Expo - UK Caving Blog post 11

Tue 18 Jul 2023
Amelia Oliver

Blog Author: Mealy

Written as we (Mealy, Jonty, Emily) made slow progress through endless traffic in Germany on our route back to the UK. Finished at home with working internet.

In an attempt not to repeat Honorata’s write up… I’ll briefly summarise week 1:

First caving(?) trip was spent digging the entrance for fishface with Emily and Jonty as we were greeted with rather more snow than 2022! As you can see from the photo we may have had a little too much fun with the transporting the shovel; trying to recreate the Patagonia baby photo. Jonty got a little carried away with digging and quite the entrance trench was formed. Once dug in we saw some excellent ice features.


Emily Sat with the ice formations.

Jonty digging the trench into fishface

Mealy and Emily recreating the Patagonia Baby photo with shovel.

After set up and digging my first week was spent across 4 more trips into fishface. The first being the least successful owing to not bringing the correct bolts to rig so I’ll just skim over that minor error as Joel in particular got rather sad at the reality of that trip. Each of the subsequent and arguably more successful trips were accompanied with a different new expo goer. Emma got to bolt their first pitch and Will survey’d his first passage. Alice claims to have enjoyed surveying for the first time. These trips resulted in the accidental killing of all leads between the Blitzen Boulevard and Liquid Luck area as it turned out all 4 leads were the same interconnected loop. Some entertainment was had as teams met midway through loops. Claims of “you’ve stolen my lead” were made. On the raining days I enjoyed some challenging nerd times sorting the loop closures on survex with Ash. A big thank you to Ash for helping me improve my survey skills on these trips!

Week 2 started with a camp. After hearing of the promising roaring A lead from Radost, Honorata and Mike that they strongly suspected would connect to SMK if it kept heading east… I was keen to go to Europeon Federalists.


Mike, Jonty, Mealy and Emma bags packed about the head into fishface for 3 days of camping.

After a tremendous amount of faff and a rather exciting walk across the plateau that had Mike, Emma, Jonty and myself trying to hide under a 1 man survival bag to not be wiped out by a brief monsoon we made it to camp.

Jonty and I set out for European federalist which has to be the muddiest place I’ve been to on the CUCC expo! Mud got everywhere! Progress was slow the rock made some unpleasant sounds as we tried to find some where to bolt a traverse. We clambered about trying to not fall down the whooping shaft to our right. Eventually we got across having taken a number of hours to move about 20m we found 2 phreatic tubes, Jonty crawled into one, before I had moved I could see a light in the second (Jonty's light of course…) once again in fishface we had a loop! I complained about the 2023 curse of the loop and that fishface simply connect to fishface again and again and surveyed another loop closure. We also had a poke under the traverse onto a boulder choked floor above what we suspected was clap my pitch up to survey that area and confirm if it was that or something else and check no sneaky passages were hiding down there. We called this “nice rift bad sound” owing to the whooosh noise rocks made when they got knocked down. Hungry, disappointed and myself so cold I was beginning to question if I still had feet we returned to camp for some food. It was this day I had to exercise some self control limiting myself to a 1 minute timed cry for I was scared, cold and very tired. Jonty on the other hand was quite cheerful and somewhat bemused by my request of a 1 minute timed cry stop.

After noodles and a weird situation with Jonty seeing the face of god in legume soup, we stole Emma (who had been abandoned in a group shelter) from Uncle Mike leaving him to his bolting of a dry route down Pursid Showers to try some other leads on the horizontal level. We headed off to Moths2 only to find it too wet to proceed this surprised me as last year I recalled that area being dry. Turing around (again!!) we discussed pushing the Keanu breeze area but concluded if moths was wet that would be very wet. So we took to a smaller rather unassuming lead off Kubla Khan just after Miracle Maze a person sized walking rift for a person Mealy size, Jonty was experiencing a bit more bother taking to flapping around on the floor like a ‘graceful’ (he told me add graceful) salmon. Emma making less fuss, on disto duty and having a better time than they were having in the group shelter! The rift meandered for 50m and was rather pretty, we popped out onto a larger rift. Jonty and Emma got excited that we were finally getting somewhere. I sat perched on the edge of the rift having got perhaps too into playing on sexytopo colouring sand in, I looked up and got that I’ve been here before feeling just as Jonty with evident disappointment shouted he was at a survey station. Yet again another loop closure! It now being gone 10pm we made our way back to camp, via our cave link. I should add we’d gone in Monday knowing rain was due Wednesday and we were not confident with how fishface responds to rain. We had requested weather updates via cave link , alas nothing on the cave link. Back at camp no sign of Uncle Mike, a tad concerning but we decided Uncle Mike is a big boy and Pursid Showers was a big task so we wouldn’t get concerned until 2am, we set alarms and took a nap. Mike appeared shortly after. Having spent some time “warming his crotch up on the stove” I did not enquire any further on what that was about.

Now we discussed the weather, the lack of any contact via cave link, our leads crapping out and concluded it be sensible to make a retreat/escape early Wednesday as we had a growing concern about the prospect of getting flooded in. We slept. This night we positioned ourselves far better than the previous night and didn’t wake up downhill. Wednesday morning with our heavy packs we made our way out timing it rather well with the rain; luck not judgment. Exhausted we made our way down the hill via top camp to drop kit and back to base camp.


Mike, Emma, Mealy and Jonty forming a cuddle puddle of exhausted caver's outside fishface entrance.

That night back at basecamp at 3:30am myself, Jana and Jonty awoke to discover our tent was under flood and had become a lake swamp hybrid in the storm (glad we had decided to leave the cave! It was quite the storm!). Jana and Jonty ran away apparently both terrified of rain - they were unfortunately for them on the down hill side of the tent and experiencing more of a lake than myself and the slugs that were residing on my side with me were experiencing. I decided perhaps out of tiredness rather than good thought to “ride the flood” bid them farewell in their fleeing endeavours and stayed in the tent thinking I could make the water agree to stay on one side and I’d sleep on the other. I spent Thursday morning bailing the tent out with a beer bottle.

Post camp we have learnt that we should have visited Keanu Breeze as it is now suspected that is the most likely place that we could connect into homecoming from (as Harry shows above).

tldr: Camp: Effort does not equal success.

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Survex files on this date:
Wallets on this date:
    2023#31 Narnia ['narnia-1p', 'narnia-elevation', 'narnia', 'narnia-elevation', 'narnia-plan', …
    2023#43 Touch of Death ['TheTouchofDeath ee', 'TheTouchofDeath', 'TheTouchofDeathsexytopo', 'TheToucho…
    2023#44 Fartichoke ['fartichokesexytopo', 'fartichoke', 'fartichoke plan', 'fartichoke ee']
Logbook trips on this date:
    Tempest – Touch of Death
    Expo - UK Caving Blog post 11