204Steinbrückenhöhle5/S x

Gaffered to the Walls and The Underworld

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The Underworld is an area of horizontal development at 1580m, around 160m deeper than the majority of the previously known horizontal passage in Steinbrückenhöhle. Access is from Swings and Roundabouts via the Gaffered to the Walls pitch series, although a connection from Merry-Go-Round is also suspected to exist. Below the Underworld is Subsoil.

Gaffered to the Walls series

See rigging guide.

The initial pitch, Gaffer Tape (70m), is an imposing oval shaft, which continues upwards [C2001-204-97 X]. It is rigged from a bolted traverse on the right wall to a bolted Y-hang and a second bolted Y-hang about 25m below.

A passage leads off from the top of the small chamber at the bottom, splitting in two around a pillar and emerging in a chamber formed from a slightly hading line of weakness. A ledge can be traversed on the right wall to go up past a large boulder, at which point a rift is intersected at a small chamber. Down a hole to the left, two uninspiring rifts [C2002-204-02 C], [C2002-204-03 C] lead down and probably rejoin a parallel shaft to LX Tape pitch. Up to the right, [C2002-204-04 C], a sloping aven is visible which may be climbable. Upstream and to the right of the small chamber, a trickle of water emerges from a small slot in the ceiling. The main way on is down on the left of the small chamber, through a small hole in boulders in the floor toTape Worm pitch. This is descended via a backup round the large boulder and a Y-hang on spits (care to avoid rubs), then a rebelay off a horizontal thread just below a small ledge. Tape Worm pitch lands at a roomy ledge with large fossils visible in the floor and walls. Here the small rift of Tape Worm joins the larger shaft of LX Tape pitch. Looking out to the left a parallel shaft can be seen which may be enterable from [C2002-204-02 C] and/or [C2002-204-03 C]. There is also an aven above [C2002-204-16 X]. A bolted traverse along the right wall reaches a natural from which LX Tape pitch is rigged. This descends, via a deviation on the left wall just below the main ledge, and then a second deviation on a natural only around 4m lower but much further along. LX Tape pitch is then rebelayed just below a rock bridge near another large boulder. On the far wall near the bottom is a ledge [C2002-204-08 C]. On the near side of the rock bridge is a tight and unpromising rift [C2002-204-06 C].

LX Tape pitch lands in another small chamber. Here a spit backup then a crawl through an eye-hole to a bolted Y-hang provides the main hang for Sellotape(or eye hole pitch). This is a fine, 2m wide rift which lands in a slight puddle. A horizontal floor leads 5m to a roomy ledge on the left of the main rift. A bolted traverse to the end of the ledge reaches the Trihang pitch-head. This is no longer rigged as a tri-hang but instead around the large natural above the ledge. Tri-Hang pitch descends beyond a small ledge which has a bolted deviation level with the ledge down to a small puddle. Here wellies and jammers should be washed clean of mud prior to ascent (washing-up brush left there in 2004 for this purpose). The tight rift continues down [C2003-204-02 B] but the way on is up an awkward and steep bolted traverse up the right wall of the rift on a small-to-vanishing ledge. After 5m this reaches the top of the final pitch, Cerberus. The traverse is best rigged by free-climbing to the top of Cerberus pitch on the left side of the rift then rigging the traverse from the top.

Cerberus is a steeply sloping, very muddy ramp down. It is rigged from a bolted Y-hang and then a deviation from a natural the left wall, landing at the start of the Underworld.


At the pitch-head for Cerberus, above the traverse up to it, a slightly exposed sideways traverse gives access to a stooping-height phreatic passage, Eeyore, floored with thick, sticky mud. After around five metres, Eeyore opens out into a moderately large chamber, Kanga. A bolted Y-hang on the right wall drops down to a ledge and then to a second bolted Y-hang to the steeply descending floor of the chamber. There is a small pitch on the left [C2004-204-68 B] which may link to the lower pitch in Eeyore. At the bottom of the chamber a small passage leads off on the left to a rift; this heads uphill for a few metres over loose, powdery mud before emerging in a chamber. Climbing down around a large wedged boulder to the floor reveals a narrow, unpromising-looking pitch-head, estimated at 10m [C2004-204-69 B].

The Underworld

Dave at foot of Cerberus pitch

The Underworld starts from the foot of Cerberus pitch. A hole down on the left, [C2003-204-04 B] leads to the head of a rift; this is likely to link to the rift [C2003-204-02 B] leading from the base of Trihang. Ahead is a blind pit around 4m deep. An obvious path on the right in the mud floor leads along horizontal walking passage past conservation-taped stalactites and two tubes leading up to the right. The first of these is [C2003-204-6 C]; the second closes down after a few body lengths. The passage continues to a junction. Up and to the left a passage goes of to Sirens; ahead and slightly to the right the passage goes to PoohStyx; sharp right ends in a mud choke.


Continuing straight ahead at the first main Underworld junction, the passage soon drops down to a ledge overlooking Pooh Styx pitch. The pitch descends for 25m, picking up spray towards the bottom, to a flat floor with two too tight rifts leading off. There is also a possible continuation through a window a couple of metres above the floor [C2003-204-09 B].

Traversing beyond the pitch leads on left to a chamber, with a large rock in the middle. To the left out of this chamber is a passage [C2003-204-10 C], straight on above a climb passages slope upwards out of the chamber [C2003-204-11 C], and to the right a tight rift leads off. This rift leads past some places with sand full of bat bones. Half way along another tight passage leads of to the right [C2003-204-12 C]; continuing along the rift leads to the small Beyond-Poohstyx pool, which is overlooked by the ledge in Sirens beyond Bracket Fungus passage. Extending high above the sirens ledge, an aven goes up for a good 20 metres [C2003-204-13 X].


Photo of Sirens stals

Left at the main junction in the Underworld is the start of Sirens. From this point into Sirens and Subsoil the cave consists mainly of phreatic tunnels partially filled with mud or gravel banks, with a strong draft coming out of the cave. From the junction into Sirens the narrow but always walking passage climbs steeply up a mud-floored passage to a ledge with conservation-taped formations that overlooks Black Maria chamber (p.30). Just before the ledge, a hole in the floor on the right drops steeply down leading to Slimy Sludge Chute. Below and to the left of where Sirens enters Black Maria chamber, a passage appears to lead off [C2003-204-16 C]. Black Maria chamber is rigged from a ledge that traverses around the right of the chamber. Rigged from two bolted Y-hangs, this pitch lands in a moderate-sized chamber with just one small passage leading off [C2004-204-70 C]. At the level of the pitch head for Black Maria and further around the chamber, a moderate-size, horizontal mud-floored passage leads off [C2003-204-18 B], but this was declared to be "nontrivial" to reach. From the ledge where Sirens enters Black Maria chamber, the main way on is over a traverse on the right using naturals (15m rope; 2 slings) to gain a large passage sloping up. Straight ahead is a thin rift: Bracket Fungus passage, the way on is up the steep mud slope to the left, Oxtail Oxbow.

bracket fungus formations Bracket Fungus Passage

[DO NOT ENTER; CONSERVATION-TAPED OFF; USE OXTAIL OXBOW BYPASS ON THE LEFT INSTEAD.] This is a narrow but very well-decorated rift, with bracket-fungus-like formations on both walls and stalactites above; it is almost impossible to pass through without demolishing some of the fungus. The passage emerges at a ledge above the Beyond-Poohstyx pool. To the right are two sloping mud chutes [C2003-204-23 C] that appear to drop into the chamber above the Beyond-Poohstyx pool.

Oxtail Oxbow

The route now used, bypassing Bracket Fungus Passage, is up a steep mud slope, passing a phreatic tube which enters high on the left [C2003-204-19 C], which soon reaches a steep mud slope back down (bolt and sling for hand line on right wall). At the bottom of the mud slope, a thin rift leads off straight ahead [C2004-204-15 B] and there is a hole in the floor [C2004-204-71 C] that may link to this rift. The main route around Oxtail Oxbow continues as a scramble up a steep mud passage on the right. This passage then leads steeply down a mud slope, past a tight rift in the floor [C2004-204-67 C] and a passage to the right going to Beyond-Poohstyx, to join a larger passage. At this junction, the passage to the right leads to the ledge above Beyond-Poohstyx pool which traverses along the right wall into Bracket Fungus passage. Just before this ledge, a passage up to the left goes to a small chamber with a very steep climb up from it [C2003-204-24 C]. At the junction with the main passage, the main route is to the left, up a steep mud slope to a further junction. At this junction, straight ahead leads to Terra Firma, and to the right leads to Quiz Rift.

crystal pool photoTerra Firma

Straight ahead is a narrow passage which opens onto a small chamber, Terra Firma, with mud banks and a blind pit in the floor. Above the pit, a passage appears to lead off [C2004-204-18 B] and on top of the mud bank above the entry-point into chamber another, larger passage appears to lead off [C2004-204-17 B]. Two small passages on the left just before Terra Firma is reached lead down to a conservation-taped crystal pool, which can also be reached from above from Terra Firma itself. Across the pool is [C2004-204-16 C].

Quiz Rift

At the junction before Terra Firma, turn right and clamber over large wedged boulders (CARE - deep, undescended rift below [C2003-204-25 C]), to a small mud chamber. Duck under the low arch, avoiding contacting the conservation-taped stalactites, to a further small mud chamber. Crawl down again under a second low arch, up a mud slope on the right and turn left into Quiz Rift. To the right a narrow rift goes up to a ledge which is the start of the Generation Game bolted traverse. This leads over the top of Quiz Rift to the passage the far side; this appears to have no way on. On the other side of this ledge are a series of phreatic roof tubes and passage, Upper Tube, which overlook the mud slopes and chambers just described, in which there are a couple of QM's: a roof tube [C2004-204-19 C] and a muddy chute [C2004-204-21 C]. Quiz Rift soon turns right down a mud slope (traverse line on naturals and one bolt) to the Gardener's World pitch (p25). This descends via awkward rigging (not perfected in 2004) to a ledge in a moderately large chamber. From this ledge University Challenge pitch (p15) descends to land partway down the large, confusing Subsoil Chamber.

Slimy Sludge Chute

A steeply downward-sloping passage leading off to the right from Sirens, with upward strong and bitterly cold breeze. The passage is at times tight, needs rigging to descend,and is all covered with fine wet mud and sharp popcorn in places. Towards the bottom a number of interlinkedphreatic tubes branch off, like swiss cheese. The chute terminates at a pitch into an impressive chamber (The Happy Hippocampus), with a steep and dangerously loose floor, featuring a number of large boulders. A passage high up in the wall of the chamber connects to Fat Worm Blows a Sparky