Headed off to Tunnocks with 200m of 11mm, a substantial pile of hangers, slings, krabs, Hiltis, drill, drill battery... so it took a while. I headed down with the intention of fettling the rig so that we could have more than one person on the pitch at a time without kicking rubble on each others heads. Jess sat on the surface and sunbathed for a bit (apart from when it was hailing). I put in a new rebelay that neatly avoided the passing hailstones, then spent ages trying to work out where I was going to put bolts in for the next bit since it was clearly going to be scary and hard. Eventually found a way to put in a particularly airy rebelay (that Jess later enjoyed). Managed to wrap myself round the rope multiple times in the process, so spent 40 minutes untangling myself, then descended landing on the lower end of the first boulder slope as intended. Jess joined me and I proceeded to rig a traverse to the head of the next drop, making use of a pre-drilled Hilti hole and an existing Hilti. By this time we were running out of time so headed out.
Joe on his 3rd day of looking for 107. This time armed with a text message from Wookey at the computer, sent @ 3am, saying to find Wookey's caving gear stash and thus 148, then 107 was 120m away on 220(degrees). Unfortunately this was copied from an aven drag from 107, not to 107, so was backwards. Thus Joe & Aled spent about 3 hrs looking in the wrong place until Wookey arrived from base camp with a map. Armed with correct info 83 was quickly found (has a spit but no tag) and thus 107.
Then it thunderstormed (hail) whilst Aled and Joe were collecting rope from stash at edge of plateau. Aled had left cag at 148 so had to hide in bivvi bag (correction - survival bag) for 30 minutes - "toasty"
Finally got underground around 3pm. 107 is a nice cave & O+J get full marks for documentation (rigging guide + desc + QMs + survey). Rigging and route-finding went well. Joe shinned the ropeless traverse without gear. Aled followed with T-sacks before realising that a) this was foolish & b) he needed to come back & give Wookey hangers for rigging. Short period of excitement was survived.
Rigged down to Ropefree before going home. Cave is v. cold due to strong draught throughout. Bring woolies!
Two days after our previous effort, the same team returned to continue the attempted re-rig of the Tunnocks entrance pitch. I swung around in the shaft putting in an airy-fairy rig to avoid the loose choss while Jess sat on a rubble slope providing moral support. One deviation and two y-hangs later, team 2 arrived with the intention of putting in a quick `n' dirty rig to the bottom so they could start rigging the rest of the cave. After a few hours sitting with six of us strung out along the pitch with much shuffling of gear, it became clear that this plan was not going to work, so team 1 exited.
Turned up hoping that Team 1 would have finished rigging the entrance series, found to be far from the truth. After a bit of umming and ah-ing on the surface, decided to rig past Team 1 to get to the bottom. Ice plug at the bottom was found to be significantly lower than previous years so existing bolts could not be used exclusively in quick & dirty rig. Inherited drill & bolting kit from Team 1 to rig the bottom, a traverse across the ice slope. From here split in two:
Did a carry up to top camp with the newly arrived curries, then had a quick pootle round 107 so Matt could learn the way. Got as far as Too Bold for This Spit where met Sam David Jess and Andy. Dropped off bag of rigging gear for Aled's pushing project. Nice trip some of the rigging is a bit "rock and roll".
Came down hill after last trip as Joe needed to fettle phones. Wook kept getting asked nerding questions so didn't leave till 11ish. So underground by 2pm.
Lovely trip, partly as I had thick fleece furry instead of thin one so much warmer, but also done almost as 2 independent trips, with Joe rigging ahead & Wook following, sorting the 'economical' rigging to add backups to one-bolt-wonders & swap 51m rope on ropeless traverse for 39m one.
Joe came back to report squeeze then ran off again to keep warm. Wook followed to be confused by implausibly tight cave for Austria. Threw bag through squeeze only to note lack of traffic & get second thoughts, so backed out &, looked around. Dind't seem to go, to L or higher up. (He somehow failed to spot 51m rope left on route). Back through bottom squeeze to find confirmatory rope beyond. After a bit more confusion at wrong level in sleepless, whizzed on down to find very happy Joe at 'easy traverse'. Time to go home after great trip.
1hr out from there, taking top squeeze route instead (not really any better given annoying rift pitch approach
Back to top camp before dark @21:10
Underground by 11 this time, with 3 batts & plenty of keenness. Joes headed for point again, whilst Wookey & AndyA came along as rigging faeries to fix up the dodgy Olly-rigging, particularly his propensity for kneee-high pitch head bolts. Fixed up entrance stuff that we had left for Aled the day before, as he'd gone down the hill. Then on to add back-up bolts, and often new pitch head bolts too. Caught up with Joe at 'Too Bold For This Spit', where he had managed to scare himself rigging due to having to fish out sling halfway across with a big leg-trembler. He was pleased to see some company. Wook went over & rigged back about 2m higher to turn a horror into a nice traverse. (Fine bit of traversing by Ol/J).
Aled turned up at this point having come up from base & solo-caved to find us.
4-some now continued to big Korea pitch, where we had 59 of the recommended 64m. Andrew rigged it tight and added 2 bolts and skipped two, to just reach the floor, whilst the rest checked out land of confusion QMs. Wook ticked off 13-LC-9C, 13-LC-7C, 13-LC-8X. 13-LC-6C is a c15(!) down to a fairly short pitch into China. Joe & Aled decided 13-LC-16A was worth a look.
We all went down to be impressed by China. 13-LC-10B across the Korea pitch-head, really is a 20-30m blank wall bolting project - too epic. 13-CH-4B at the bottom is not inspiring. It probably doesn't go, but hard to be sure. Needs a bolt or two to climb in. 13-CH-2C goes through to china in tinyt window.
At big end 13-CH-1B looks like an alcove but hard to be sure. Could be climbed to with a bit of pro without too much trouble. Best lead is in ceiling, 20-30m up. Probably an aven. Could be where all the wind is coming from.
Wandered along to southern end whilst Joe & Aled set off out. Climbed down at end into new ground to find pitch about 10m further on. Could well be the bottom of 'Too Bold...'. Needs surveying, & may well continue across. Good wind.
Out from bottom in ~2hrs
Back again looking for ways on. Conncetion to R looks unlikely - everything goes L.
Had a good look at roof on the way down. Various roof tube possibilities. Only promising one (Needs one bolt for pro) well back in sleepless.
13-RS-2B doesn't exist. 'Too bold' was too wet to go down but window off about 7m down looked promising. Wook put in (crummy) bolt in only bit of decent rock with good hang. But hanger cranked it out a bit. Getting wet so decided it would have to do & descended. Passage! Windy too. Traverse in the way, but quite easy to do with slings, so got across whilst A + J surveyed.
Beyond was pitch, only about 20m to floor. Got down quickly (after going back for rope left above) but found only a ledge above bigger pitch - 25-30m. Awkward bolt then time to go home. Descended quickly to find that it came in roof of China, just 'upwind' of the rock bridge. Nice pitch though & not prone to rockfall like korea.
On way out shit bolt at top popped out of hole whilst Andrew was going up, giving him a hell of a shock (and breaking PDA screen when he got bashed on wall). Fortunately even 9mm is good gear, so he was able to re-rig from traverse & Wookey 'quality bolts' was able to get out with a bit of tackle-sack padding.
So bolts really do fall out if not properly set. It took 4 descents + 2 ascents before popping on 3rd ascent.
Whizzed out with lots of caving in 1hr 15 from there. (We are getting quicker)
P.S. A+J went to stone bridge. Wook went down to carpark but realised too late that he had got a lift up so car not there, and no transport arranged. And of course phone flat so no calls, and no spare batt to charge it, and no money. Hmmmm.
Fortunately Austrian couple in posh camper in car park were able to provide beer, the gasthof phone number & a phone to call for rescue. Julian came & saved me.
Doh. That really was quite dim!
Returned to the "Too bold for this spit" traverse. Andrew climbed up above the traverse to the lead spotted the previous day and put some bolts in so Jess could climb up and survey the small passage found - "Alcove pop", which split after a few meters with both ways ending in mud. Small roof tube ran back into the main rift split into many tiny holes. Meanwhile Sam + David retrieved the rope from Korea.
David replaced the bolt which popped out the previous day, and all returned to the passage and pitch found the previous day
Passage = popped across, pitch = nipped down. Andrew then finished rigging "nipped down" and David and Jess surveyed it, linking it into Chine before heading out. Possible passage continuation across pitch - QMC. On the way back up the pitch, Andrew noticed the single bolt above the 30m hang and below the dodgy sling rebelay was pulling out as he prussiked - when he got there, he could pull it out of the wall!
Everyone headed out, Sam having some tight trouble in the squeeze - this is easiest using the low route now most of the popcorn has gone. All out by 20:15, and all headed down to base camp.
QMC - Possible passage continuation of popped across on the opposite wall of nipped down - bolt traverse required.
Used rope previously deposited to rig String Theory which was a breeze due to reflector bolts placed on last year's derig - top gear! Continued on + I rigged Pidgeons in Flight but it needed further tweaking. Anthony + I then went for a tourist checking the in situ nasty red rope on the short climb up + traverse + to look at the Beast pitch + pitch below Bob On.
Looked at the pitch below Bob On but decided to rig the one below the traverse just beyond Pidgeons in Flight. Neil rigged whilst Rob + I surveyed down. Neil's pitch ("Pidgeon Droppings") is nicely rigged in 3 short drops (bit loose at pitch head). This lands next to a wet, undescended pitch but we went for the blowing horizontal lead. It was crawly, past 2 fairly freshly dead bats to a bad step traverse. Neil put in a couple of bolts to drop below the traverse which was blind, + then to put a handline over the traverse, we wrapped up the survey here + headed out. En route I replaced the nasty, slippy red 9mm on the climb up to the Balcony (just beyond String Theory) with thicker rope + put the red 9mm as a handline up to that climb.
Headed down to where we left off yesterday, Katey + Nat breezing down all the airy entrance rigging with all of 9 months caving experience a-piece (though they'd just come from the Picos expedition so are expo-seasoned). We set off surveying, following the draft, but quickly got to a pitch, Nat went back to fetch the gear whilst Katey + I surveyed side leads. When we got back to Nat he shame-facedly confessed that one of the drill batteries had rolled out of the bag he was unpacking + down a small hole. He tried to persuade Katey to go in after it but she's no fool so he wiggled in head first, managed to retrieve the battery, attempted to turn around, failed, tried to back out, failed, started to sound a bit stressed + finally begged for assistance. Katey + I got a leg each + he finally was hauled out. After that he needed a while to compose himself so Katey rigged the pitch ("Flying Rats") with 2 spits at the top + a rebelay then we surveyed down to a traverse with a bad step + then teeter along a ledge with loose rock where we ended the survey having decided that it really should have been rigged. Packed the loose gear up + left it at the top of Pidgeon Droppings + went for a quick check on Neil + Rob below Bob On who were surveying out + then exited steadily.
A pleasant day ambling in the sunshine trying to hit Mike's main goal areas. We found surprisingly little given the 5-person comb but we refound CUCC-2005-05 which seemed promising unless the air in it is just circulation from the fractured bowl beneath the entrance. Mike, Andrea + Katey surveyed it whilst Nat bolted the right hand pitch to a bridge before running out of rope (we only had 11m + 12m; the only other rope at Top Camp was 200m!) + good rock. This should be returned to + checked out properly.
We also refound 2006-05 which appeared to have spits to descent but Base Camp couldn't find a report of what happened there, it looks pretty good.
Finally, we found a new cave which we ineptly tagged as CUCC-14-876 ("Hot Tub"). Katey rigged this with a backup then y-hang down perhaps 15m to a snow plug which might have a way on beyond. It seemed to have a good draft + is in an interesting position above 258/204 so, again, this would be worth returning to.
Picked up the gear at the top of Pidgeon Droppings including Rob + Neil's 80m rope so we were fairly laden + headed down to Flying Rats pitch. Rigged the traverse off a couple of so-so naturals (trying to conserve hangers due to the hanger-draught at Top Camp) then Nat put a couple of spits in the far side (+another one which completely fractured the rock when he set it) + then another natural. We surveyed on from yesterday + then in loops under ourselves. Nat rigged on naturals down a short pitch. The passage looked big + phreatic + exciting but I went up the nasty loose climb at the end + it just fizzled out, grrr. We surveyed a final loop back to the short pitch then reluctantly decided to derig, slogged out with 2 tacklesacks a-piece so left Pidgeon Droppings rigged + left rigging gear at the top then we plodded out. I think it was 3 hours in + ~4 hours out, emerging just gone midnight + snuck home before the rain really started.
Nipped Down had been rebolted the previous trip, but the ropes needed switching to ensure the rope reached the floor. Wookey sorted this while Jess and Michael passed 5m of slack rope along the popped across traverse back to the pitch at too bold for this spit:
Rigging now fettled, the team departed for the N end of China + Korea and spent some time checking for leads at and below floor level - Wookey moved some scary boulders under Korea but all that was found was the pitch pushed by O+J the previous year. However, the climb to the alcove 20m up the N wall of the Aven at the N end of China looked promising.
Having so far found nothing new, the three now departed for the A lead at the S end of China - 13-CH-11A. 7m climb was rigged with a handline from a single bolt ½ way down:
Large smooth-walled high rift passage was found heading S to a 20m pitch, which J+W bolted:
The passage was found to continue as hading rift with chocolate river until a final chamber with an aven was reached. Due to time now being short, all 3 exited and a return was planned the next day to complete the surveying, though the passage was given the name "The Last TSA" courtesy of Michael wearing his Dad's old TSA oversuit.
The return trip to The Last TSA, to finish the survey. Large mud and stone floored phreatic hading rift, heading S and down, with a chocolate mud river flowing down the floor. Large amount of wall peelage LHS - in one place a huge section has flaked off (20m? long) - "the battleship Potempkin". Wookey shinned up into the ceiling after the battleship, finding a window out into the end chamber with the rift continuing up with a slight draft at 30m above the floor - Wookey realised how high he was, got scared and came back - continuing climb up rift QMB. W rigged a handline down the washed out mud and boulder cliff into the final chamber whereon aven enters - QMX. Far wall is solid, W poked around in the boulders and found that the RHW is undercut and could be the continuation, but no way through the very precarious boulder choke filling the chamber floor and bottom part of 2 walls (RHS, nearside).
De-rigged back into China, and Wookey proceeded to climb up to the alcove visible in the N wall of the aven at the N of China, ~20m up. The climb drafted, but the alcove was a sand-filled passage and didn't go (13-CH-1B). On his way back down, on the RHS of a boulder he had passed on the L on the way up, he found a rift + small hole below which drafted V strongly out! The rift would be tight and looked like you would need to wedge yourself in then descend a pitch. The small hole below may give easier access if dug?
QMA!!! - the way to kH?
Due to time + J being tired, plus the lead looking like a trip in and of itself, both headed back out at this point.
The Last TSA:
N end of China:
The Futrells wanted a sightseeing trip where they could take photographs without being pressured to go fast, and us others wanted an easier trip. Also given to us was the choices of a C-lead at the top of String Theory (09-44C). Took the standard roure to ST (Entrance -> Caramel Catharsis -> Pleasure Series -> ST). C-lead was along a rift out the top of the scree slope at the top of ST heading West. Floor of boulder choke, after ~20m the floor falls out. There is a ga wide enough to fit a person, an 11m tope allowed descent to a second level of boulder choke floor. A third and final level of boulder choke floor was reached by another ~6m pitch. Both ends of the rift choked up at each level. The lowest level was at ~45° angle, any step sent a cascade of rocks down.
Trireme Rift (3 levels and they just get shitter further down.Craps out in all directions, not worth returning to. On the way out, the Futrells took time on the entrance series to take a lot of photos.
After a week of effort in 107, the general consensus was that it would be easier to find a connection from the 161 side, so Dr Day's Entrance Pitch Rigging Service was called into action. Trundled over with Rob and enough gear to rig to Strange Downfull, placing a minimal set of reflectors en route. Rigging in proceeded smoothly with few surprises (apart from one handline that had been removed near the start of Peurile Humour - reinstated) and flawless route finding as far as the top of knossos. Here I discovered that one of the bolts I wanted to use for the pitch head y-hang had been deliberately disabled, so the new rig looks like this:
2014 Minoan Surprise/Knossos rigRoute finding through Knossos/Star Wars/Tower Blocks proved to be a bit more tricky - some reflectors would be useful - but we eventually made it to Staircase 36. The rope for the traverse over a big hole near the bottom of Staircase 36 has been removed and should ideally be reinstated. I rigged Strange Downfall while Rob and Rob nosed around in Chicken Flied Nice without finding any obvious route through to Runnel Stone. With that we headed out - a most efficient trip.
Following a quick and effective trip the previous day, the same team returned to rig the long way round to the leads near 107. We thought that the trip shouldn't take too long so were in no hurry to leave Top Camp. The flaw in this logic should have been obvious and our failure to get underground before 14:00 proved to be a mistake. Trundled along to Strange Downfull, Rob W prussiked up Strange Upfall to find that the traverse line at the top was (thankfully) still in place. Up Irony of Time and into Country for Old Men, we had a pleasant surprise that the Sudentenland pitch was still rigged - the 100m of rope we had with us was starting to look like overkill. All enjoyed the interesting rig on the Mordor pitch, then along the extreme horizontal stuff at the bottom. By now it was becoming clear that, despite minimal route-finding hassles, the trip was going to take quite a long time.
Arriving at Holey Cow, we finally found something that needed rigging. Rob W rigged down the little climb, then put in a hanger to protect the walk across the ridge to the little traverse on the other side. It turns out that this bolt is pretty good since when Rob made it to the location of the y-hang bolts, the ledge he was standing on disappeared and he took a swing and smacked into the ridge.
After that bit of excitement, we headed off to the Runnel Stone. Survey station 56 looked like the most promising area: there is an undescended pitch with a faint draught. Climbing up into the roof (looks like we are in the bottom of a keyhole) to see if the passage continues at roof level might also be worth a try. The survey puts us 23m laterally and at the same level as a parallel passage to Chicken Flied Nice, so there are a few possibilities here for cutting a significant chunk off the commute.
Next we went to the end of Bundestrasse. The continuing rift at the end goes to a pitch after ~15m. There is a draught, but it is small compared to that in the phreatic passage. This suggests that most of the draught disappears up the aven, which looks like a phreatic tube and Rob A believes might be climbable.
By now it was getting very late, so we returned to the junction at the end of Lärchen Republic and ditched the rope. From here it took about 5 hours to get out, with the only significant delay being to install a sling on a greasy climb in Sudetenland that we had waltzed past on the way down. Emerged to steady rain at 03:50. We were very glad of the extra reflectors that had been installed on the walk out during the soggy walk back. Arrived at Top Camp at 05:00 in time for a dawn curry.
Attempts to go caving from base camp are not a great idea if you want to be underground at a reasonable hour... Rather a lot of faffing and a diversion to the mobile phone shop later, we were en route to 107 and underground at ~1:30pm. It was Elaine & Sophie's first expo caving trip. Progress was somewhat slow, and since it took 4 hours to reach a point just before TOO BOLD FOR THIS SPIT, the decision was taken to turn round at 5:30 pm.
Elaine and David decided to retrieve the hand bolting kits which were left just before Pop Across. David grabbed the kits then D&E caught up with M&S who were making their way out. Once M&S had gone past the squeeze, E derigged the pitch which bypasses the squeeze while D. rebolted & rerigged the traverse at the bottom of said pitch to make it safer. All reached the surface at ~9:45pm. D&E decided to go ahead to top camp to cancel the callout and outrun the thunderstorm which was snapping at our heels. S&M arrived, rather damp, 1.5h later.
After a later start than was intended (due to my extensive faffing abilities), we were underground by 11:45. By 1:30pm we had reached "Too bold". This being Elaines 2nd trip of expo, and only her 6th SRT trip, she was not quite so confident on the larger pitches, so we reached the bottom of China by around 3pm. The climb which Wookey had rigged was somewhat precarious to say the least, so we sat on the other side of the choss pile at the bottom in a group shelter until each of us had ascended the climb. Aled & David got to the top and I decided to come up. About halfway up (~2m above the deviation) I felt a massive draught kicking out of a slanting rift in the wall: the lead! The others had gone too high. David dropped down with the drill after I had had a look down the hole, a slanting rift for ~5m which opens out over the top of a reasonable freehang (~20m). The pitch was subsequently dropped by David, who shouted enthusiastically up for someone to follow. I had the survey kit in my bag so I followed on.
After some rigging adjustments, I dropped into a rather large passage with a humongous draught at the end. Very excited! We went round the corner to where Dave had looked to and began surveying. However after 3 legs Dave discovered a survey station which wasn't ours. Strange! This lead us to believe that it was not new passage. We went through a squeeze after a sandy crawl after following a phreatic passage with a gravelly floor, this reached a massive rift with a dodgy looking climb or a dodgy looking traverse (tried doing the traverse but it was a silly idea with us being 2 rather inexperienced cavers on the wrong side of a possibly new bit of passage. We therefore turned round and backsurveyed 8 legs from previous station 18 to the top of the pitch David dropped. By this time, it was getting on for 8pm & with a 12 (midnight) callout we decided it was time to turn round, Aled & Elaine having already headed out. Carrying the drill, bolting kit etc progress was more taxing than expected and we reached the surface around 10:30.
After some faff and route finding issues we returned to top camp at 11:40pm cutting callout a wee bit fine.
Heavy rain in the morning meant Andrew's proposed walk up the hill at 6:30am was postponed enough for Aled to wake up and decide he also wanted to go caving. An early start on the Plateau walk was hampered by shitty weather (lots of rain) and traffic in the form of cows and sheep. Upon reaching 107, Aled was happy to find his SRT kit had helpfully been brought down from the bunde-hill from the day before by Matt & co, so caving could commence!
Ominous sounds of water echo through the cave, but waterfalls confined to predicted places, most notably the "Easy Traverse", but Andrew's previous fettling of the rope to make it tighter kept us out of the worst of the water - phew!
An hour and a half into the cave saw us reach the far end of "Too Bold for This Spit", where the new route into China was mostly hidden by torrential water. Aled's proposed lead drop was quickly found (it is an A lead, after all), and would be great if it dropped into China as it was BONE DRY. Unfortunately, the rigging gear Aled & Matt dropped off the previous day had been unhelpfully moved to the bottom of "Nipped Down" so basically out of practical reach.
Andrew - "You could go down to fetch it, but you wont be coming back"
Looking at the dropped pitch at the end of "Too Bold for This Spit", Aled quickly agreed. Headed out feeling cheated :-(
Slightly later start than anticipated as Aled had to first fetch his gear from 107. It didn't help that the Plateau Monster bit him on the way back to Top Camp.
Entrance series was a great selection of rebelays, which - as far as the writer is aware - is different from previous years, but as it was the first time down Tunnocks for Aled, everything was brand new. Neil provided helpful hints throughout the descent.
After much traipsing and sliding about, the two-and-a-half musketeers arrived at the desired location (which the writer believes was Champagne on Ice), only to decide the proposed pitch should be dropped from the other side. I can only then assume we backtracked and headed to Hedonism Highway as by this point I hadn't a bloody clue where I was. Sat at the top of the pitch, Neil got ready for some serious drilling and rigging while Andrew & Aled sat patiently. At some point Andrew headed down after Neil as it went very quiet and dark - Aled was now huddled up in his survival bag and couldn't see anything anyway. Some time passed, and Andrew arrived back declaring we should go off to "cross off some of those fucking leads".
Many holes squeezed through, precarious climbs climbed, rocks replaced, boulders shuffled, and mud clawed away, and we have discovered the following:
07-77B: Soil filled phreatic passage. Filled to roof, no draft. Probably worth 1 session (with a shovel).
07-99C: 5m to complete rockfill - draft out.
07-79X: Climb to soil filled slot, dig, finishes in small rock hole, draft out. Roof looks to be immature, closes down.
07-85C + 07-83C plus unlabelled roof tube to west of 85 and 83: Climbs up and joins in larger rift, everything above too tight.
Headed back to Neil, who I believe accomplished his task, munched some chocolate and headed out.
Neil & Andrew insisted on Aled leading - big mistake. Sat idly by whenever he headed in wrong direction. Bluffed at one particular passage causing much confusion for Aled, then sneaked off when his back was turned;
Tiring climb out for Aled, crawled to surface like a beaten house-elf about half an hour after Neil & Andrew. Face down on the limestone, Aled is asked if he wants to go back down with Becka & Rob who arrived;
"Hahaha... nope!" (cries)
Mucho faffos today! Helped not in the least by Aled needing to collect gear from Top Camp first. Underground by 4:30pm!!
Matt - "No time to rig, just gimme a tour"
Gave him a tour , I did.
Got to "Too Bold for This Spit", & found David, Andrew, Jess & Sam coming up the other way! Left bag of rope & rigging gear attached to said traverse. No time to push. Headed back out feeling cheated :-(
(Also just realised Matt has already written this...)
From Tunnocks entrance walked for ~15 min NW down the large gully before prospecting started, following the cairned route. Took a large loop by heading up the lower slopes of the Greißkogel, then following the bedding plane NE and upward. After a few hours found only one good lead (2014-777) and decided to turn for home, travelled S back to the end of the cairned route but found a more promising hole (2014-888) which was partly blocked by choss but had a very strong draft coming out.
777 was tagged & GPS logged, but 888 was only GPS logged for lack of time.
AIYP (2013-03) is a possible back entrance to Tunnocks, explored in 2013 but found to be blocked by snow. Corresponding but of cave underneath found snow & leaves, so almost certainly connected.
From the surface, looked like a straight hang to the floor, kicking all the snow & ice of 2013, particularly ice bridges across the shaft. Found to be not the full 60m shaft but only 30m down to what was marked a ledge on 2013 survey, so rest of shaft blocked by snow. Could not see bolts for traverse shown on 2013 rigging guide.
Also checked 2012-ns-01 for connection into Tunnocks. Snow level was lower than 2013 as it connected straight into AIYP, but required ~30m hand line when walking over snow slope.
Need snow level to be much lower for hope of making the connection into Tunnocks, even though 2014 has a particularly low snow level anyway.
Follow up on 2014-888, a drafting hole blocked mostly by choss. Took crowbar & bolting kit to prise all the precarious large rocks away from the entrance and rig the pitch that could be seen just beyond them.
Spend ~ 1 hour trying to clear the entrance, removed most of the small to medium rocks but there was 1 large boulder which wobbled but wouldn't move down the hole. In the end it was wedged to one side so it was passable.
Neil then bolted the pitch, which went down ~8m to a small chamber where the draft was coming out of a rift too small to pass, with a similar tiny hole in the floor.
Then proceeded to a large open pit that Mike Futrell found in 2013. Snow plug at the bottom, ~25m drop and ~5m across.
Entrance was made easier by a hard climb down ~6m on the W side, emerging in a balcony from where the bolting started. Neil gave me his drill and an introductory course on how to bolt & rig (the first cave I had done so on!). [Meanwhiles Mike & Andrea, and Elaine and Same who arrived after their own trip across the valley, discovered that caving can also be a spectator sport. There is a large window opposite the balcony, and they cheered Michaels every move as he bolted the pitch.]
Crapped out on both sides of the snow plug, didn't go anywhere.
I was awoken early by Becka who was very excited about the previous days trip. Survey data was examined & quizzing began. However, being not properly awake I did not provide any useful information at all, so we arranged to go back into 107 with lots of tackle sacks to examine the lead: if it was, as could have been the case, a connection into Korea, we would derig 107. If not, then who knew what was going to happen! After some inevitable faff (I dropped my wellies on the walk over) we got underground around half 11. We were in China by 1pm, and after some flapkjack split into two twos: Rob & I went through the rift & down the pitch, & Andrew & Becka went into Korea & we would shout at each other to see if it connected. On dropping down the pitch, I showed Rob what we had done the day before and we headed up the sandy ramp to the slit. At this point, Rob proclaimed "I bet you £500 that we're in Blown Out." On looking at the traverse I half attempted the previous day, we rescinded the bet until further evidence arose. He found a way to climb down which bypassed this obstacle, and we poked around a bit at the bottom until we heard Becka & Andrew Whooping with surprise: we were indeed in Blown Out! Apparently my failure to mention how sandy the other side of the connection was or that we had found survey station 4 on the other side of the slit. In hindsight, it did look rather like the other leads in KH that I had looked at (Chicken Flied Nice). We decided that we would do the through trip out of KH, derigging as we went. After Becka had done one last survey leg to link mine & Davids data into China (using our station 8 & station 4 (?) off the top of the large boulder opposite Wookeys death climb) & me and Andrew had gardened the death climb until there was only half a ledge left to rig off, we set off through Blown Out, Rob rigged the 5m traverse, and we continued, derigging en route. Mordor was derigged (and would need rebolting if it is ever descended again), along with Sudetenland, Strange Downfall, Knossos & the Entrance. Strange Upfall, Staircase 36 & Repton were left rigged. We were out by 9, & a lightning storm ensured a hasty walk to Top Camp.
27 min walk to beat the thunderstorm - a fine trip!
After prospecting with Becka, Mike + Andrea a couple of days before, Nat and I decided to revisit 2005-05 to carry on dropping the pitches there. Rob bailed, leading to a rather late start, but we set off with a ~40m and 2 x 11m ropes, plus the bosch drill older than either one of us. We re-rigged the first pitch that Nat had dropped earlier and landed on a stone bridge between two pitches. Nat decided to drop the western pitch since it seemed to look more promising, so bolted a rebelay and carried on downwards. After dropping through a slightly narrow gap we landed on a loose, rocky slope with a ledge to one side. Nat bolted another rebelay and started on one of the 11m ropes but rapidly came back since there was a pitch that was too big for us to drop with the kit we had - exciting times! I went down to take a look then we went off to the ledge to commiserate. We reckoned the pitch had about a 2-second drop, making it somewhere between 20 and 30 metres. As we were cold and out of gear, we decided to return the next day with more rope (and our oversuits!).
We returned with a 100m rope and the same drill (well, the same battery). Unfortunately, the drill was shit (read: the battery was very low) and we only managed to put in 1 ¼ bolts. This was especially frustrating as Nat had converted a dingle bolt rebelay to a Y-hang, so the 1/4 hole was right above the big pitch! Even more frustrating, we'd neglected to bring a spit driver due to inexperience and general incompetence. We headed back to camp promising that the next day we'd finally drop that pitch!
We returned to the cave with a lighter drill and brighter spirits, and with surprisingly minimal faffing dropped the pitch. A nice long abseil down a clean-washed shaft landed on a rocky ledge with one more short drop before the cave opened into a chamber. I bolted the small pitch, which turned out to be more challenging than anticipated, and we were in the chamber! Finally a use for the compass/clino we'd brought! Unfortunately, in our trying not to be overly optimistic and scare the cave off we were very low on extra layers, meaning we couldn't survey for very long. On the plus side, the cave was nice and drafty! Despite cold and surveying inexperience we got about 60m surveyed with plenty more to go. We also finally settled on a name for the cave - Balcony Höhle - based on the truly excellent entrance.
Since the cave was now going beyond the pitch series, we thought it would be a good idea to ask someone with more surveying experience for help, so along came Noel. With his help (and the use of a Disto) we got a lot more surveyed - nearly 200m in 3 hours - with several ?As and a very solid ?B. We also put up cairns and reflectors on the route to the cave.
*Worth noting: the long (34m) pitch gets drippy after rainstorms, even after the rain has passed. It was only a bit unpleasant, not dangerous, but trips should take a bothy on rainy days incase the pitch gets more than unpleasant!
Noel, Mike and Andrea had set off nice and early to go look at some of our leads from the day before, including a traverse that wanted bolting. Using a drill tends to go more easily when the drill has a bit, though, so when Noel came back to get one Holly and I came along to the cave. Noel added a backup bolt to the top Y-hang then I descended first to fettle the rigging. After lots of waiting for people to descend to avoid bouldery death we set off to rig the traverse. While Noel was discovering a chasm too wide to traverse across Holly and I were looking at the parallel shaft we'd found, and we made a sound connection between the two (unsurprising, as Noel described around the corner of the pitch as a rift). We decided to leave that traverse alone for the time being and as Noel derigged I took everyone else to Liar's bakery, the ?B, for Mike and Andrea to poke around in. Holly, Noel, and I then went to traverse the parallel shaft Holly and I had visited instead. Traversing over one pitch led to a second hole in the floor, giving the area the name Pit Pot. Traversing over the second pit landed on a rubble-covered ledge with a small window leading to a nice big pitch! Rocks fell for ~3 sec, so we estimated the depth of the shaft at 60m. We surveyed to the window -a whopping 13m - and headed out. Mike and Andrea had had rather more success, surveying 109.13m ending in a (dry) ~40m pitch. There are still plenty of leads to go back to, not too bad!
Balcony Höhle Rigging Topo - Entrance Series (05/08/2014)
After a walk up + a prospecting trip I polished off the day with an evening saunter down Tunnocks to try to fetch the tacklesack that Rob had dropped down the ice slope whilst trying to rig the entrance. Rob hefted the mighty Bosch drill whilst I did a solo survey down the ice slope to a small pit + an ice slot (where, presumably, the tacklesack has gone, though we did manage to retrieve a sling), a good-looking horizontal lead past a short traverse around the small pit (which turned out to be part of stone monkey on the next trip on 4/8/14) + a possible lead in a chamber beyond the ice slot. Called time around midnight to be fresh for the next day.
Down to continue from Neil, Andrew + Aled's trip yesterday. Andrew continued from Neil's bolts + rigged ~ 3 more pitches, two of which looked like they could get wet. We surveyed on the way out, we'd dropped 55m vertically + left it still open + looking bang on course for Neil + Andrew's Gösser-fuelled inspiration of trying to get to the Straight Choice/Arctic Angle area by dropping in from the north end of Tunnocks.
Off to finish the Ducks on Ice survey. As soon as I stopped into the horizontal tube I cold see people had been here before so we romped off to see where we were - + soon arrived right above the top bolt of Caramel Catharsis, bingo! Decided this would make a far superior entrance, avoiding two tacklesack mauling crawls, a poxy short pitch, a traverse + some caving... but it needed a little work. Neil rigged a handline down Caramel Catharsis then helped me with some gardening then headed off to help Rob trying to improve the rig down lower Tunnocks entrance (Ducks on Ice) whilst I spend a merry 3 hours trundling boulders to garden the route. I did a single leg (99cm) survey to do the connection + headed out whilst Neil valiantly stood by until Rob finished the rigging (tricky given the ice/crap rock/danger of rockfall/sharp corners several hours later.
Intersected above team during their short-cut creation then checked out Champagne on Ice.
Anthony attempted to continue rigging between 2 separate cascades while Chris returned to make some of the rigging more humane.
After we'd all done an early morning walk down to fetch food from the carpark (as Top Camp had pretty much run out of everything) there wasn't time for a decent trip + the weather was a bit 50-50. We headed off past the Tunnocks col + Ants in the Pants + then along the German cairned route to the hillock/ridge the farside of Ants in the Pants then split into two pairs, each with a GPS. Anthony + Chris weren't impressed + didn't really find anything whereas Neil + I got excited by the general area +, especially, by a lovely section of limestone pavement full of shafts (one 2012-ft12 I think), some of which looked really good. We then headed back around + Neil stumbled on the best lead (+the only one that we tagged) which was a slot in an open hole in bunde with a fair drop beyond + a good draft. Quite narrow to enter but not an issue, provisionally called Disappointment Pot. On both mine + Anthony's GPS.
Back on down to continue our previous survey down the pitches that Joe, Fleur + Pete had rigged yesterday. The horizontal passage looked an excellent lead with a good draft (+ a single pair of footsteps in + out - bad boy, Joe!). We soon surveyed to a traverse which Neil rigged over a big drop + ... footsteps the other side ... so we only got ~4m of unsurveyed passage to get the connection! We tied in the survey then ran off to work out where we were (luckily I'd packed Julian's mini-survey of the Straight Choice area). Mike took a few shots of pretties + then we checked out the leads, admiring the scary traverse + climb that Andrew had done on the only trip that had been there before, when we'd done a long rig - survey - derig trip at the end of Expo. There were no horizontal leads to do + we were nearly out of rigging gear so we decided to go for the QMA at the S end of Arctic Angle with a p6. Neil soon rigged this + excitedly reported that it looked good... + we'd already noticed the strong draft so we whooped our way down to discover a maze of attractive walking passage - lots of phreatic, some formations, really lovely - looking passage, whoo hoo!
Neil + I tried to break Mike with speed surveying with a DistoX. We romped around, surveying to a large pitch from two different directions + several other pitches. We also left a couple of easy, strongly drafting 'digs' (needing 30 seconds to scoop away the sand to enter) + some slightly harder to enter horizontal leads as well as all the vertical leads for others to enjoy. Headed out after wrapping up a 69 leg, ~450m survey. I deriged the pitch + traverse + entrance rigging above Caramel Catharsis as Ducks on Ice is now the standard route whilst Neil added two more bolts on Ducks on ice to try to alleviate the rubs. Fine trip!
Rigging Topo for Tibet (pitch connecting 107 to 161, provisionally named by David):
Having visited the fête in Bad Aussee the night before, M&E were up bright and early for a day's caving, having stayed off the gösser. We couldn't convince Sam to accompany us up the hill but he gave us a lift to the parkplatz as there was only 1 pass left, claiming he'd come up later in the day (this turned out to be a lie). We reached the Stone Bridge to the sounds of manic laughter - Nat & RobW were attempting to steal Katey's toilet paper as she was on the grike, using a pair of salad tongs attached to a pole. Everyone who was going caving had left so we decided to do our own, not-too-strenuous trip (E. had thrown up that morning in the parkplazt - Sam's driving? Ario-disease from the ULSA crew? who knows). E needed some SRT practice so we decided that the Tunnocks entrance series adventure playground was the ideal candidate. We made good if a bit slow progress then once down proceeded as far as Y [something] Beach before deciding to turn around. The exit was actually faster than the descent, and we were out in time to walk back to camp in daylight.
E, M, H & N descended the entrance series together (well, in 2 waves to save waiting around) then H&N went off to drop a pitch (I assume they'll elaborate later) while M&E went to check out the passage beyond a climb which N&M had rigged while H&E descended. The nice rifty passage went and went (northwards) - slightly scary loose boulder floor which we gardened a bit, but some lovely mud formations. E achieved the impressive feat of becoming cold while wearing 3 layers of thermals in addition to over & undersuit. We surveyed around 130m in total, leaving 2 A-leads, one B-lead and two C-leads for future cavers. We called the area 'Lemonsnout' and the data is in folder # '2014#19'
Found at bottom of path, after water trough. Contains large chamber with apfel strudel, beer and ice cream. Mmmmmmmmmm.
Mass surface-prospecting trip. More write-up from others to follow? Matt pointed out a horizontal-leading hole that a previous (less keen) UBSS caver had deemed "too tight". Elaine, being an avid Mendip fan, decided that it was actually fine & wriggled through to find that it pinched out after ~11m. Still, it was long enough to kataster, so E+D surveyed/photo-ed/GPSed/tagged it, while A+S dropped a small surface hole E+D had deemed too wet & horrible. Afterwards E+D did some cross-valley directing to not much avail. E+D then discovered that caving CAN be a spectator sport, watching Michael bolt a pitch though a nice large window slightly further north. :)
Picked up pile of gear at bottom of String Theory, augmented by a few more pieces of rope, & rigged down to pushing front at bottom of The Number of the Beast. Out in 4 hrs.
Fleur polished up the entrance pitches after the previous day of gardening. We followed the howling gale to reach the 40m pitch reached by Mike & Andrea on 05/08. Pete rigged over the top, "Natural Highs",with his rigging butler providing an ever-increasing rope length (10m replaced by 20m replaced by 40m). After traversing over 3 pitches we were on terra firma, in substantial passage with leads all around & the sound of drilling above. I shinned up the RH wall into large phreas going up & downstream, which I ambled along upstream until I was able to wave cheerily at Noel & Holly who were dangling on the far side, wondering how to reach the balcony I was beaming out from. We settled for a DistoX "handshake" across the gulf.
Fleur & Pete surveyed the 'Leeds Bypass' while I put some "Unnatural Highs" bolts in (Pete's battery had died hence excessive use of natural protection). Then we surveyed on down-sip along the windy phreas. It just got bigger and bigger - while Pete & Fleur followed the biggest windiest passage I took the frill to a draft phreatic pitch off to the left, left 15m down with a 'Y' hang waiting for someone to come along with another 30m or so of rope to descend it - 'Gardeners Question Time' due to the usual issue of just how much gardening to do. Fleur & Pete returned having reached a traverse that needed rigging. So we took the drill along to the end, passing a dried up stream trench in the floor. The remaining 10m rope took us 2/3 along the traverse in 3 bolts + 1 natural, so a splendid lead for someone to continue into the phreas beyond. 230m in book.
We had a bit of a queue on the ent pitches, meeting up with Mike & Elaine & then Holly & Noel, so we all compared our finds - all going, so smiles all round.
unfortunately we have been defeated by the Beast. :( Noel & I decided to try & have a go at dropping the Beast. So down String Theory, down Pigeon's in Flight and off to the top of Pigeon Droppings. Here there was a gear stash & Pigeon Droppings was rigged - awaiting a derig. So whilst I repacked the gear, Noel derigged Pigeon Droppings. Once all the gear was out, sorted & repacked - we headed to the Beast. We had decided to try the window Becka & I had found (back on the connection trip in 2012). So Noel rigged Eh Bah Gum, which unfortunately was rigged on thru-bolts and also needed a new rebelay due to a trashed bolt. Once done, we head to the ledge and the story continues...
So we were defeated. There is no suitable place to drop the Beast. So we then derigged Eh Bah Gum & dragged all the gear, including Pigeon's in Flight, to the bottom of String Theory.
The weather was rubbish - rain, rain, rain. It was understood that the large pitch into China would be too wet to descend, so we went in to try & find a new way in, in the Land of Confusion. We headed over the big pitch & into LoC. Here one drops a short pitch (~6m or so), then climbs up the same height to on-going passage on the other side.
Note: at the bottom of this pitch is another pitch - dry (13-LC-16A). Perfect for someone who wants bolting practice. On the main passage, Joe ran ahead to scope out the leads (pitches) that are understood to also lead to China. Joe found lead 13-LC-2C to be dry, so we attempted to rig here. Unfortunately all the rock was cheese. Eventually, after a lot of trying, we decided that it would be a project that needed more work & wouldn't be worth it. So we headed out, but rigged a traverse on the rift somewhere between 'Coldest Place on Earth' and 'Restless' as follows:
Then headed out.
None of us had been in the cave before but a dearth of gear at TC meant that a tactical derig was required. On the way in we eyed up the gear we passed, and were disappointed by the sparse rigging. Noel & I popped down to see what we could find at the bottom of China. I found an up-rope at the top end of this impressive fault chamber but we decided it would be antisocial to derig so left in situ. It turned out that, some way beyond was ~80m rope + rigging gear in a bag, somewhere near the connection to 161, opps. Still, between the 4 of us we retrieved 7 tacklesacks of booty to the surface in time to get down to the expo dinner :-)
Back to Pit Pot. We derigged the deviation & pulled up the rope from the previous trip and swung on to the boulder bridge. I was drilling -> put in a couple of bolts on the rock bridge & abseiled down a very short pitch ~3m. Landed on a boulder + mud slope. This was rather treacherous, particularly near the edge of the slope where there was a vertical section. I put in a couple more bolts on the left hand side of the passage to attempt to keep us away from these boulders. Was OK but not great. Landed on a boulder floor, then called Nat down. We had been surveying at each stage of the rigging, so Nat had been sat on a boulder on the boulder slope whilst I rigged (and generally made unhappy sounds at the boulders). In this time, Nat had managed to sit on his nail varnish - breaking the neck & pour nail varnish all over himself & the boulder. :(
Anyway Nat joined me on the boulder floor. I had thought that this pitch was blind, but turned out there was a rift heading off. This was a short pitch, which Nat rigged. It wasn't easy as there was limited choice due to crap rock. But rig it he did & down he went - making unhappy noises at the boulders. I joined Nat at the bottom (~7m) and we were in the rift, surrounded by boulders wedged in the rift. It wasn't my favourite place in the world. The rift continued, which would mean climbing down, under the boulders. It is drafting.
We have decided this should be a QMB. It's a good sized lead & is drafting. However the boulder slope before isn't very nice & it's likely that the boulders will get worse. If this was to be pushed the rigging would need further thought. As there were other leads, we derigged this for this year.
Rigging + Pitch Topo
I had my eye on an exciting traverse/bridge over a rift with large passage continuing beyond. We set up & just as I abseiled over the edge, and got ready to make the great leap across I could hear Chris's voice from the passage ahead. Shouting made contact & he came round the corner on the far side of the traverse. Doh! hence the Leeds by-pass name.
After crossing Pit Pot traverse earlier (see Katey's entry) we headed back to drop the first of the pits which looked promising & reasonably simple. Holly started from some bolts she had previously placed in the traverse, descending around 20m to a boulder slope. With a bit of gardening, the slope was followed down to the edge of another pit, with solid walls for bolting in.
Noel continued to descend, hoping for a good lead after having the last one bypassed by Chris & co. Bolting in from the right wall saw fairly simple rigging with 1 re-belay & deviation to the floor of the pit. Looking up at the top of this second pitch, it is obvious you are just (~20 - 30m) below the ledge at the traverse above (Leeds by-pass).
At the bottom, a small rift led off with a bit of draft. We surveyed along for a while before reaching the time we had agreed to prussik out. Maybe worth returning but still plenty of better leads here.
Arrived in Austria delighted to see our lead from last year being pushed & going so well. Arrived at the rigging front in slightly drippy shaft series. Joe went down from Anthony & CJD's last rebelay, but this left a wet final hang to the floor. So I persuaded Joe to come back up fro a re-rig. He dismantled Anthony's rebelay, but instead of heading for a window as I had hoped, he continued to the floor. Still the cave went on, Joe kept rigging, Pete & I following surveying. It was all looking great, but after two more pitches it died. The stream went into a tiny rift and sumped. I said I would de rig as I wanted a look in the window 2 pitches up. I swung in and it looked like a different floor. So Joe went for a quick bolt to see it it went. It did! And also interrupted a horizontal passage which turned out the next day to connect to Arctic Angle. Satisfied we were leaving a good leave, we could now exit without derigging.
Not exactly a gentle introductory.
Apparently the entrance pitch needed a little tweaking, and a lot of gardening.
Job 1. Rig climb down cliff to entrance ✔
Job 2. De rig pitch pre gardening ✔
Job 3. Rig extended traverse line approach to pitch ✔
Job 4. Garden top ledge at head of pitch ✔
An unforeseen problem arises - large boulder is pushed down pitch but wedges firmly in route down cave.
Job 5. Extra bolt at first rebelay ✔
This proved very useful for extra task of trying to dislodge boulder. Ultimately this proved unsuccessful and a further deviation was rigged.
Job 6. Garden "bridge" and slope of doom ✔
here we stopped due to end of drill battery + need for Aled & David to have time to run away down hill.
See Chris' main write up. but first Fleur continued jobs:
Job 7. Finish bolted deviation ✔
Job 8. Y hang for main hang ✔
Job 9. Extra rebelay at base of main hang✔
An unholy trinity of a team was carefully assembled for this daring mission, fuelled by tea, oatso and currys (phaart). We bumbled down the (now safer) entrance pitches to the junction at the base of climb up to Leeds Bypass / end of Pete's traverse rope.
A We started with the sandy phreatic tube on the left that was a strongly drafting A lead. This carried on for a short but very drafty phreatic stomping to a big pitch with 8-10 second rattle. VERY GOOD A LEAD - WITH A LEAD ACROSS TRAVERSE AT THE SAME HEIGHT. CONSOLIDATION PITCH
B We then went back to a small side lead that involved a short u-tube and up into walking passage that went to the far side of Gardener's Question Time (Chris' Pitch), across which we shot a leg to his top bolt.
C We then backtracked to a side lead that looped back to the far side of the traverse just beyond the station 9 where we started the day. Andy free climbed across hole to make a loop closure. Due to the number of loops we called this the AMALGAMATION SERIES.
D A rather scrotty side crawl with mud floor then headed off to a third loop closure. When we came out into a passage with (Noel & Holly's) rope hanging down.
E Gardener's Question Time Andy then started rigging down the inclined tube of this pitch, past the first rope that Chris had rigged before. This led down to a chamber with a climb up to another aven/chamber off right - probably a B/C lead. A wobbly rock stopped us from climbing up further.
In the floor of the chamber was a very unpleasant hands + knees or flat out tube in mud, which continues. This is where the water goes... Using Fleur's temperature as an excuse, Pete + Andy headed back up pitch + derigged.
F DARK ARTS I (Pete's Lead).
We then continued down Leeds Bypass a short distance to a side lead on left. This carries a very good draft, it is initially contorted with a climb up (from which Dark Arts II starts) followed by a phreatic tube - that is usually big enough to stand up in. This gets very interesting - and was pushed further the next day.
G Dark Arts II (Fleur's lead)
On the way out Fleur saw the start of this side lead. It goes though an eye hole to a clean washed chamber with a phreatic tube leading off. This also drafts and is a good prospect!
The name Dark Arts refers to the failure of Fleur's Rude Nora at start of day...
As the other hoards went down Tunnocks/Champagne on Ice - this crack posse headed into RWAV cave.
ENTRANCE SERIES / RAIN Pete had just arrived at bottom when Fleur heard a rumble which was followed by incredible water flow. Holly got wet from drips. BUT pitch was OK on way out after a day of pretty heavy rain.
NICER PIT finished the last few meters of rigging across Chris' traverse at the far end of Leeds Bypass. We then merrily surveyed down lovely big phreatic tube downhill to a junction. Straight ahead led shortly to a pitch that would be OK to rig. From lip a 15/20m hang arrives on a clean washed ledge, followed by another big hang. This is an A lead.
BIGGER NASTIER PIT We went back to junction, and Pete rigged a very easy 6 bolt traverse uphill above a pit. The passage then turned left to arrive at lip of huge void. Near side of void is drippy, but dry beyond. Rigging down pitch would be a hard project. But it may be better to start rigging down the hole below Pete's traverse - which probably goes to same place. On far side of the void is the continuing passage - but bolt traverse round side of void is an Andy Atkinson project.
But this is all where the big draft goes - A** leads.
DARK ARTS 2 We then went back to Fleur's lead and surveyed a nice phreatic tube that had good draft. We went ~100m to an easy 5-10m pitch down. This is an easy and good project with a decent draft!
DARK ARTS 1 We continued surveying, to avoid wet entrance pitch. This phreatic tube carried on even further than Dark Arts 2 and has an even stronger draft. Also a very good prospect. We did a couple of down climbs that were entertaining on the return, and could do with short ropes. we stopped at an up climb that would probably be free climbable. There is a good natural sling on left and 1/2 bolts may be needed. Very good draft!
Julian had made a rare appearance & wanted to go to the leads at the bottom of Tunnocks - we got a sketch of Neil, Becka & Mike's survey from Fleur to find their A++ lead beyond the traverse at the end. A nice trip to the end & we soon found said traverse. Whilst I set up and started the traverse, the others set off exploring & surveying some small passages nearby (to ensure there was no easy way around the traverse this time).
9 bolts crossed on an ascending ledge with a couple of exposed airy stances. TAKE CARE stepping over the balanced boulder - I could not push it off the edge but you never know what falls off here (as per my "incident" a few years ago. Once on the other side the strong draft resumed & a junction was reached after a few meters.
The others sorted their survey gear & we split into 2 groups - Julian & I taking the left branch & the others the right. Ours turned out to be narrow & not too drafty ("the wrong choice") but ended after 150m & a "narrow section" at a short exposed climb down to a ledge - few possible leads here - a wet sounding pitch & a possible traverse over - needs another look from down the climb (not done by us - possibly requires a rope). Back at the other survey front we helped the others finish up where the drafting passage ended in a small boulder floored chamber with two possible pitches out (~5m & ~10m) - both bouldery but good prospects.
While Noel rigged, Rob, Dave, and me looked down through a tight hole into a chamber, Noel instructed that I should operate the distox as I'd pay if broken. The chamber had usual waterfall pitch breakdown. My God the crawl was tight on the way back. through a U bend with rocks wedged in it, arms by my side, distox lost somewhere underneath. I did not care if I broke it, just get me out of here. Serious chance of doing my back in by forcing self on. Horrible.
While Aled was watching Sam bolt his pitch and David was helping Elaine survey her horizontal hole in the overhang, Sophie and Matt headed to the end of the cliff and up the gully behind. The area they wandered round above was dotted with lots of big holes. One could be walked into and was found to crap out, with a ceiling that came away if you touched it. Some gear would be required to investigate the others, so Sophie and Matt headed back to fetch stuff and anyone they could interest. As they picked their way down the chossy gully they noticed Elaine on the bunde covered hillside excitedly "discovering" what Matt recognised as Clownhöhle. Sam and Elaine were left to bash their way round the hill, while Aled and David were successfully enticed to Sophie and Matt's area. Matt, Sophie then David free-climbed into a pit
PLEASE TURN OVER (SEVERAL PAGES?) FOR CONTINUATION
Discovered that neither the 'new' rope - rigging Ducks on Ice - nor the old one rigging the trad way in was long enough for a new overpass, but we put one in anyway & used both ropes after going up & down several times. At least it kept us out of the rain & gets the rigging up to the required standard... Sketch added to [something] rigging topo.
Put a few extra bolts on way in as previous year's bolt scarcity was evident. At limit of exploration, at bottom of steeply sloping rift landing in large chocked floor, climbed up & descended 10m to another false floor, using an immense [something] boulder for a deviation. At N. end of false floor was young & drippy at S. end was unstable & aged, but offered the draft & depth. I started gardening enthusiastically sending increasingly large masonry down the shaft. Andy pointed at another hole which I started chucking stuff down but decided it was no safer so let it be. After I climbed back out a large piece spontaneously threw itself down the shaft. Crumbs.
Having cleared the main shaft lip I inspected a possible large thread "I wouldn't go near that if I were you" said Andy. I kicked it and the metre-cubed chunk rolled down the shaft. We chose the nearest safest drop down to a false floor 10m below. This appeared to give a reasonable route down to the 30-40m main pitch below. I hopped over a large boulder & wondered what was holding it up. We pulled out a couple of loose blocks & I jumped up on the boulder but it stayed put. never the less I started rigging a traverse along the far wall. Suddenly the boulder decided to roll, all on its own, to become wedged by a small flake. A few minutes with a bolting hammer & it was on its way again, to become wedged by another small obstruction. I carried on rigging the traverse before we decided to call it a day & leave the shaft for the next team to come with a crowbar...
(Times are mainly estimates)
After waiting for the rain to dissipate most of the morning we seized a window of clear weather to walk to Tunnocks; minimal faff saw us underground by half twelve; reasonably fast caving saw us at String Theory by about 2 & Number of the Beast by about half five. Reaching this point Rob & Holly sat at the top of bottom of Number of the Beast in a toasty warm bothy whilst Noel & Bat went down the 2 10m pitches (very carefully as the walls weren't particularly solid). (N.B. in places the floor wasn't very solid either)!
Noel decided that as we were there he might as well look down the ~40m pitch at the end of the (athletic looking) traverse. Placing a through-bolt in the far wall for a deviation he set off. Nat sat (on a particularly solid boulder bridge) eating sweets whilst this was going on. At the bottom Noel saw some potential (drafting) leads * but, due to the need to derig didn't investigate them further (some; ALL? would need some bolting).
Following this Noel came back up & did a (rough?) survey. Nat derigged up to the bottom of Number of the Beast. Rob derigged Number of the Beast and Holly did Procrastination. It was here that whilst Nat & Noel waited for Rob & Holly quietly sat in a group shelter. Whilst chatting they heard "Cock & Fuck" being repeated. It came to light later that he'd managed to get stuck in rift at the pitch head & struggled to extricate himself. Following this comedy everyone set off up String-Theory with Nat derigging whilst Rob & Noel ferried bags up to Caramel Catharsis. After counting out the eleven bags we'd transported thus far, we decided that String Theory was a step too far & left the rope for it down at Caramel Catharsis, headed out at a steady pace, with Nat in a grumpy mood due to his pantin breaking again. We were out at around 4am, and in our beds after substantial curry by 5:15am. A fine trip!
Noel and I walked up the hill, collected Rob & some surveying gear and headed to Balcony Höhle to clear up the leads near the entrance as below
Plan 'survey' - Hand drawn NTS
1 - We first went to this C lead. This went surprisingly well. What started as a hands and knees crawl quickly opened up and a junction was reached. We firstly took the left hand passage, which was walking passage which quickly took a right hand bend (heading north?) to a pitch. Beyond the pitch was more horizontal passage. Two good QMAs. Not sure how big the pitch is, but it is dry.
With no survey gear we turned back to the junction & surveyed up the right hand passage. This quickly got smaller, dividing into two small passages which quickly closed down.
2 - Next we headed to this B lead, which was surveyed to connect with the 'Not Labelled' lead. A small passage on the right (starting @ the B side the passage takes a sharp left hand bend - here the small passage is on the corner on the right) was followed, but became small + filled with boulders - probably connects with main passage.
3 Next we looked at this C-lead. This closed down really quickly. Possibly a roof tube, not sure + dodgy climb.
4Lastly we looked at this B-lead. After spend a while smacking boulders with hammers, & lots of kicking, Rob ventured in for a look - closed down instantly.
Another trip into the areas surrounding the Beast in Tunnocks. We got slightly delayed on the way due to a slight accident with a slippery tacklesack. Luckily the bag was recovered without incident. Arrived at the top of String Theory just as team efficient 'Becka', Nat & Katey were replacing the handline on the Balcony climb. Straight forward descent of String Theory and up the climb to Pidgeon's In Flight. From here it is easy caving to the big chamber 'Above & Beyond'. This is one of the largest chambers in Tunnocks and is very complicated due to the number of deep shafts in this vicinity. Decided to drop the shaft directly below 'Bob On'. This was the original way we found the chamber back in 2011. we chose this shaft as it is opposite The Beast and is dry and has a solid wall.
Rob rigged the first pitch dropping 40m. huge boulders at the top and also a loose hole with a stone shoot made the descent interesting! Rob managed a free hanging rebelay before dropping to the floor landing on a steep bouldery slope. Rob rigged out on the right wall away from the boulders and a direct pitch down another 40 m shaft. Base of the shaft confusing as there are many windows and passages coming in at different levels.
From the base Rob climbed up a 5 m climb directly above a huge drop. We also noted two survey stations and pink nail varnish on the walls and on a small boulder. At the time we weren't sure which trip had done the survey but I was 90% certain it was a trip with Andy Chapman, myself and Thomas a German caver back in 2010. Decided to derig as it would be better to approach this area from the pitch at the bottom of 'Sandy Balls', directly below Pidgeons in Flight. Surveyed out after Rob heroically prussicked back up to get the survey instruments I had left at the top of the pitches. Derigged and left tackle back in Pidgeon Droppings. Maybe worth another visit via Sandy Balls but I suspect the next shaft will be wet!
CHAMPAGNE ON ICE RIGGING GUIDE
An early start saw us underground by half ten! (far too early). Heading down Champagne on Ice where Nat discovered that having a bag on your back can severely impede ones mobility (ie string you up on what should be an only slightly awkward pitch head). Once at the bottom (of the pitch down from Arctic Angle) Becka & Neil investigated a passage that went north (turning left after getting off the rope, it's a continuation of the pitch rift). Neil & Becka established a voice & light connection between this passage & another one which seemed to (well positioned lead for 2015!) run parallel.
After this we headed to No Choice at All; over Noel's traverse. Ipon arrival Rob proceeded to bolt the pitch down (continuing QMB) whilst Becka & Nat surveyed. Going up the ~8m bouldery climb a continuation of horizontal passage (QMA, seemed to draft well) was spotted (requires a ~10m climb) on the far side of a shaft. (This shaft links in with the partially bolted QMB which Rob rigged. This was derigged due to time constraints with Champagne on Ice & the entrance needing derigging. Neil derigged Champagne on Ice with various staging happening to ferry bags. Following this stomping occurred to reach Caramel Catharsis which was derigged by Nat (being encouraged by an eager Becka) Rob & Neil set off the entrance suitably loaded, whilst a less loaded Nat stayed reasonably close to Becka to take rope. At this point Nat fell asleep whilst waiting for Becka to derig upon awakening he was given a large yellow bag full of rope. It was said it hurt his balls. Becka & Nat continued out arriving at the surface around half one. After a happy walk back curry was consumed & everyone was happy. Went to bed at ~3am & then got Beckaed the following day at 9ish.
Enthusiasm for caving was apparently waning as no-one had been underground for days. A respite in the weather meant we could head to Balcony with dry kit/clothes. We took 2 drills to attempt a "double pronged" attack on the 2 main leads at the end of Leeds bypass.
Holly set up at the pitch, aiming to descend this whilst Noel & Andy re-rigged Fleur & Pete's traverse over a huge blank walled shaft into a continuation of the main passage on the other side. This looked like a major undertaking so we headed back to Holly to see if her lead would "go" easily.
Holly had put in a traverse, & it looked like, from closer inspection, that there may be horizontal passage continuing over the pitch. Soon, Holly had rigged the pitch, which turned out to be ~10m only, with a much smaller continuation down through a slot. But there was a continuation of the horizontal at the bottom of the 10m!
Noel & Andy set off surveying whilst Holly tidied up the rigging. It kept going over a rift traverse into a tube with strange piles of flakey rock. In continued to a small pitch next to a boulder choke with passage visible above the boulders, accessible by an exposed traverse over the pit. We found a hole up the boulders where both Noel & Andy got scared and didn't want to go up it. But then Holly turned up, told the boys to "man-up" & promptly climbed up through the boulders. So we had to follow, into the passage continuation above. The bigger passage at the top ended after 2 legs at an aven, but a continuation in a crap looking passage the other way (we thought it would end round the corner, & Andy didn't even notice it at first) kept going & going up a slight incline. The passage started intersecting various junctions with A-lead quality passages leading off, & got bigger & bigger as we went. Holly was now very excited, hardly able to contain herself enough to do her nail-varnish job! Even Andy appeared to be enjoying himself - or at least was less miserable than normal. Passage became very large, & ended eventually at a large shaft. Noel recognised this as the other side of the pit we were initially considering traversing so we had completed a large loop! We left a sheet of paper on the last station in order to shoot back across from the other side on the way out, to complete the survey loop.
Not quite having had our fill yet, it was still early so we headed up the first A lead on the way out & surveyed that to a pitch with a large passage continuing on the other side. Strong draught here, A+ lead. It would require bolt traversing to get around to. We decided to call it a day & headed out, shooting the loop closure leg across the shaft on the way past (de-rigging the traverse to get here as well).
We called the main passage "The Far Side" as it was across the huge pit that was the old A lead. The new passage is a continuation of the major development of the cave & is very interesting.
We surveyed 514m on this trip in maybe 4-5 hours - not bad. We also left 7 major horizontal leads & a couple requiring traversing - this is an excellent & easy-going cave so far & loads of potential.
[blank space, no rigging topo]
I was up bright and early at 7 to go up the hill with Becka. It was not to be an epic, with a start before midday not anticipated, so Becka was keen to push some leads in Balcony. We got up the hill around 11. After a tragic yet amusing incident involving me, the grike & the poo drum, we set off. The weather, for once, was pleasant, ensuring a dry descent at 12:15, the first for a while in Balcony!
We took it slowly on the way in as I showed Becka most of the important junctions. We arrived at the pushing front, as described by Holly & Noel, at around 2pm. There, holly, Noel & Andy showed us the leads they hadn't yet looked at. There were a lot of them, and all very pleasant caving - we [something]! The first one we looked at was at the junction after the crossroads (station 46). This turned into a sand choked dig after only 4 legs.
We then headed to station 69, where on the left was a lead that Noel was dead keen on. However, this also proved to be a damp squib as it connected back in with the main passage above some mud formations which have been taped off. 2 down, plenty to go! Next, we set off to the crossroads to check out the 2 unexplored leads there. The first, near station 36, became too tight after less than 10 legs. The second, a slightly thrutching rift, ended up linking back in with the main passage again, taking a 90° turn and coming in on the other side of an aven which Noel had down as another good lead. The connection involved quite an exciting traverse that Becka declined to do, instead coming round the main passage.
At this point, it was getting on for 7, so we decided we'd do one more then call it a day. Holly, Noel & Andy had headed out, but on their way bumped into us having a chocolate break and told us about 2 new leads they had discovered, one being a 6m climb down into an aven with more passage on the other side. We decided we'd like to find some passage that actually went & headed off.
I had been on notes all day, and had finally got a system sorted - proper layout, able to draw backreadings properly, elevation down. I was also a lot less faffy than before - bonus! Our hopes were still dashed, however, as this passage led to a drop down through quite a small hole that would have shredded Becka's oversuit and probably not advisable without a rope. There looked to be a reasonably sized passage below, and it was drafting quite strongly, so we left it with reasonable optimism that it would be returned to.
Heading out was no bother at all, with Becka finding the way easily. We caught Martin & Sophie on the entrance pitch, which saw us out around 9:15pm. Vis was low on the surface so navigating back was a bit more challenging than normal. We were back at the bivi a very reasonable 10:45. A fine trip, despite the lack of going passage on our part!
After the amazing pushing the day before, we returned to the Far Side to continue exploring starting with an A lead a few meters up a climb in the roof of one passage. (This was Holly's favourite looking lead). Climbing up, Andy placed the first station on a knob of rock in exactly the right place to resemble a turtles head - hence the name (it's not a crude reference). Passage continued draughtily until we hit a total choke - draught was very strong & cold here. There was one possible good lead here - a draughting slot climb up next to the choke - with a black void visible above.
Returning to near the start of Turtlehead a side lead led off, & it was soon apparent that this was another major passage. Stomping up led to another excellent lead for next year - an ~8m climb up (free climbable with difficulty - needs bolting as a pitch probably). At the top are 2 x ongoing passages in similar proportions with big draught A++. Round the corner was a huge pitch - A grade lead - but maybe a bit drippy. Passage then ran back south, parallel to the one we'd just come up, & we ended this at a drippy free climb. Becka & RobW had come in to look at other leads & they took over this climb lead after other leads crapped out.
Another excellent trip - 340m today & the cave is now close to Flying High in Tunnocks. Plenty of A grade leads left for next year.
After a reasonably long trip the day before, Balcony was an ideal place to head to for some easy pushing. Weather was shit, so the entrance pitch was not too pleasant. We didn't really know where we were going, but we soon learnt which ways definitely weren't the right way. At around 6 we found the pitch we were intending to drop, after 4 hours of exploring already explored bits. I bolted it, only to find that it went nowhere. We surveyed it, then headed out, Martin got a bti chilly. We cut midnight callout a bit fine, after reaching the surface at 10pm.