Schnellzughöhle entrance series side passages (1980)

As the initial entry series is so obscure, the short dead ends at the entrance are described under the main route description.

Where the Hedgehog emerges into the abandoned phreatic tube, the way right becomes low over a silty mud floor [C1980-115-48], and shows little promise.

Where the way left ends its roller coaster progress by intersecting another tube at a climb down above the ramp, the way left in the larger tube is an inlet passage [C1981-115-00] with eight small dry cascades to a choke 30m up.

The large hole down in the floor at this point Baker's Bungle was taken as the obvious way on in 1980. It proves to be a blind rift pitch in the narrow trench below the true way on. A traverse off, 10m from the top of the pitch, was the route by which the correct way on was discovered at the end of the 1980 trip, leading into the Ramp a little lower down than the normal route.

The trench below the Ramp has not been entered lower down. After crossing it once, the pitch series regains it again at a point where it is wide enough to be entered, at a rebelay where the crossing to the Col departs. A possible route down the trench, [C1981-115-02], appears blind, and was not pushed.

The inlet in the bottom of the rift above the Inlet Pitches can be followed up for a short way until progress is barred by an upward pitch. It is possible that this water comes from the vicinity of the vast black space seen from the bottom of the Ramp. Its speed of rising in wet weather suggests a fairly direct route from the surface.

It has been suggested that a traverse could be possible over the 24m pitch into the Big Chamber [C1981-115-03]. This would head ESE, possibly to meet the source of the inlet above the Big Chamber food dump, but it seems likely that the walls diverge and this would be too epic to contemplate.

Big Chamber (115 final chamber)

The WNW-ESE joint or fault that has determined the form of the cave from the Ramp down the Inlet Pitches appears to "bottom out" here and continuations are largely sub-horizontal. As well as the water falling down the 24m entry pitch, water comes from other sources in the area. Following the main water up (N or NE?) beyond where the 115 waterfall comes in, leads 50m in a big passage to 50m of small vadose streamway closing at an inlet sump [C1981-115-04]. It seems likely that the big passage is a fossil downstream phreatic tube (fed by water from the Futility Series), cleared of fill by the invading small stream.

Up the boulder slope in the chamber leads to the site of a food dump where an inlet is seen in wet weather; through a hole in the wall, a short crawl is thought to emerge at an aven [C1981-115-05].

Water flows over the boulder floor towards the start of Pete's Purgatory - the first streamway CUCC found in Austria which was (just) big enough to follow. Above this is a network of large and small phreatic passages.

Pete's Purgatory (1981)

Following the combined waters in the 115 Big Chamber downstream leads to 800m (taped, but not fully surveyed) of unrelentingly narrow meandering vadose canyon. The passage is of uniform size, never wider than 1m and in places sufficiently small to require traversing above the squeeze or crawling at water level. There are few features of interest, but a small drip inlet, an oxbow, and a series of cascades permit some measure of progress to be judged. Eventually, (typically two hours) the passage joins a similar sized stream at The Confluence, where the dry Purgatory Bypass via Junction Chamber joins the route from above.

The large abandoned tube above the Purgatory is followed West, then NNW by crossing from ledge to ledge, or by climbing up from below some way downstream of the chamber. Eventually further traversing was given up as the ledges give out shortly after the right branch into the Purgatory Bypass. However, this tube is expected to continue as [C1981-115-06], and should be checked. It is possible (speculative) that this tube could be reached from one or more QMs around Connection Cairn.

The Futility Series (1982)

The Futility Series branches left from the large tube above the Purgatory, where it turns northwards soon after leaving Big Chamber, and where a large boulder is jammed across the stream trench [C1981-115-09]. The way leads South in a large passage past a ramp on the left which can be followed up a gully to two avens [C1982-115-35]. Soon, a small choked passage in the floor on the right breaks into the 12m high Pebble Beach Chamber, with a drip inlet down a red flowstone covered area. Beyond this, boulders become more frequent in the passage until a climb up brings one to Big Enough Chamber (4m high) with two ways on.

To the right, a 3m diameter tube soon becomes impassable as the sandy floor rises towards the roof, with a strong draught at the end [C1982-115-36]. The passage is heading SW towards the surface and at this point is about 100m from the valley side below the 115 entrance. A dig was considered from the surface, but a suitable site was not located on the surface surveying trip to find the nearest point. Time prevented a dig in the cave, and the system has not been rigged since. To the left from Big Enough Chamber, up a mud slope, a horizontal slot leads to a larger passage with a stream which soon sinks into the sandy floor. The passage ends abruptly at a choke just beyond some rippled mud formations [C1982-115-37].

The Connection area (1981)

The low mud-filled continuation of the abandoned tube above the Purgatory leads into a mazy fossil phreatic area. The passage size increases in this, past one or two passages right. Both the original grade 1 sketch and the notes for the grade 5 survey show the first as a genuine question mark [C1981-115-17], but later descriptions omit this. (It is shown on the published survey, although almost hidden by the Ramp directly above). The second is a steeply rising tube to the right which loops back to connect at roof level with the route (there are a few straws here).

After this junction a small vadose trench in the floor contains only seepage water, but the route lowers to a crawl through a sandy floored arch to a point where the route diverges. Left, the original way explored in 1981, a short thrutch emerges at Connection Cairn, which lies in a complex area above a vadose trench with water estimated to be 10m below [C1981-115-16] (thought to be the Purgatory, but almost equally likely to be the Stellerweg water or a different stream entirely). Several passages lead off here [C1981-115-13], but one rises steeply upwards in a large tube [C1981-115-12], eventually to reach the low wide sandy crawl which is the main route.

Junction Chamber area (1981)

Junction Chamber is a nexus of routes where the entrance series of both Schnellzughöhle and the ramifications of Stellerweghöhle join. Two streams, one from Stellerweg's Big Rift to the NW and one from the NE (the opposite side from the 115 passage), join and drop into the deep slot which is traversed over on the entry route from 115. The water downstream has not been followed [C1981-41-14], but the water is assumed to form part of the inlet stream which enters at The Confluence. A continuation traverse [C1981-41-15] above this stream may not exist, but maybe should be checked.

The inlet stream across Junction Chamber cannot be followed very far upstream. Directly opposite the point of entry from 115, a very greasy 10m climb up (handline essential for repeated use) gives access to a large passage which is the NE-trending continuation of that on the other side of the chamber. This soon leads to a trench in the floor into which no descent has been made [C1981-41-19]. Following this above the water (thought to be the stream emerging on the NE of Junction Chamber) gives onto a traverse which has not been pushed (sketching shows continuation c 80m to two avens [C1981-41-20,C1981-41-21], both with inlets).