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161 Kaninchenhöhle: 161e and 161g entrances and Iceland (1996)

Like Scarface and 161f, 161e was discovered from inside the cave, and should perhaps be more properly called an exit, especially in view of its relative inaccessibility from the surface. However, it can be approached by a traverse from 161d, and this may prove to be the most convenient approach to the passages in this area.

The 161e entrance is a draughting 1.5m wide 30cm high slot in the hill and proceeds down a steeply sloping boulder slope for 5m to a small chamber. There is short squeeze (harder on the way out) 2m inside the entrance which AJD had to be dug out of during the initial exploration and is thus called Yorkshire Pudding.

From the chamber the boulder slope continues down for a further 5m before the passage enlarges to a breezy 2m diameter phreatic tube, Roast Beef, which slopes gently downhill for about 80m to a chamber formed by a hading rift. A rift on the right at the enlargement of the passage is too tight but two further tight passages in the right hand wall may go ([C1996-161-18 C] and [C1996-161-19 C].) 20m back from the hading rift chamber a walking size passage on the right is the route into the Crystal Maze and Iceland.

Survey - 11k gif

Climbing up the hading rift (exposed in places) leads to a steeply sloping passage at the top (approx 25m up a 50° slope). There are a few small passages leading up from here, all of which get too tight or are blocked. At the foot of the rift a low crawl to the right leads into the Crystal Maze. A hole in the floor leads to a short climb down (2m) to a draughting rift which goes back under the chamber but is too tight to follow. To the left are two crawls, the right hand of which quickly chokes, the left hand crawl is the way on.

After 15m of crawling in a wide bedding plane, including traverses to the right hand side of two blind pits, the passage enlarges to walking height. A crawl on the right parallels the main route back towards the chamber and is thought to be the same as the choked crawl referred to above. The main route leads to a T-junction. Straight ahead is a pit in the floor with a too tight rift exiting. Traversing round to the right gives a window onto Bounce Rift. A hole to the left of the hole is a small passage which doubles back and connects back into Roast Beef 3m before the T-junction.

Right at the T junction leads to a 6m pitch into Bounce Rift, the northern extremity of the Puerile Humour series. A steeply sloping rift up to the right here quickly closes down.

Crystal Maze, Iceland and beyond (1996)

Crystal Maze is reached from a walking size passage in Roast Beef. 20m along is a sharp right hand bend with a low crawl off to the left which leads back to the hading rift chamber in Roast Beef. walking passage continues for a further 20m before degenerating to a stoop/crawl for a further 20m where there is a small boulder strewn chamber with two ways on.

To the left there is 25m of tall rift passage before it closes down. A 3m climb on the right is the easiest way on to the rest of Crystal Maze. A hole in the left hand side of the passage quickly chokes. A hading rift at the end of the passage similar to that in Roast Beef may be climbed for ~25m to a pitch which is thought to connect back to the top of the 3m climb.

Turning right at the boulder filled chamber a crawl over boulders leads off which briefly divides into two. Shortly after the two routes rejoin, a crawl off to the right leads to a draughty aven (at least 15m tall) with a 1.5m ice stal at the bottom. The aven is climbable for at least 7m before becoming a bit vertical. It is probably possible to climb further, but requires protecting and a rope for the descent [C1996-161-20 B].

At the base of the aven, the crawl continues uphill over rocks until it meets a larger walking/stooping height passage. To the left leads after a short low section to a tall rift and the top of the 3m climb from the left hand branch after 25m.

Straight ahead leads to another junction where left is the way on. Straight on is a short uphill sandy passage which closes down after 15m where there is a pretty ice curtain. There are two possible ways on on the left, the first of which quickly gets very small indeed and probably connects back to the rest of Crystal Maze, the second is also very small but may go further [C1996-161-21 C].

Turning left quickly encounters a hole. This is an estimated 20m pitch (undescended) [C1996-161-22 B]. Traversing over this leads to Iceland chamber, 15m long and approx 10m tall running perpendicular to the passage which enters. An ice boss partially blocks the way into the chamber, and there is an impressive 4m long ice stal on the wall opposite the entry point. There are three holes in the roof, one of which might be accessible by an exposed climb in the right hand corner of the chamber [C1996-161-23 C]. The considerable breeze which is present throughout Crystal Maze is thought to emanate from these holes (there is very little breeze in the passages beyond). One of these holes is the connection to 161g.

Photo - 42k
Julian Todd in Iceland

The current way on is Transylvania Avenue, a wide sandy hands and knees crawl opposite the way into Iceland from Crystal Maze. A crawl up to the right immediately on entering the passage quickly closes down. The passage continues to a sharp right hand bend at which a possible climb up to the left quickly closes down.

Survey - 9k gif

A passage on the right before the corner leads to a 3m deep rectangular ice filled pit, Dracula's Grave, which is also accessible by continuing on the main route. The passage enlarges to walking height and splits at a 3m deep blind pit on the right. The left hand branch is a narrow sandy rift which is blocked after 25m, though there may be a continuation higher up reached by a 3m climb some 5m back along the passage [C1996-161-24 C].

Traversing round the blind pit yields wider passage and another junction. Right here forks after 15m, the right branch becomes gradually lower and choke after a further 10m, the left branch is thought to lead to 161h. To the left at the junction is Frozen Turkey, a short pitch (climbable for the first 2m but then needs gear) with a tall 1m wide rift exiting [C1996-161-25 A]. This proved to be 30m in three 10m sections, separated by chossy sloping ledges where it is impossible to avoid kicking crap down. This is followed immediately by another pitch of c 15m, which has not been fully descended. The way on appears to be through a fairly narrow rift (probably another pitch [C1999-161-xx B])

161g (Arachnowrapper)

161g is a wide stooping-height horizontal entrance leading to a tunnel of generous proportions, perhaps 4m wide and 40m long. There are three holes in the floor. The first, near the entrance, is very chossy and loose and was not descended. The third, at the far end, was descended and found to be blind; a traverse across the pitch head also produced no results.

However, the second hole in the floor (22m in from the entrance) leads to a 50m pitch. From the base of this an 11m sloping pitch leads into Iceland chamber.


Entrance is body size tube which enlarges to stooping and walking size passage with avens in roof. At far left end a body size tube can be squeezed to emerge in Frozen Turkey