Waddington's Beer to caving ratio becomes finite !
Schwarzmooskogeleishöhle. (New entrance)
Left camp in the pre-dawn light and set off on the epic walk-in. Ages to get to Kataster 28 - hang a left here. Beautiful sunrise as we hacked up the German's path-to-the-bivouac-cave. Snow already softening as we passed Bunter's Bulge. Got to the German bivouac before midday, and eventually caught the French photographic party near the entrance at 2pm after a sweaty 9 hour walk-in. Investigation of the walk-in entrance suggested a height of 13" and a width of about 2 feet - draughting out at 0°C strong enough to snap off Sequoia gigantea trees at three miles. Both Jeremy and Waddington wittered furiously over the 6km flat-out entrance crawl, but couldn't turn round owing to the ice-axes being in the way. Soon found an expiring Frenchman in the way who needed escorting out, so we put our crampons on and ignored him. Within hours, Planc and Thomas were down the 50m overhanging ice-pitch on a few feet of knotted Blue-water while Jeremy was hung up on a loop of effete pink climbing rope - he asked for a knot in the end and it soon got jammed. Waddington spent an hour or so trying to get 11mm stiff Blue-water into a 9mm sticht plate before conceding defeat and changing to a figure-eight. Soon released Jeremy but ran out of arm-strength pushing the iron-bar-like Blue-water through the figure 8. Swapped to the pink python and lobbed into the BIGGEST chamber we've seen for some time. Also full of ice ! Soon blinded by French flash bulbs the size of your head and in severe risk of melting the whole shebang. Found Planc 30 metres up the first ice-stalagmite hanging from one ice-tool but he soon fell off with a huge crash of broken ice. As the rest of the party descended, all the formations filled with front-point scars and the French shouted more and more frantically for lights to be turned out. Flashes fired (well two out of three) and everyone went blind for five minutes. People who valued their eyesight started exitting as the strobe-rate got near epilepsy-inducing frequency. Couldn't resist what is probably (log book confirmation) C.U.C.C.'s first ever ice-screw rebelay. Escorted French near-corpse to entrance and then waited for rest to appear. All out after a couple of years caving time to find that only a couple of hours had passed on the surface.
A much recommended tourist trip if you can get a helicopter ride to the entrance - brilliant formations no doubt better earlier in the season.
A remarkable, near light-speed walk back in only an hour and a half, for the loss of about 37 litres of sweat each (much less than on the walk-in!)
TU ~2½ hours
Andy Waddington (first trip with CUCC for ~ 3 years)
Next CUCC trip here (1990)
Another quote. Waddington in the kartoffelhütte. "I don't care, as long as I'm on page three first !"