Expedition 1978

29th July

Got up at 7.30 (not Simon). We reached the café at about 12 and then discovered how heavy the gear was and how hot the weather was. The snow was out in force, but Simon, Andy and Doug found that 106 was possible. So the rest of us split into two groups and started


went down a shaft that appeared to go off to one side, however this only proved to be a tight and sharp (blood everywhere) way under the snow plug. About 50' deep.

98 : A small shaft in a large clint (oops, grike). Very sharp rocks at the top, after which the shaft bells out toward a lightly boulder covered floor about 27m (85 feet to sensible people) from surface, but as yet the ladder doesn't reach the floor.


Next trip

Ben and John
; Well we went down this hole somewhere near 106 but after c 30' it got tight so returned to brilliant sunshine. We continued sweating around the plateau looking down things - the only one of interest was a huge entrance c 200 yds from 106 which ended after 50-60' free climb in a small snowfield with a beautiful 7' 6" ice stalagmite. On the way back to the van I attempted the left hand variant of the superdirect route across the plateau, but as I was laybacking up this flake, the whole thing fell off with me on it - do they have helicopter hearses ? John.

Team Bluewater (minus Nick)

Mega panic because of huge volumes of snow, noted 96 choked with snow and lots of patches of snow between the snakes on the plateau. Navigation eventually got us to 106 where a draught was still evident in 106 and 106A but not in 106B. Simon went down and put bolts in - last year's anchors were well preserved - but had to smash off ice-formations to get into 106A. The Bluewater was fed in and belayed and Andy went down to the top of the snow plug, which had a tiny gap round it. Tried a new hole which led down c 6m to a small chamber with a side aven whose walls were coated with a thick ( 6cm ) layer of hexagonal ice-crystals which were very loose, so the explorer exitted to the top of the snow and started to DIG out the original route past the plug. Hacking away with the hammer soon enlarged the 15cm slot to 1m and got down to 5m deep where it got bigger and loose snow could be kicked down. Here ice formations smashed off for safety and Andy could see down to the 'snow platform' which was just a step in the steep névé. However, he did not descend to it because of a nasty rub above. Andy exitted and Simon descended to put a bolt in at the snow plug level, which took slightly longer than expected. The pitch is obviously going to be a right bastard to rig on SRT, even more than ladders - probably 3 more bolts needed. Andy.

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30th July

Mike, John, Ben, Nicky.
We all walked up to the plateau in the heat again, taking the rest of the tackle, and Simon, who was working off his hangover. Once on the plateau, we took the remaining ladders and another rope up to 98. After rigging the pitch as yesterday, Mike was the first to descend 70' of ladder and reach the bottom of the fine entrance shaft. After a brief exploration, I followed, lifelined down by Ben. Mike and myself first explored the most obvious of the two passages, a small rift section sloping downwards about 30 feet, but becoming too narrow and uncomfortable to pursue (sharp rock). After failing to find a way on, we returned to the bottom of the pitch to take a look at the short section of passage on the opposite side of the shaft. This opens out into another large shaft, and after chucking several rocks down, we called to John to come down to take a look at the new shaft, which we estimate to be another superb shaft of about 70'. We returned to the surface to fetch more equipment and bolts for rigging the next pitch. Owing to the ominous presence of thunder, lightning and hailstones, we sheltered with the present Team Bluewater members before giving up for the day and strolling back from the plateau in the rain. Nicky.

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After delays for carbide, and thunder, and laziness,
finally set off to put another bolt in. Lots more snow landscaping before the bolt was finally started above last year's snow platform - sitting on more snow. The bolt was nearly in when shouts from above indicated lightning - and immediate evacuation. Between Simon's bolt yesterday and the new bolt (c 20') the rope has a nasty snow rub which makes prusiking horrible, and at least one ice/rock rub; the rigging needed here is difficult to conceive - perhaps a 10m ladder would help (DEFEATIST!). The next pitch will be very free, perhaps 20m ? then a walk off. This is proving to be the world's most frustrating pothole ! Very impressive electric storm on surface.

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31st July

Ben, John, Mike

Ben and Mike went down first shaft and Mike started down the next to put a bolt in. Through the thrutchy bit brings you to the top of the next pitch, supposedly 60-80'. Mike was lined down a few feet to a ledge where he put a bolt in. John has meanwhile rerigged the entrance pitch and abseiled down and tossed a coin with Ben as to who should go down the next pitch first. Ben won and then John went to rig the second pitch. On the way through the thrutchy bit he dropped Mike's carbide down, making a superb noise sounding like a very deep shaft. Ben went down only to find that the bottom was the bottom of the pot. A small aven comes in next to the shaft, leaving only muddy earth at the bottom. It does not so much choke but the rift to either side narrows and the floor is flat. The second pitch was only about 35' from the ledge. Quite a nice shaft, but coming to nothing. John went up, then Mike came down. Then we derigged and went out.

Previous trip/ Guidebook description

Andy and Doug
the obvious Höhle

Two descents made today. On the first, Andy finished off putting in the bolt of the thunderstorm-interrupted trip of yesterday, whilst I sat on the ice at the bottom of the first pitch in darkness having dropped my helmet at Andy earlier. We returned to the surface to thaw out and I ate a tin of sardines. Then after a brief policy discussion we redescended. Andy zipped down to Yesterday's Terminus whilst I went down after him, adding another ladder to the one on the snow plug and then stopping halfway down Plugged Shaft to put a bolt in while Andy rumbled snow and ice down from Yesterday's Terminus. After about 3/4 of the hole, my stinky went out, so I descended in darkness to Yesterday's Terminus. At this point Andy's light went out as well, so we tried to relight, Andy pouring his waste carbide down his wellie and myself pouring it into my Hard Man's Handbag. We then decided it must be fairly late and exitted. Plugged Shaft has some very beautiful but potentially extremely dangerous. (Sorry, my brain stopped) Ice formations. Doug. My God, is that ice dangerous enough or what ? Andy.

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1st August

Guess which hole
abbed to YT.
put in a rebelay bolt while Simon perused the situation at YT. The previously immovable ice boulders were easily kicked down the pitch leaving only one reasonably jammed large iceberg left. A bolt was placed well out in the passage giving a fine free hang to the large chamber at the top of Saved Shaft. The Bluewater now stretches all the way from the surface to the bottom of Plugged Shaft. Dropped the Interalp at the bottom and left rapidly, my Gibbs breaking on exit. Simon.

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The plateau,
Nicky, Ben, John.

We managed to run up to the col, and then collapsed under the weight of sweat. The gallon water container was filled and we set off prospecting again. And it was hot. We tried wearing just shorts, but the sunburn hurt too much - a great incentive for going down holes. We went 40-60' down several promising passages but all choked/were snow plugged. And it was still hot. We wandered round in circles getting more demented in the heat. Nicky wearing her shorts on her head, me sitting down a hole with just head projecting and Ben screaming about boulders falling out of the sky. It was hot. John.

2nd August

Generally low cloud and ominous weather ruined Ben, John and my own's prospect of a nice peacefully energetic rest day by making everyone jack. We proceeded to Bad Aussee where we caused chaos and many puzzled looks in one car park and then parked in another. We took Bad Aussee, buying some bread and really smelly garlic sausage. I lingered hopefully outside the museum but nobody else followed which was a pity since we later discovered that it had a speleological exhibition on. Back to Altaussee for a noon pub crawl round the lake while me and Nicky went for a swim with a naked log. Back to camp for sardines and mackeral and biscuits then, as per usual. Distributed whiskey to Krauts next door. Doug.
Plummers can't spell. Andy
I washed my socks. John.

3rd August

Andy and Simon

S changed his prusiking system radically, converting to a frog system. A abbed first and we had a short discussion at the "loose" ice boulder. A rather too short rope and a ladder were rigged on Saved Shaft and we descended. After some confusion, we got the bolt kit down and rigged a traverse line across the top of Keg series. Eventually S descended last year's penultimate pitch, a fine free hang. It was decided that further descent would cause a rub about halfway up the pitch, a bolt will have to be placed tomorrow. Today was quite successful. S.

PS. Tomorrow should see Team Bluewater breaking new ground.

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John, Ben, Nicky and Mike.

We decided to move on to a new area on the right of the plateau (going up). Before moving we all had a shave (not Nicky) down a cave with a flat-out crawl over razor blades wearing shorts and shirts. After which a superb knife-blade pitch occurred (for keep-fit enthusiasts) ten pull-ups required for exit. After moving to our new area, several caves were looked at until Nicky found a superb drafting entrance (handline required to pull against the gale). To date we are still attempting to remove some very nasty boulders, keystones, from the head of the first pitch. Mike.

Some plummers can spell even less than others. Andy.

Next trip

4th August

Doug and Andy

Low motivation led to a slow start, Doug abseiled first and adjusted the amount of slack in the rebelays, kicked the iceberg and continued. Andy followed with lots of rope in a tockle bog. Rigged a new (club rope first) rope on Saved Shaft before removing the old (shitty) rope to act as a traverse line for above Keg series. The Interalp was removed from same and put in the tockle bog.

Moving forward (urgh !) we reached the takeoff for pitch 6 (gnuk, thrutch !). Andy put in a bolt about 1m below the big ledge which gives a very good changeover for the stand-off pitch below. This pitch gives the impression of dropping into the side of a vadose canyon - confirmed by finding an inlet 10m up on the left (ie. upstream).

Down the narrow passage into boulder land, Andy found a climb up on the right which led to a short roomy passage to yet another shaft - no draught [found by Nick, 1977]. Directly onward to the big chamber, less drip this time, we found an OK freeclimb down c 5m under a colossal boulder. Straight on, the rift proved to be very high but not too wide. Andy dropped down to an impossibly narrow streamway, while Doug found a useful traverse level leading about 50m to a small chamber into which we could not safely descend, but observed a hole into which boulders were lobbed, 25m ? The rift continues beyond, and we can't tell where the (much increased) draught comes from, retreated.

Back at the 'final' pitch, Andy set off and observed more question marks halfway up the pitch. Doug had immense problems with his system, and the exit, right to the surface, was accompanied by continuous swearing and cursing, Doug surfacing 15 mins or so behind Andy.

5½ hours.


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Nicky, Mike, John

This is getting silly. We went back to the same hole as yesterday and started manoeuvering boulders. Stones fell for 2 secs plus before hitting and bouncing, while the draught is massive. The cloud dropped once, covering the plateau in fog, then you could see the mist swirling in the wind coming from our hole. This encouraged us to get engrossed in some technical digging using bolts in boulders and tied off knife blades as pulley points. Probably the biggest waste of time so far. Just one more boulder to move now. The main bolt is in place for the pitch, so we should see the bottom of the big hole tomorrow. John.

Discovery/ Next trip

5th August

Yes, a really "brown stains on the furry wonder suit" day today.

Simon and I
zipped down uneventfully to the pitch with the big ledge where Simon pulled up the rope and gardened the ledges. On to the climb down where we rigged a handline, and then through the traverse to the boulder floor before the chamber with THE PITCH. We chucked a few rocks down and then started putting a bolt in, eventually finding some good rock to put it in. Using this bolt as a belay, Simon climbed down into the chamber and then came back out again very very fast as he noticed what he thought was a nice solid wall above him was in fact a delicately poised bouder (THE BOULDER).

I calmed Simon down, then had a look myself, trying underneath where we were standing for a safeish looking pitch head. None was forthcoming. I came back and Simon went down again, then Simon came back and I went down again. The pitch has a very impressive echo and will be a naughty word to rig. Refettled carbides at bottom of climb down and went out, Simon causing more brown stains by rumouring that the ice boulder had moved.

Previous trip/ Next trip

Ben, Mike

Admittedly our boulders were smaller, but they'd still kill you. We had this large rock jammed in the hole we wanted to go down, so we used the system rigged up yesterday and pulled and pulled but it didn't move much. Then Mike had a good idea and eliminated the friction on the pulling rope. With a quick pull we had it suspended above the hole, held only by a peg pulling in the direction most likely to pull it out. Then it was chocked up and the pulleys rearranged so as to pull it out. The rock was put on the ledge by the pitch where it trembled a bit, but was held by the rope so we felt we could go down the pitch. Unfortunately, we found a spreader, a long enough rope and rigged the pitch. Ben was selected to go down. Going through the hole, which is a bit small, it opens out into a superb enormous shaft, about 20' in diameter, 55' deep. At the bottom, lots of different passages lead off, one which is pretty big and horizontal. There's also a good rift which still carries the draught. Its pretty fucking marvellous down there. Mike came down after Ben had come back up. Ben.

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6th August

Ben, Mike, John, Nicky

After a couple of hours effort and sardines, all dangerous boulders were removed from the entrance and the shaft abbed down by all four of us. After gasping or something similar at the SIZE of it and the strong draught, we split into two exploring parties (there is a lot to explore). Anyway, after John had descended down 100 foot shaft in a rift section, and made enough noise to attract attention to this fact, we all followed, finding one good natural belay besides John's peg. At the foot of this impressive enlarged canyon, we found another fine pitch (65') which offers several possible forward routes. A short traverse to the left leads to another large soaring shaft - which will be intensively explored tomorrow. Only a few loose boulders were discovered, generally by their rapid descent towards those at the foot of the pitch - but none of us were much worried, still being too impressed with the size of the place. Generally the rock seems to be pretty good and clean and we haven't encountered closely any kind of dubious boulders. Nicky.

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6th August
Team Bluewater
Fed, Festered and Farted.

7th August

Doug and Simon
: Collected a crowbar from 107 and S transported it down to Yesterday's Terminus, where to great surprise we discovered that the ice boulder had disappeared and presumably broken up on the floor of the pitch. Continued on down to the large boulder where Doug put in a bolt, backed up by the handline. S abbed into a huge pitch meandering forwards and widening. Protection needed on a flake near the top and at a constriction about 30' ? down. At c 75', worry about the rubs became great, pitch widens out, may well need rebelay. At least 30' to bottom of pitch, then a further pitch down after that. It might be possible to have a decent rig from a buttress further forward, but a floor was visible that. (??) Simon.

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Nicky, John, Mike, Ben

After we had collected all the tackle from the dump, we went back to the cave (via 106) where we met Ben who was trying to jack by blocking the entrance pitch with loose boulders. Having removed the rock, we abbed down to the bottom of the 65 and we started looking along the passage after the traverse mentioned yesterday. We freeclimbed into the shaft and found a very strongly draughting (inwards) canyon. This continued (partly choked) to a pitch of 30 foot down to a false floor followed by another 20 foot to another false floor followed by yet another yet undescended larger pitch. There is another pitch on the first false floor down a continuation of the canyon but this is 100 ft, ie. we don't want to do it. Several bolts are needed on these pitches only one of which is placed so far, so this will occupy most of the next trip. PS. while attempting to put a bolt in, Ben requested and received a hit on the head with the peg hammer.

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Team Fiesta arrived in the previous evening, comprising Nick and Julian, so a new saga starts here :

7th August

Messieurs Supercool and Supersmooth

Helicopter up to the plateau and abseiled down. Found 110, see sketch. Six teeth dropped off my anchor ! Huh ! substandard subb ... mumble.... Time 2 hrs. Oh, yes, I forgot, we had to do some digging to get in. Then :

Found 111, 30m to narrow rift which got too tight/choked, shaft split 20m down to shaft half full of snow.

Both last two shafts are close to 98.

Back at car by 7.15, helicopter never turned up. Nick.

8th August

Mikeandysimonnickybendougjohn Fed/ Festered/ Farted

Found Koppenbrüllerhöhle and investigated with matches.

8-9th August
: Overnight trip by
Supercool and Supersmooth

: Just found the entrance before dark, Phew ! Got underground by 8pm. Blatted down to the Tap Room, then along traverse to pitch head amongst boulders. Placed new bolt at head and descended about 15m to microledge and placed a bolt rebelay. Next section was a "best pitch o'the pot" so far. 35m to a large ledge with inlet. As the water fell away, we made a bold step over to an opposite ledge. A couple of bolts later we descended 10m back to the streamway. Then we followed an obvious traverse line to the next pitch. Plenty of black spaces about, so we rigged a traverse line from bolt above a rocking boulder (really swinging, man). Pitch head ('nother blot) was smallish but things got bigger further down. And bigger. And bigger ..... A superb (Even better pitch o'the pot) free hanging 55m job. Juniper Gulf eat shit ! This landed on blodders (good uns) and was followed by a quick 5m to the floor. Downhill the stream flowed into a lowish (wetsuitable) passage. Uphill quickly leads to balcony overlooking immense chamber (15m x 15m x 80m high). Stream could be heard around corner, but hadn't got enough rope to descend 12m pitch from balcony to reach it.

Exit was slower than expected due to :
1) Rope on 5m pitch vanishing upwards and coming back down through the boulders..... Aaaaaarrrrrgh ! JG came back down to give me the rope having prusiked the pitch once already. (A quick half litre for that man).
2) Falling asleep while prusiking !

Made the entrance again after

10.5 hour
trip. Even Unox ham in a cold drizzle tastes superb after this ! Total depth so far c 280m (Club record depth) Nick

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9th August
(daytime !?) F/F/F

Ben and John
overnight down 107

As the sun set below the clouds, we disappeared down the first pitch. A quick grot around the rift of the 7th decided us that we could not easily eliminate the ladders to the false boulder, so we looked around the bottom of the 65' pitch. An awkward, loose climb leads to a short traverse across this hole. You lob boulders down and 4 seconds plus there's a dull boom. 300 ft ?

Beyond the hole is a 15' pitch rigged off the mankiest bolt in Austria and a tied off peg and a natural thread. Then the big one. Bolting at 2 O'Clock in the morning in the wet icy draught is slow work. The water level in the nearby pool rose quickly and what was a trickle turned into a freezing stream. 180' of ladder and rope was fed down and I followed. There are lots of ledges, easy ladder climb, but it was getting colder and wetter. The whole cave was reverberating to the sound of massed choirs chanting "Brown Girls". Time to go home. Total depth descended c 400'.


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9th-10th August
Doug and Andy
overnight in 106

It had already got dark by the time we went underground, and various amounts of rerigging delayed us somewhat. Eventually we got to the big pitch which Andy descended first - it was COLOSSAL ! At the bottom, a couple of ace natural belays got us down the next 10m pitch to the floor of Mega boulders. At first it appeared to be a big choke, but descending down dip and then climbing up vast piles of boulders, a roomy gallery - almost an exhibition hall of all the varieties of unstable boulder bridges - was found. The explorer started a descent of the far side of the boulders under a boulder estimated at 5000 tons, but waited for support from DHF. Eventually found the obvious free climb down, but found it overhanging - so went off for the bolting gear and rigged a short pitch down into the new chamber. From here a traverse and awkward climb down leads to a stream which goes off to the left (not pushed very far). An additional tributary comes from a rift about 20' up and flows the same way. Between the two is an OFD type passage ending in a drop into a rift and a possible (but not without a lifeline) continuation beyond. We rigged a natural belay for the start of the rift (in a side rift to the left) and placed a bolt rebelay, but did not descend further due to lack of time. Set off upward and soon got somewhat warmer (despite the heavy water at the bottom of the 180') on the way up. Eventually surfaced at a late hour (8.30 am !) after a

12 hour plus
trip. Andy. Deeper than OFD now !

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10th August

Mike, Nicky,


Having struggled into our several layers of wet clothing and watched the plateau disappear in the layers of mist, we started off down the cave. Having got thoroughly resoaked by the bottom of the 65' pitch, we carried on to the head of the "big" pitch, pausing to drop stones down John's "Big 'ole". Mike then proceeded without hesitation or thought to the bottom of the first section of the pitch - whilst I sat cheerfully at the top contemplating the rock wall opposite. After half an hour, the merry strains of "Brown Girls" stopped floating up the pitch and bolting sounds carried on intermittently. After another half an hour of my own personal attempts at singing (quietly) and warming up exercises, two whistle blasts were heard. After yet another half hour, Mike reappeared at the top of the pitch. Damp, cold and wetness ensured that our early (but not hasty) retreat from the cave was the wisest decision, so we left with only one bolt as progress. Nicky.

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12th August

Karl, Doug, Andy

Karl arrived at 10am and we drove up to the plateau café. Walked to 1623/41a (Stellerweghöhle) which is very well concealed in Bunde. The phreatic-looking horizontal entrance led on into a hading rift and then to a huge snowpile below another entrance. Below the snow, the rift is very extensive, and at about 45 degrees, but further on it gets a bit more vertical. The big pitch at the end is beyond a very nasty traverse through a window, so we couldn't see much, having brought no rope. On the way through and back, Karl kept looking under boulders and at one stage showed us a pile of bat bones, so we thought he was looking for bat remains, but when he found what he was looking for it proved to be a small creature - little worms c ½ cm long which he collected with forceps. Eventually, we had four, and left.

On the way back, we passed various entrances, and did a short trip in Elchhöhle (1623/31) which is a large phreatic tube in horizontally bedded rock, with lots of boulders. Karl again kept looking for bugs, despite having left his collecting gear at the entrance. Then he found a small beetle under a rock at which he seemed most upset not to have his gear, so Doug rushed off to get it. When he returned, the beetle had escaped, so Karl was dismantling the cave to find it. Large rocks crunched and eventually the terrified beetle was collected - Karl was very pleased as it is only the second specimen of that species found in Austria. We exitted and had lunch at the Loser Hütte before returning to camp and drowning the beetle in Vodka. Andy.

Next trip (start of CUCC exploration)

12th-13th August.
Nick, Julian, Simon

'nother overnighter. Couple of hours to get down to previous terminus. Then : descended 30' to bolt rebelay and 40' to floor. Traversed forward in large meandering vadose canyon (100' high, traverse level 30-40' off floor). After jammed boulders, descended the yetchiest, muddiest 15m (sorry change of units) pitch in the entire known universe. Traverse, traverse, traverse and we rigged another pitch but didn't descend. Further pitch seen below, all in same canyon. Total depth to this point estimated at 350-360m. The cave mud mentioned above was examined by Karl and he confirmed that it was not the sort of mud expected from a sump backing up. I therefore declare, forthwith and hereby, that Eislufthöhle is very significant, horizontally significant and likely to go a lot deeper. I forgot to mention in the above description that we made one thrutchy freeclimb down at one point, but I'm not sure exactly where.

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Brain aberrations during the above trip write-up were caused by the distraction of our second trip of the night :

Explored the river by the side of the road below the toll road. Tackle : one Ford Fiesta. Descended 30' pitch into streamway, with a couple of mid-air turns too. time c 5 seconds, tackle written off.

The above trip led to a series of extraneous trips to Bad Aussee and Salzburg hospitals where Simon and Julian were swindling the insurance with their minor injuries (broken neck, broken sternum). It put an end to pushing 106 for the year, and we were naturally reluctant to indulge in any more overnight trips.

14th August

John and Ben

At last, decent weather allowed a reasonably early start taking Vic, Rod and Dave for them to add some depth down the shaft with the boulder floor. John and Ben meanwhile rerigged the rift pitch with the 100m rope. Pretty awkward abseil, even worse ladder climb back up. Got to Mike's "desperate loose ledge", pushed a bolt in the wall and laddered the rest of the shaft. Fed the rest of the 100m rope down and John started off down. At -70' he found an enormous mess in the rope and after trying for a long while to undo it, came back up pulling the rope behind him. We undid the knots on the ledge after half an hour, and then both descended 110' pitch. Not bad shaft with big boulder at bottom. Stream continues under rift. Descended 20' in scramble and bolted another 20' pitch. Continued along above stream to pitch c 30-50'. Depth so far this way 570'. Ben. Time 7 hrs.

Team Geriatric (

Vic, Rod, Dave
) crawled up the hillside half a mile behind the fast moving dust cloud that showed where team youth was burning up the miles. At the cave entrance, when they eventually got there, the pensioners were heard to be talking about family responsibilities, arthritis and other ploys for not going underground (one of them even had to be lent a descender, having conveniently forgotten his own). Marshalled between members of the Youth Team, the ancients were carefully fed down the entrance of the cave. A curious transformation came over them, a glazed expression in their old eyes as though recalling distant memories of when they too had discovered new glories. Down the first pitch, then the second, and the third, then along the traverse ; so far so good, their aged limbs had stood up well to the strain. Now at the head of the next pitch they were sat down and told of hitherto undescended holes ahead of them. Then Team Youth vanished into the darkness to push into discoveries elsewhere.

Left alone at last, the crones shook off their disguise of weariness. Swiftly they fixed a rope down the thirty foot pitch to a large floor of unstable boulders. One of them carried on to the bottom of the boulder choke while another was fixing a bolt at the top of the rift. Soon Rod was going down the rift till he ran out of rope at about 70'. He called for another rope, tied it onto the end of the previous one and carried on down to the end of that one too. He ascended to a safe spot (The Sentry Box) and called the others down. Dave, the last man down, took another 200' of rope with him to the bottom of the second rope. Here he placed another bolt, belayed the rope, and vanished off into a vast, dark hole. At one stage he was abseiling down between the wall and a huge pinnacle, 30' high. The rope just reached the floor. Here a stream appeared. He followed it down a descending rift until, after about 50' of descent, he came to a small pitch with possibly another one beyond that.

Dave prusiked back to where Rod and Vic had been waiting in the Sentry Box sharing both ends of a bar of Kendal Mint Cake at the same time since it was too hard to break. From here the operation of getting out was a smooth well-rehearsed exercise that they had done many times before. It took only just over the hour to get out onto the plateau where they were in time to enjoy the last few hours of sunshine.

And Team Youth ? They came eventually, weary, dirty and dishevelled as usual. They had missed the sunshine. It was dark by the time they got down. Team Geriatric had wined and dined and already gone to the pub.

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14th August
106 Piccying and surveying trip

Mike, Andy and I
went down 106, surveyed down to the bottom of the 100' pitch. Mucho Chillo. Down to the bottom of the Taproom, Andy spent hours trying to get his member out of his sitsling for a piss. A few piccies on the way out. Fairly late out to the surface, dark by the time we reached the van.

Mike was not the catastrophe I expected. Doug.

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15th August
107 pushing

and I went down a bit late (12.30) due to hanggliding. We rigged the 30' John and Ben had found using 3 bolts (all manky). About 100' of freeclimbing ensued down to the Geriatric's previous far point. Due to lack of time, we then had to leave.

16th August
Eislufthöhle, derigging the bottom
Doug, Andy

We initially thought that getting up was the worst bit - at 4.30 am, but we were to learn otherwise later. Underground by 7.40 am, a literal alpine start. The familiar abseil descent took just over one hour to Hall of the Greene King, and then we slowed down, carrying gear from the overhanging boulder pitch to rig the freeclimb that was alleged to follow. Abseiling the next pitch left large clods of mud on the descendeur and below, traversing started immediately, but ended at an inlet on the left. Andy tried for a long way at stream level, but eventually jacked and climbed up to a ledge where Doug had a stinky gonk. Soon arrived at the really shitty pitch which made a horrible mess on a rack. Not far to go now chaps - a final undescended pitch was reached and Andy went down to a ledge with almost no rope left. Lobbed rocks down the pitch - sounded like 10-15m to a muddy ledge, but further out seemed a lot deeper; 30-50m ? Doug repeated the exercise and then we set off out, derigging.

Carrying vast piles of muddy rope over the traversing section takes quite a while and derigging each pitch was a serious delay. Doug's ascenders were slipping (nasty Petzls !) but we were soon back up the rift and got the rope, including the spare 75m length, into tackle bags and up to Hall of the Greene King. From here it was just an incredible slog out. Prusiking with a large tackle bag is really strenuous and Doug tackle-hauled his gear up the big pitch.

Andy reached the Taproom well ahead of Doug and waited halfway up the next pitch, which, if we don't find a name for it soon will cause write-ups to be far too long, until Doug appeared below. As time was getting late, Doug dropped his gear and the pace increased, and so we reached the entrance by about 6.25 pm - Much relief. We were acutely aware of the effort of raising a Mega-bag 300m against its will : ie. knackered. Doug brought the remaining bag down to the car park.

10¾ hours
. Andy.

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August 16th
107 bottoming trip
Rod, Jont, Dave, Vic

Well, we got off to our usual crack of dawn start (9 am) and wandered up. Dave and Jont went off to do a surface survey to 82, then surveyed down to the head of "our" pitch. The Meisterplan failed and they had an hour's wait here due to gross slowness in prusiking with heavy tackle bags....however, I run ahead...

Rod and I went down to the previous end. I surveyed the bottom passage while Rod put a bolt in, then I abseiled down. Not a pleasant abseil as I had to stop, hang on the rope 100' down, tie the other rope on, pass the knot and carry on, hoping that the second rope reached the bottom. Due to our incredible efficiency in calculating the tackle needed, it did. Ice cold water all down the pitch did not help either - nor the failure of both electric and stinkie.

Chap. II "The End". Well, there is a big wide rift that ends in a fairly conclusive choke sans draught. The water disappears down a rapidly lowering tight passage of the more sordid Yorkshire variety, which I followed to the limit of my patience (it got even smaller). Much relieved, I exitted, collecting a chilly Rod on the way out, who did a hero's job with 60m of wet 12mm Marlow up the 95m pitch.

And all in

7 hours
. Geriatrics rule OK ? Vic.

Previous trip/ Final trip

August 19th
107 derigging trip
Andy, Ben, John, Mike, Nicky

Leaving Andy and Mike to come down on a piccying trip in their own sweet time, the deriggers of the party descended intrepidly down the cave to the bottom of the big shaft. Leaving Ben to disappear and pollute yet another recess with his yards of bog paper and other matter, John and myself continued resolutely down the narrow rift to derig the bottom ladders. This was just about completed, and we were beginning to remark on the sheer efficiency of the operation when a small doubt began tp filter through John's cold-benumbed brain. Where was the hammer ? The pitch was hastily rerigged, hammer was retrieved, and derigging continued. Andy and Mike made an appearance on the ledge at the top of the 110' pitch and tackle hauling up the shaft was done, passing tackle on to Andy and Mike, to ferry up the rift. Most of the tackle was up the rift by the time that the whole cave was resounding with John's frustrated Yells and Screams, as he swore at carbide and tackle, stuck halfway up the rift with no lights. Tackle hauling continued apace, with Andy ferrying several times up the ninety foot, oblivious of the horrendous and daunting wear in the middle of the rope, noticed later by Ben. John, Andy and myself sneaked up out of the pot before Ben and Mike had even realised that they had been left to deal with the remaining tackle at the bottom of the entrance pitch. While we enjoyed the warm sunshine, Ben sweated and swore, emerging some hours later as the sun was sinking. Nicky.

Previous trip/ Guidebook description

19th August 1978
- derigging.
Nick, Dave, Jont, Vic, Rod, Doug

An alpine start by Dave and self meant we got underground before the sun got a bit too warm. Went down to top of big pitch where we split up; Dave waiting at the pitch head and with me descending to derig the next couple of pitches. Started out, derigging, bolt-greasing etc. as we went, and met Jont just below the Taproom. Started to stagger out now and met Vic and Rod on the last pitch of last year (we ought to have a name for it, and if we haven't already, then we'd better get thinking). Meanwhile, Doug had been in to the Taproom and exitted with a tockle bog (Full too !) A slow exit up Plugged Shaft with antics from Jont, his ascenders and his carbide lamp, and with the Bluewater being as awkward as ever. Had to abandon the crowbar.

Out after a trip of 7½ hours (for me) and its really nice doing all those pitches whilst being wide awake !

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