made this difficult. So instead we went down, reaching a boulder/ledge where it was possible to 1) go down further or 2) go up the inlet rift. We did the latter but ran out of rope.
Returned 12th Aug, same team:
Cameron dropped a small pitch in the inlet rift, but only led on to an aven. So I dropped the rest of the main shaft in a nice 20m free hang. Overall this made a p30, now called ‘Downgrade’ as from 3A leads the day before we now had only 2. The pitch landed at a confluence of inlets – one we had been in the previous day and the other beneath the original hading passage (“Champagne a lie”). The outlet was a small rift leading almost immediately to another pitch. A partial descent was made but no more drill batteries.
After a day of research following the expo dinner I had spotted a QMA at the end of West Side Story at String Theory/Fellows level. The survey notes reported an undescended p20 with a passage visible beyond. My plan was to take Tom down there and get him bolting.
First task was to find the way. Initially we searched above the climb up from the balcony, but eventually I realised we needed to go back down. This led to the correct little hole and some sporting climbing and thrutching before we reached the lead. It looked good. And bloody drafty. Tom set off bolting but dropped the hiltis part way across… traverse immediately called ‘Clayton’s Cock-up’. We would need to return.
On the way out checked out 07-38C and 07-39C in Dubious Pleasure. In 38 I squeezed between blocks to small chamberette. All ways on choked except a blind aven. 39 was a small rift which I thrutched down for several body lengths before it closed down.
This time hiltis were stashed in multiple locations and Clayton’s Cock-up was conquered. However the other side just led to a brief rocky bridge and more holes in a massive drafty hading rift. So instead we went down the first hole (Thus avoiding the nasty traverse). This proved to be p30 landing in a small chamber where a connection from another hoel from the rift also entered. Another shorter pitch followed where we landed on a ledge in the big hading rift. We had no more rope, but the rift and the cave continued. It takes some water, so a dry day is needed but definitely QMA. Going down!!
Derigged everything and String Theory on the way out as not many cavers left. String Theory bolts were all greased and reflectors placed on all but one (where 2 bolt y-hang very close together).
The team returned to the bottom of the pitch rigged by Fleur, but discovered they had
everything but a drill bit. Unable to fashion one from Mars bars or limestone they did
manage to drop an extra pitch on a natural. This involved getting wet in spray from small
stream – so only Pete descended. He landed in pretty wide rift. An easy 2m climb led to a
further 10-15m pitch which is undescended.
The team then derigged.
Thanks very much for having us! See you again another year.
Fleur & Pete
PS - We have taken the old stretcher, some rope + Stu + Chris and all their shit. Will return CUCC kit at Hidden Earth.
It thunderstormed all night and was still raining in the morning so we altered our planned trip to land of confusion and decided to look at leads in Ropeless and Sleepless. The drill was at the pushing front so we were a bit limited. Headed to the end of Ropeless and went down the pitch the other side of Ropefree. After a nice pitch we landed in a drippy chamber with a small rift heading off. Sadly this got too small within a few meters. Stuart and I surveyed out.
Headed through Pushing the Envelope into Sleepless. Olly looked down the short pitch under the 5m rope traverse. It was a couple of little pitches and an exciting climb by Olly. Olly could here water noise down a hole on the right (possibly connects to the parallel rift) and another climb/pitch heading north. Decided to leave that until we had more gear.
While Olly derigged Stuart looked at a roof tube above which looks promising but needs a drill. Moved on to the Coldest place in Earth to take the rope to the start of the traverse. On the way out we had a look at getting into the roof tubes level with the top of the short pitch. Stuart traversed across from the pitch and I climbed from the bottom further along. The climb up was easy and I got to a similar level to Stuart. I knocked off a few loose holds and climbed up further. Suddenly I was falling down the rift, briefly I had a calm sense of inevitability, I knew I would end up hurt at the bottom of the rift. Fortunately the feeling passed and it was replaced by the idea that I wedge myself in as soon as possible. I managed this at the last possible point and finally remembered to stop screaming.
Fortunately I wasn’t too hurt and Olly came and helped me extract myself. My hip hurt a bit where I wedged myself in and I didn’t want to be underground anymore. I left Olly and Stuart to survey the roof tube while I caved out feeling very lucky and very stupid.
My hip and neck were quite sore after a yesterday’s fall and Olly was also feeling tired, so we decided on a surface day. We started at laser5 and headed ~ parallel to the 204 path but west of it.
After not long Stuart found a slightly drafty hole 2012-SW-01. He climbed down into it and thrutched into a rift. It didn’t go. I photographed the entrance while he did a sketch survey and got a GPS reading. Carried on north. It is very bunde-y – I think the best prospecting is either close to the 204 path or near the plateau/ridge fault. Stuart ended up at the latter and found another climbable entrance that looked promising 2012-SW-02, sadly it got too small. Again Stuart drew a survey while we photoed + GPS-ed.
Walked back to camped, Stuart walked up to 204 to borrow a hand bolting kit so I could 2012-SW-01. Went and tagged 2007-70 and 2007-71 and took photos.
Callout book entry only.
Set off to Land of Confusion hoping to find ourselves in KH by the end of the trip. Got to Land of Confusion fairly efficiently, Olly set off to rig the pitch at the end while Stuart and I surveyed leads on the west of the passage. The first went along a little rift with a thin coating of soft dry soil on the walls. We wriggled under a low dry muddy crawl and it got bigger again. The walls and roof were in places coated (or made of?) mud and gravel. The horizontal passage ended up choked in mud, but we could climb down a series of vertical oxbows. Once it stopped being free climbable a lead went down and east, and another down and west of this pitch. Looked like a window into a big passage 34m down.
Surveyed back to the main passage hearing Olly drill as we went. Olly was low on hiltis so we gave him some more and looked at the next lead back. This ended in 2 different small pitches. We surveyed this and followed Olly down the pitch. The pitch looked to have multiple windows into it and was just under 50m deep to a big rocky floor. Olly went west through breakdown shafts and wriggled over a rock, he said “we’ve not found KH, but I think we might have found China!!”
China was up to 20m high, 15m wide and a bit over 100m long breakdown chamber. We walked south (the direction of the draft) until it narrowed (a few meters wide still) and became more rift like. We stopped at a pitch down. The passage continues rift like beyond and I think there is a second pitch down. We surveyed back north, with Stuarts light showing that there were a lot of avens coming in. The survey data suggests that the pitch Stuart and I started surveying at is one. The 46m disto leg of the 6th August another, and probably the harder traverse (Too Bold for This Spit) yet another which may well provide a shorter + quicker route in for future trips.
China continued beyond where we entered, but not for long. At the north end is a wall of choss. Stuart climbed part way up + it looks like there is a continuation higher up. There is a passage/window on the East wall, but this just connects back to the bottom of the pitch. While we finished the survey to the pitch we sent Stuart off to chase the draft and find us a continuation.
He duly obliged and found a pitch through rocks north of the pitch down. We were optimistic that is might become the poxy aven at the end of Blown Out, but after some rigging through boulders it opened up and continued too deep. Once we were properly deeper then the connection could be we called it a day for this year.
We surveyed out and took turns at derigging. We de-rigged to the south side of Too Bold for this Spit and got 5 bags most of the way along the rift before we decided we were too tired. We all made our way slowly and wearily out the cave. I think this doubled the length of Stuart’s previous longest trip!
Surfaced surveyed from 107 tag bolt to bottom end of Doppel Gemse so that 107 was tied to Laser5 directly, incase that changed the apparent position of Land of Confusion and 161. There appears to be at least one poor surface survey in this region.
Back to 107 to derig and look at a few leads. Collected bags and slowly brought them out derigging and drawing elevations as we went. At the bottom of the rift pitch I clambered and wriggled down the rift which got increasingly echoy. I got to a pitch down that looked like it belled out a lot. I didn’t have survey kit but estimate pitch is 20-25m deep and very interesting in its location relative to China. There is a lot of cave still to find here! Grade 1 surveyed back and continued to de-rig to the end of Sleepless. I bolted up into the roof tube. A couple of short climbs lead to a taller aven, which might be free climbable. Surveyed this and continued to derig and bag carry. We got all five bags of gear, plus survey kit through Pushing the Envelope. Too one bag out each to the entrance chamber.
Stuart rejoined us for the final derig. Got the gear to ropeless junction and had a quick side trip to show Stuart Wonderland and look at the roof tube there. Frustratingly after getting all the gear in, the fully charged, unused drill battery did half a hole. I suggested that Olly tried to lasso a spike as a belay which he diligently did after several attempts. Sadly the spike then came down the pitch, so the lead is still going… Finished derigging + hauled the 6 bags up the entrance pitch and carted them back to camp. There are a lot of great leads in 107 and possible connections with 101 and 76 still to be found. If only expo lasted longer.
Below is the rigging guide found in the logbook, but a beautiful PDF version can now be found here.
Went to check out what was described as an ‘acrobatic traverse’ by Pete at the end of Downgrade just off Hedonism Highway. The traverse was actually a large gap to a window the other side of a cross-rift, but clearly a continuation of the same passage. The gap was too large to step across and the window was too high to swing into so access was achieved by bolting up and round the wall from the ledge, then using a deviation in the opposite wall the rope was able to hang nearer the window allowing a swing across to it. Time had run out by then so exploring the continuing passage was left for the next day.
This trip had two objectives, to explore the passage found the day before and to investigate the area of the cave under ‘Ants in your Pants’ surface shaft. A few places where a shaft could come in were looked at but nothing likely was found.
The passage found the day before was explored/ It continued as a descending tube as the previous passage before the gap had, then popped up into a larger drafting horizontal passage and then up a climb into another passage, larger still with multiple ways on. Excitement of this new discovery was soon dashed when footprints were seen and a quick explore revealed that we had just climbed back into Hedonism Highway.
A trip to finish bolting a pitch in crossword Passage, which was attempted on a previous expedition. The first pitch of 12m was descended to a window onto the head of a second. This was descended for approximately 25m via a deviation and a free hanging rebelay to a narrowing shaft. Lack of drill power meant this shaft couldn’t be bottomed, but another 10m depth to the floor is estimated by stones thrown.
On the way up a window at about 15m down from the pitch head was noticed and swung into. Horizontal passage was found to head off across a small traverse over a pitch (est. 8m).
The explored passage then continued past a squeeze through which water could be heard and could be easily enlarged with a hammer to intersect a steep (~30 degree) phreatic tube. This was first followed up-dip past several cross rifts with possible climbs to eventually finish in a choke. The largest of the cross rifts gave access to a second descending phreatic tube, parallel to the first, almost identical to the first. Progress down was halted by a short traverse. Back at the entrance to the first tube the passage was followed down-dip to a small chamber where another uphill tube was found. This was suspected to be same on with the traverse and was confirmed as such when the traverse was found from the other direction.
Both of the tubes (Double barrel passage) had a small rift in the floor which is believed to drop to a lower level, the best place to drop this would probably be the traverse in the second tube mentioned above.
We decided to add a bit of exploration to the derigging trip by looking at a lead in
Oompah. A 16m pitch was descended at the limit of previous exploration. The pitch was
pretty, landing in a rift but neither way at the bottom went. Upstream ending in a nice
clean washed aven and downstream a series of boulder climbs. A possible lead was noticed
halfway up the wall in the chamber above the pitch. This would require a traverse or a climb
or possibly a tube on the left of the passage above this chamber might give slightly easier
access. Then derigged Tunnocks entrance and caramel Catharsis.