Cambridge Underground 1989 p 21

Totes Gebirge, Schwarzmooskogel: 1623/164

by Hugh Salter and Penny Reeves

164 was located on a reconnaissance trip at the start of the 1988 expedition. It is located about 400m North and down-dip from the col between the Bräuning Nase and the Vord. Schwarzmooskogel, on the line of a small fault running North/South, and next to a large depression that is blocked. This area is about 100m from 1977/11, essentially a 110m shaft¹, which indicated considerable potential for initial depth, and is 200m from Camp 1. The shaft thus seemed a suitable place for a gentle start to exploration.

The entrance pitch is a strongly draughting 10m shaft about 3m in diameter which, when first found, had the remains of a snow plug. It carries a small stream, possibly that which is used at Camp 1 for a water supply. The entrance pitch was descended to find, as hoped for, a passage leading due south along the fault. This leads quickly to the second pitch. This pitch took a considerable time to rig, being topped by a large and hairy pile of loose boulders. A bolt was eventually placed at -5m, in the only sound rock available, where the warer has removed the loose rock. A 15m drop to a small ledge and a further drop of 12m land in a low passage where the water sinks into the floor. The floor at this point and for the remainder of the cave is composed of very small and very sharp pieces of rock that are all too obviously last year's roof, judging by the friability of the latter. These are interspersed with large boulders of the same origin. The continuing passage quickly rises to 4-5m in height and drops steeply at 45 degrees, still heading due south for 30m, reaching a large and very unstable rock bridge overlooking a sizeable chamber, with water again appearing for the pitch.

The loose rocks were cleared in the traditional way, and the usual bolts placed with typical amounts of prayer. The standard technique is to hammer hell out of the wall while tied on to something a little more supportive (Penny plus a few large boulders) until the outer six inches or so fall around your ears. The resultant cleanish wall can be bolted with some confidence. A beautiful 10m free hanging pitch from the bridge was descended to land in the centre of the chamber, where the stream sinks. The chamber floor is basically oval, 15m by 7m, and has a number of ways on. To the East, a scramble leads up to a shattered cross rift from a large shalf about 15m long and 10m wide, which was too tight. A similar feature to the West up a 4m climb becomes a low bedding plane with no way on negotiable. This cross-rift is the obvious cause of the formation of the chamber. Due South are twin passages, the rightmost one of the two leading off some 20m round a couple of bends to a sandy choke that may bear future investigation. The other quickly chokes.

Unfortunately, none of these ways carry the considerable draught that marks the cave up to this point. There is, however, a continuation of the passage between the second and third pitches visible on the far side of the chamber, at the same level. It is suggested that this is the continuation of the cave along the line of the fault, and that this level was abandoned by the cutting of the final chamber. This passage has not yet been entered due to lack of time and the need to commit tackle elsewhere, but would involve a bolted traverse on loose vertical rock from the top of the 4m climb mentioned earlier. The passage has apparently the same dimensions as the passage from the second pitch and could be a target of future expeditions wanting to terrify themselves.

The cave has not been surveyed beyond Grade 2/3 due to a flood causing a rather precipitous exit during the survey/derigging trip. Surface observations of the entrance during a heavy rain shower show that it becomes a major flood sink for the area, rising very quickly, hardly surprising considering the virtual non-existence of surface vegetation. The upshot of this, if you are unlucky enough to be underground at the time, is that the innocuous looking stream on the second pitch becomes a considerable torrent when it rains on the surface, causing a large number of boulders to fall around one's ears. A good helmet is recommended. The cave now known as 164 would seem to be the entrance 1977/8², noted in the 1977 logbook, which was blocked at the head of what is now the second pitch. No paint marks were found at the entrance, although conversations with Andy Waddington revealed that, if marked at all, it would have been marked with dark green paint that after a few years was indistiguishable from surrounding lichen, and descended on ladders leaving no bolt holes.

Webpage editor's notes:
(1) The cave referred to here is actually B11, of 1976, and is a straight 55m descent to a choke.

(2) The cave referred to here is actually B8, of 1976, but this is definitely not the same cave as 164. It was (at the time this was written) conceivable that 164 was B9, but this too is now known to be elsewhere, though only a stone's throw away.