Expo - Midterm Report
Blog Author: Tinywoman
Three weeks in and three weeks left. We are all filtering down the hill to clean up for the annual dinner and refresh for the second half of the expedition. Here's what's happened so far...
The new cave of the year has been a smashing success. Found early in the expedition, Homecoming has been an excellent training ground for many of our expedition newbies. Over time the cave has been pushed below 200m which includes a 60m pitch, no easy feat for a tired caver. Up steam is a large rift traverse being pursued by Haydon and Jon primarily. Down stream there are many tight rifts left to be explored.
Two teams gearing up to push leads in Homecoming
A promising lead from last year is still going strong. We have dropped this below 200m as well. It has reached an exciting pitch called Ulysses. Attempts have been made to Traverse around to find an appropriate place to drop the pitch, however the other side of the shaft is no more appealing. This is creating and interesting challenge for our cavers.
Surveying in Fisch Gesicht
We had our first camping trip down Tunnocks this week. Chris, Antony and Lydia pursued leads down Beckoning Silence with much success; running out of rope, hangers and stoke all at the same time. Another aim of the camp trip was to test out our cave radio systems. Top camp was very disappointed with the failure of the system. Mean while the campers had a good laugh as they were able to hear top camps attempts to contact them but a fault in their microphone prevented them from responding. This lead them to name the continuation of Beckoning Silence, Radio Silence. Plans to fix the microphone fault are in the works and will hopefully soon have a fully functioning radio system! Further trips into camp have been prevented by a lack of hangers and maillons! Too much success! New ones have been bought and exploration will continue.
Last year a lead was found that had been walked past for 5 years! A small crawl leads to an open chamber which was being pushed at the end of last year. Becka and George (with a rotating cast of helpers) have been putting in the hours this year to extend this further. First ones to leave in the morning and the last ones back. They dropped a pitch, Hangman, through a tight squeeze and into surveyed passage. A quick trip down the hill showed that they had connected in to Tunnocks! Dropping further down Hangman lead to a 200m pitch series, Mongol Rally. 50m from the floor is a swing into a window, The Pit Stop. From The Pit Stop horizontal blowing phreatic passage slopes down pushed ~500m and still going. At the floor of the Mongol Rally more phreatic tubes where found ~20m in diameter! Becka and George managed a whole kilometre of surveying in a day! They popped out on a window to a large camber, climbed down and found that it had been surveyed. Another connection. Putting the data in to survex showed that they were just above camp Kraken. A potential new way into camp. Many exciting things going on in Balcony.
The top of Mongol Rally
Looking to the Future
Our overarching aim is to connect our Schwarzmooskogel system to the Sch?neberg system to the north west. Homecoming and Fisch Gesicht are heading in the right direction, one step closer to our goal. looking forward we would like to pursue a connection from the existing system to these two caves. With Homecoming an hour and a half walk away from top camp we are working on setting up a satellite camp in the west to minimise the commute.
The new bivy cave. The floor has been flattened out and terraced to accommodate 6 cavers.
This year we have had an influx of student cavers from many different universities. We will have 14 cavers on their first expedition from 6 universities, Cambridge, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham. We are working on developing our newer cavers with surveying and bolting as well as general caving skills to pass down knowledge and experience to continue to develop our expedition as well as student caving in the UK.