204 - Razordance -> The Forbidden City

Tue 24 Jul 2007

The trip was originally intended to compose of Andreas, James and myself, but unfortunately James was feeling a touch ill, and so Mark stepped in to take his place. The weather was looking a little overcast, but still dry and we made a late-ish start at 11:00am. All went smoothly until we reached the top of Copper pitch where we heard an ominous rumble/whistling noise in the distance. Although we all heard this noise we stayed quiet until we reached the following pitch whereupon it became obvious that the water levels were rising. A couple of minutes later the water levels had reached impressive heights! After a brief discussion we decided to press on into the drier part of the rift.

Although the lower pitches were a bit damp none of them proved too wet so we carried on to do some pushing. At the top of the long slippery ramp that Dunks and Dour had explored two days previously we took a left turn into a steeply ascending dry passage. We followed this up 10-15 short free climbs, via some quite nice formations. Eventually we reached a phreatic tunnel which levelled out, and then started to head downhill. Sensing that a connection with KH was imminent we ditched the instruments and went for a poke around.

A low sandy crawl emerged 2m up the wall of what was clearly a very large passage. Unfortunately the climb down was a bit on the suicidal side so we tried a lower crawl that emerged a bit closer to the floor. Although still a little on the loose and necky side we all reached the bottom and set up off the large 6m diameter tunnel. Downslope a stream could be heard (Midnight in Moscow?) and upslope gave us some fine long survey legs until an impressive echo started to sound. The source of the echo was a ~40m diameter chamber which was greeted with much whooping. Several leads go off from this and after we did a few survey legs across it we headed out.

Again all went smoothly, we stopped for some food at GLAD, until we reached Mystery Wind pitch where it became clear that the cave was flooding again, only this time rather more so. It was some relief that we reached the bottom of Kiwi Suit which was very cool, windy and wet. The amount of water now flowing down RD was at least 10 x that of when we had entered. I couldn't help thinking that we had got out just in the nick of time. After a long and tedious prussik we all eventually all reached the surface at 00:30 -> 01:00. An excellent trip!