204 - Steinbrücken

Fri 09 Aug 2002



Went in through 204E. Earl rigged the main 204e pitch, adding a bolt, but leaving it in need of another rebelay. Tony joined us and we descended to Boulder Coaster / Treeumphant Passage junction. Walked round to Great Oak Chamber to look at the feasibility of attempting the traverse to the large A lead visible across the chamber. After a bit of thought, we go for it. Tony lifelines Earl out from a boulder on one side of the chamber. As I go, I clear a ledge of loose boulders and add a number of bolts with shiny new drill. Feeding the rope through a carabiner at each hanger means I don't have to tie the knots as I go, plus Tony can give me just the right amount of rope, withough me bothering with a stop or having a heavy tackle sack dangling off me. Also, the rope is always tight, and if I did fall the fall factor is much less than 0.1 as there is rope through the karabiners to take the shock. From what was an uncertain start, a good ledge and taut traverse emerges. When I got to the end I returned to the start, rigging the rope properly to the maillons. Alex and Tony came to see what lies beyond.

After only a few minutes I am called across to bring rope and slings. It appears that the huge A lead closes down within about 15m, and the only way on is a couple of C-grade leads in one wall. We try a small phreatic tube, but it gets rather committing, and climb up a loose flakey wall, but that also becomes a bit risky. We decide to run away.

We leave the traverse rigged for a photography and survey trip, and Earl suggests that the quickest way back might be through 204a (we did not go back out of 204e as it needed another rebelay to avoid a rub). So we go through No Pain No Gain and up to the base of Thread Pitch, which Duncs had rigged earlier that day. However, there was NO ROPE there... "Maybe he rigged Pendulum Pitch instead?" we thought. So we went to Pendulum Pitch to find that there is NO ROPE there either. I check at You're So Veined, and there is indeed a rope there, so the conclusion we came to is that for some reason Duncs has pulled the rope up after him on leaving the cave...

So we return through No Pain No Gain and ehad out to 204d via Swings and Roundabouts. The rubble slope up to Suspended Solution is still really loose and if anything there are more threatening Big Boulders which could be dislodged by the careless/unwary. We pulled-through on the climb donw into Living Daylight Cavern and free-climbed out through 204d. Returned to Steinbrücken bivvy, Tony cursing the "route" which had been mainly chosen for surveying (taking in all high points) and not really for ease of progress... A reasonable trip, combining new exploration work with a (rather longer than expected) tourist around the main horizontal development in Steinbrücken.