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161 Kaninchenhöhle: Triassic Park to Knossos


An extensive series of horizontal development at a similar altitude to the other major passages in Kaninchenhöhle, but quite a distance away from them with connections at both ends of a major trunk passage, Triassic Park. This trends sub-parallel to the Chunnel - Yapate line, starting from connections into Flat France and heading initially NE, then curving round to NW to end at a climb up. A route from this point leads to a pitch into Knossos. Side passages off the main trunk connect to three horizontal entrances in the steep SE slopes of the Schwarzmooskogels. The first and most accessible of these, 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.

The pitch into Knossos is also a much quicker way to the previously remote parts of the system to the north beyond Yapate Inlet. This was not used as such in 1996, owing to the large quantity of easy pickings near the entrance, but proved its value with a reexploration of Siberia in 1997 and 1998, leading to a new deep point for the system.

Triassic Park to Trifurcation (1995)

Triassic Park is a passage 600m long, 5-18m wide and 3m-20+m tall, carrying the combined draughts from Salt Lake City and the 161d entrance series. It starts at the end of Guillotine heading NE and ends at Bugger, by which time it has curved round to the NW. Thirty five side leads were noted along the passage on the initial exploration alone, so only main junctions are described here. There is a well-defined route down the passage (marked with red/white flagging tape) which should be followed.

Flagged route in Triassic Park (here in Triassic Park pt II).

The final passage from 161d, Critters' End, reaches the main trunk at the Guillotine. A crawl to the left (west) is the emerging route from France through Salt Lake City (the continuation of the main route SW).
The Guillotine is a high rift passage straight on up a sand/stone slope, named from an obvious hanging death rock in the roof. Just beyond this the passage opens out into Shortage of Walls [C1995-161-24 C] on the left (leading to Teapot) and Triassic Park to the right-ish.
Shortage of Walls

Triassic Park I

TP 1 survey - 15k gif

30m from the start is wide undercut in the left hand wall, where a 5m wide passage [C1995-161-25 A] leads to Alternative Universe. 20m ahead, on the right is [C1995-161-27 A]. 50m further along is noisy inlet which, like all such inlets in this area, floods very suddenly shortly after heavy rain on the surface. Below the inlet, the water has cut down to form a clean-washed pitch, The Overflow [C1995-161-28 A]. When not in flood, it is a very good carbide-filling spot. It is by-passed on the right hand side, to continue along Triassic Park, passing a couple of very large fallen boulders.

35m NNE from the Overflow, small stuff on the right is [C1995-161-29 B], but the main way is into a trench in the floor. 60m beyond the Overflow, the trench ends in a hole in the floor (goes to Wheelchair Access). This is most easily traversed on the right at the level of the trench in Triassic Park, although a top-level traverse may also be viable. There is a muddy c3 out of the trench just beyond the traverse, marking the start of Triassic Park part II.

Triassic Park II

Immediately after the 3m climb is another tunnel on the left [C1995-161-32 A] (Dr. Snuggles), beyond a pitch [C1995-161-31 A] - in fact just a 3m deep blind shaft. Just beyond this, Triassic Park narrows and turns abruptly left to head NW. A passage on the left, 15m beyond the bend is [C1995-161-33 B].

TP 2 SE survey - 19k gif

Another climb over a hole leads via a further 80m of very dark-soiled passage going WNW to a complex junction, Ring Piece Junction. There are three ways on: left (south), straight ahead (west, to Tapeworm) and right, which is the main continuation, now heading north again. This gives 150m of easy passage passing 11 QMs, of which 7 on left probably connect to Children's Railway.

50m or so from Ring Piece Junction is a passage on the right heading east, which, like Triassic Park itself, has a flagged route into it. This is start of the Puerile Humour Series, a very extensive set of passages leading to the three other entrances of 161e, 161f and 161g.

Photo party in Triassic Park between Ring Piece Junction and Locophobia.

TP 2 NW survey - 12k gif

Triassic Park curves left again, heading WNW until, 150m from Ring Piece Junction, the main way opens out into a black chamber, Locophobia, which contains a stream arriving from the right (north) and leaving in the floor in the middle. The entry pool is another good carbide-spot.

Triassic Park III

Locophobia marks the start of Triassic Park III, with a choice of ways. The easiest, and preferred way across the chamber is by traversing on the left hand wall. 10m along here is the start of Children's Railway going back parallel to Triassic Park. At this point a muddy climb down gains the floor of Locophobia. It is also possible (but to be avoided) to follow the right wall of Locophobia, dropping down earlier, and this is currently (end 1996) where the flagging tape marks the route. A variety of minor leads leaves Locophobia.

TP 3 survey - 14k gif

The main passage is double-barrelled for about 25m as it continues west into the breeze. A short piece of deep canyon in mid-passage is probably 5-10m deep (no pebbles to drop!) and appears blind. 70m from Locophobia is a wide junction with much fallen rock and a large aven. This is Trifurcation, although there is a fourth way off as well as the three huge passages that give it its name. This fourth way is a high rift on the right [C1995-161-55 A] leading to Interview Blues.

Straight on (north) at Trifurcation (feels like taking a right) passes the obscure narrow chossy pitch of [C1995-161-56 C] in alcove on the left, and becomes very wide. Ahead is a 5m high col interrupting the passage. This can be reached by a climb across broken boulders at floor level, a traverse to the right of this, or most easily by the long slope on the right hand side, passing a flat crawl [C1995-161-57 C] at the top. A 4m down climb from the col (least scary to right hand side), reaches a big rift pitch to left [C1995-161-58 B] (Choss Pot) and the foot of a long slope up to [C1995-161-59 A+]. The base of this wall was called Bugger, as the expletive of choice upon the discovery that it was not possible without gear and therefore marked an end to exploration in this direction for 1995.

Left (west) at Trifurcation is Minoan Surprise, with three pitches. The first, [C1995-161-53 A] is apparently 20m+ (actually 55m, dropping into Interview Blues), whilst the second, [C1995-161-54 A] is deeper, with a four second drop, forming the Bottomless Pit of Eternal Chaos. Finally, a smaller drop [C1995-161-52 A] of 10-15m to a boulder slope is a way into Knossos high in its NE corner.