204Steinbrückenhöhle5/S x

Subsoil level

Survey --  204 index

Subsoil is a large horizontal level at altitude around 1520m. Access is from the Underworld via Gardener's World pitch.

Subsoil Chamber area

Subsoil Chamber

crystal-encrusted rock Subsoil Chamber is large with a boulder floor, sloping down to the south. Heading north up the slope leads to Heavily Soiled (q.v.).. Heading south from the base of the University Challenge pitch, after 10m on the right is the entry to the canyon leading to Earthenware, while on the left a passage leads up steeply past conservation-taped fine, white crystals to a small, wet aven with two QM C's[C2004-204-56 C] as the chamber drops down steeply with a boulder-strewn floor to a small, wet aven with fine, large banks of conservation-taped mud and mud pillar formations topped by pebbles. At the base of the chamber, to the right is a large phreatic passage three-quarters filled with mud; this connects back to Earthenware, while to the left is Hippo Hollows passage.

These two trunk passages, Hippo Hollows to the south and Earthenware Passage to the north, together with the short linking passage in between appear to originally have been a single, large phreatic passage running north/south which has subsequently been cut into three sections by two canyons running parallel in Subsoil Chamber.

Heavily Soiled

Clambering up from the base of University Challenge pitch to the top of Subsoil Chamber, a traverse on the left wall (free climbable with care) is the easiest way to the obvious, large passage heading off on to the north. Following the canyon leading down from here leads to Earthenware. A sandy passage leads off up steeply from the top of Subsoil Chamber. From this passage, a sandy tube soon branches off to the right and rapidly closes down. The restricted main passage ahead swings left then heads down and provides a bypass connection into Heavily Soiled passage. At the north end of Subsoil Chamber, the main passage initially ascends steeply with a rift in the mud-covered floor. It immediately passes a steeply descending passage leading off to the right [C2004-204-50 A] and quickly reaches a large boulder in the passage where the sandy bypass described above joins from the right. Just beyond the junction of the two routes is a tube on the right, which has not been explored in 2004, [C2004-204-51 B], nor has another slightly further on [C2004-204-53 B]. The main passage then levels off and there is a 1.8m climb down a mud bank. At the bottom a passage leads off to the left [C2004-204-52 C], after which the passage continues up through large boulders and breakdown. A restricted crawl on the left through boulders is followed by either an easy squeeze on the left [C2004-204-54 C] or a climb ahead that opens out onto a large muddy ledge above a mud-floored chamber where the 2004 survey ends. Descending to the left leads to Night Soil Chamber [WOOKEY BECKA] [C2005-204-72 B], while to the right is Hippocratic Oath [BECKA ANDREW WOOKEY][C2005-204-01 C] [C2005-204-02 B] [C2005-204-03 C] [C2005-204-04 D] [C2005-204-05 X] [C2005-204-06 B] [C2005-204-07 C] [C2005-204-65 A] [C2005-204-66 D] [C2005-204-67 ?] [C2005-204-68 ?] [C2005-204-69 B] [C2005-204-70 X] [C2005-204-71 D].

Southern area: Hippo Hollows / Fat Worm

Hippo Hollows mud potsChalk and Cheese PitchHippo Hollows

On the left, from the southern base of Subsoil Chamber, a 1.8m climb up a mud bank leads to a mud-floored passage that enters Hippo Hollows. This section of passage has a series of small, attractive pots floored with cracked mud (CARE - traverse above the pots). Straight on after the pots, the passage ends in a rift and Chalk and Cheese pitch. Before this point, but after the pots, a ramp up on the left leads to a pitch (p.8). At the base of this pitch a squeeze appears to open out onto a further pitch [C2004-204-72 C]. Traversing over the 8m pitch and up a steep muddy bank leads shortly to the head of a further pitch which has not yet been descended [C2004-204-58 B]. Shortly after this first left ramp, a second ramp to the left leads to a position overlooking the same rift that can be more easily accessed by continuing straight along the main Hippo Hollows passage. On the right of the main Hippo Hollows passage, opposite the second ramp, there is an aven on the right with sounds of running water in wet conditions [C2004-204-59 B]. The climb up to the aven would require bolting. Chalk and Cheese pitch is rigged from bolts in the roof to a self-lined climb down a narrow rift to enter the Fat Worm Blows A Sparky area.

Fat Worm Blows a Sparky

Little White Clouds ceiling formations Chalk and Cheese pitch enters a moderate-sized chamber. To the right, a short (3m) climb leads up to a window overlooking the chamber. A crawling sized passage continues north west for about 35m ending in a pitch down to The Happy Hippocampus chamber. A large walking passage leads off to the left. From this walking passage, a ramp leads down to the right, while on the left is That Stupid Hole. This shortly comes to a junction. Down and straight ahead leads to a pair of windows overlooking what is almost certainly the same pitch [C2004-204-61 A].Turning right before these windows a climb through a window leads to a small, awkward and sharp passage that has several windows on the right leading to pitches [C2004-204-62 B]. To the right the passage squeezes past unusual white plastic-like formations (Little White Clouds) to a small chamber. The left of this chamber opens out over a pitch, the first of the Four Pitches of the Apocalypse. Straight ahead from the chamber the passage continues to a second pitch.

bat The main walking passage soon reaches Dead Good Bat Chamber with a freshly deceased bat marked by conservation tape by the prominent central boulder. Low on the left of this chamber, Thin Rift passage goes down steeply in tight rift, which leads to the Convenience series. Several passages lead down on the right from Dead Good Bat Chamber: all interconnect in a maze of small walking and crawling tubes. An alcove in one tube is conservation-taped off to protect the hundreds of bat bones; many other bat bones are found at lower concentrations throughout Subsoil, possibly washed out of the mud deposits. In another tube is an unexplored passage [C2004-204-64 C]. Continuing ahead beyond Dead Good Bat Chamber, a free-climb steeply up on the left leads to a point around 4m below a large tube which would require bolting to access [C2004-204-65 B]. Straight ahead leads steeply down large boulders to a small chamber and a wet aven [C2004-204-66 C].

That Stupid Hole
That Stupid Hole pitchGoreTex is a lie Just down from Chalk and Cheese pitch, walking through the moderately large chamber, on the left there is That Stupid Hole. A bundle of boulders, two with notable spiky points (useful for putting a sling around / rigging), soon give way to a steeply sloping, partially muddy slope. Approximately 10 meters down, there is a axe like boulder (2.5m long) wedged between the walls of a small chamber. A short climb down below this boulder you hit another boulder floor in a chamber approximately 3 meters wide; this chokes at the bottom. However, standing on the top of the axe like boulder a narrow passage, with a notable draft, leads off left. A steep muddy climb up brings you out to an eye hole above another steeply sloping shaft (going up into an aven on the left and continuing steeply down on the right). Various rebelays and another 27 meters below, the shaft continues after being broken by a small, muddy ledge. The draft continues to be prominent and water trickles and puddles visible on portruding ledges below. A Y-hang allows one to descend another 75 meters in a rift system reminiscent of Easegill. At the bottom this pitch series becomes notably wetter and is named Goretex is a lie. Eventually this trickle/stream continues into a rift too small to enter. On the left a short crawl through a blocky mud filled hole also dies out.

Northern area (The Wares)


From the foot of University Challenge pitch, descending around 10m south down the chamber, there is a very large boulder on the right with two spits in the roof to rig a 3m pitch (free-climbable with care) to a steeply descending canyon. Following down the canyon, shortly an opening on the right links to the start of Heavily Soiled passage. At the base of the canyon the passage continues as fairly tight rift guarded by poised rocks [C2004-204-22 A]. Between these points, a high mud bank on the left opens into the short section of phreatic passage which continues further south as Hippo Hollows, passing a high tube in the right-hand wall [C2004-204-20 X]. The main way on is opposite this high mud bank. Here, on the right near the bottom of the canyon, a short traverse (two spits and a natural and a 12m rope; free-climbed for 2005 trips) over a large, loose mud bank gains access up to a large walking passage, Earthenware. This drafts out strongly and continues north, horizontally, for 100m. Earthenware initially passes some stalactites, opposite which there is a passage on the left [C2004-204-23 C]; then the phreatic development extends to slope up on the right side. Continuing leads to a trench; climbing down into the trench on the left-hand side of the passage leads to a side passage, Software [WOOKEY BECKA] [C2005-204-73 A] and at the other end is a climb down into Firmware [WOOKEY BECKA].

A little beyond this is a junction, where a passage leads off to the left to join Software, while a muddy slope on the right leads to a muddy tube that goes steeply up to a boulder choke. A second, less obvious tube leads up on the right just before this first tube. This second tube climbs up very steeply and continues beyond the end of the 2004 survey though some aid may be needed to complete the climb up [C2004-204-28 A]. These two tubes are the Chimney. The main passage of Earthenware continues up a slope over mud floor formations and boulders to an obvious junction. The draft comes from the continuation of Earthenware straight ahead. The larger passage on the left is Stoneware. Stoneware leads steeply down and narrows from large walking passage to twisting vadose passage with a clean-washed rock floor with loose, sharp rocks balanced on it. This continues for around 50m to a chamber. Here there is a drop through loose mud [XXX unnumbered QM B] and a roof tube [C2004-204-29 X]. Continuing on, past another roof tube [C2004-204-30 X], the passage terminates at a drippy aven [C2004-204-32 X]. [Editor's note: I'm rather puzzled by this as the QM grades assigned on the survey don't match the description. C].]

Earthenware continues smaller and soon reaches a complex junction, the beginning of the labyrinth known as The Wares. On the right are three passages leading into Underware. The second contains attractive calcite on the walls and is conservation-taped off. On the left there are also three passages: the first and third lead into Hardware (the third passing [C2005-204-76 C] on the way], while the second slopes down to a small chamber with no way on.

Hardware is initially small but strongly drafting and twists along and soon reaches a junction. Ahead on the left drops down a ramp past a fine white formation but soon finishes. Just beyond this ramp, a muddy passage leads up on the right back to Earthenware. Continuing straight ahead, the main passage soon opens up into very large phreatic passage with large boulders on the floor. Soon there are openings on both left and right. Taking this left, the passage, Someware, drops down steeply. Two junctions on the right both lead to a small chamber beyond which is a wet aven [C2005-204-74 X] on the right which feeds a small, sharp, immature streamway on the left [C2005-204-82 C]. Note that this aven is separate from that at 04-39B. The continuation of this left passage down is [C2005-204-75 A] and takes a small stream. Right leads up steeply to Underware. Further along is another crossroads; left links back into Someware; right soon chokes. This large passage soon closes down again and slopes steeply up in a large boulder pile. The 2004 survey ended at the top of the boulder slope. A deep pitch descends on the left [C2004-204-39 C] and there is a possible continuation up on the right of the slope through boulders [C2004-204-40 C].


The three passages up on the right of Earthenware all enter a very large, horizontal phreatic passage, Underware. This continues both left (north) and right (south).

From the entry points from Earthenware, Underware continues to the left for around 50m north, to end in a huge boulder choke and roof collapse. A large passage on the left at the start of this collapse zone drops into Hardware, following a small stream. A small tube just beyond this passage soon chokes. A small drafting passage off to the right at the start of the collapse zone is the start of Tableware.

Underware continues to the right as large passage heading south, passing a small passage to the left[C2004-204-47 C], before closing down in a boulder slope. Just before it closes down a large passage leads off up to the left. This climbs up steeply past a huge boulder mid-passage then narrows as it reaches a small mud chamber. Under a boulder on the left of this chamber the passage turns right, becoming too tight after 4m, and at the far end of the chamber a passage goes off which becomes too tight after 6m. The main way on is a drafting thin rift on the left that soon opens out into the bottom of a large sloping passage. This mud-floored ramp climbs up very steeply and in 2004 the survey ended at the point at which protection was needed to continue the ascent [C2004-204-49 A]. A second passage leads off on the right where the thin rift enters this steep ramp. This second passage again climbs up steeply and appeared to reach an aven, with possible passages leading off around 4m up [C2004-204-48 X].


The passage heads steeply upwards, and it splits into many small tubes which all meet up with each other and meet a horizontal piece of phreatic tube. To the right passes a hole going down to the right [C2004-204-43 C], where stones will rattle for quite a while, probably due to a sloping pitch rather than any great depth, while continuing past the hole leads up slope to come into a larger passage, which is more easily accessed by following the main route. To the left a little more scrambling up leads into a passage that goes off to the left and right, and is high enough to stand up in.

To the right opens up some more and leads to a pitch [C2004-204-44 B], and an aven [C2004-204-45 X]; a small hole on the right before the pitch is where the previously described passage enters. To the left, the passage continues to a small sloping chamber, at the bottom of which a crawl goes off but chokes, while at the top of the chamber a couple of short passages also quickly choke. From the higher entrance to the chamber there is a rift in the ceiling, which continues on the opposite side of the chamber; [C2004-204-46 C] this would require a climb of a couple of metres to access.