Homecoming cave description
Dickon Morris and Becka Lawson
R = right; L = left;
p = pitch (e.g., p30 = 30m pitch)
c = climb (e.g., c10 = 10m climb)
N = north, S = south, E = east, W = west
QM = question mark meaning an open, unexplored lead
PT = point marked on survey
Bold text indicates passage / series names.
The main route is described in normal text and side passages / oxbows are described in italics.
The entrance is located in a gully with thick vegetation on either side. It is an obvious open pit with a snow plug in the bottom.
The entrance pitch (p5) drop onto a snow plug where heading downslope leads to a stance on jammed boulders. A p4 drops onto a narrow ledge which is traversed for a short distance to the head of a p7 which lands on a second snow plug. (The p4 is very wet if it is raining on the surface but it would not be hazardous to exit the cave in these conditions, just very unpleasant)
From the bottom of the second snow plug a short, drafting crawl over boulders leads directly to two more pitches, a p5 then immediately a p10. Below here a short wriggle through boulders on the L side of the passage leads to a short section of rift passage ending at a p3 to a ledge. The ledge looks out over a large chamber with jammed boulders in the roof directly opposite the ledge. (There may be passage leading off from these jammed boulders, QMB). The p30 from this ledge to the floor of the chamber is Radagast and it lands on a boulder floor. (5m below the top of Radagast it is possible to swing into a series of small phreatic tubes and immature vadose shafts trending SW at point PT01 and leading past PT02. This area does not contain any great leads but may be worth a look as it is an easy, shallow trip).
From the bottom of Radagast a traverse on the L along a bedrock ledge with jammed boulders leads to a p5. From here the route narrows to a meander which is followed as close to the roof as possible to a point where the floor opens out and there is a short traverse (left rigged in 2019) to drop into a boulder-floored aven chamber. Downslope in this chamber chokes; the way on is an up pitch (left rigged in 2019) onto another boulder floor, from which a tall meander leads off (Definitely not the Dachstein).
Definitely not the Dachstein leads (via a number of traverses, two short pitches down and one short pitch up) to the top of Wallace (p30) which drops down to the base of a large meander then lands on a ledge. From the ledge, two short hangs lead to a very exposed stance below which the continuing meander bells out into a large free hanging rift pitch, Grommit (p55). (Traversing S along the walls of the Grommit is likely to gain entry to the upstream continuation of The Second Coming; this is QMA 2019-01). Around 10m from the base of Grommit pitch it is possible to swing onto a ledge on the W wall (this is awkward to rig; the easiest option is to descend to the base of the pitch and climb up the wall protected with jammers on the pitch rope). Traversing along the ledge leads to an abandoned meander with a very strong outward draft. A short p5 N of PT03 at the far end of the traverse drops down to the start of The Second Coming. (Continuing to the bottom of Grommit lands on a rock floor with a vadose trench and a stream in the bottom. This leads via a p10 to a short series of narrow tubes which end in tight sumps and chokes).
The Second Coming
The Second Coming starts below the p5 N of PT03 (which is at the end of the traverse from the Entrance Series). (From here a p8 (left rigged 2019) up to a small phreatic tube on the R leads to Propane Nightmares). The passage continues as a very drafty phreatic tube with a vadose trench to quickly reach a junction at PT04. (Heading L at this junction leads to Hobnob Hallway (described in a separate section below). Continuing directly NE along The Second Coming the passage immediately passes a small L passage (this immediately goes to a junction. Here, L oxbows down Kitkat Connection straight back to Hobnob Hallway whilst R goes to a parallel passage to The Second Coming). After a further section of straight, high rift to the NE it reaches a junction at PT05 with a large, abandoned meander. (L here heading downstream and SW in this meander, the roof gradually lowers - passing a junction on the L that goes to Kitkat Connection - until a high aven with a flowstone floor is reached. Beyond this aven a short section of passage leads to a pitch (QMA) with a passage visible on the other side (QMA) that is presumed to be the continuation of the aforementioned meander).
From PT05, heading ‘upstream’ (though there is not always any water flowing) from the junction in the meander leads, via some exposed traversing and an area of boulder collapse, to another junction at PT06. Here a phreatic tube on the L comes in halfway up the meander. (Continuing along the meander past the junction passes a number of pools and sections of crawling to reach a large pool across the entire passage. This has not yet been crossed. Just before the pool it is possible to climb up around 5m at PT07 to a higher-level passage which goes around 10m NE to reach a traverse, Wilfully Endangering Lives, over a large window into the lower passage).
At PT06 the phreatic tube on the L passes through several stooping sections and a well decorated canyon with pools in the floor to reach a free climbable hole in the floor which is the top of the 5m climb at PT07 previously described. Crossing over Wilfully Endangering Lives reaches some jammed boulders about 5m E of PT08 and the passage continues on as a pleasant but very drafty canyon. (At PT09 at the first corner there is a climb down on the L into a passage which is presumed to be the continuation of the lower level passage. This QM B has not been pushed beyond the wide pool). Continuing past this junction the passage becomes maze-like and needs fully surveying. It eventually ends at a deep drafty rift. (This has been pushed by Haydon Saunders et al in 2018, supposedly to a large chamber called the Lizard King, beyond PT10, but no survey data has been forthcoming. The whole area needs a good push; there are probably no easy leads but the draft is absolutely ridiculous).
(This description should be checked and related to the QMs marked on the survey) Heading L at the first junction along The Second Coming leads to Hobnob Hallway. This starts as a sand floored phreatic passage. A short distance along a hole in the floor leads N to Kit Kat connection which loops back to The Second Coming. Further along, a fine false floor crosses a small stream, not explored. A small sandy slope leads down to a canyon on the R, with a phreatic passage at the top. A short way along this phreas, Phil Lynn’s Concert Hall, a small chamber, is reached. From here a hole to the R leads to Dead Bat Dead End. Back at the canyon, a small passage can be followed to another junction, returning to the canyon. To the R is unsurveyed, but the L continues along a phreatic named Papsi Passage, with the canyon in the floor. Occasional smaller (barely body sized) phreatics break off from this. Eventually the canyon is lost, and the phreatic continues. A further junction is reached, to the R, Papsi Passage continues. To the L leads down Dead Fly Passage, ending at the top of a canyon, presumably the continuation of the earlier canyon. Papsi Passage continues in the phreatic until it too reaches a canyon, presumably the same).
From PT03 at the end of the traverse from the Entrance Series descend the p5 to the N. (Ahead the main passage is The Second Coming). Ascend a p8 (left rigged 2019) up to a small phreatic tube on the R. This enters Propane Nightmares. It starts as a stooping size phreatic tube formed on a fault plane heading E. (Around 10m from the start of the passage a narrow canyon leads up on the R and then heads steeply down towards the sound of a waterfall. This ends in a steep slope which the survey suggests connects with Grommit). The main passage continues E with a similar size, passing a handline c8 up (left rigged in 2019) immediately followed by a p12 down. Continuing E soon reaches a three-way junction at PT11. This is the beginning of a maze area. Down and keeping L (N) leads to another junction. Turning R at this second junction shortly leads to the top of a p5 down. (Straight on at this second junction leads, via a steeply descending phreas with a squeeze, to a steep sided static sump. Traversing around the edge of this sump leads to a larger passage which heads SW and shortly reaches the bottom of the p5 described above. This route bypasses the p5 but it is not recommended due to the risk of falling into the static sump which would likely be fatal. E of the sump a drafty ramp ascends to a short bolt climb with a good draft, QMA).
From the bottom of the p5 the passage develops a trench in the floor and soon leads to a T junction at PT12 with a large pitch in the floor (QMA). (To the R leads to a splashy aven and the head of an immature canyon, QM_not_worth_the_misery). To the L at the PT12 junction is a short, roped traverse (left rigged 2019) which leads to a crawling sized phreatic tube that soon arrives at a p4 with a tiny wet inlet in the roof at the head of the pitch. Below, the phreas continues as a crawl until a canyon develops in the floor which, after a couple of short climbs, arrives at the top of Strained by Gravity (p75)
Strained by Gravity is broken by four large ledges and lands on a boulder floor with a waterfall entering on the E side. (A passage leads off directly behind the waterfall - it is not possible to avoid getting wet - and traverses over a pit in the floor with a streamway at the bottom; after the traverse it is possible to drop down into a streamway (described next) or to continue to traverse into a phreatic tube in the roof, QMB). Clambering down among the boulders at the bottom of Strained By Gravity it is possible to scurry under a drippy area below the waterfall (umbrella recommended) to enter Watershed, a fine streamway that trends SE. (Just past the waterfall the passage passes beneath the traverse mentioned above).
Watershed continues for over 100m as a significant streamway with some unusually impressive speleothems for the Totes Gebirge. This section is reminiscent of the great stream caves of the Mendip Hills until the water begins to cut down into a trench in the floor. At this point progress is made by traversing at roof level in a phreatic tube that continues to be finely decorated. This carries on until it eventually reaches a T-junction. R immediately arrives at a large, wet pitch (QMA) whilst to the L the phreas continues and almost immediately reaches another two way junction (QMAx2).