Fischgesicht - 2022 exploits in Fish Face – Part 2 of 3

Sun 07 Aug 2022
Rob Watson

[From blog post dated 19th August.]

2022 exploits in Fish Face – Part 2 of 3

With the plan to camp in FF now hatched, Mike and I prepared for the trip in the only way we know how – Gosser and schnapps. Despite this attempt to delay ourselves in the morning, we were up in good time. I had not slept well though, after having a terrible dream that I had spilt the one and only coffee I was allowed before going to underground camp, now facing days without… A truly horrific prospect. Thus I decided that the camp would have freshly ground coffee and packed my handgrinder and aeropress in preparation.

It transpired that we were to be accompanied by Jonty the Jape, who had managed to get up and packed earlier than the rest of the Creche. This was good as two teams of two would be more effective than a single team of 3, allowing for pushing on two fronts simultaneously. After procuring a daren drum suitable for transporting human waste out from camp, we set off up the toll road. However, only 15 minutes or so into the walk to Top Camp, we were befallen by misadventure as Mike was bitten by the Plateau Monster (despite not really being on the Plateau yet), cutting the palm of his hand badly. After disinfecting it we decided we would press on to Top Camp, where there were more abundant medical supplies, and then see whether Mike’s hand was up to a multiday underground camp.

After further cleaning of the wound at TC, Mike decided the FOMO would be too much if he didn’t come with us, so we sealed his hand inside a surgical glove and forbade anyone from thinking about it until we came out in two days time. Sleeping bags, roll mats, rope, drill, bolts, CaveLink, shit drum, jetboil and food packed, we began the unwieldy stumble across the Plateau to the cave entrance, with the mornings drizzle still wet on the rock and threatening to further disrupt our plans.

We emerged at the entrance intact though and I began the steady plod down to the area where we planned to camp, just at the base of the big pitch, arriving just before 6pm after just over an hours descent. By far the shallowest and easiest to access underground camp I had ever done: quite reassuring to know that the surface was barely two hours away if we had forgotten anything crucial! Mike and Luke soon arrived behind me and we decided to have a look at some of the leads in the northern part of the big horizontal level while we waited for the Jape to join us, and to also try and make a rough plan for where to set up the CaveLink and our sleeping pits. Jonty arrived at around 7 and we set up camp, heading down to the Tap to fill up on water. This was a camp of many firsts: I have never had such easy access to abundant fresh water camping underground before. It was possible to fill a 10L Daren drum from the Tap in a matter of seconds as opposed to the minutes or hours that are sometimes needed under dripwater – sheer luxury!

Having eating a curry and setting up the Schnapps Shrine (complete with lemon, as the Creche had taken to consuming lemons underground at any opportunity) we tried to get the CaveLink working in time for our scheduled comms appointment with Top Camp at 8pm. However our connection was repeatedly ‘very bad’ – not promising. It was decided that 4 people were not required for this job, so Luke and Jonty continued to fettle the connection while Mike and I headed to a couple of unsurveyed horizontal passages in the Elizabeth Line, the big passage that Mike and Luke had discovered last week. The new passage proved to be the muddiest squalor yet encountered in FF, summoning visions of the ghost of Balkon past (no thanks!). We persevered however and soon reached a larger passage where a stream was flowing towards us far below in a narrow rift. This level of the cave is characterised by many interconnecting inlet passages arriving radially from many directions and apparently collecting into a larger stream somewhere deep in the rift below the lovely draughty horizontal phreas that we wanted to stay in.

Becoming bored of meandering upstream towards nothing at about 11pm we decided to leave this as a QMC (unpromising lead) and head back to camp in order to get a good nights sleep before our proposed start at 7:30am next day. Noodles and schnapps before bed went down splendidly, with the kitchen-top ‘shelf’ in the passage making cooking standing up possible – another underground camping first. Then to bed, where we slept in a line in the almost flat sandy passage. The maze-like nature of the passages even meant that Luke, who was at the far end, had an easy alternative route to the pissing pool. So many serendipitous aspects of the cave lending themselves to the camp!


Happy campers at the Tap, cooking and enjoying the fruits of their labour (photos: Jonty).

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Survex files on this date:
Wallets on this date:
    2022#24 wipingbalconysarse ['notes2', 'notes1', 'plan1']
Logbook trips on this date:
    Fischgesicht - Kamp Kresh
    WhichCave - God knows what I was up to
    Rentner-Express - ARGE cave near Windloch
    Balkonhöhle - derig of the Unnamed traverse above start of Sloppy Seconds pitches
    Fischgesicht - 2022 exploits in Fish Face – Part 2 of 3