Expo Festering Guide
What to do for R&R when burnt out from too much caving, or when
the weather is simply too hot or too awful to go up to the plateau?
Expo members often bring alternative sports equipment, or there are a wide
range of games which don't need any. Try:
Abseiling off the stupidly huge cliff at Grundlsee,
Canoeing, Car Fixing,
Ice creams, Mohr-im-Hemd eating,
Pedalo Pedalling, Potato Hut
Tobogganing, Trisselberg ascent,
Tyrolean building, Via-ferrata, Windsurfing...
- Huge Abseil
- Recommended by the local cavers, this 200m almost-a-free-hang cliff
provides mind-bending sport, probably not to be repeated by any of those
that had a go first time.
- Bier drinking
In the "early days" Expo used to drink Reininghaus Bier in the Bar
Fischer in Altaussee, as we didn't have a good socialising tent (or potato
hut) to drink the more economic bottled variety. Nowadays, bier comes dead
cheap, in crates, from the supermarket (and the preferred brand is Gösser). Expo always
maintains a tally of bottled beers drunk, so that the right people get charged
for it - and so we can report how many metric tons we got through each year.
There is a corresponding Limonade tally.
- Brewery tour
Gösser kindly sponsored us in
2004 and gave us an excellent tour of their brewery at Göss, just outside
Leoben (two hours' drive from Base Camp; accessible on the train too).
See the pictures.
- Austrians do pretty good cakes for pigging out on calorie-restoration
days when veggie-slop just isn't enough. It's best to point and say "Ein
stuck bitte" rather than try to ask for exactly what you want. One person's
mega-sticky-chocolate-cake arrived as a cup of cocoa through trying to be
on the lake is a pleasant way to cool off for all and sundry. There are also
white water rivers, from the easy (ie. they need a bit of rain) to the
"sporting" delights of the Traun from Bad Aussee to Hallstatt - in a deep
valley nowhere near an escape route. This was first done by Vic Brown (6th in
women's K1 slalom at the 1972 Olympics) with an assortment of exCS "Victims".
More relaxing is to paddle from Grundlsee back to base camp, but watch out for Hilde's weir (see picture).
- Owing to being mainly impoverished students, expo has an annual crop of
shit cars which limp across Europe with unfeasably large loads and equally
crap trailers, which provides for
epic travel. This usually
results in at least one car being fettled at any time during expo, which
provides relaxing spectator sport for everyone else in
base camp at the time. One chariot which was more
reliable than most, until its eventual demise through old age and several
visits to Austria was Rover Richardson (middle pic, below),
who had the distinction of being older than his owner. For an account
of amazing persistence in the face of crap transport read
"How (not) to drive round Europe"
from CU 1992. This tale involves a Citroen van and a Volvo, also depicted below.
|The trailer responsible for the 1995 epic
||Wookmobile II looking a bit the worse for wear
- Far more people seem to travel by bike in Austria than in the UK despite
the obvious disadvantages of (a) ridiculous heat or (b) it pissing buckets
and (c) it's very hilly. However, cycling down the
toll road is very pleasant, or can be very exciting,
depending on whether or not you are trying to break the club record of under
ten minutes or it is (again) pissing buckets. Most people foolish enough to
do it at all, only cycle up the toll road once (but there are
exceptions, even to this rule).
- Dachstein climbing
Dave Brindle tops out in cloud
This is the fine peak with glacier visible from the
toll road on a clear day. Although the postcards
would have you believe it is a 3k peak, this is really only 2994m, not that
this detracts from a fine day out. One look at the "via ferrata" up the
south-facing cliff is enough to convince everyone of the wisdom of investing
in a seilbahn ticket up to the glacier, where summer skiing is possible if
you are early enough. The climb itself is fun, and well-equipped with great
reinforcing bar handholds everywhere, which probably explains the drongo
density - a helmet or a suitable turn of speed are advised to avoid
It can be done in a day on
foot from Hallstatt, but only if you are very fit.
- Dinghy floating
One of a plethora of festering activities centred around the conveniently
nearby, but out of earshot of the campsite, lake (Grundlsee). Parking has
become a problem if you have too much gear, but an inflatable dinghy is one of
the most easily carried bits of kit, thus avoiding the parking meters.
- There is not much scope for cave diving in CUCC's caves, though some has
been done in nearby resurgences. However, for relaxing by the lake, a set of
scuba gear and wetsuit or Michelin-man drysuit are ideal. The water is clear,
and in Grundlsee lies an underwater habitat which is fun to visit, and an old
lorry which is "verboten".
Diving in Altausseer See
revealed not the hoped for resurgence, but a few bits of 50's vintage human
remains. Still it got us a go in the Feuerwehr's big red rescue boat :-)
Not for the complete beginner is the mind-bending takeoff from a ramp at the
top of the Toll-road. On early expos, everyone
thought that this was only for loonies, but now a small contingent of
C.U.Hang-gliding Club have shown that it is even possible to land in a tree
This is a sort of Russian-roulette with the base
camp barbecue. A large Dutch Oven is filled far too full with oil, perched on
the swinging barbecue above a large open fire and used to fry chips (at which
point it almost overflows onto said fire). A swinging barbecue is ideal for
getting lumps of meat off without getting burnt, but less than perfect when
the victim is set the task of getting a large hot pan of chips off. Needless
to say, we survived....
- Ideally, this means body-surfing down a river with a flat thing to
ride on to protect chest and arms from rocks, and with fins (flippers
to you) to give some degree of control. Needless to say, CUCC's version
involved a body board or an inner tube on the river from Grundlsee down
to base camp. "Reasonable" water levels are required, and getting out
to walk round the weir is strongly recommended. "Interesting to find out
how wet it can get before you hurt yourself or drown" (Wookey).
- Ice creams
- Austrians do ice creams every bit as good as their sticky cakes - and
with the advantage of Schlagobers to appeal to the calorifically-challenged.
- No, not the passage in
Kaninchenhöhle, but the death-by-chocolate pudding which it was named
after. The first challenge is to persuade the other attendees at the expo
dinner to pay for the game if you win. The second challenge is to eat ten of
these delicacies and not throw up for at least five minutes.
It has been done :-)
- Pedalo pedalling
Used to occur from Fritz's jetty when base camp was
at Altaussee, but is now more likely to be an excuse for a trip to Hallstatt,
where there is also a handy gear shop and a diving school
to get bottles filled.
- Potato Hut festering
(See also Bier Drinking.) Festering in the evenings, or
daytime in the rain, generally takes place in Hilde's "Potato Hut", so called
because it is the meeting place of the "Potato Club". This august local
organisation exists mainly to drink potato-derived alcohol, and engage in
curling on Hilde's ice - more usually a lake at the time of year of our
- Ever since we had a set of really excellent communications equipment
on evaluation from Philips in 1990, until the advent of mobile phones on expo
1999, expo hankered after a working set of CB-type radios. Top Camp to Base
Camp is not line of sight, and thus needed a repeater, which (a) didn't work or
(b) worked all the time and flattened its battery or (c) cut in and out
continuously during use or, very rarely, (d) worked perfectly. The temptation
to 'improve' it during time (d) resulted in hours being spent fettling it in
states (a) to (c). For better (probably) or worse, this activity is now pretty
much a thing of the past, owing to the advent of mobile phones.
OK, I admit, this is really caving, but it happens at base camp and is refreshing if it's hot. However, it can
be a bit epic in the river if it is in flood, in which case a Tyrolean traverse over the river is a sporting game.
- There are Salt Mines at both Hallstatt and Altaussee which are worth a
visit. The latter were used as a stash for huge amounts of stolen art
treasures by the Nazis, a fact that they keep strangely quiet about, given
that it was the brave action of one of the local workers which saved them
from being dynamited.
- Either in the river behind the Staud'nwirt or in one of the lakes, where
the top metre or so gets quite warm in hot weather.
- Can be done almost anywhere, when it doesn't piss down -
but usually combined with other activities at the side of the lake. However,
more rays can be picked up at Top Camp in the unusual event of good weather and
There is a dry (metal trough) toboggan run worth a visit near Bad Ischl. Wear
long sleeves and trousers if you value your skin - doing so enables you to
dispense with the brakes entirely.
- Trisselberg ascent
- Of six expo attempts, four have
succeeded - in 1984 and 1990, and 2007, and
An earlier attempt was thwarted by
a wasps' nest, and the 1992 attempt
made the error of retreating from high up in what turned out to be quite an
epic in a thunderstorm.
- Tyrolean traverse
- Has occurred towards the end of expo when large amounts of gear,
particularly rope and pulleys, ends up down by the river for
ropewashing. If the river really is too epic to stand in,
a tyrolean traverse from Hilde's to some trees opposite can provide an
awesome sense of exposure and not a little danger !
- Expo 2007 found that a new via-ferrata had been put up on Loser, starting
slightly above the level of the Loser Hut, about 60m along from the entrance to
LoserHöhle. It is short and steep, and has proved exceedingly popular with expo-goers
as a diversion of a couple of hours on the way up to the plateau. Others in the area have
also been ticked off - including a couple of very long ones on the Dachstein Sudwand.
- Yet another lakeside activity - this one really is easiest if there is
some wind, but as long as this is not too strong, it's a good game for total
beginners (unlike Hang-gliding, for example).