Here beginneth 2019.
It is raining and there is lots of snow !!
1st trip up on Sunday 7th spent ~8 hrs digging with the shovel and cleared only top level and made steps to get out at the front (~4m to climb out).
We walked from the car park (kind lift from Phil) via top camp intending to reflect the route from Fish Face to top camp and dump our kit near the entrance. On arrival, the entrance was under several metres of snow.
Assessment of old (2018) pictures of the entrance gave us a good idea of the exact loction.
By this point, Michael had dug in several places near the entrance in a desperate manner. He had been talking about FGS. for a year and we had coeheol (sp?) at the very promising survey and description the previous evening and gotten rather excited. Tom, Dickon from the Honeycomb team met us and it was rapidly decided to drop FGS. as an objective.
Reuben helped to carry to Homecoming whithe we pekal (sp?) about. We did some prospecting in the ear. We dropped a shaft on naturals which chocked (tag: CUCC-2019; RH-01) and fegged (sp?) it. Other nearby holes choked rapidly.
Plan Homecoming via stonebridge; returning to base ... Dickon Dan Tom (Driving) Base ... Phil Top camp; staying up ... Harry Aileen Fleur Michael W.B. Michael S. Pete (Driver) Nat Sarah (Driver) At 08:45 10/07/19 ... 75m rope taken up to plateau; Nat, Sarah, Harry taken ~15 tortellini, ~1 gnochi, bin bags (120 titre) up to top camp
Balkon ok and reflectored Some bags over Tomorrow others offers (sp?) and start rigging Other trips later in the day? Driking choc.(F+P); milk powder (we have none); museli (F+P); soup; pesto (buy on route); smash (S+N); charging block and USB (N) 1 solar panel up/just have one to charge Tarp over back of animal hole; 2 + 2 + 8/9; upper part 1/2 Water system needs to work They wull call just before 8pm Bring charging block and USB leads
Things going to top 10/07/19 ... muesli; smash; 5x drinking choc; top camp survey gear drum; some hangers and maillons
Andrew and Ruairidh had ferried 2 tacklesacks to the entrance and reflected the route (with the bypass to the snow fields) yesterday and we took up 3 more tacklesacks in the morning.
Andrew and I shared the entrance rigging including a new deviation, then we headed to Honeycomb Pitch via the 2 traverses and short pitch which were all rigged to find... Honeycomb was also rigged... and now we had shed loads of extra rope (2 x 80m plus others for Honeycomb and Hangman's), none of which it turned out was needed.
I emailed Luke, George and Wookey who'd done the Balkon derig trip last year to check what they'd left riggd since there'd been no log book write up, but they couldn't remember but Luke though Honeycomb and Hangman's were derigged. So now we had ~200m of fat, useless 10mm rope that we didn't need. We also found 40m of lose rope dumped at the top of Hangman's and the pitch into Myopia and the Myopia traverse we al still rigged. So it was unclear to me whether the 'derig' last year actually removed any rope. At the traverse in Myopia we put in an extra bolt as it was a bit too exeiting (sp?) otherwise and then Andrew put in 4 bolts on the pushing front on the straight forward start (a bit of a ledge) to cslere (sp?) it got wetter and more verticle then we headed out.
Setting off bright and early from the stone bridge (11:00), we took tagging and surface bashing kit to Fishgesicht with a firm belief that we would find a second access ot the snowed-in cave.
Whilst Reuben charitably carried some gear to Homecoming (needlessly as they'd taken one of our ropes), me and Corin GPS tagged some likely entrances about the area. We should have written some more information to know which would need rope to access.
Upon Reuben's return we tagged the cave dropped the previous day (tag: CUCC-2019; RH-01) and drew a survey of the little shaft.
Regretting not bringing more lunch, we set off to visit the ~8 sites previously identified - we looked at 3.
The first didn't go beyond the initial horizontal and was not tagged. The second became 'Reuben's Folly' (tag: CUCC-2019; RH-02): Reuben first climbed down a tricky entrance vertical with Corin following close behind, to discovered ~50m of descent passage. After being rescued from an overally ambicious climb, the surface was regained and the directly adjacent shafts investigated. Upon dropping the 3rd shaft, which broke into passage, Reuben commented on the remarkable similarity this 'parrallel rift' bore to the original! Corin, upon following Reuben down, immediately made a climb up to the surface: to emerge laughing from the orignal climb. In hindsight, the similarity seemed more than similar. Corin and I were tickled, Reuben was not.
In dilligent submission, Reuben 'happily' dropped into the small, very orginal (sp?) hole (tag: CUCC-2019; MH-01). Here he was encouraged to diligently survey said cave and not allowed out until properly high-standard surveys were produced.
Encouraged by our day, we left out kit near by to return the next day. Much was learnt by all.
We set off back to Fischgesicht for more prospecting in the general area.
Andrew Atkinson joined us as far as Fischgesicht whereupon I escorted him to the path to Homecoming.
Closely following the cairns took us very close to the cave itself without the bunde-bashing of the previous day.
After arriving back at FGS., we had some lunch and started prospecting. Nothing of note was found.
From my perspective, the worst cave was RH03 - short but narrow thrutchy (sp?) crawling in sharp rocks covered in guano (sp?).
Doing this in shorts and T-shirt, I got quite a few cuts. A promising horizontal entrance, but choked within 15m. 3 tagged caves (tags: CUCC-2019; CD-01; RH-03; MH-02) with a few more GPS tagged.
Shortly after arriving back at top camp, Fleur and Pete arrived and we walked down the hill together.
At the time of writing, I am sat in the Tatty Hut at Base Camp in Bad Aussee. It is day five of expo and a lot has happened. We discovered on Sunday (day one - 07/07/2019) that our Top Camp, Steinbrueken, was full of snow: Meanwhile, Base Camp preparations were well underway: he beer tent was being hoisted (above) and the new rope (thanks to UK Caving and Spanset for the sponsorship!) was being soaked, coiled, and cut into usable lengths ready for caving.
The next few days consisted of Expo members undertaking multitudes of carrying trips up to top camp, and a few hardy folk doing their best to fettle the bivvy for habitability. Tuesday (09/07/2019) night saw the first people sleeping in Steinbrueken. Mostly, they described the experience as "chilly" but one person went as far as to claim he had been warmer there than at Base Camp.
Also on Tuesday (09/07/2019), a new route was devised and cairned directly from Heimkommen Hoehle to the tourist path on the col. The idea being that Homecoming could be close enough to push from Base Camp rather than Steinbrueken. This came with the discovery that Fischgesicht Hoehle's entrance was under two to three metres of snow:
On Wednesday (10/07/2019), Expo split into three groups. The majority went to Steinbrueken to commence the final push towards habitability while some went to investigate Balkonhoehle. Three of us (Dickon Morris, Daniel Heins, and myself) went to Heimkommen to rig to the pushing front (the decision to concentrate on Heimkommen and Balkon having been made for us by the plateau).
That's all for now,
Tom Crossley (11/07/2019)
For months leading up to the start of the expedition the assault on Fish Face had been discussed, carefully planned and plotted over drinks late into the evenings. The entrance being under several meters of snow has been an unfortunate setback. Michael H spent a part of Tuesday evening kneeling in the snow hopelessly attacking it with a shovel until the handle snapped in half. This wouldn't have been half so painful if we hadn't spent the previous evening with Becka getting excited over the survey from last year, with its numerous continuing passages and undropped pitches.
As our cave was inaccessible we decided to find another one. Me, Michael H and Reuben spent the next two days tramping back and forward over the plateau looking hopefully down every crack in the limestone pavement waiting for an entrance that connects through to the caves below.
We found lots of promising horizontal entrances leading a few meters to small, drafting holes or choked continuations. The snow plugs in every depression this year have unfortunately probably hidden some entrances. Our most promising cave was a shaft we climbed down on Wednesday which went horizontal, widened out into a reasonably large rift and continued on above a bold climb.
Reuben's exploration fever carried him flailing up the overhanging climb with impressive determination. Sadly after another aven the cave ended in a pair of choked crawls. Reuben then got an introduction to solo surveying when I passed him up the tackle sack, as I had no intentioned of repeating his feat of strength to see these short crawls. In the end the cave was around 50 m in length. We dropped a nearby shaft, which led to a remarkably similar cave to the one we had just discovered, which was *definitely* not the same as the first one, according to the first explorer. Once someone else got down there, it was very clearly the cave we had just surveyed.
The forecast for the weekend is poor, and most of us are now back in base camp sheltering from the rain. Yesterday's pushing trip down Homecoming ended up being another slightly embarrassing excursion as the team drove up from base camp and walked across the plateau before realising they had not brought any bolts.
The weather is due to improve after the weekend, and pushing trips are planned into Homecoming, Balcony, and into Happy Butterfly which hasn't been touched since 2017. Happy Butterfly is likely to connect with Fish Face and allow us to bypass the new snowplug, and reclaim what was lost.
Dickon and Dan went up at ~6am to HC (Homecoming) pushing in 'SecondComing'. They may return to basecamp. Callout 22:00.
Sarah & Philip went shopping.
Sarah left 16:30 in her car to walk to top camp solo.
Michael S. the only person in top camp not caving today.
16:44 Basecamp phone has €10.28 credit.
Radost & Philip drove to the carpark and walked to CUCC-PS-01 which Radost declared a "B lead at best" after we had got out.
rock-filled rift ~1m high and wide goes 260 degrees magnetic into hillside (descending approx. 15 degrees). Hole in floor near ent. is a climbdown, then a 22cm squeeze (Radost did it) to where it continues - tight. No draft.
Going over the hole in the floor the more obvious route leads after 14m from ent.to a 2m climb down and a drafting flat-out hole
leading to a vertical (upwards) solution (?) shaft filled with rocks.
[Since the hillside is very steep here, this may be ~20m or more to the surface.] Could be dug, but ideally not from the bottom
where Radost was.
Whole cave drafts cold air out slightly - less than last year possibly due to snow choke elsewhere. No snow visible anywhere near it.
The roof of the rift is flat and slopes to the south, about 30 degrees from vertical. This is very similar to rifts in Schnellzughohle and Stellerweghohle nearby, but in this cave there are no flow scallops.
Tag CUCC-PS-01 2018 left inside entrance on thh right - tied to a thread in jammed rocks with blue string.
Walked back to be collected at the car park by Michael and Sam in the Sargent Meriva.
All visted the Tuesday afternoon trachtmarkt in Altausee on the way back. Nobody bought any Austrian hats or lederhosen.
And so to the tatty hut and a fridge full of beer.
Blog Post - Reply #5 on: July 18, 2019, 03:33:10 pm
An update on the past few days of exploration at Homecoming!
Monday Jul 15:
Dickon and I went down Homecoming to the start of the Second Coming (after the airy Gromit pitch) and did a 2 bolt climb into a small lead that turned out to be a bit of phreatic passage heading generally east. ~200m of survey (including a short 15m pitch and a bit of clambering about) has resulted in a new area of the cave (dubbed 'Propane Nightmares') breaking away from the main passages. Most of this section was straightforward and linear, though an area centered around a surprise sump has a maze of cutarounds. Onward we have left one notable lead in one passage climbing upward, and another pair of leads at the end of another leg, with a good lead continuing on top at phreatic passage, and another lead dropping down a rift.
Tuesday Jul 16:
Crossley, Harry, and I went and added some additional rigging on the entrance series.
Wednesday Jul 17:
Crossley, Sarah, Michael, Harry, and I went down to Propane Nightmares to rig some climbs/a more user friendly cut around to the leads. Crossley did some further rigging on the entrance series as well. I showed the others the leads Dickon and I had found to spread the knowledge for future pushing trips. Cold temperatures and misplaced nail varnish limited surveying to one of the cutarounds.
Thursday Jul 18:
Back down the hill to basecamp. Jon has arrived suddenly to Expo, and discussing his efforts last year at Homecoming with Dickon and myself has only increased our confusion about the large drafty leads deep in the Second Coming. Another trip shall resolve this.
My phone is bricked, so unfortunately I have no more photos to contribute.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2019, 03:45:00 pm by DanH »
Fri Jul 19
I went into Homecoming with Jon, who on a whim returned to the expedition, to sort out some confusion at the far pushing front where Andrew and I had gone. As it turns out, he and Haydon had in fact pushed, surveyed, and rigged the 'long slippery rift in need of rigging' I had mentioned, but at ceiling level rather than where Andrew and I had gone. Misunderstandings had led us to believe that this traverse was left in place when it was in fact de-rigged last expo, and so Jon and I set out rigging the traverse on the existing bolts. We had just enough rope and I was able to stretch the hangars/maillons just enough to reach the end of the traverse, where another pitch down will access this pushing front. This whole area was named the Lizard King, and we eagerly await the data from last year to better illuminate this front.
At the same time, Dickon went down Homecoming with Reuben and Aileen to push Propane Nightmares. They went on the upper level phreatic lead, which continued horizontally and then dropped into downward pitches of phreatic passage, in need of more rope to continue pushing.
Dickon went down Homecoming with Reuben and Aileen to push Propane Nightmares. They went on the upper level phreatic lead, which continued horizontally and then dropped into downward pitches of phreatic passage, in need of more rope to continue pushing. [Dan]
Sat Jul 20
As I had not done any prospecting this expo and Jon wanted to feel warmth again, we decided to head west to prospect on the plateau beyond Homecoming. Much bunder bashing and karst scrambling was done, and many chocked holes and snow plugs were clambered down into. Amongst all of this though, we found two quite promising prospects in need of dropping. Jon has photos and a more clear understanding of location (as he logged them on the GPS), but as he is still up the plateau I will describe them in brief.
The Banana Hole is a deep pit in a large expanse of sloping limestone pavement up a hill. The bottom is beyond what can be seen with a caving light in day time, but dropping rocks gives roughly 4 seconds of free fall, before ricocheting further down and unknown amount.
The Boop-Boo-Da-Boop-Da-Boop [exact spelling pending confirmation] complex is an area of multiple very large holes surrounding a small flat expanse of karst, half surrounded by cliffs. Two of the entrances are extremely appealing, with one a few meters wide and unknown depth (again, the rocks take long to go down, a disto would've been helpful), and another similarly wide and quite deep and clearly going diagonally into the hillside, reducing likelihood of being choked.
Both of these leads really require photos to better explain (and someone with more awareness to convey their geography) but represent very exciting prospects in a fairly untouched region of the plateau.
A brief foray into Happy Butterfly found a Y-hang with a dangling hangar, and we could not locate the hilti to screw it back into, and so we turned back around to avoid descenting a one-bolt-wonder.