Guide Book Description

Pete Lancaster

(for a current description, see here)

Stoger Weg Area, Schwarzmoos Kogel, Totes Gebirge, Austria.
Total depth: 898m
Surveyed Length: 3.5km
Explored: CUCC 1980 - 82

The system has two distinct entrances which both drop rapidly in a series of fairly dry passages, to intersect large abandoned phreatic passages, providing the connection. The waters unite to flow down a large streamway in small wet pitches until a sudden 150m drop to the final sump.

Stellerweghohle Entrance 1623/41a and 41b
41b : Alt 1625m 47°40'10"N 13°48'42"E
41a : Alt 1611m 47°40'10"N 13°48'41"E

The two entrances are located 50m vertically above the Stoger Weg (path no. 201) at the point where it drops steeply (just beyond the draughting hole of 1623/32).

The upper entrance (41b) is in a large rift about 30m to the east of the lower (41a) which is in a shattered gully, a strongly outward draughting tube. Following this down leads to a chamber with a large snow bank, which is th4 bottom of the upper entrance. Crossing this leads to the unproductive German Route (see below), but the passage to the left is the main way on. An ice traverse to a fine arched passage is followed up a dip until a right turn reveals a large 45° ramp. This is traversed over, as are 3 other similar features in a short distance. The whole of the cave in this entrance series is of phreatic origin, developed along the inclined bedding plane. Crossing the final ramp leads via a climb and traverse to a 21m pitch, but this may be bypassed by following the ramp down; along the strike leads to the chamber at the foot of the pitch. From here four ways head on: a bedding plane down dip is obstructed by boulders; and a climb down leads via a squeeze into a very small vadose canyon; the main route is a climb up a ramp. This brings one to a steeply descending phreatic passage and climbs which are followed by lined traverses across two ramps. The next ramp has no way on the other side and is descended using a ladder. To the right via a small pitch is the 1980 route down the Big Pitch, but left, two small pitches lead to the best hang. This is 100m in a large circular shaft and wonderfully free and airy until a rebelay 25m from the bottom.

The pitch lands in a rift with a small stream which can be followed in a sharp passage until it sumps, but following above the canyon, the water is regained after a 9m pitch. This is quickly succeeded by pitches (of 20, 9, 5, 6, and 6m) linked by narrow rift passages. A short climb up over boulders breaks out into a large dry rift (100m high and 5m wide). A 7m gully and 24m pitch are followed by a pendulum to the head of a 9m pitch which reaches the floor. A boulder strewn climb down to a 16m pitch is followed in quick succession by pitches of 5, 10, 17 and 17m. The final of these are wet in clean washed holes, with the roof lowering to 10m in places. After 2 short free climbs, a 17m pitch drops into Junction Chamber to join the route from Schnellzughohle.

The German Route

From the snowbank near the entrance, a large passage crosses a couple of ramps (presumably those seen on the main route) to a roped traverse over a choked pot (28m deep) to the head of a series of pitches. The first two are 6m and 18m to the floor of a rift. At one end of this is a 20m pitch with a small outlet at its base (not explored), but in the other direction pitches of 2, 12 and 14m lead to an awkward traverse above a canyon. The route turns left (straight on has not been pushed) and soon drops down a 10m free climb to a low crawl which looks like a dried out sump. Beyond this, a climb down and traverse lead to a 14m pitch (sloping at the top) which lands in a chamber. Pitches of 8, 12 and 6m follow in a rift until the route narrows at the head of a pitch (estimated 6m) which has not been descended.

Schnellzughohle Entrance 1623/115

(AKA Gemsescheissenhohle)

Alt 1467m 47°0'3"N 13°48'41"E Depth to sump 740m

The entrance is reached by steeply descending to 90m vertically below the Stoger Weg just beyond the point where it drops rapidly (just beyond 1623/32). A large tube runs horizontally into the hillside (past the light from a slightly higher entrance), until it suddenly closes down to a steeply descending crawl full of loose stones (originally excavated) and strongly draughting out in summer. This drops into a small chamber with a drip inlet; down the slope an 8m pitch is followed by a scramble down loose stones to a conclusive choke. The main route lies in following the draught up an obscure 8m climb above the pitch (bolt aid required), to a sharp crawl through a small tube. A climb down and a traverse to the left over blocks finds the head of the free hanging Bell Pitch (20m). This lands on a boulder floor with two dry trenches leading off: the right leads to a 7m ladder with unstable boulders at the head. This lands in a sharp thrutchy tube, (Hedgehog Crawl), to emerge in a dry meandering trench which breaks out into a large abandoned phreatic passage. Right appeared to get low. Left is developed along the strike and traverses and a short up lead to a junction. Left here leads to an inlet passage with eight small dry cascades to a choke 30m up. Right, the large passage meets a hole in the floor (Baker's Bungle) which is crossed to a small rift leading to the head of the Ramp and the start of 200m continuous pitches to the Big Chamber.

The Ramp is phreatic passage sloping at 45° with an abandoned vadose trench in the floor. Down the ramp, avoiding the trench, leads a muddy slope to the Col; left here leads to a vast black space, but loose boulders prevented exploration of this route. The main way on follows right down a series of sloping pitches, largely against the wall and developed in a hading rift. After passing some loose boulders, a 26m pitch reaches the bottom of the rift where a small stream joins the route. This can be followed up until a pitch is met. Two clean washed and fluted pitches (18, 19m) may be rigged dry by traversing out. The Inlet streamway rises rapidly in wet weather and makes the lower pitches unpleasant but not impassable. A 6m pitch lands on a boulder floor where the water flows down to the left, but right, avoiding the water (except in wet conditions), a 24m pitch drops onto the floor of the Big Chamber (115 final chamber). From here several ways lead on. Following the stream up beyond where the 115 waterfall comes in leads 50m in a big passage to 50m of small vadose streamway closing at an inlet sump. Up the boulder slope leads to the site of a food dump where an inlet is seen in wet weather; through a hole in the wall, a short crawl is thought to emerge at an aven. The main two ways on lie downstream. Following the large abandoned passage above the streamway leads to the connection to Junction Chamber, with a branch to the Futility Series. The water itself can be followed as Pete's Purgatory.

Pete's Purgatory

Following the water down leads to 800m of unrelentingly narrow meandering vadose canyon. The passage is of uniform size, never wider than 1m and in places sufficiently small to require traversing above the squeeze or crawling at water level. There are few features of interest, but a small drip inlet, an oxbow, and a series of cascades permit some measure of progress to be judged. Eventually, the passage meets an inlet at the Confluence, where the dry Bypass from Junction Chamber joins the route from above.

The Futility Series

The Futility Series branches left from the large tube above the Purgatory, soon after leaving Big Chamber. The way leads in a large passage past a ramp on the left which can be followed up a gully to two avens and soon after a small choked passage in the floor on the right breaks into the 12m high Pebble Beach Chamber, with a drip inlet down a red flowstone covered area. Beyond this, boulders become more frequent in the passage until a climb up brings one to Big Enough Chamber (4m high) with two ways on. To the right, a 3m diameter tube soon becomes impassable as the sandy floor rises towards the roof, with a strong draught at the end. To the left from the chamber up a mud slope a horizontal slot leads to a larger passage with a stream which soon sinks into the sandy floor. The passage ends abruptly at a choke just beyond some rippled mud formations.

The Connection

The large abandoned tube may be followed above the Purgatory until the ledge gives out, but shortly before this, a low mud filled phreatic tube leads off to the right. The passage size increases down this, past a steeply rising tube to the right which loops back to connect at roof level with the route (there are a few straws here). After this junction a small vadose trench in the floor contains only seepage water, but the route lowers to a crawl through a sandy floored arch to a point where the route diverges. Left, a short thrutch emerges at Connection Cairn, which lies in a complex area above a vadose trench with water 10m below (thought to be the Purgatory). Several passages lead off here, but one rises steeply upwards in a large tube, to eventually reach the low wide sandy crawl which is the route uphill from the point of divergence (and the easiest route through). The passage continues large, with a small vadose trench in the floor and much mud infill. Following the large tube to its conclusion emerges about 10m up the side of Junction Chamber with no easy way down. This lies 50m back down the passage, where a small hole in the right wall (coming from 115) leads to a horribly muddy bedding plane crawl which pops out above a streamway which is followed up to Junction Chamber by carefully traversing above it. The water flowing down here is the combination of the stream flowing down the Stellerweg pitches and a stream which flows in from the opposite side of the chamber. A 10m greasy climb up gives access to a large passage which is the continuation of that on the other side of the chamber. Following this above the water gives onto a traverse which has not been pushed. However, the main way on lies up boulders off to the left soon after the greasy climb; this is the Bypass to reach the Confluence.

The Bypass

Down the passage off to the left (Dartford Tunnel), is steeply descending in a huge (10m diameter) boulder strewn abandoned passage with much layered mud and surge marks. Eventually a junction is reached where the passage section changes to vadose canyon, still large. To the right in a big passage leads to an aven with an inlet, but no way on. To the left carries on in a mud floored rift to reach a 4m climb down, where a passage comes in from the right; this may be followed to a low area of mud and boulders with no continuation. The main way steeply descends, passing a small roof inlet which has washed the mud floor clean. The water drops to a narrow vadose trench with the sound of a stream perhaps 10m below. Carrying on down the dry passage leads to the inscription cucc/UBSS 1981 and the start of a traverse on dusty loose mud ledges (line useful). Following down, parallel to the top of the vadose trench, with the sound of the stream below, soon leads to a sandy passage branching left to Camp Chamber (care), this continues as a traverse above a stream (thought to be Purgatory). Down from this turn off soon reaches a corner where an easy 4m climb down drops into the Confluence. Instead of dropping down here, following the upper passage round to the right leads to a dry vadose trench in the floor and then a traverse above the main streamway below. Rampant Passage starts near this corner and rises in a large dry tube to a huge chamber (Cologne Cathedral) with a climb up to an aven. Many of the passages in these levels contain dead bats, perhaps suggesting a lower entrance.

The Confluence To The Sump

The climb down from the Bypass lands at the junction of the Purgatory water and an inlet which can be followed upstream in a passage similar to the Purgatory, until soon after a 7m climb up, the streamway divides twice and becomes too small to follow. This is thought to be the Stellerweg water. Downstream in a passage only slightly bigger than the Purgatory, a wet 4m climb and 7m pitch soon reach a frothy round sump pool. This is bypassed up a steep slope to the left, a 3m high muddy passage leads off to a 7m pitch back down to the streamway, but the continuing way up is unexplored. The streamway may be followed back up to the downstream side of the sump, showing it to be less than 10m long. Downstream, a dry inlet enters on the right and a small stream on the left (both unexplored). Pitches 5, 5 (the twelve foot climb), 9 and 7m (Marlow Climb) carry on down in a streamway 2 to 3m wide and 15m high, liberally supplied with cascades. The passage lowers to a sharp crawl and a couple of smooth steep climbs in a hading rift. The water can be largely avoided on the following pitches 9m (Lake), 22m (Ledge with rebelay halfway and followed by Commando Climb 4m), 17m (Grope), 13m (Subtle), 22m (The Slit), 7m (Coming Soon) which are all vertical with short sections of horizontal passage between them. The last of the pitches lands in a canal in a high rift which leads to a low swimming duck in a sandy floored passage. This turns to break out at an awe-inspiring abyss with the water thundering into the depths. The 90m shaft of Orgasm Chasm is passed by traversing out to the left in a series of pitches which avoid the water (11m to a ledge, 10m to a small alcove, 6m), then a 42m free hang past well displayed beddings to a bridge across the shaft where the route divides, with the 22m pitch following the dry way down. This lands in a boulder strewn chamber where the main water is again met. A run under this leads to a small phreatic tube and a short climb down to the start of the final pitch (12, 13, 14m) which corkscrews past ledges to a more vertical section with a damp rebelay to land in a spray lashed chamber. A short wet climb down leads to the final sump in a rift at an altitude of 727m at 47°40'01"N 13°48'15"E. There is a small tube above with no draught and blocked with boulders. The water is thought to resurge in the nearby Altausseer See, (alt. 712m).