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Kaninchenhöhle: Scarface (161d) to Triassic Park


A very extensive series of horizontal development at a similar altitude to the "older" major passages in Kaninchenhöhle. This area, out to the east of the original cave, is reached from a new (in 1995) entrance discovered by following the draught from a major trunk passage, Triassic Park. The most accessible of the new entrances, 161d (Scarface), was the only entrance in which exploration took place in 1996. This provides a much quicker way into the horizontal series than the initial route through France. Via the Knossos connection, it is also a much quicker way to the current most remote parts of the system, though was not used as such in 1996, owing to the large quantity of easy pickings near the entrance. However, in 1997 Siberia was revisited by this route, in 1998 yielding a new deep point to the system, thus showing the value of the easier way in. Described here is the route from 161d to the main trunk passage at Triassic Park.

Surface route to Scarface (161d) entrance (1995/6)

The 161d entrance is most logically approached from the Stogerweg, by climbing up an unmarked route above Hochklapf Sattel. The 1996 expedition found, however, that this approach was longer and more arduous than a more obscure but direct route from the Top Camp via the col (near 161b and 161c) between the Vorderer and Hinterer Schwarzmooskogels. The logistics seem to militate against placing a top camp anywhere nearer the 161d entrance.

This route is marked with cairns and takes between an hour and an hour and a half from the Schwarzmoossattel, depending on load and familiarity. It involves a lot of scrambling and is unpleasant in the wet. One variation involves a couple of handline climbs (bolted), and one section near the entrance itself is undoubtedly safer with the aid of a knotted rope (also bolted).

Photo - 62k    Photo - 52k
Anthony pointing the start from 161c...    ...down the gully towards 161d

From the fixed survey station of VD1 (reached by any of several routes from Top Camp) a wide stony gully descends to the SE. Follow this through a narrow section, then a shallow bowl. The following two climbs down can be climbed at the cairns, but are best avoided (especially with gear) by a 20m detour to the right, followed by a grassy slope down back to the gully. At the foot of this slope the easiest route is right across a wide shelf, and down at the first gap in the dwarf pine on the left.

photo of first climb, 19k jpeg

The alternative is straight down the gully, round the left of a lump to a handline onto a bridge between holes, then a 3m climb down, traverse to left round hole, then a 2m jump/climb/traverse (your choice) to the right where the detour route joins.

The going is now easier but the route more subtle. Follow ledge on right side, then cairns down the middle of the gully till a large hole is passed on the right. Follow edge of this round to a gap cut in the dwarf pine, then steeply down zig-zag gully. The route now traverses across the face of the cliff to the left. It soon goes through an area of pine on a steep slope, made easier by some judicious cutting of branches.

photo of last climb, 33k jpeg

This comes out into the open at a 6m handline (essential with rucksack) climb. Drop 4m below this then angle left on grassy ledges (care! in the wet) till boulders are reached at the foot of the cliff. From here a short tedious descent over boulder rubble from the rockfall gains the still-hidden 161d entrance. The hole, about 1m round, blows enough to hold a fleece jacket up.


Entrance series to Triassic Park (1995)

Entering the cave in stooping passage crosses a rift [C1995-161-72 C] and after 25m drops (c2) into a chamber, Mothshag, after the numerous copulating moths found here. If weather on the surface is truly unpleasant (either wet or stupidly hot), this makes a good, if chilly, changing room. Turning back on one's self and going down the crawl leads to a climb [C1995-161-70 C] on the right, whilst straight on is Golgotha, the 'bear' skull and a tiny continuing passage [C1995-161-71 C].

From Mothshag left is a passage [C1995-161-69 A] and straight on up some boulders gains a T-junction.

Right, under a low roof section, rapidly drops down a cone of very sharp fractured rock to Slidy Caver (dug from the bottom by sliding down with rocks) which gains Perseverance Passage, a sloping walking passage which lowers and splits 30m down. Both ways on come out in the same passage, Critters' End. However left is easier and therefore the main route.

survey - 12k gif

Left at the T-junction after Mothshag is the original route, a draughty rocky crawl which opens and lowers at the end. A continuation is seen to the left over boulders [C1995-161-68 C] whilst to the right is a very windy (30mph) and tight passage Battle of the Bulge. This gains a flat out 30° downward boulder slope that returns to the main passage below Slidy Caver. Left at this point is another flat out crawl which ends. In the wall opposite, a small hole through more boulders gains a crawl which emerges at the bottom of the boulders on left hand side Critters' End along with other holes [C1995-161-67 C].

Both ways in Perseverance Passage emerge in side of a much larger passage, Critters' End. Left ends in a choke. A climb up above this to the left is possible to gain a small tube which is very windy but blocked by a rock needing a crowbar [C1995-161-66 C]. This passage contains a number of bat skeletons (one well preserved), an unidentified skull and numerous dead moths.

Right in Critters' End, the passage becomes lower with a left hand turn leading to an aven and hole in floor [C1995-161-65 C]. Right continues past the second route out of Perseverance (on right at corner) and 25m further on is the junction with Salt Lake City under crawl on the left (leading to France and the southern limits of the system in Forbidden Land) and the Guillotine high rift passage straight on up a sand/stone slope. The Guillotine is an obvious hanging death rock in the roof. Just beyond this the passage opens out into Shortage of Walls [QM 95-24 C] on the left and Triassic Park to the right-ish.

 Shortage of Walls