CUCC Austria 1997 - Why ?

The 1997 expedition is now in the planning stage, with a few people (as usual) doing most of the work. Dates are nominally 12th July to 17th August, with the usual flexibility in arrival and departure times. Arrival dates for many depend on the timing of a pre-Expo canyonning trip to the Alpes Maritîmes in France. Departure dates for some depend on the International Speleological Congress, in the Swiss Jura this year. As predicted, an Expo Prospectus has been produced, of which an edited version appears here.

CUCC Austria '97 (21st expo to Austria)

Once again it's time to think of all those wonderful times you may have had in Austria, lying on the sun-drenched sand by the Altaussee lake, barbeques at the luxurious Gasthof Staudenwirt campsite, swimming in the crystal clear (if somewhat chilly) waters of the nearby river, shopping in the Konsum, drinking pints (well, bottles anyway) of Gösser, festering in the potato hut, fixing the crap cars, laughing at the radios, sampling the magnificent expo cuisine. And don't forget the superb caving available on the Loser Plateau or more specifically in Kaninchenhöhle.

If you want to know what happened last year in the way of caving, here's an extract from the sponsor's report (Anthony Day, 1996):

"July 1996 saw the twentieth Cambridge University Caving Club expedition to the Austrian Totes Gebirge and the ninth which has primarily concentrated on the Kaninchenhöhle system. We found and surveyed a further 5.5km of cave in this system, taking its total length to 19.7km. These finds include two new deep routes, two new entrances, and further extensive horizontal development in the north of the system. The most exciting finds are to the south however. The southern end of Kaninchenhöhle is now tantalisingly close to the Stellerweg system. Were this connection to be made, the resulting system would be over 40km long and 1000m deep making it an internationally significant cave system."

If you want an idea of some of the alternative activites that are possible, you may like to visit the CUCC web site's guide to expo festering.

The contribution made by ExCS members (and indeed anyone of similar experience) to CUCC expeditions is, as it has always been, valued greatly. Anyone is welcome to come, caving or not, and we (CUCC) would be pleased to see you.

Some current KH statistics:

Found:1988 No. of question marks:201 in list
Length:19.75 km of which no. of huge question marks:c.30
Depth:498 m
Distance from Eishöhle-Stellerweghöhle: c.200m and closing
Likely year of connection:1997/98

I've just made these numbers up because I don't know the exact figures, but I think they're about right. Wookey (email: <wookey (at)>) will give you more accurate answers if you like.


Expo '97 is nominally 12th July - 17th August 1997, although as usual these are flexible according to when people want to go/leave. Typically there are people arriving/leaving on every weekend so it is entirely possible to go for as long or as little time as you like. Transport is pooled to minimise cost.


Cost is variable and difficult to be precise about since it depends on factors such as how long you go for and how much beer you drink. Typically a fortnight may cost between £250 and £350 (all in), of which a large part is transport and a (fixed) tackle charge. 3 weeks probably cost around £50 or so extra.

Expo Committee:

This year's expo committee is:
LeaderJulian Haines (jhaines (at)
TreasurerAndrew Ketley (AJK23 (at)
SponsorshipRebecca Lawson (R.Lawson (at)
EquipmentMatthew Hicks

What to do next:

  1. A deposit of UKP40 is payable immediately. This is returnable in the unlikely event of you changing your mind, but we need some money to pay for things like insurance and carbide in advance. Cheques should be payable to "CUCC Expo Account" and sent to Andrew Ketley, Trinity Hall, Cambridge, CB2 1TJ.
  2. It would be helpful if you could indicate (to me or Andrew) when you are likely to be going and whether or not you have transport for sharing. Clearly this is only a first impression and is not expected to be final.
  3. Book some leave if you have to!

Julian Haines
Expo '97 leader

Many of the objectives of the 1997 trip are already pretty obvious to the participants of the 1996 expedition. How many of these, and how many new ones are addressed in 1997 depends mainly on the manpower and experience of the intending participants.

Perhaps the most obvious single objective is the one which time and deteriorating weather conspired to stop at the end of 1996. This was the redescent of Steinschlagschacht and an attempt to connect this to the passages of the Forbidden Land in Kaninchenhöhle. These passages are approached through a potentially very dangerous loose choke at the southernmost point of "Flat France", and a new way in, either from the surface, or via some bypass, is urgently needed. A bypass proved elusive in 1996, and a connection with Steinschlagschacht seems by far the best hope.

The Forbidden Land heads very promisingly under the Vorderer Schwarzmooskogel, towards the great linked system of Stellerweghöhle, Schwabenschacht and Schwarzmooskogeleishöhle, explored by CUCC and a variety of other groups over many years. It is hoped to find a connection (already provisionally named The Promised Land) linking these into a single system, which would be approaching 40km in length and over 1000m deep.

There are many more accessible leads in Kaninchenhöhle, reached via the 1995 "Scarface" entrance (1623/161d), mainly by relatively easy horizontal caving. The 1996 discovery of a connection from Triassic Park into Knossos chamber will also make access to the furthest reaches of the "old cave" much easier, and a return to Siberia and various pitches below the ways north, beyond Chicken Flied Nice are on the cards.

As well as the tenth year of exploration in Kaninchenhöhle, there are a variety of other leads, and much relocating and better documenting of smaller caves to be done. Though less glamorous, this is no less vital, and provides easier caving for days between big pushes in the deeper systems. A lot of the work needed is listed in the Expedition Prospecting Guide.

As CUCC caves link up with other caves explored by different groups, one emerging problem is the lack of available documentation from these explorations. A number of groups have worked "unofficially" in the area, and neither ourselves nor the local Austrian group have any information or surveys. Other caves were explored so long ago that the existing surveys are not up to current standards, and the raw data are lost. This will necessitate a program of resurvey work over the next few years. Although at first sight, this seems an unrewarding task, all past experience shows that the more detailed examination of a cave which occurs whilst surveying it reveals previously unnoticed leads. Thus, it is hoped that reexploration of Larchenschacht and Schwarzmooskogeleishöhle will reveal important new links north towards the Kaninchenhöhle area, hastening the linking of all these caves into one system of world significance.

One overriding goal in all of this is to provide a consistently high standard of documentation of all our work. This will avoid the need for future cavers to repeat all the explorations again, placing new bolts and otherwise having an adverse impact on the caves. Descriptions, photographs and all CUCC's published material will appear on this website over the years.