Loser Plateau - 234 - Plateau walk + Hauchhöhle

Tue 27 Jul 2004

Finally set off up the hill to fetch the remainder of my caving gear at 3.50pm, intending to make a quick return in daylight with the gear. Olly M kindly came along for the walk and to help me carry. (Perhaps also the best way to ensure that I didn't get lost on the plateau forever more.)

The walk proceeded quickly and with minimum moaning on my part (due mostly to my empty rucksack). Olly and I deviated from the path to investigate a few cave entrances – turning out to be in the 80s. We were rejoined by Julian and Becka shortly afterwards, near the beginning of the slabs.

Towards the end of the slabs, I did the often done thing of slipping with one of my walking poles. I then managed to kick said pole, and due to the wrist straps not being used (for safety in case the pole got stuck), the pole was projected forward. The pole slipped, bounced, then fell. Fell onto the snow plug covering a ~20m deep hole. Rattle, slip, rattle and it was gone. Climbing round the hole revealed a 10m drop / abseil / climb down at one end, but the rock was far too loose to attempt the climb, so we continued less one walking pole to the stone bridge.

Eventually we got packed, fed and watered at the bridge, and after pausing to try and firebomb the fly infested facilities [and using up a substantial proportion of the stone bridge petrol supply in the process—DL], we must have left some time around 7.20pm. With us, Olly and I took some hangers (in case we found my old spits), a sling, karabiner and a ?m long 9mm rope probably de-rigged from Razor Dance. We intended to get that pesky pole back.

En route, we stopped off at Hauchhöhle to retrieve my caving gear and whilst there, I decided to go caving and retrieve my slings and krabs from the pitch/climb rigging. This was done quickly, replacing the sling + krab with a club pair, and the other Y-hang arm was rethreaded through the bomber natural instead of via the sling.

Once out of Hauchhöhle, I found Olly hunting around on the edge of the hole for a second thread / natural belay. Tony appeared on his way to the bridge, and recommended rigging a scramble down the back end of the hole, where the drop was more, around 10m. We did this, rigged from the single bit of usefully fixed rock in the vicinity – a bomber thread.

Pole was retrieved very easily by gently abseiling down and going around the snow plug. Very gently prusiking and self-lining completed the ascent (not wanting to damage the 9mm rope over the ledge. Pole was handed up on the end of the rope to safety.

Rest of walk on the plateau was uneventful, although both my wellies escaped my rucksack bindings and fell down different (but both shallow) grikes. Thankfully the weather remained dry in spite of ominous-looking clouds. The light was poor by this time, and I slipped and stumbled more than usual, hurting both of my ankles.

Walking back from the huts, we encountered several bovine obstructions blocking our path. In the first instance, a calf lying down in the path. Damn. This was not good. We were shortly surrounded by the cattle, who had all stood up and shown an interest. (Including some with excessively large horns which looked quite pointy.) Thankfully, walking slowly (very) and calmly defused the situation, and a similar one later on was similarly dealt with.

Got back to car park tired, sore and bruised at about 10:40pm. I suspect I'll sleep soundly tonight!