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161 Kaninchenhöhle: Mainline to far north


Although it can be bypassed via Burble Crawl, the logical approach to the Far North is across the tyrolean of Strange Acrossfall to reach the large chamber of Repton I, and this is where the main description here starts. It is likely that the bypass will need to be used at some stage to rerig the main route, so the route from the bottom of Vom Pitch is also described in this page.

Whichever way is taken to Repton I, the passages beyond are incompletely explored, and the big trunk passages seem to have disappeared. It is difficult to single out a "main way on". The routes are described in terms of the "normal" or shortest currently known ways to the remotest points of the cave, with the proviso that further exploration may reveal more direct or more logical ways.

Repton I reached via Burble/Leadmine

In the event that no-one is foolish enough to trust the ageing fixed ropes at Strange Upfall or Strange Acrossfall (this latter may have been removed anyway), the only way to avoid repeating the climb is via Burble Crawl and the Leadmine.

This route starts from the same 90° right hand bend in Chicken Flied Nice mentioned above. Follow that link and the description up to the entry to Leadmine, at which point you will find a link back here.

Leadmine - Maze to Repton (1991)

From the T-junction in the passage east below Vom Pitch, right (south) is the way into Leadmine.

This is a complex of joint-controlled passages, generally 0.8m wide by 2-3m high with sandy floors, very civilised. Turning right at the T-junction gives 25m of passage to a short drop and kink to the left, with a sand-filled chamber down to the left. 5m beyond this is a passage off sharply back to the left, leading to Repton I.

Carrying on forwards another 20m of passage leads round to the right past a 1m climb up on the left to a sand-filled chamber with a hole down through the sand in the far corner. The apparent dodginess of this Soil Pitch means that it has not been investigated [C1991-161-22 C]). The climb just before this chamber reveals 30-40m of unsurveyed high passage with a couple of 4m climbs up at the end to boulder chokes.

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Back on the route to Repton, 15m of passage (going north) leads to another passage parallel to the one just left. You can go left for about 5m to a dead end or right for 10m to a 2m climb down into three connected sand-floored chambers. The only way out is the 4m climb up the sloping right hand wall of these chambers.

At the top of this climb, the obvious route to the left (SE) goes dead straight for 25m to the foot of a wide inclined bedding full of boulders which leads up for 10m to Repton I. To the right a traverse around the top of the pitch leads to a small chamber with a hole connecting back to the chambers below and a crawl up in the roof going nowhere.

Strange Acrossfall

Beyond the 90° right hand bend in Chicken Flied Nice (where the Burble route departs), the passage changes: the floor trench cuts down and widens to a high stream rift which opens onto a big space, Hyper Gamma Spaces.

The 30m Strange Downfall pitch into this very large aven/collapse chamber lands on boulders. This is believed to have a fixed rope at present. Climbing down to the lowest point of the chamber (West side) reaches a small rift which is fairly full of stones at this point. To the right is more of Hyper Gamma Spaces - the rift bit, while to the left is Endless.

The tyrolean of Strange Acrossfall

The pitch up the far side of Hyper Gamma Spaces is the 18m Strange Upfall (1991), and the Tyrolean straight across avoiding most of both of these pitches is, of course, Strange Acrossfall.

Strange Upfall can be reached via burble and vom but is normally left rigged as the easiest access to the far north areas (see the fixed ropes page).

Repton I (1991)

At the top of Strange Upfall is a big chamber - Repton (named after the computer game involving huge piles of boulders). It has two distinct halves, both sloping down from a central rockpile col. The smaller half, entered first, is Repton I, 40m long, and 12m wide. About 25m upslope, a huge block forms a 2m high step across the chamber. This can be passed by a hard climb on the right hand wall, or an easier climb through boulders at the left hand end.

Just beyond this a wide bedding in the left hand wall descends into the Leadmine, and ramifications to the Northwest. Then there is a steep rock pile leading up into Repton II, and the most remote parts of the system to the Northeast.

Repton II, Beehive (1991) - to the far Northeast

Climbing over the rockpile from Repton I, beside a 10m cubed block, leads into the huge 20m high and wide space of Repton II, sloping down to an obvious large passage going out of the left hand side of the end wall. Part-way down this slope a rope hangs out of the ceiling which is the p18 upinto Irony of Time and Country for Old Men

At the foot of the slope a climb/slide down a sandbank leads to a short crawl into a 10m diameter chamber, Beehive (not to be confused with the Beehive in Flapjack :-). The sandy passage can also be followed round to the left to overlook this chamber.

The Beehive climb

There are three other ways out of the chamber. A small crawl to the right, the obvious passage ahead, Wet Weekend, and the way on into Pipeless. This is reached by climbing up the boulder pile on the east side of the chamber. From here a very difficult move into the passage is greatly eased by a long sling hung from a bolt on the right of the climb.

Pipeless (1992)

Pipeless (after its explorers' severe carbide difficulties) is a 4-5m diameter phreatic tube going gently downhill for 120m. First there is a 2m sandbank climb, most easily passed by chimneying against the left wall. The passage continues past an area of large breakdown with left and right bends to a long section containing impressive formations in the roof, and a small stream in the floor. A small infill-choked passage goes off low on the left at the breakdown area.

Pipeless formations    The Bridge

Next is a 3m pitch/handline climb down and a 2m climb down to The Bridge, some precariously balanced rocks over a big, undescended pit.

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Satan's Sitting Room (1992)

Beyond the Bridge in Pipeless, taking the lower, smaller passage for the last 6m leads to a view into the impressive space of Satan's Sitting Room. This can also be viewed but not reached from the bigger, higher passage which can be gained by a 4m climb just beyond The Bridge.

There is a choice of a tyrolean (fixed rope) across from the entry point, or a 20m pitch (rebelay at -6m, beware of choss) down towards Silent Fellow.

The shelf reached by the tyrolean goes around the right hand wall of Satan's Sitting Room to an 8m climb up then a traverse between two pitches. This is all roped. A tensioned traverse (also with a permanently rigged rope), Three Wise Men, is rigged on the wall ahead, up around to the right, to a window, ignoring the massive undescended pitch [C1992-161-12].

Photo - 38k     Photo - 29k
Three Wise Men - Aggy Finn bolting and Andy Atkinson following.

From the first window, there is a tyrolean to another window, followed by a 2m climb/ab down. All the drops here curve round to the big undescended one in Satan's Sitting Room - a descent of 15m is sufficient to see that these connect. Across this last chamber (which is very high, with passages coming in high up) is a 3m climb up which is the way on to Tinkle Rift. There is some scrotty stuff off to the right, and a 3m climb forward on the left leads back into the last chamber. Ahead is a big pitch (undescended [C1992-161-13]).

Tinkle Rift (1992)

Beyond Satan's Sitting Room at the end of the 3 Wise Men traverse a 3m climb up to the right leads into a stooping and very draughty passage. Straight on dead-ends immediately, but an immediate left enters Tinkle Rift.

This can be traversed at upper or lower levels. The higher level is more difficult, starting with a rather Welsh traverse (trying not to break off too many speleothems - the eponymous Tinkle) over holes ([C1992-161-15] - blind), then an awkward (permanent rope) 2m climb up a boulder blockage. (Climbing up a further 3m here gets you to Wellie Scraper). Beyond this, a couple more down climbs reach the big boulder pile.

The lower route is reached by a 5m pitch (instead of the traverse) at the start. There are a couple of crawls before the upper level is rejoined after 35m. There are numerous connecting climbs between the two levels. A hole in the floor just before the two levels join is an 8m awkward blind pitch.

Black Velvet / Far Too Far (1992)

On along the rift it gets very high (15m) with various narrow passages at floor level. Another big boulder blockage can be passed most easily on the right. Beyond this is a short (12m) blind pitch [C1992-161-16]. Across the pitch head a continuation can be seen (10m away) which can be reached from Further.

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Climbing up 6m through the boulders leads into a rising 4m diameter phreas heading northeast, Black Velvet (named after the very dark (oxidised ?) sand - take care to follow the route). A big hole in the floor [C1992-161-17] drops about 12m back into the passage below leading to Further. At the end of Black Velvet, a ramp pitch continuation, Axle Stand [C1992-161-18] drops down, and there is a sharp corner right into the smaller, southeast trending, Far Too Far passage.

A tiny hole in the floor here just connects back further along. This area is muddy and care should be taken not to put mud into the pool at the end. Here the passage is blocked with glacial fill. There is a crawl on the right, which quickly enlarges and reaches another big, wet-sounding undescended pitch [C1992-161-19], and a rift off to the left, giving pitch and traverse [C1992-161-21] routes. This rift lines up exactly with the desperate-looking crack at the end of Scrofulosity. On the right here is an obscure climb which leads into a stooping passage - the 1992 limit of exploration [C1992-161-20] which leads to East Anglia.

East Anglia (1993)

This low sandy passage (named because it is flat and horrible) is 120m long, rising 16m to the far end at a final depth of -229m from 161a (Alt. 1557m). It starts off wide to the SW, but quickly becomes stooping and crawling, and generally remains that way. After 20m it turns NE for 25m before opening out into a 6m wide aven. The drip follows the extremely tight floor rift out of here.

Voices were heard at this point from Scrofulosity, so a connection with either the final pitch or the Aven/rift at the climb seems likely.

Crossing over the canyon the passage continues for another 45m, first walking, then crawling before an aparent dead end. An easy c4 up here gains another 20m of passage, now in a hading rift, going up and down, mostly up, to emerge at the head of a big undescended pitch [C1993-161-03], perhaps 8m diameter, with a huge wedged boulder a few metres down it.

Further / Even Further (1993)

The sketch in the 1993 logbook gives a good idea of this area, though one or two names have changed:

Scrofulosity area sketch

The ramp pitch at the end of Black Velvet - Axle Stand drops 18m to reach Further chamber, about 25m long developed along the big NE/SW rift that defines this area of the cave. The pitch ends is a narrow canyon at the SW end. This can be followed a few m further SW to walking 2-3m wide passage. This continues via a c2 up and a couple of curves to look out over the blind pitch at the NE end of Tinkle Rift. 3m back from the lip on the RH side is the bottom of the sizeable hole in the floor of Black Velvet.

Back in Further there is an old stream route which disappears into an immature rift that can be followed for about 5m before it gets too tight. The most obvious exit is a stoop/crawl in the SE corner. This leads to Scrofulosity.

At the Northern end, the highest point of Further, is The Needle, a 7m up pitch, left rigged. This was named after the numerous threads which made it climbable with only a couple of slings for protection.

10m of passage from the top of Needle Pitch gains a view into the large space of Even Further.

This 15m diameter chamber is dominated by a huge boulder which makes the 6m pitch down here, Weasel Pit, bloody awkward as you must progress down between the wall and boulder at a steep angle, and the cheesy rock makes foot purchase almost impossible. Ten metres across the chamber at the far side on the right is another pitch, which has been descended about 20m on dodgy naturals to no conclusion [C1993-161-01].

From the foot of Weasel Pit you can descend underneath the huge boulder to get to the lower level of Even Further (the NW side). A passage descends from here to the WNW for about 15m to a crossrift, choked on the left and too tight a few metres to the right. This point is -271m. The final feature of Even Further is a big drippy aven coming in in the north corner.


To the right in Further is Scrofulosity, 140m of mostly sandy crawl passing underneath East Anglia. After 45m heading SW, a 4m sandy downclimb is reached. This looked enough like a pitch to the explorers that a completely superfluous bolt was put in, although a handline is useful for the return. The foot is in a rift. It is 15-20m high on the left hand side with a drip, and very narrow to the right where a strong draught disappears into a desperate-looking crack. This is clearly (from the survey) the same rift as that seen at the end of Far Too Far on the left hand side [C1992-161-21].

From here there are two ways on leading to the same spot. A low, wide, cobbly passage straight on, or a very narrow crabwalk to the right. The former is far easier, and after 15m rejoins the crabwalk at a 2m down climb where the passage becomes a walking rift. 12m along here there is a deep, but extremely narrow hole in the floor at a diaclase. Mud (there are no stones) sounds like it falls a long way, but a hammer would be required for any chance of gaining access [C1993-161-05]. Climbing 2m up to the right here on a pile of mud gains more sandy crawl. After 5m is a T-junction. Right goes about 8m via a very tight spot to a tiny chamber. Left goes 20m, with a U-bend squeeze to the top of a 15m rift pitch [C1993-161-02], at a depth of -269m from 161a (Alt. 1517m).