Stellerweghöhle Guidebook: Main (41a/b) Entrance

Pete Lancaster and Andy Waddington

41b : Alt 1638.0m
41a : Alt 1624.5m


The entrances open in the southern slopes of Vorderer Schwarzmooskogel, reached by marked path number 201 from the Bergrestaurant and car park at the top of the Loser Panoramastrße. This is followed over Egglgrube, past the Kratzer Valley and along the well-marked Stogerweg perched on the hillside above Weiße Wand. Shortly beyond the draughting hole of 1623/32 Windloch, the path drops steeply down the hillside. The two entrances are found 50 vertical metres up the hillside, by following orange paint marks from a clearly marked permanent survey station "P3".

The upper entrance (41b) is in a large rift about 30m to the east of the lower (41a) which is a strongly outward-draughting tube in a shattered gully. Following this tube down leads to a chamber with a snow bank, which is below the open shaft of the upper entrance. The amount of snow varies from year to year, and may obscure the lower ways on.

Furthest right in the entrance chamber is an ascent to a point 20m above the 41b entrance, and a choke near the surface.

Almost opposite the point of entry, heading east, is a narrow ramp down, Extrablatt, which leads to the German Route, apparently explored in 1972 (before CUCC's arrival in the area).

The widest exit, roughly north, has holes in the floor and immediately crosses a ramp. Up the wide ramp to the left leads to the main way on, whilst down to the right connects with Extrablatt and the German route. Straight on quickly opens out with two more ramps down right into the German route, whilst keeping high and left gives several ways back up to the main route.

CUCC's main way on (1980)

The passage to the left in the entrance chamber was taken as the main way on, found by CUCC in 1980. Depending on conditions, this may require an ice traverse above a ramp. The way is a fine arched passage which is followed up dip until a right turn reveals a large 45° ramp. This drops back into the straight on passage from the entrance chamber, and continues down towards the German route. Crossed by a traverse, the continuing way involves a step over a hole in the floor, then three more descending ramps in a short distance, all of which go to the same place as the first ramp. The whole of the cave in this entrance series is of phreatic origin, developed along an inclined joint plane. Although there are various ramps and small side leads, the main way on is fairly obvious, following the easiest route across.

The only significant lead on the left of this area is a connection to the 1623/142 entrance. This leads in a few metres to the pitch descended by CUCC from the far side, to reach a Dripping Chamber. Apparently this can be passed by a traverse on the right.

The main passage continues for 40m or so, crossing another small ramp, blind both up and down, to a further traverse above a larger descending ramp, DIN-Rampe, which descends for 50m until a pitch blocks the way forward. Directly across this pitch is a window into the passage at the start of the German Route.

Crossing the DIN-Rampe, the passage descends via a climb and traverse to a 21m pitch, but this may be bypassed by keeping right and following the ramp down. At the bottom, left along the strike leads to Megalodonten-Schlinger, the chamber reached from the foot of the pitch. From here, a variety of ways are possible.

Opposite the point of entry and heading north is a ramp up. The main routelies to the right a short way up this [C1980-41-21]. This brings one to a steeply descending phreatic passage, BUS, with bridging climbs which are followed by lined traverses across two ramps. Care is required here as severe abrasion was noted on derigged ropes from these traverses, which had been in regular use as direct aid in 1980. The next ramp [C1980-41-25] has no immediately obvious way on at the other side and was descended using a ladder since it is far too muddy to use SRT safely. To the right via a small pitch [C1980-41-30] is the 1980 route down the Big Pitch. It has become unclear whether the route used in 1981 and subsequently is to the left on this first ramp - [C1980-41-31]. If so, two small pitches lead to the best hang.

Although there is no obvious way across the ramp which led to the Big Pitch, it can be followed upwards, and shortly a way on becomes apparent, heading north along the strike, and ascending slightly. This shortly intersects another large ramp. The way across this continues as Alice im Wunderland, whilst descending it to the right is the 1981 route to the Big Pitch. After 30m, the ramp splits. To the right seems to be the way used by CUCC, whilst to the left is somewhat narrower and the way used by Arge. Both ways drop into the same larger passage - to the right leads to a wide lip of the Big Pitch. Straight ahead from the left (Arge) passage leads in a narrower passage to the Big Pitch on its north side, here a 95m descent.

Left in the passage reached from either version of the ramp is an inlet passage explored by CUCC in 1984, ending in an aven below 1623/143.

The Big Pitch (1980)

The Big Pitch is 100m in a large elliptical shaft and wonderfully free and airy until a rebelay 25m from the bottom (1980 rigging). It lands in a rift with a small stream. An obvious route lies downstream, and can be followed in a sharp passage, Wet 'n' Wild, until the stream disappears into a hole [C1980-41-35]. Climbing up, a higher level can be followed for 90m, some of which is traversing above the canyon. The water is regained after a 9m pitch which is quickly succeeded by a 20m pitch. Narrow rift passages link this with a series of short (9, 5, 6, and 6m) pitches of which the last three have tight takeoffs. The last lands in a bigger space with a bouldery floor.

The Big Rift (1980-81)

A short climb up over boulders breaks out into a large dry rift The Big Rift (100m high and 5m wide). A 7m gully (which needs care owing to loose rock, though mainly small stuff) and 24m pitch are followed by a 6m pendulum to the head of a 13m pitch which reaches the floor. A boulder strewn scramble and 7m free climb down leads to a 16m pitch. 3m later is a 4m pitch from a big boulder, then 8m forward to a 10m pitch. This ends is a 6m traverse to a manky bolt for the next 17m pitch which reaches floor, again, and 8m along this is another 17m pitch. These last two are wet in clean washed limestone, with the roof lowering to 10m in places. Two short (2.5m) climbs down reached the 1980 limit [C1980-41-38] which proved to be another 17m pitch. This drops into Junction Chamber to join the route from Schnellzughöhle. The whole of the Big Rift becomes serious in the event of a flood.