Expo 2006: mission statement
In the summer of 2006, Cambridge University Caving Club is off to Austria for the 30th time on its annual summer expedition. As ever, there are many promising unexplored cave areas remaining, less major side passages to be ticked, and uncountably many caves waiting to be found. This document introduces the major work areas and the current state of exploration, and lists several specific projects on which it is hoped effort will be expended. Note that numbers given by cave names are those of the Austrian Kataster for our area.
For thirty years CUCC has worked on exploring the Loser plateau, a vast expanse of limestone riddled with caves in the Totes Gebirge area of the Austrian Alps, roughly 80km ESE of Salzburg. Over this time CUCC has explored such notable caves as Kaninchenhöhle (161), Stellerweghöhle (41) and Schwarzmooskogel Eishöhle (40), caves now connected to form a system 56km long and over a kilometre deep; more than half of this length was contributed by CUCC.
More recently, exploration of Steinbrückenhöhle (204) has been the main focus of expedition work. Since 1999 it has yielded 11.7km of passage and is over 500m deep. It is anticipated that it will eventually connect to the Schwarzmooskogelhöhlensystem. Along the line between Steinbrückenhöhle and Kaninchenhöhle lies Hauchhöhle (234), the scene of significant exploration in 2004 and 2005; its length is now 619m, and there are still leads to be investigated.
Eislufthöhle (76) was found on the second
ever CUCC expedition to the area in 1977, when the explorers got
to -150m with the way on wide open. They pushed again in 1978, then in 1979
finally reached a sump at approximately -506m. They derigged and nobody
returned for a quarter of a century, until we took another look in 2004.
A previously unknown horizontal level "Brave New World" was discovered at about
-50m and the previously unpushed "Keg Series" pushed to a bypassable sump at
-186m. We also reexplored the original deep series to the Tap Room. In 2005 we
explored further in "Brave New World", found another route down to the "Keg
Series" sump, established a visual connection from a nearby cave
(99). We also
reexplored the original deep series to around -190m.
The cave now has a surveyed length of 1777m (making it the third
longest cave system CUCC has explored in Austria!) There's also at least
300 vertical metres which haven't been resurveyed yet.
- Connect Kidney Bean to the Colonnade
- Drop the pitch (01-68A) in 7-11 Chamber, at the end of Merry Fucking Christmas - the most southerly point in the upper horizontal levels.
- Push QMs 01-37A (possible shortcut to Hippocratic Oath) and 01-38A (the Eleven Second Rattle).
- Drop pitch 02-07A in Merry-Go-Round with plausible connection to the Underworld.
- Further exploration of QMs off High Hopes.
- The Unconformity in Rhino Rift
- Push Rat Biscuit into Cresta Run.
- Push QM 05-14A (not far inside 204g entrance).
- QM 03-75A (near "Anonymous Chamber"!)
- QM 01-10A (northward continuation of Crowning Glory) -- requires bolting up a short wall
- And many others - see the Steinbrückenhöhle question mark list for details.
- Drop Monster Munch pitch (the one with the long rattle).
- Several good horizontal leads in the Wowoland level.
Surface and shallow work near Steinbrückenhöhle bivvy
- There's dozens of holes in the vicinity of 204 that have been marked but never descended, or marked and partially descended but never properly explored or surveyed; these should be properly explored, and properly documented (ideally before we go and find yet more of them) – see section 2d of the Prospecting Guide.
- The area around the 204G/H/I entrances is interesting, and should be more thoroughly examined.
- Rock'n'Roll Höhle (239): Open lead over blind pit leading 204-wards.
- The original 1970s route below -190m is still to be revisited. This is
probably a good year to try to push to the sump at ~-506m, since there
aren't plans to go deep in 204, so there should be enough rope. The
original explorers' accounts suggest there are leads at the level of
"Hall of the Greene King", and another lead somewhat lower. A modern
style SRT rig may reveal further leads, as may a more thorough poke
around - the only bottoming trip in 1979 was under severe time pressure.
- In Brave New World, descend A* pitch to look at a couple of promising
leads (04-57B (Ramp) and 04-38B (Pendulum to slanting pitch)) and re-read a
clearly bogus compass reading in "Forward to the Past" rift.
- Push pitches in BNW: Drop Canyon pitch (with a long enough rope this
time) and check if the main passage leads back to Nexus pitch as the direction
suggests it will. Also check the apparent lead in the opposite direction.
Drop Nexus pitch - it seems to be in an interesting position.
- Explore the pitches beyond "Razor Advance" (the "Keg Series" sump bypass).
Potential surface and shallow work near 76:
- Explore, survey and tag 83 (specifically phreatic continuation beyond
- Explore the QMs at ~ -25m in 107 (description suggests non-draughting
chokes, survey suggests QMs), and the ~-70m route to the Big Pitch for any
horizontal leads, as this is about the same level as Brave New World, and <100m
- Pirat Schacht (157).
Also resolve whether the cave just up slope from 157 is
or not. 1987-02 is also very
close and could be the same cave too! 157 lies right on the 204 path (or a
variant of it) so this could be looked at by team 204 instead.
- Try to refind 178. It was found
shortly after Tantulus Schacht (177)
on the same prospecting walk. 177 has proved impossible to relocate,
but if 178 were found that might give us a better idea where to look.
(both tagged and photographed and bearings taken but not explored or GPSed).
99-OB-02 must be near to being above Brave New World.
- Proper survey for 2004-01 (bivi cave) - trivial since it's just a large chamber.
- Descend/explore/survey 2004-08.
- Excavate potential entrance above Pancake Chips Aven in 76, which might
provide an easier route in to at least some of Brave New World.
- Find and tag 84 (draughts, unexplored tube) and 86
- Survey 85 (~50m long, no rigging gear
apparantly) and 81 (~15m long, no
- Tag and survey 2004-03
(hole already drilled, not a very long cave).
- Schneewindschacht (97) probably deserves a revisit, due to its proximity to 76 and a phreatic level known to have a continuing traverse - we should at least check how bad the entrance squeeze actually is!
- 171 needs a survey: it's apparently
>150m of just-below-surface passage with several skylights, but leaving
something this length unsurveyed is an embarrassment. Closer to top camp
than the 76 bivvy, so could be done by anyone.
- Perhaps look for 98 (refound in 1990),
and 111 and 112 which are described relative to 98.
We looked for them last year without success though.
Odds 'n' Sods
- One day trip to visit the Northern reaches of KH?