Fischgesicht - 2022 exploits in Fish Face – Part 1b of 3
[From blog post dated 19th August.]
With the climbs now bolted and some extra rebelays added to the big pitch to speed things up, I was back again the next day with Amelia, Becka and Hannah. The aim was to push some leads at the southern end of the horizontal level, and Amelia wanted to have a go at doing ‘book’ (making notes of the survey data and drawing the passage), which I was more than happy to supervise (and thus avoid having to do myself). Surveying in Austria is a chilly affair: my usual layering system was to do ‘active’ caving to the pushing front in just a furry suit, and then on arrival to strip down the top half and add a t-shirt and grid baselayer underneath along with a buff and headband, then furry back on (dry layers beneath dry out any sweat accumulated, although the aim is not to sweat) and then a pac-a-mac on underneath my oversuit (to keep the wind off – extremely effective). After starting off pushing down an easy passage full of sediment which ended in a dig, we turned our attention to another horizontal lead heading further south. After a few legs along a clearly joint-controlled passage progress was stopped by a ~10m pitch; having no rope, we set off towards the area where Luke was supervising the japes, with a view to snaffling some. We headed across the ‘Nicholas Cage’ traverse toward the pitch which Jonty was rigging, named ‘Keanu Breeze’ (these names really sum up what the creche is all about – nonsense and japery). Sadly it appeared that Jonty (and by extension Keanu) could not spare any rope, so Amelia and I decided to head out after writing off a couple of other leads (left by Luke and the Japes) simply by looking at them (though Amelia seemed to really want to grot around pointlessly in a sediment bank).
Amelia making survey notes in front of an impressive sediment bank (photo: Rob Watson) and the Creche hiding at the pitch head while Jonty rigs Keanu Breeze (photo: Luke Stangroom).
Back down the hill for a few days to draw up data and form a plan of attack for the coming week, when the number of cavers on expo would theoretically almost double. Water levels at Top Camp were much lower than would be ideal for a full capacity bivy, and objectives for exploration would have to be carefully outlined to ensure that new arrivals could get stuck straight in. During this planning session, Luke, Mike and myself resurrected an idea first toyed with by Mike in 2018 (before a heavy drinking session at Base Camp got in the way) – camping at the pushing front in Fish Face, but without the traditional camping approach of communal tent and pits. Instead, this camp would be very minimalist: bivy in your personal sleeping bag in the passage, with each person bringing enough food for themselves for the duration of their stay (much more like the approach to camping taken by our Austrian and German caving friends). This camp would not only allow us to push the cave more efficiently, it would also ease the strain on the water supplies at Top Camp as there in an active streamway very close to the proposed campsite, and also provide a chance to test the viability of using CaveLink in this part of the system to communicate with Top Camp.
Part two, detailing what we found on our camping trip (lots), will follow in due course…