An early 7:00am start resulted in a marginally cooler walk up to the entrance of 107 after dropping off first load we returned immediately down making good progress, we collected another rucksack worth of rope and returned to the entrance entering the cave at 12:00. The first pitch had a precariously hanging 2 tonnes of snow hanging on the side of the wall, (this was ignored!) trip continued the first 5 ropes where rigged. A quick return to the surface to warm up, and then re-entered with more rope making it all the way to Twin Pitches at which point all the rope had been exhausted, returning out the trick was to ignore the fact that the block of snow/ice was disintegrating above you showering pieces on you (this would have to be sorted).
A return with the rope required and drill to sort out the sketchy rigging resulted in the arrival at the top at 12:00 after a more relaxed start. The first task was to destroy the ever melting snow which was achieved in 30 mins. The down trip involved sorting out multiple rigging issues and everything was made much safer. Water flow had increased dramatically since yesterday. Making it to Too Bold For This Spit, we halted, rigged it but had to turn round because of lack of hangers and quantity of water flowing down. Exitting the cave was much more pleasant without the looming iceberg.
Much rerigging was had.
Start 11:00 End 19:30
Lucky Luke had been persuaded to go down 107 again with the promise of large cave to be seen. Rigging 'Too Bold For This Spit' wasn't so wet but still not nice! Some new bolts were put in and then we set off for China. We went into 161 searching for the mysterious missing rope - didn't find it but enjoyed 161 which has a very different character to 107. Thedre are some lovely "stone mushrooms" down there (take a camera next time). We had a look down a 'C' lead on the west wall of China ..... Will have to go down and survey tomorrow (Luke).
Headed up to Tunnocks with enough rope for the entrance pitch and maybe Caramel Catharsis as well, plus drill in case entrance rig fettling was required. I rigged down following the trail of reflectors which made finding the bolts easy, making only minimal changes to the 2014 rig. There was a substantial pile of snow at the first choss slope (completely bare last year as I recall) and also at other points lower down. At the second choss slope, I spent a while swinging around with skyhooks to see if I could find a way to avoid it completely, eventually concluding that it would be very acrobatic for little gain. I put in an extra bolt for the next descent to replace the Y-hang with bolts miles up in the air on the far wall with a Y-hang on the near side of the drop with an immediate deviation off the far wall. Continued down until the trail of reflectors seemed to indicate an airy-fairy route across the wall. I elected to descend directly to the floor which was covered in relatively fresh snow. There is still some very old ice down there which would make the original route very tedious. Ducks on Ice is open, however, albeit with a higher snow level than I recall from last year. Mark descended the snow slope and discovered an enormous ice stal hanging like the Sword of Damocles right above the way on. Something needed to be done about this, so we retreated to plan our next move.
At Ducks on Ice we had discovered an enormous ice stal. While not blocking the way on physically, it was judged to be a serious hazard. The first job of the day was therefore de-icing. Something that two blokes who live in Scandinavia ought to be well qualified for, right ?
Anyway, the ice stal broke into 1 million pieces, leaving the way on clear of danger. Using the formula for the volume of a cone we calculated the volume of ice and hence the weight of the stal.
V = 1/3 pi r2 h
r ~ 0.3m, h ~ 5m
V ~ 0.5 m3
density of ice is 0.8 kg/l
=< weight ~ 400kg. Not good if that landed on your toe!!!
After the de-ice, we carried on. Rigged traverse & handline down to start of Caramel Catharsis, then the long traverse & pitch itself. Rope was too short but we "borrowed" a small rope from a handline. Then on to String Theory. Mark didn't like the traverse round "Usual Suspects" but we made it to the top of String Theory after Anthony's fine words of encouragement. Most of String Theory was rigged by Anthony and we exited feeling pleased with ourselves. Just made it back to the Stone Bridge before a big storm broke.
[there is an arrow captioned "more info" but no clue as to where it is pointing...]
Returned to C lead in China with Matt, to survey the pitch that we dropped the previous trip. Unfortunately only compass/clino so a depressingly small amount of passage was surveyed despite 4½ hours spent surveying. We didn't get cold and "much fun" was had.
"We found the bag!"
Having looked for the bag of rope for over a year, I was happily surprised to find it ...... ! It is now residing at (in a tackle sack) "Too Bold For This Spit". The technical and intellectual info for this trip will now be supplied by Olly (or perhaps Jenny) [continued]
We went through the connection from China into Blown Away / Out and round to Bundestrasse, finding (as Joe said) the errant tackle sack at the junction into the Runnelstone. A small rift on from the last survey station in Bundestrasse had clearly been explored already (by Anthony, Rob + Rob, it seems) but they hadn't realised the big pitch at the end was Korea. Jenny & Joe were able to lean out enough to recognise the pitch head at the end of Land of Confusion, and Disto an approx connection.
Started rigging the entrance. Put in a traverse to avoid the boulder. Moved the rebelay above the big Y-hang.
Continued entrance rigging and showed Frank around the bottom. At the bottom of the big hang there is a traverse to move the last pitch away from potential rock falls
Rachel rigged the 'Natural High' traverse. This is getting slippy so a rope should be left in place. We then pushed the A lead at the end of Dark Arts. After ~20m of passage we hit a large shaft. It looked like the phreatic passage continued requiring an easy traverse...
We returned to traverse the shaft. It appeared that the shaft intersected some large horizontal passage ~15m down, so we dropped the pitch only to find a deceptive alcove! A small body-sized tube led to another drippy chamber with a deep hole in the floor. After this disappointment I bolted the traverse only to find the phreatic passage became too small with no draft. There is a second, much deeper pitch, which is likely where the howling gale in Dark Arts disappears to. This is worth dropping but is drippy in dry weather and may be deadly in wet weather.
We tied in the surveys from the 2 previous trips in Dark Arts and pulled the gear back to the main passage. Oh, and I retrieved the hanger I dropped.
By this point Joe had rigged to China so decided to join them for a trip to survey a lead we had poked our head in last year.
A short pitch with 2 Y-hangs drops down the side wall through the boulders onto a sand and rubble slope.
There is a scary looking climb down to the left QMC and a small passage going off to the right QMC.
At the bottom of the slope we entered a narrow phreatic rift with a sandy floor "Smooth Sandy Bottom".
Surveying was slow and 4½ h later we hadn't really got very far. We left an aven lead QMB and the rift continues with a slight draft QMB
Decided on a short trip for Joe's final day so that we could head down the hill afterwards. We gave Joe a (slightly too long) head start so that he could retrieve his gear from Restless, and then we all headed through the Sea of Fudge and into Wonderland. Got to the Wildwest lead (last seen in 2013 when the drill battery died and attempts at lassooing a spike as a belay resulted in rockfall).
Joe placed 2 bolts and clambered up before placing a final bolt at the top. We joined him up there. Almost immediately the passage hit a T junction, right went to a soil/gravel dig. We followed left along a lovely phreatic passage with a few formations which got photoed (badly) by me, and also dead insects and oddly some animal droppings. We followed along to a short climb up and down again to the bottom of an aven. Joe climbed this (being very careful of the loose flakes), and we sent the rope + drill up for him to rig for us.
Followed this to another aven. Main way on appears to be 18m up - would almost certainly need a bolt or two. There was also a small tube only a few metres up, which didn't draft. Joe removed his SRT kit and explored, after a bit I followed. A low crawl led to a rift and then left bent then another badly sized crawl to a widening. Joe climbed down to a lower level which was small but may go. Straight on led to another aven.
We surveyed back to Olly, despite being small passage and horrible to have to wriggle backwards while survey was lovely and straight so didn't require too many legs. We named this Dire Straits. Once we got back to Olly, Joe headed out to start carrying his gear down and we finished the survey.
A wet night at the bivi meant that plans for a long rigging trip were put on hold in favour of a shorter trip that would allow us to bolt down the hill. Ferried Big Bertha Mk II containing 200m of 10mm (intended for Procrastination and Number of the Beast) as far as the top of String Theory. Mark and Dan put in some bolts to protect the chossy traverse round the 80m deep wet hole on the approach to String Theory. I completed the String Theory rig. With that we headed out.
The plan was to go and find Organhöhle (located by Wookey and Olaf in 2012) plus swing by some of the holes Duncan and I found in the same area in the same year. Since expo was quite sparsely populated, we decided to take advantage of drill availability to drop some of the short pitches we had found. We decided to take two oversuits, two helmets and one SRT kit between us and also some surveying gear to give ourselves the option of verifying that we really had found Organhöhle.
Things did not go entirely according to plan.
We first swung by Tunnocks to pick up an SRT kit. It was at this point that I realised that I hadn't seen any rope being packed. It was hot and fairly late so we pressed on to Balkonhöhle from where we took a somewhat roundabout route towards Organhöhle via a subsidiary summit of the Hohes Augsteck. Coming off the back of this, Dan spotted a cave. There is a hole in the side of the cliff leading onto a rift pitch, with another couple of surface shafts above that go to the same place - definitely worth a tag. Since we had a drill, this should have been a quick job. However, a lack of drill bits was going to make it a lot harder. Fortunately, we had a hand bolting kit, so I made up a tag (2015-DL-01) and Dan set about placing a hand bolt for it.
Whilst Dan was drilling, I set off in the direction where Mark's GPS said Organhöhle was supposed to be. Found a hole in the right place, and headed back to Dan who had by now stopped drilling - not because the bolt was complete but because the head of the bolt driver had sheared off.
We all trooped over to the Organhöhle candidate entrance, where we could have started surveying.... if we had brought a tape measure. I donned oversuit and helmet and set off to verify that we had the right cave. After a bit of walking / crawling I found a decent sized pitch with two spits for a Y-hang at the top (one of which looks good, and one is shagged) - so I'm pretty sure we've got the right cave. It looks a bit like this:
With that we headed back towards Top Camp via a more direct route, placing cairns as we went. Eventually we picked up a cairned path that I suspect goes to Bullet's 2nd Höhle. This route is fairly direct and the terrain reasonable, but it is going to takae a while - likely over an hour from Balconyhöhle.
Our final act was to take a look at Ants in Pants schlucht. The snow level looks pretty low, so this might be worth revisiting later on expo.
Headed into Tunnocks to rig the 200m of rope we had carted in earlier. Mark sorted out the rebelay at the bottom of String Theory, making it less of a twat to pass. I made a start on Procrastination. Unfortunately I didn't find the right bolts for the Y-hang, so there is a rub - needs fixing on the next trip. I rigged down using Chris' 2013 thrubolts for the first hang to (hopefully) avoid the worst of the water. Discovered that the traverse and shitty little pitch at the bottom had been derigged, so Mark rigged these using the 200 of 9mm kindly ferried in by Dan and David. Up Bring on the Clowns, then I rigged Number of the Beast with remainder of the 10mm. Out in 3 hrs - a pretty efficient trip.
Trip to look at Frank's hole east of Pitchfork towards 75c, left. Dave to start work while George & me visited other end. (We'd looked at QMs on route, amended maps, posted George into holes that weren't drawn for him to come out 20m back out of another unknown hole). We looked at the boulder choke in a loose passage and spied a slot up. On the way back to Dave I said "How about I give you a leg up?" "Sure", said George. He reported a big chamber up there. I didn't believe him coz there was no echo, but checked it. Yep. Back at Frank's hole, Dave had already knocked a lid over it and couldn't do anything, so took no time to convert to our lead. George & I surveyed while he investigated pitch opposite. We borrowed him briefly to rig a traverse in the northern passage. It being late and with a callout of 8 pm, we had to rush on out and join the queue at the entrance pitch. NB I'd walked up from base camp with George and Rob that morning, so quite a long day. Also recalibrated 8W-poney 3 times underground with no success.
Same place, same time. Took compass and clino this time and surveyed up south end to a pitch. George went back to chamber and furtled through a passage to a place where he came out of the bottom. Also climbed up the rift through high wet bit. Meanwhile Dave had done his pitch and balcony ledge traverse to big passage. We surveyed into it, plumbed down, then across hole. At this point I got suspicious of how fast George was taking notes. Turned out he had drawn no diagrams at all. I went to sleep while Gorge got coached by David. Down the end under a low bit, David pushed a rock off a sandy slope. Sounded like the whole world was ending. Even George lost his cool. We cowered against the wall for 20 secs. The reverberating echo on the ceiling made it appear from above. Detackled, Luke and Rob joined us, went and trampled the dead bat in the north end, while George & I bodged a survey drawing in this chamber.
Got a lift up the hill in the morning and after a bit of faffing headed down 107 with a view to looking at the old route beyond the entrance pitch. Used the backup bolt I'd placed in 2012, and Olly traversed along to get a Y-hang at the end. This got us nicely to the bottom of the old p23, and I noticed that upon the right was the window through from the rampy bit above Ropeless. (We'd been down from there in 2013, but gone right not left, so seen this pitch but not known for sure that this was the original route).
Olly put in his second Y-hang of the day, then got bored of rigging properly and stuck in a rope protector and headed down. This got us to the bottom of Red [?] - p18 and down the next (~3m) short drop as well. The p18 looks fine in terms of water (our rig is quite a bit across from the wet 1978 hang) but the next little drop was in the water.
Took off our SRT kit and headed off - there are several passages here, it is more complex than the 1978 survey implies, though that survey is corect in what it does show. Headed down a eastward passage, a mixture of crawling + sideways wriggling. After a bit the floor trench heads right then left - west. Followed this, past a pretty stal. On the way back (surveying) noticed that the other way on was the drafty route. Surveyed back to the bottom of the rope, then left the survey hanging for now and derigged out planning to come in using the Ropeless window tomorrow. Consequently surveyed the top pitch now, but failed to find the old station to tie into.
Failed to get an early start, and headed into the cave around noon. First finished derigging and sketching from yesterday. Olly rigged into where we were yesterday via the Window in Ropeless, to yesterday's 2nd Y-hang. This time with a rebelay not a rope protector. For reasons I now forget, this semi-free hanging rebelay got rigged with a clown for added entertainment.
Got down into Old Rift via the 1978 route (climb doesn't need a bolt / rope etc.) Started surveying from the big boulder that all the surveys in the area seem to connect to. Then tied into the end of yesterday's tubular survey and then the start of yesterday's p18 survey (at the Y-hang bolt) then up to the 2015 station on the Ropeless window. Not sure how that took a whole trip, but it did somehow.
Decided on a morning of surface work + afternoon of gear fettling ready for an early start tomorrow to avoid being on a wet pitch at thunderstorm time.
Walked up past 83 to look above Thunder Road. It is quite chossy and bouldery here. Found a few (not drafting) piles of rocks I could climb into, but nothing that went or was worth tagging sadly.
Headed over to laser05 for Olly to GPS - we suspect the old Austrian version of laser05 in the dataset is closer to reality than Nil's fix. Noticed that 1987-02 has a tag bolt but no tag - will try and fix that later on. Walked back via above 107.direstraits to look for entrances above the avens. Only found one possibility (not far above our tent) - plan to return with rope another day.
Got underground nice and early - 9:10 am! Whizzed down to where the two old routes diverge and headed towards the p67. Turns out you traverse over the p67 to get to the p5. We did this using 1978 spits just to have a look. There is a trickle of water down the back wall, and a rift heading west. We traversed along this, it was the sort of rift with no visible floor and of unknown depth. After a short while the rift got wider, and I became incredibly scared and refused to continue. We surveyed back to the head of the p67. On typing in the data, it seems that my pitch detecting radar knew we were about to traverse over the p100, and hence made me stop. Olly rigged down the p67 directly (ie. not via the p5) and got a Y-hang that made a lovely free hang, despite a complex pitch head. Sadly it got wet and the rope was fast so Olly had it wrapped round his leg. This gave him 2 options, abseil indefinitely, or torniquet his leg. He took the first option.
Olly shouts up "I'm down, the pitch is wet". I wonder how wet, is he telling me that he will come back up and add some rigging, or that I should come down but make sure the survey box is closed first. After a few iterations of Olly shouting 'the hang is wet' and me shouting 'can I descend?', Olly eventually shouts that he is coming up.
This would be the perfect time to sit in my lovely new bothy bag, except that I am the wrong side of the pitch wedged in a rift. After a while I see Olly putting in a bolt, and I can follow down. We end up in a side rift via a couple of rebelays and a comedy deviation. We survey up this and down to the bottom of the main hang. Then have a quick wander down to the next short pitch.
We survey back out derigging up to the Y-hang so the rig can be made drier for next time. Uneventful exit, to get out just as the thunderstorm started.
PS. They were pretty hard core in 1978. 67m pitch on ladders !
We went in Balcony to push 94a and 95a. The passage continued under a boulder which could be climbed up from the far side to reach 95a by an easy 4m free climb. 95a is nice straight walking passage which led to a 3m climb into a chamber with numerous leads. A small pitch may lead to horizontal passage - or it could be another alcove. Traversing around the pitch would provide 2 further leads.
To the left of the climb a large rift can be followed until a climb down requiring a rope is encountered. Before this, a crawling passage was found to the right leading to a 4m pitch. It seems likely that several of these leads are connected.
94a was pushed for about 10m where it turns a corner at a rocky slope. We left this as a walking lead.
After an early start we got underground at 7:45 and continued to make good progress down to Number of the Beast. Mark added some deviations to the pitch below No. of the B. which is now much better. This pitch now called Widow Twanky's Knicker Elastic. A few other sections were also improved by additional bolts. Upon reaching the tensioned traverse around the large boulder, set up camp and selfishly let me push the next pitch. Below the traverse there are two pitches. The draft is coming from the left one so I put two Y-hangs in and dropped down ~20m to another chamber.
The passage continues down another pitch in a popcorn heavy rift. I was less happy with my rigging here and another Y-hang rebelay should be added. After this ~10m pitch another chamber is reached. Again another pitch ~20m must be dropped. I started putting some bolts in before running out of drill battery. This is quite the lead - the dust from the drill was being blown upwards !
The prussik out was unrelenting but fast which meant we exitted at 5:15 pm with just enough energy to amble down to the car park, and eat some veggie slop kindly prepared by Julian.
After some unexpeced surface prospecting (read: getting lost) at the left hand valley between Tunnocks and Balcony, we made it into the entrance about 12. Since the Dark Arts had pretty much been killed off, we set our sights on a cluster of A/B leads (85, 86, 87) in the Far Side. Luke rigged the traverse by 60C since the mud here was particularly thick and persistent. It seems like someone blocked all the bolts along here with small stones to prevent them being used again ? (Not mentioned in last year's log book as far as we can see). Unperturbed, Luke set about bolting and soon we reached a second traverse rigged by Mark. There seems to be a minor flaw on the survey where stomping passage leads to a sandy chamber, which is actually a fuck-off 63m pitch. Closer inspection of the survey shows the detail hidden under the sand, and perhaps this could be amended to prevent Luke making any more surprised squeaks & giggles.
We turned around and took the long route round to the cluster of leads we were after, following the survey since none of us had been in this direction before. I rigged the P10m and we quickly found the F.O. hole from the other (Far Farside?) side. At 85, 86 it was really loose rock and Luke "scampered" up the climb at 87, finding it was a connection without rigging to 85,86.
Here, Mark's nerves were crushed with all the loose slatey rock that followed with every step Luke made over the pitch 20, so we retreated and tied in the two B leads at 35,36. As the Pre-'15 survey suggests, they do connect, and lead on to a sizeable chamber, which was quite wet and led to two (small) pitches and not a lot else.
Cold, we left
Keen and inspired, we took some slings back to Luke's risky climb and followed it up to a chimney climb. Frank followed him up and suddenly backed off exclaiming "fuck me". Luke's opinion on what is free-climbable apparently needs some tuning. Bolts were placed and a path around the pitch to 86A was surveyed. This led to two leads, a right-hand route which finally led to a boulder choke.
Deciding the left hand passage was much more inspiring, we returned the next day.
After showing Rob the sights in Balcony, we continued on the left hand side. It continued much further than we expected, leading to a ~25m chamber containing a 15m pitch and two leads on the far wall.
The lead on the left connected round to 85A, while the right led on up a loose, steep rift. Here a couple of small pitches were found and what seems to be a moraine left by an ice flow. From here, it would get a bit wet and bolting was required, so we upped and left.
Frank and I returned to continue surveying and kill off a few leads that led off horizontally. There is a huge draught acting [a wide blank - something intended to be added here?], and further exploration is required. Said draught made it too cold to continue after several hours, so we set off to look for the many other groups down Balcony. After dismissing a muddy climb which looked uninviting, we left the search for Julian's group. We followed Turtlehead to warm ourselves up, and ultimately left, considering the small hole Frank had begun digging at the bottom of the entrance series.
A human-sized hole was visible, with a steep tube leading downwards for a few metres. We left our SRT kits and descended, myself somewhat unenthusiastic, making comments like "typical Mendip caver" and "Grrr". However, it soon opened up into a T-junction, with 5m high ceilings, and shattered boulders. We followed the route to the left, a rift leading to a 10m pitch (QM A), with a further QMA climb up a small hole on the left hand wall. It was V. cold down here and seemingly solid boulders were actually fragmented, held together with wishful thinking.
Whilst Frank drew up the survey, I had a gander down the right hand passage, sticking to the right and ignoring further leads off. I followed the sound of running water and finally found the connection with "Room With A View". Frank followed and pointed out a somehwat frisky looking boulder on a left-hand lead that I had passed, a few metres across and held a couple of metres up by two points crumbling away. I obediently stood under said boulder for Frank to take a photo.
Rather giddy, we heard George and David descend down the tube and we were happy to see their enthusiasm too. Quite cold, we left, with a bit of heaving to get back out.
The aim was to rig rift 59b with the hope of entering the large sandy "massive hole". The rift initially started out in the right direction and after some handy points from Anthony I started on the process of dropping multiple Y hangs (rigging guide with survey). Well Anthony and Dan set off to retrieve more rope from further in the cave and take many photos. They conveniently returned when the drill battery ran out after "6 holes" so returned to collect the rope and extra battery after explaining to Dan and Anthony I was close to the bottom and would only be 30 mins. I dropped the last pitch which was longer than expected. Upon reaching the bottom, the rift decided to change direction away from the massive hole I was aiming to enter. It unfortunately continued in the other direction so a return trip would be needed to survey and derig. I returned an hour later to find a cold Dan and Anthony and headed out.
A return trip was needed to survey and derig the disastour of the previous day. I managed to persuade (cous-cous) Rob into helping me, believing it would crap out and thus be an easy job and being able to move the rope to other areas of the cave. This was not to be. The rift continued so needed surveying. After a couple of sketchy freeclimbs we made it to another big hole. This was wet and it did not look like a suitable way to rig from (could shorten the wetness of the rigging from the top). This was likely to be a thing which was going to be done when all the excellent A leads had been killed off. Rob derigged. By the time we set off, Rachel and Frank were already exitting the area to more warmer leads. We continued so as to give Julian's team the rope. We found them in a massive surveying fuck up but were directed along the passage to where there was a dead bat. By the time Julian caught up the batt was flat and no longer well preserved. Since 5 people were planning to exit the cave, me and Rob head off into the extremeties of the Turtle Head to access the leads. This proved quite interesting and managed to kill off an A lead (92a) by just sticking my head into it (confirmed the following day).
Showed a new team (who?) into Balcony, showing them the leads and rope. Left them to survey, returning from the end of Turtle Head to the entrance pitch in 25 mins to meet up with a team which was exitting early for a trip down the hill.
Headed down with very little gear since it had all been taken in previously. Dumped some flapjack. Sorted out the Procrastination rig. Also dumped some flapjack at the top and established an emergency dump at the bottom (in the sandy bit between the poxy pitch below Procrastination and Bring on the Clowns) in case of flooding.
Descended Number of the Beast, which needed some work since the rebelay loops were ridiculously tight. After the Tunnocks entrance pitch I am not used to pitches where you can't see the previous rebelay bolt, so had failed to leave enough slack. Rachel sorted out the rig whilst I carried on down. Such was her diligence that she ended up abseiling the pitch three times to make sure everything was tickety-boo - which served the purpose of keeping her warm but entailed lots of extra prussiking.
Meanwhile I continued rigging the scrappy pitches towards the pushing front. The second of these was particularly dire and clearly in need of remedial work - what SRT illiterate put this rig in ? (*) Arriving at the 2015 pushing front, I was pleasantly surprised to find a rigged rope heading down the next two drops and along the (rather airy) traverse to the head of the final pitch - all I had to do was install a couple of deviations. By the time I had done this, Rachel had joined me so I rigged the final pitch and we both descended.
At the bottom, there are two main ways on. There is a phreatic passage wth a floor trench (traverse line required) which doesn't take much of a draught (QM-A). The star lead was a pitch in the other direction with a howling gale blowing up it (QM-A).
At that point we began the long slog out. At Bring on the Clowns, a large chunk of wall that Rachel was hanging onto fell off onto her and the rope, causing a certain degree of disquiet. By the time we emerged, Rachel determined that she didn't want to see another rebelay for a while and was even contemplating caving in the Mendips.
(*) It was me.
An attempt to descend the "sandy chamber" as described by Rachel on 16/7. Rigged as follows
At this point the walls of the rift have a lot of sharp flakes. So difficult to get a good hang without it going into the water. -> try from the "Far Side" ???
When detackling, Mark managed to fall down a hole injuring his hand. First aid kit came out and we bandaged it up. Slow struggle out. Prussiking with one hand is harder than you might think.
1st expo trip for Sarah, 1st trip to BH for Wook.
Carried gear over after sorting survey stuff so only just underground before midday. Luke showed us the route to the far end + gear dump & the various leads.
Friendly cave, but a fair way to the end. Had a look at the near (wet) side of the pitch to consider rigging. Could be done from this side but prob better from the other.
Decided to start beyond 94a lead. Surveyed rift off to left: short passage to dead end with scroffing below. Sarah got to drive DistoX2.
Next looked at climb at the end. Dubious-looking pile of boulders with hole at top. Wook shinned up & found it was in fact quite solid. Largish rift at top with ice formations ! Big draught through small hole.
Surveyed up & others followed then explored. Matt shinned up to R on ledge - looks like a lead. Sarah went round corner to find massive aven-base with more ice. Very impressive. Called 'Ice cock'.
Surveyed it all till it was 5:30 & time to go home.
W+S got a bit lost on way out, & Matt overtook, so confusion for a few mins. Soon back together, then in familiar territory, so Matt could get us home. 80m of entrance felt quite long. 500m tomorrow is going to be super-long.
Passage Desc: Passage on L wiggles to 5m traverse reaching sandy dead-end. Sandy dig & small choked inlet slot back joins into bottom of traverse & accesses bottom of scree below climb to Icecock. On main way, c5 reaches small hole above top chockstone. Climbing through reaches high (25m) hading rift with Icefall on far wall. Ledge ascends NE to climb (QM-B). To L (W) c1 then leads to R with roof lowering. Passage off on R (QM-A). Almost immediately break out into large round space which is bottom of ~40m aven. 8m up on west wall is a space, could be bolted to (QM-B). On R is small pitch in wall QM-C (p7). Ahead, part fallen ice & another ice fall coming from smaller aven on L (QM-X). Beyond is short climb down (QM-B). Draught has been lost here - no doubt it is coming down the pitch.
The objective of this trip was to clear the surveying backlog and continue the pitch from where David left off the day before. Wookey had misplaced his Pantin, and was thinking this was a particularly bad day to be without this device - so he was delighted to unearth it from the depths of his dangly bag at the watering hole near Caramel Catharsis.
Uneventful trip to the traverse at the last pitch from 2014 (Magic Glue) where we started the survey - Wookey on book, your narrator wielding the distoX and taking some low quality photos with my point-and-press camera. Tried to shoot a leg from the bottom of Magic Glue to the deviation krab which repeatedly failed. Attempts on the exit met a similar lack of success. So a tape measure will be taken on the next trip. The advice from Jenny is that shooting such a leg in the downward direction often meets with more success.
From the bottom we continued surveying the two drops rigged by David. The pitch heads were absolutely howling, and I didn't feel much like hanging around for ages taking multiple disto readings. Pitches are to be called "Inferno".
Arriving at the Y-hang installed by David, Wookey continued the rig by placing a bolt for an immediate deviation, a further bolt for a rebelay and a rebelay from a natural that looks more convincing from below. Pitch is ~30m and lands in a large chamber full of huge boulders covered in black mud - to be christened "Kraken". There is a large ridge of boulders in the middle that we climbed up. A rope will be needed to descend the other side, and a way on can be seen under a large arch in the far corner (QM-A). It is unclear whether there are any further pitches. Even though the passage is 30x15m is cross section, there is a discernible draught.
Completed the survey then headed out at no great pace but without incident.
Olly had an unhappy tummy, so something near the surface seemed wise. Decided to look at the lead in 85 that we'd spotted in 2007 and noted in 1977. Got to the entrance to find Ol only had his prescription sunglasses, so he had to cave blind. Due to not wanting to carry too much stuff, I was only wearing thermals and my oversuit which was cold.
Followed the obvious way in 85 ignoring the passage to 82. Followed down a couple of lovely little climbs, then doubled back to appear 2/3 of the way down an ice slope. I noticed an enticing looking passage opposite us on the other side of the ice slope. Decided that the best way to access that and the drop below was to enter from above, so I waited while Olly headed out to confirm that the slope did come from the 82-85 passage. It did, so we got SRT + bolting gear and I rigged (badly) down to get into the passage. This passage headed off very straight, sometimes crawling, sometimes walking, with various solution pockets/avens on the left. Eventually ended at a muddy/gravelly dig. Surveyed out to the bottom of the rope where Olly went down to the bottom before heading out. Saw an unhappy bat frozen on the ice which I photographed. I hoped it was having a little sleep, but Olly assured me it was dead and frozen in place.
Finished surveying this route and the climbs route down.
Tried again for an early start to beat any nighttime thuderstorms later on - didn't do so well this time getting underground at ~10 am. Got to the p67, Olly set off down adding two (bolt) deviations on the way which made the hang dry in dry weather (I expect it would be damp and miserable in wet weather, but not impassable).
Followed the rift down (as Team Youth had in 1978). Used the tail of the rope on the p67 to rig the following p5. Having successfully abseiled down the p67 without incident, about 1m above the floor of the p5 I turned to talk to Olly and stupidly got my hair caught in my rack. Idiot! At least it is easier to free from a rack than a stop. A bit further along the rift and we reached another short pitch (p ). This was followed by a climb - not very steep but in the water (we didn't rig). A little more rift and we got to another short pitch. The rift widened here and was very drippy from inlets. Turns out this is where the 1978 p100 enters, though we didn't realise we were this far along. Another short drop on the same rope and the rift got narrower and nastier. Olly climbed up a few metres to where it got wider and traversed along at this level. Shortly it got wider and deeper and he started to rig down before realising we hadn't much rope left. Failing to realise where we were, we began to survey out. It was a very tedious rift to survey and I was shit at picking stations. Nearly gave up surveying, but decided to have a break while Olly carried the drill up the next pitch. I went back and derigged the deeper ones. Finished the survey and headed out without incident. The p67 did a good job at spreading us out for the ascent, so I didn't have to wait at all and was actually quite warm by the time I got out. With my slow prussiking (and carrying the drill) it took 1 hr 20 from the bottom of the p67 out.
A rest day for Olly's knees. Headed to 13-SW-01 and rigged it, placing what must have been my first hand bolt. I can see why drills are so popular ! Followed the old red paint marks, up at first to an old CUCC cave marked "+ CUCC" and "1987" - think this must be 2006-03 and next door 2006-02, except we didn't see any tags. Having looked at the 2006 photos, I am certain that we were at the correct place. So either we failed to see the tag or the website is wrong in thinking that it is tagged.
After a quiet night on my own at the 76 bivi the plan was to meet Wookey at the 107 entrance at 9am. Unfortunately, I didn't get the SMS teling me that he was going to wait until the rain eased off, so I spent nearly 2 hours sitting under the tarp - having the tarp and the rock shelf near thr entrance is an excellent idea.
Headed towards China wondering how far we'd get given the high water levels. The end of the easy traverse looked wet but passable. We suspectd the Too Bold would be too wet, so it seemed silly to get soaked now unnecessarily. Decided to look at something else. The first interesting lead we got to was 13-SL-6A in Coldest. Borrowed the rope from Coldest Place in Earth and Wookey went down with a natural and one bolt. The rope wasn't long enough to get all the way down but did land on a floor with a rifty passage heading off. After a couple of climbs down we lost the draught to a small floor trench on the left. Passage continued uphill and narrow until we could stand up again. We then reached a T-junction wth a howling gale (from L->R). Followed right in high rifty passage, traversing over a series of drops until a window over a pitch. Surveyed out, until we got too cold - went back to Coldest for food + more clothes for Wookey before finishing the survey. This is called Double Beep due to the exciting DistoX2 that beeps twice if you get the right answer (or at least a consistently wrong answer).
A more successful attempt to get to 161, got to China in 1hr45 having relocated the Double Beep rope back to Coldest on the way in. Slowed down a bit owing to not really knowing the way and Jenny being slow especially on all the tedious little climbs, but got ourselves to the Runnelstone, and Holey Cow 56. Wookey started bolting down while I went round Welly Popper Passage to (a) keep warm and (b) check that Wookey wasn't about to bolt into known passage. Got to a junction, headed left and got to a climb I was too wussy to descend (it turns out that this connects with station 56), then followed right before realising I was in previously unvisited passage, so headed back to 56. Wookey was some way down but had run out of rope, so we rigged with the longer rope. Wookey got to the bottom, said it ended and started to reascend. He thoroughly checked out the rift on the way up and found a window in to a few awkward oxbows which we followed down via a lovely hang, to the floor. A short way on, the water flows down a short small drop with a bigger (wider) pitch likely beyond.
This looked small + wet, so Wookey climbed up to some ledges to follow the rift at a higher level. Part way up he placed a very fast bolt, hence the passage name Fastest Bolt in the West. Followed these rising ledges to a quality natural. We'd hoped to traverse to a widening above the pitch for a nice easy descent. Unfortunately this didn't happen - the traverse continues, drafty, bit small, but no easy way down. Surveyed out. Decided to leave it rigged, but to take the drill out.
Surveyed the side passage from wellypopper.7 that I had scooped earlier. Named Falling Spike after a lovely spike handhold that Wookey removed from the wall near Wellypopper. Nice walking passage with draft to an aven with water (and a good place for a wee!) After this the passage split into two - small way on with the water on the right, and small dry way straight on. We think that the draft got lost on a window part way up on the right (needs gear to get in to). Headed out, took a bit over an hour to China (with some faffing), then 2 hours out from there. The pitch out of China is nicely long enough to mean you don't hold people up on the way out. The drill bag was much less bad than I expected on the Restless rifts. Happy to get out and find it not raining - had time to walk home and have dinner before it rained.
We watched the rain come down until boredom made us crack at about midday. Then we headed up to the "94a, 95b" lead area to the north of the cave. We located the loose climb up to the fallen ice cock chamber and then found the limit of exploration at station 13 in the next chamber. Here we climbed down to a short climb back up - where Pete placed two bolts to allow a mantleshelf and squeeze into the next chamber - which was veery preddi. Lots of fallen ice blocks on the floor. Fleur took photo. On the far side of the ice blocks a very high (30m) aven headed steeply upwards, and has a snow and ice tongue. (Ben later made more progress to climb a way up this ... but steep).
We then climbed ~2m up to right of chamber to enter a walking/stooping tube with a nice river of ice on floor. We thought it would soon crap out - but we were rewarded with a nice view into a chamber/rift. Huzzah!
We first survey a tube that looped to NW, ending with a view into the chamber. Pete scrambled round wall, and may be a high lead here.
With a 1160mm book, we wombled back out to camp
We followed route of previous day from Frozen North Chamber to the chamber.
Sarah placed first bolts to get into A lead heading south. We found footsteps in it ! And then a survey station ! And the other cavers !!! So this connects back into "Ein und Zwanzig Chamber". Connected at their station number 8.
Then Ben dropped short pitch down to gain chamber 1 via a short tube with right angle - two junction tubes in this area were exlored later in day.
Chamber 1 had a crawl on far side that connects into known passage in ~30m.
Chamber 1 quickly connects to Chamber 2 via short tube. Unfortunately Chamber 2 ends at a solid boulder choke. There is a good (A) lead in right side of Chamber 2 - which is easy 10m pitch down into rift. Looks interesting.
Matt climbed up from Chamber 2 to meet the end of a sandy tube that other had pushed.
(X) 10m pitch down from Chamber 2 - easy Y-hang at top.
(Y) There may be a high level that can be reached by 3 bolt traverse from (Z)
Lower Tubes off Chamber 1
- Back in these tubes Ben et al dropped a pitch - and they found "300-200m" of tube-passage beyond, that ended in a choke (Martin et al surveyed to pitch later in day).
- Pete, Sarah; Matt followed a walking tube from Chamber 2 that linked back to Chamber 1 - near survey station 26. They then followed a VERY drafty tube north for ~40m to a choke that also drafts. En route they heard Michael and Ben in their leads.
My feeling is that leads X + Y are well worth a look - more so than tubes ??
Having arrived on expo to calls from Wookey & Anthony to rig to the Clayton's Cockup leads, I duly obliged.
Managed to persuade Roxy + Viz to join me, despite tales of an even extra acrobatic entrance series to Tunnocks.
Made very steady progress downwards. Was pleased to remember the way to the top of String Theory & into the West Side Story. Climbs were more strenuous than I remembered. C10 in a tube. P3 with Knotted rope should probably be a real pitch.
Arrive at Clayton's Cock up & started rigging down "Boom Boom Pitch". All Tom's bolts still functional but I added another deviation. 60m rope saw me to the 2013 limit.
Viz was starting to feel the remoteness, so after I placed a bolt + tied the rope, we left.
But, boy did the lead look good.
May need some rigging. In retrospect perhaps go back up and swing out to get further down the rift/pitch.
After 12 hrs underground the day before, I fancied a shorter trip and targeted a south pointing lead after Natural Highs.
Directions: After Natural Highs traverse, instead of going right up the climbs into Leeds Bypass, turn left, follow the main passage, a walking sized rift. It ends in a big hole.
The hole was, in fact, somewhat longer + deeper than I had remembered. Looking good though!
We had a 39m rope + 1½ drill batteries. Starting with the new drill battery, I started to bolt round the ledges on the right hand wall. 1½ holes later the battery died - grrr!! The remaining ½ battery got us ~1/3 way along the right wall.
Still hard to see how far the straight ahead lead would go - potentially a top level + a mid level need to be checked.
After the drill batteries went, I belayed Pete across a small (!!) rock bridge to check out a side passage, but it ended in a blind pot.
On the way back, Pete threw rocks down - 2 second free fall and a further 8 second rattle!
We then did two token survey legs before retreading.
Having walked up to top camp late and therefore being ready in the afternoon, we left for a shortish trip to look for bits in Balcony. We descended the entrance series pitches and then followed the main route, roughly in the direction of Icecock aven. Eventually we reached the gear dump to find the other two groups down Balcony Höhle having a natter. Michael bet Martin a Gösser that we couldn't find the rift they had just found. We continued down Turtle Head, up a short handlined climb and down another pitch to the rift the other group suggested we survey. We surveyed along it about 20m and then back to the pitch. At the bottom of the rift is a small but potentially descendable hole with a long rattle. Managed to muddle our way out without any difficulties.
We returned to Balcony to drop a pitch that Martin had his eye on. After the entrance pitches, turn left at the scary hole. I demonstrated how slow I am at rigging and then Martin bolted the pitch down whilst I sat in a bothy bag to keep warm at the top. Eventually Martin ran out of rope (66m) at a ledge and another short pitch. I followed with the other rope and kit and we surveyed the muddy crawl which extended from the ledge. Once we had finished this, Martin started to rig remaining pitch down ready for next time. Once he descended it, I took the remaining gear back up the Hiltaplenty pitch and attempted to head out. I unfortunately missed the turn off to the scary hole the first time and ended up getting muddled in a spiky crawl. Once I realised my mistake I returned to the actual route, which was irritatingly obvious second time round. By the time I was halfway up the big pitch on the way out, Martin caught up with me. The weather turned nasty for the return walk to top camp.
Decided to go back to Double Beep and look at the drafting side passage and the pitch 13-CO-1A which seemed likely to be the same pitch that Double Beep has a window out on. Matt appeared and we set off. Again derigged the Coldest rope to use on the way into Double Beep (really another rope would be less tedious!). Matt + I headed in to survey while Wookey looked at 13-CO-1A. I was very disappointed to discover that I had failed to bring my balaclava, instead bringing a pair of pants that I was going to take down the hill to wash - idiot ! Matt + I went to the junction, and followed the very drafting passage north. Small at first (phreatic with a small floor trench with water which we were following uphill). It got bigger and we clambered over some flaky boulders into an aven-chamber with water coming in from the roof. Beyond this were some pretty mud/gravel formations that we managed to carefully step over. Beyond this, the way on appeared to be to drop down in the rift, but you'd need a rope. The dripping noise meant that I couldn't hear the beeping Disto. So its called Beepless. Got back to hear Wookey rigging into our passage to give us an easier way out. Unfortunately, although he was in a window into our passage, he was about 8m too high. So he gave up on that and continued down the pitch. The real window was too hard to get to to be worthwhile.
Wookey ran out of rope, so we attempted a DistoX leg down. After some 3m and some 138m answers, the Disto settled on 30m, which sounded plausible. Matt and I each put in a bolt on the Sleepless traverse, so there was a Y-hang on each side.
Got out to find it dry, but only for 15 minutes. We sat at the entrance for a while in the rain. Were very happy to find Anthony's van there to shelter in for the 3 hrs we needed to wait for our lift down the hill.
Despite heavy overnight rain, we decided to press on with our planned trip on the basis that if Procrastination were passable on the way in, it would most likely be passable on the way out as well since the overcast conditions meant that afternoon thunderstorms were unlikely. I thought the rain had eased off, but as soon as we left the bivi it became clear that it was raining quite heavily and we got thoroughly drenched on the walk to the entrance.
Underground, water could be heard in lots of places where it normally isn't. However, Usual Suspects didn't sound too bad, so on arrival at Procrastination, I was despatched to assess the water levels. The deal was that if the pitch was passable but we would get a soaking we would abort - I think we were all half hoping for this outcome. The water on the bottom hang was higher than usual but mostly OK. Just as I was starting to think that if it got much wetter we would have to leave, the bottom of the pitch appeared - so we were committed.
Carried on down to the pushing front, pausing briefly to measure one leg with a tape measure where the previous survey had encountered a DistoX refusal. Andy started rigging the way on from the top of the mud ridge in the Kraken chamber. This proved to be quite tricky since everything was either covered in mud or falling apart or both. After much head scratching he elected to rig a short drop then a bolt traverse along the wall where there was some good rock to try to get beyond the edge of the mud slope. I went down to have a look, and thought there looked like some reasonable rock that I could just about reach at full stretch from the end of the mud slope that would make a reasonable rig if we could find a way to get there. Ben went down and swung around on a sky hook for a while, eventually finding a placement for an intermediate rebelay. Then I went down and doubled it up, but by now it was getting late so we headed out.
Overall a frustrating trip with little actual progress and a lot of time spent cowering in the bothy bag. However, at least water levels were back to normal so we had a relatively dry exit.
Zipped back down to Kraken to the point where we had left off two days previously. I wielded the drill to try to execute the rigging plan from the previous trip. I put in another intermediate rebelay that got me down to the edge of mud slope. Here I placed a truly awful rebelay bolt - cratered and overdriven such that the anchor went right to the back of the hole when setting t. Fortunately, I had a bollard with me to hide the evidence.
Heading into new territory, I got lucky when I found a nice overhang with some beautiful clean rock - presumably because part of the ceiling has become the floor in the not too distant past. From here I got a beautiful 40+m hang to the floor, so called Andy to join me.
The pitch lands on a large boulder slope - pretty much the same as the upper level of Kraken Chamber. Heading downhill closes off but there is a rift on the north wall that leads to a mud slope where I couldn't see Andy's light - so presumably going somewhere different (QM-A). There may be a passage high up at the western end that would need a bolt climb to gain access - a better light is needed to assess this (QM-B). There is a nice cracked mud floor in one corner. Going east from the bottom of the rope leads to a further shortish looking pitch (~10m) QM-A. This may simply go to the bottom of the boulder pile - hard to see if there is a way on. So there are a few levels, but nothing that screams "push here for more cave". This is a very big space so it is hard to tell if there is a draught - especially since the draught was weaker than when the weather was baking hot the previous week.
We surveyed this lot using a Pony and Wookey's Chinese Disto knock-off. The latter proved very tedious when the leg length exceeded about 10m. "error 160" was seen quite a lot, with "Error 155" in second place and the occasional "Error 154". Eventually got everything in the book and headed out to complete a fine trip. The survey data puts us 626m below the entrance, and ~25m above the level of the Razordance sump, which helps explain why I was quite tired.
After a helpful surveying lesson from the Futrells a day before, I was ready to try bolting and rigging in a cave. After spending far too much time triple checking that we had all the necessary equipment, we set off into Balcony, aiming to continue where Frank left off. (As a matter of pride, not just because the destination was diabolically close to the entrance).
Heading through Dig Dug, I was shocked to find George had little memory of the cave, and was forced to guide him through each section of the short passage. Arriving at the ledge, we decided to traverse. I set up the bolting equipment and got to work. This left George sufficiently bored. I offered the drill to him and he declined, opting instead to explore the cave he had already visited.
He arrived back after the traverse was rigged, and proceeded to critically critique the traverse, calling it resource intensive and unnecessary. On the other side we found 2 holes, one bearing north to passage and one more easterly is an entrance to a metre by metre tube.
We surveyed the tube first, noting its remarkable length and draft, but alas, it eventually got far too tight, so we decided to leave it to those with more malleable bone structures. In the larger passage we found it led to a balcony overlooking the chamber we rigged, and further on it led to another large chamber, complete with another large, stomping passage to survey, which we would proceed to do the next day.
George and I acquired Sarah, who was keen to see our very promising lead and my traverse. On location she took the same attitude as George, insulting both the theory and application of the bolting and rigging. I would not let that faze me, due to the large, obviously going, passage that we had yet to survey.
This did not go to plan. First we had Sarah make a questionable descent into the pit so we could document the pitchhead it leads to. Then we did the exciting beginning of the open passage. It quickly ended in a large boulder choke.
After some frustrated, emotional attempts at digging our way through, we realised it was futile. We instead crawled through some holes to survey the rifty things that were aluring underneath the passage. The bottom of the rift was accessible by a rather suspect free climb, so we sent Sarah down for a look. She found that the bottom went nowhere in both directions, so for safety reasons George and I abstained the climb, thus ending a rather disappointing day. We derigged the traverse, hoping it would be used for more fruitful endeavours.
Previous trips to the Ice Cock area left two A leads, so two teams went down to push the two leads. The first team consisted of Petem, Ben Wright, Sarah & George, while Michael, Matt and Elaine followed a short period of time later. Upon reaching Ice Cock however, the latter team found the former in their lead - it had connected.
We met the other team at the head of a small pitch. George was busying himself looking at small scrotty crawls and soon popped out halfway up the aven two others were trying to climb.
I and George's task was then to survey these scrotty crawls. We surveyed around 30-35m of tube of varying size - mostly sandy-bottomed, some with loose choss bottom. We discovered further survey stations at the end of our bit of passage - think it is EinUndZwanzig. Followed another bit of passage parallel to what we'd just crawled through and found ourselves straddling the top of the passage where Ben and Michael were just coming down. Gave them a good surprise.
All 7 underground reconvened at the tackle store before heading out. We did an inventory of what was there and wondered when Jacob, Eliott and Martin (freshly arrived) would go caving. At that moment, Jacob, Elliott and Martin walked round the corner.
J,E & M went on to do a bit of surveying while the other 7 headed out. Split into two teams to avoid traffic jams on the pitches - Michael & George ran out at great speed, followed by Matt & Sarah, then Elaine, Pete and Ben broought up the rear.
Others on this trip will hopefully describe their bits of pushing/surveying elsewhere.
With beautiful (or at least decent) weather predicted, Elaine & Ben decided a surface trip was the way to go. Mike Futrell pointed out where he hadn't been /planned to go if he didn't have to leave, and off we set! Turned east off the Balcony path & soon came across a promising hole. Elaine applied helmets kneepads & gloves & sscrotted off past some gämse bones until things became too loose to continue. Came back to discover a shiny tag by the entrance - CUCC 2009 03 :-( Nonetheless took details & photos & have since updated website.
Next found a big arena enclosed by rock with impressive rock arch entrance - just a bit further on that '09/03'. One promising-looking entrnce goes about 3m.
Then looked at two choss bowls east of this - lots of recent frost-shattering. One potential entrance at N47°41.741' E013°44.594'. ~6m pit with v large boulder at the top. Potential lead SSW under overhang but couldn't really see from any angle & would want rope to check (we didn't any). Nothing else in this area went.
Continued on to a grassy (in places boggy) depression with a couple of interesting holes. Looked at most promising - had a tag. Tag tucked in a crevice, Hilti almost completely out - prob. frost shattering (but has someone been there since to ensure tag was safe?) -> tag: CUCC 2002 AD 03 looked promising. ~20ft pitch, potenetially went back underneath, also potential way on slightly to R as looking at pitch from entrance.
GPS N47°41.638' E0139.511' (grassy hollow. Entrance is on W wall of this depression).
It then proceeded to piss it down, so we couldn't look at the other promising lead we had seen, preparing to slip'n'slide our way back to top camp.
Having confirmed with Anthony that CUCC AD 03 had not been dropped, the first post-Expo Dinner task for Elaine & Elliott was to take a look at it. It was Elliott's first ever bolting trip. The first bolt went in like a dream. Howeer, whilst setting the second bolt (in the best rock we could find), a large crack appeared around the Hilti, and then the whole bit of rock sheared off. We therefore decided to name the cave Bergkäsehöhle - Mountain cheese cave.
Subsequent bolts were more successful and we dropped the small pitch to a boulder-floored chamber. The way led on over a suspended boulder floor, past a precarious boulder and on to more boulders. The terminal chamber had a reasonably strong draught, some kind of lacewing-like insect and a lot of suspended boulders, both above and below, but no person-sized way on. Elliott insisted that it was merely eau de death, not the parfum. We went back and surveyed a small downclimb around halfway along our survey. With a suspended boulder ceiling & floor, possibly held up by magic, this was definitely more along the parfum line of things. 2x C leads in this area, but very deathy, and neither of us fancied pursuing them. We derigged out and decided to do a spot more prospecting in the area.
One nice horizontal entrance proved just too short to count as a cave (just S of CUCC 2002 AD 03) (no tag).
A very promsining-looking entrance N of CUCC 2002 AD 03 (named "The Devil's Arse" by Elliott) (to be fair it did look like a giant arse crack) went nowhere (any way on is choked or plugged with snow).
We had a poke about up the hill in which CUCC 2002 AD 03 is situated - yielded 3 tiny entrances that went nowhere.
After being pressured to start pulling gear out of various places, we decided to polish off the Futrell Shaft. Over a dozen hangers and 200m+ of rope was left in there. With Michael bolting, and Elaine and I surveying, we were underground by 12:00. Mike's shaft of Tremendous girth really does live up to its nickname! After some 150m of rope work, I swapped positions with Michael on a ledge at the pushing front, some 30+m from the base of the shaft. Michael started drilling and Elaine and I some cold & awkward SRT surveying. The new pitch consists of a 55m rope, from a good-sized, 10m2 shelf of solid boulders. A Y-hang from a small gully leads to a re-belay, ~10m below. Another ~15m to another re-belay, single bolt, before 10m to the floor of the shaft.
No obvious leads, except one small < human-sized crawl, no more than a C-lead. Michael had a look and was haued out by his feet. Loose boulder-strewn floor with clean walls gave nothing else away. De-rigging took ~2.30 hours, with the difficult narrow entrance making tackle sack hauling very hard work. Martin & Jacob helped to get gear back to Top Camp, after meeeting them at Balconhöhle.
It was raining all morning and much festering activity in the bivvy. Eventually the rain caeased and Pete and Fleur nipped to Balconyhohle. We went to the big lead from last year that ?? left at the rope up into Leeds Bypass.
We went to the end of the samely waiting passage - to the very large series of holes down, with draft.
Fleur started off with a natural and bolt, followed by two more bolts round the right wall. Then Pete came accross and put a couple more in before teh drill gave out at 5 1.2 bolts (2 batteries).
The last bolt was a step up onto a nice ledge. pete then crossed a narrow 3ft thick rock bridge above the abyss - belayed by Fleur. He got into a 20ft passage that ended in a nice clean washed aven, that drained through a trench into the abyss. A tight tube of right might go for athin person, but very poor lead.
[Note - this was was written up as being dated 2015-08-01, but was actually on the 29th July and was previously written up by Fleur]
Pete continued the traverse - with a very nice foot ledge - very nice. Eventually after 13 bolts and two naturals the traverse was finished. For a worrying moment there looked like no way on. But a 3m climb down a tube, round the corner, and a 3m climb up reached a big (~5m x 3m) tube above. To the left is a muddy descending tube (Ben's pitch). To the right we did a short climb down into a chamber. Roxy then spotted a walking sized phreatic tube heading down to south. Very pretty and good draft. After 100m it opened up but unfortunately ended in a very drafty choke. SPONGE MAIDENS. Back at first chamber, Pete climbed into two more great A leads. Good day.
The team went back to the muddy phreatic (Ben's) pitch - and Ben put in a bolt. Pete derigged and treireved teh 25m rope from teh traverse in rigged in 2014, just before Holly's pitch to the north.
Matt and Roxy pushed the phreatic tube lead after bolting a Pete short climb up - from day before. This went for ~100m in an interesting direction and looked good. At one level Matt bolted a 3 bolt travers. However it ended at a very drafty crossrift - that would need a very thin person. There is also a digable tube.
Then they went back for the other A lead from the day before. After fiddling to get a bolt in a narrow window down, Pete pusges a through window and found nice 10m pitch down into a BIG rift series.
Ben and Roxy had turned to human icicles (sorry) and headed out with bags. Pete put in 2.5 more bolts in a 15/20m pitch down before giving up with drill finito.
(4th august - Michael et al found this rift ended in catchy narrow rifts - B lead)
Ben started the large phreatic tube pitch - a top of tubes from Bipedal Passage. Pete meanwhile detackled the Inaugral Lecture Series (through window to Michael et al pitch down) and retrieved ropes for Ben.
After a natural and two more nice y-hangs in teh ~60/70 degree corkscrew phreatic tube - Ben arrived at bottom. It is VERY MUDDY PITCH! Lots of slippy jammers on the way back up.
There he climbed up 2m from small clamber to start a 10 - 15m pitch into wide open passage. The drill was given a nice new battery. Hurrah it did 1.5 bolts. *!*!*!*! crap.
So there is a nice undescended pitch into A lead - needing another 1.5 bolts! Arg! Pitch up very muddy.
Note - Pete - Ben definitely did not get lost walking to Balcony Hohle for 6th time in 8/9 days. (Oh No!)
Impressd by the progress made at the bottom since last year. Kraken is enormous! Our objective was to shine Andy Waddington's bike light right around the high levels of Kraken to look for any leads. Crossed the lip of the pitch (down to the low level Kraken) to the LHS of the chamber opposite the pitch rig. Shone the light to the far side, couldn't see any passage but couldn't confirm there wasn't anything.
Tied rope round a large boulder that look a large turtle and reach a walkway (Turtle Traverse) around to a steep boulder slope heading up. I climbed up the slope (trying not to think about he 65m drop at the bottom) to reach a drafty boulder pile. Trough gaps in teh boulders looked promising. Reaching the top of the boulders I despatched Anthony to collect the drill from the bottom, which was in fact a pretext for me to open my bowels which had somehow loosened.
Fleur and Anthony came over - Fleur took a photo of Anthony as he prussicked up the big pitch. The string wrapped round a boulder was upgraded by the drill and we entered the drafting horizontal passage that led off on the far side of the bopulder pile. After only a few legs we reached a two metre climb up into a large drippy chamber. We shone our aven spotter around, to see a possible HL up to the left. I optimistically ascended a slope to the left and squeezed under an extremely large boulder and popped out onto a ??? into the high level. Fleur and Anthony surveyed in and then we crossed into a large dry chamber with block cracked mud floor.
There was another drippy pitch down which we left unexplored. Apart from this there was no way on. We rigged the return properly just in time to derig it again.
[Missing writeup: Tunnocks, Kraken Lower, Anthony, Chris]
This time it was Matt's turn to shiver while I bolted.
Again the first drill battery gave frustration and only 3.5 holes! However, the second performed well and the shaft was finally bottomed at around P70.
I had a bit of a bottle failure, what turned out to be 50m off the deck. So I returned to talk to Matt, collect the last rope and not feel so alone. Matt was all thermalled up, so I resolved to "man up" and get the job done.
The last ~50m were very drippy and I got quite wet swinging around placing bolts. When the water ran down into my wellies it started to get a bit miserable but I persevered.
I touched down on a bouldery floor with two potential ways down. I took the driest, which also had the draught, and placed a bolt to descend. The rope (27m) was not quite long enough so when Matt was down we fed through all the slack from the last pitch to get maximum rope.
Then we made an "expedition rigging" descent off one bolt and with two rub points. The P12 landed in a small chamber where the water re-entered. A meander led off, taking the tiny stream and emitting a howling gale. A 2m climb down, possibly requiring a line we did not have, stopped us. That and approaching hyperthermia on my part. We surveyed out and fucked off.
[Missing writeup here]
Down 107 so Matt could fulfill his promise to Joe to find out where SSB (Smooth Sandy Bottom) actually goes. Matt came down from stone bridge but we still got underground before 10. Whizzed down to China then down the implausible hole in the floor of China, which for some reason goes down 25m without being full of rocks. SSB is rather small passage so very tedious surveying. Found last few survey dots but no numbers, so surveyed 3 legs to make sure it would join up. Surveyed for ages down the passage, occaisionally getting a leg nearly 3m long! Eventually got to some unscooped passage (after about 6 hours surveying on 2 trips - Joe owes us all beer!). and shortly after that it opened up at a T-junction. Exciting! Except that all the air was going up into some dodgy-looking boulders. Climbing up determined that we were looking at the bottom of a boulder-choke, with a very tempting small hole (maybe possible to get a person through, maybe not) looking through into blank space. Very frustrating. A disto tells us that the roof the other side is 5m away but trying to climb through would need a proper nutter. The rocks are medium sized, and the hole small so very likely to move if you tried to get through, but big enough to squash you. So we reluctantly ran away.
The survey shows that this space is nowhere near anything else so it's very interesting, but it really needs poking with a 5m stick or blowing up, or someone who is a proper nutter.
Underground by 10am. George's 1st proper 107 trip so he gets to see the delights of Pushing The Envelope, lots of rifty shinning and traversing, China and the comedy connection pitch, then more shinning in 161 and Blown Out. On the way down wook checked Land of Confusion and derigged the 12m CUCC rope there. Matt had arrived at the entrance to collect his pantin whilst we were getting ready so we quizzed him on lost SSB rope. Thus we were able to find that too. (slightly _downhill_ from SSB). Got back to pushing front in 3.5h. Bringing 38m and 12m bits. Should be enough.
Took good look at lay of land and decided that traverse round RH wall from bouldery ledge between the 2 pitches we did last time looked like something that was do-able and should let us drop down in the dry to connect. Wook went a-rigging with a lot of faffing and muttering about having 2.5 slings amongst lots of threads (hundreds in balcony, allegedly :-). . 2nd bolt split but pressed on anyway. Eventually got across and into rift. Another bolt cracked: re-did. Could see down short pitch the other side with definite carbide mark at what looked like spits for rebelay. Woo!
Rigged Y-hang then delicate traverse round corner. Turned round to see red rope hanging down, and recognised spot as the foot of starcase 36 at the end of YAPATE. yay, perfect: that was where we actually wanted to get to. This is a place with more potential: there are holes in the roof and maybe passage above CFN. I wonder if the hole we just dropped in through was noted at all? I.e Runnelstone area was always v. close to yapate but up a couple of short pitches.
Went on a quick tourist to Knossos to show George some proper big cave. Added 2015 to the writing rock. Then surveyed back over traverse (now 'back to the future'). Pulled extra rope through and rerigged horrid traverse rigging into something that could be used for transport. 11 bolts in total. Got into a right mess with the string going back and forth. Pity we didn't have a camera. George put in his first HKD. Wook redid the cracked one (but didn't smash it as in good place - maybe OK to use backed-up if need be?).
Once all that was done we went back to 'quality belays' traverse. Wook derigged rope whilst george started rigging a sensible pitch into Wellypopper instead. Gardened part of the massive pile of boulders round the edge of the hole. He had trouble with cratering and one bolt cracking and it was getting late so Wook put in last 2 (only 2 hiltis left!). Then we packed up all the (unused!) rope and drill and staggered out with 3 bags. Eventually got out (leaving one rope bag in China tied to rope, and drill plus other rope bag at Coldest PIE. Forgot (and out of time) to derig connection pitch.
In total Back To The Future traverse and Quality Belays pitches have 20 hangers and one sling on them. Details in survey notes. None of the ropes are labelled. BTTF has the one left for a year in KH. 2014 10mm? ~55m? The top is an 11mm 12m-ish bit. The Quality Belays pitch is ~18m. Could be Joe's rope?
Very slow start after yesterdays epic. But too hot to fester all day so forced to go caving. Decided to go and finish Notwindow pitch as not too far down, gear there, and Ol wanted his hangers back. Set off rigging last ~10m of pitch from pre-placed bolt (!). Wook rigged whilst George poked hole at back of main drop landing. Turns out this goes through tight spot into climable rift. George ended up looking into passage at foot of pitch near where Wook was coming down, but he couldn't actually get through. After putting in a rebelay Wook arrived at the floor.
Pitch continuation is wet and quite narrow - looks like modern development, but there is a passage going off where you land (2-3m high, 0.6-1m wide rift). Round corner is straight rift for 30m. 10m along is very windy passage on L(draughting towards you: out of cave). Beyond rift seems draughtless, but pitch-climb at the end was not descended. QM B. On R opposite draughting passage is smaller passage which also has a 10m drop after 5m. QMB.
Surveyed up windy passage (Heat Recovery Ventilation). It was bloody cold (and not very big), but kept going steadily uphill for a couple of hours of surveying (20 legs). We were hoping for it to get to something (it clearly goes somewhere) but nothing happened before we had to turn round to hit our callout, allowing for surveying up the pitch and derigging and dragging drill + rope out of cave. Interesting passage. QMA (and hole in the floor at last station, QMB)
Just about made our callout, getting out at 7:30pm, and were surprised to find Ol + Jenny coming out at the same time as they'd had success too. Turns out that base-camp hadn't even noticed our SMS anyway so no need to worry much about missing callouts...
[Missing writeup here: Wagon Wheel caving song, Elaine]
We weren't quite sure how many tacklesacks derigging 107 would take, but almost certainly more than the number of deriggers available (3). So this might turn into a bit of a mission. Jenny set off first due to being an early bird and set off to go down to China and derig the Blown-Out connection rope, into the part-empty tacklesack at the bottom of the China rope, then head up the China pitch hoping for someone to turn up to relieve her of a baggie before it got ridiculous. Wook arrived as she was nearing the top of the pitch, so that worked OK, reporting that the other half of the cavalry (George) was still asleep when he left camp, but would hopefully get sunned out of his tent and turn up in another hour or so.
By the end of 'Too Bold' we already had two very full and heavy bags of rope, so set off up the rift carefully trying not to fall off and die. Fortunately we met George at the twin-pitches, so gave him a fat baggy to take out, and Wook followed, endeavouring to leave the bag such that he could get back and relieve jenny as soon as she had another full one. This team-bag-shuttling game actually worked rather well as Jenny derigged steadily and Wook and George went back and forth in ever-decreasing lengths of cave. There was no danger of being too cold!
In the end the 5 very full tacklesacks were all out by 3pm (~6hrs) which was about half the time Jenny had thought that it might take. So we had time to sort some stuff, take Wook and George's stuff from the 76 bivi and carry a load of heavy shit down the hill in time for dinner.
The only thing left rigged in the cave is one hanger and a 12m bit of rope on the window pitch immediately before Pushing The Envelope squeeze.
I headed to Coldest to grab the drill then down the Old Route to join Olly who was re-rigging down. Got to where we ran out of rope last time. Decided to stay low this time (bottom of the rift), which wasn't as tight as it looked. Olly put in a few bolts to get to what we think is the head of the p14. By this point Olly was very cold and wet, so we decided to survey the extra bit then derig out. Warmed up bag carrying and derigging. Olly managed to slip in the rift and bash his knee just before we got to the base of the p67. Fortunately it wasn't too awful, so we had a look at the upstream bit. It was possible to climb up further, bridging to avoid the chossy rocks. Round the corner was more chossy climbing, so we called it a day and derigged to the top of the p67 and carried lots of gear out.
It had rained all night and was still raining, but not too heavy, so we were optimistic that it might be dry enough to get to 161. Due to a lack of gear, we derigged some non-essential hangers on the way in and made quicker time to the Runnelstone (2 hrs 40) despite spending a while in China looking for the Smooth Sandy Bottom rope.
This time didn't go far down the pitch from station 56, but Wookey rigged across into Wellypopper. Lots of possibilities for going up (where Wookey thought the draft went). Noticed that the easiest way was to climb up the Wellypopper climb then traverse back across towards the Runnelstone. Wookey worked his way across this quickly using a mixture of bolts and quality naturals while trying to avoid the worst of the loose choss. This is called Quality Belays. Happily all the belays survived despite me crossing several times to get gear and to check that we weren't just going to reappear in the Runnelstone. At the top of the traverse was a short bit of passage, then some big space. Wookey started to bolt down this while I went to derig the rope from Fastest Bolt in the West. I left 1 hanger and a short bit of thick blue dynamic rope to make a revisit easier. Got back up to discover my handjammer was no longer attached to my safety cord, fortunately I didn't drop it. Went back to the top of the rope and derigged back to leave only the little traverse rope to Wellypopper. Caught up Wookey who had bolted down one pitch to get to a rock ledge looking out over a big rift that was deeper than we had rope for, so he traversed across the ledge to drop down (via a couple of belays, including another quality natural).
Guessed that we were near to the bit of 161 we were aiming for, but it would be wet to go further down from here
Surveyed out, left everything rigged and headed out. It was much nicer (and faster) not carrying the drill out, though Wookey still caught me up on the entrance pitch. Was thankfully much drier at Too Bold on the way out.
Decided on a short trip to tie up some loose ends in the old Route. Olly started rigging alon he rift between the p67 and p100 beyond where we got on 19yh July. Meanwhile I showed George the scrotty leads at the end of tubular Bells. Sadly he declared the draftier way too tight to evn get in to. We got a little further down the 'main' passage before reaching a wider bit, then this got way too small. Surveyed ou, and went round the Old Rift route to see if we could hear/see Olly. He had a few bolts still to go, so we took some photos while we waited. Surveyed across to Olly - sadly teh rift did't continue over the pitch. Then Georgeand I went round to Olly's side of teh rift to connect the survey while Olly deriggd behind us. Oly wanted to look at going left from the window between ropeless and Oldroute. i realised this was a 2 person job, so I took a bag out and left them to it. Unfortunately they misscommunicated where to wait, so ended up following me out.
Olly was keen to finish looking at 2007-71, to see if it provided a useful back-door to 97. I could remember very little from 8 years ago. So we headed over for a reccy with no rope, drill, etc (though I did accidentally carry over our SRT kits).
Cave was better than I had remembered. Low entrance led to walking passage, shortly on the right was a 1m climb down a rifty pitch continuing back (currently undescended). Next to this was another way on, which also leads to a pitch with a passage also continuing beyond (both unvisited). Above here is a small skylight entrance, which I later climbed out of (2007-71b). On leads to a small chamber. We'd looked right in 2007, and it chokes. This time I headed left, mostly crawling with some tighter bits. After a while I could see daylight, so carried on. Sadly i looked a bit tight and I was worried I'd pop out in the wall of a shake hole. So I reversed back and walked round on the surface. turns out that 2007-71c pops out on a ledge part way down the next shake hole SW of 97. In the S corner of the shake hole is a small rift with a voice connection with 97. Surveyed this passage, and i made the through trip
Finally looked at the straight on passage. This is bigger and soon gets to a drop which can be traversed over and the first bit climbed down. Pitch continues (undescended) and passage continues (unvisited, crawling sized). Surveyed out.
This was to be our final trip before tomorrows derig. We set off first to the Ropeless/old Route window and turned right (like in 2013), but this time rather than dropping the pitch we dropped down slightly then traversed along 13-OR-3C. I placed another bolt and dropped down into a rift. Following left led to the inlet above the way the 1987 Route dropped the p67. Turning right we followed up and along to eventually reach a loose 45 degree slope down to a pitch. Couldn't safely reach the pitch head but rocks seemed to go a long way. There are a lot of different rifts in this bit of the cave, turnout this pitch is above the bouldery climb we were below on the 3rd. Surveyed and derigged this. Called Antigravity. Realised we didn't have all that long before our callout, so decided to head to Wonderland without the drill or rope.
Went down to the end first. Olly had noticed that if you poked your head to the right of the roof tube, a small passage headed off. After an awkward corner it was bigger - a mixture of crawling, walking and sideways wriggling. After a bit the route split, both looked small but probably doable. I encouraged Olly to follow and we surveyed it. Called this Effective team. Headed out with lots of gear, meeting Wookey and George at the entrance.
[Missing writeup here:]
Spent the day packing up the bivi and carrying a stupidly heavy pack down the hill. For a break placed tags on 2007-71 b and c (The 'a' entrance was tagged in 2007)
[Missing writeup here:]
[Missing writeup here:]
Wook foolishly recorded some entrances whilst wandering in the 1990s, before realising that it's actually rather unhelpful to just note entrances. Most of those have long been explored and catalogued but 3 remain in the dataset: wk4, wk11 and wk12. One of my objectives for this expo was to sort them out. Phil Balister (a caver/geek Wookey knows who was holidaying in Bad Aussee) volunteered to help out as a way of seeing what our area is like. His partner Sandy came along too for a looksee.
The caves are somewhat scattered. wk12 is on the Schwarzmoos Sattel, wk11 is near the top of the Vord and wk4 is down the back of the vord, below Eishöhle. Also the rope and gear was at 107. THe plan was to try and relocate the caves, taking enough gear to actually look in, hopefully having time to visit Eishöhle too and bring some rope down from 107. And to start nice and early to minimise the time in the boiling heat of midday. Needless to say this plan proved to be hopelessly ambitious.
Some research showed that wk12 had in fact been surveyed, photoed and tagged (2005-89) in 2005 on a trip with Dave Loeffler. So that was used as a check that the GPS co-ords matched the real world. It was easily found on the col, along with B4. Both were photoed and a quick sketch of B4 done.
Then we headed over to 107 to fish out a suitable shortish (thin, light) rope, SRT kit, helmet+light, distoX2, hangers, sling. We also had tags, notebook, pencils. We staggered over from 107 with the rest of the rope and a T-sack which didn't strap on anywhere, and left that gear at the end of the plateau 'crack', for collection on the way back if we had time. Sandy decided she had the general idea now, as as her new hip and knackered knees slow her down significantly, headed back to the car park, whilst we slogged up the Vord. The cave was only 650m away according to phone GPS, but it took a good, sweaty, while to get that down to 170m by reaching the peak of the Vord. We signed the book, noting that Wook was last there in 2005, and most visitors come in Feb and March, and thus must ski there.
We headed down the shelves on the SE side of the Vord, and soon found a good schacht. This was between 'p140' and 'gps00.140' so seemed very likely to be 140. We could find no sign of a tag, or rigging for descent. Looks a fine hole - really should be properly rigged and documented. Pressing on we soon got to a large hole below, '155' according to the GPS, and indeed it has '155' written on it in orange paint which has stod the test of time well.
Now we were only 76m from the fabled wk11. Passed a great big rift cave too big to ignore on the left, on shelf below 155, but no sign of tags/paint. Hard to believe given size of it. Pressed on and had to ignore another 12m+ shaft nearby quite hard. Phil couldn't quite cope with the idea of ignoring such good holes, but Wook pointed out that sorting out wk11, but adding another undescended entrance instead would not improve the situation at all. Some more wandering showed no cave at al at the actual GPS location, but the big rift was within 50m, fit the description and was exactly the sort of thing that would be very hard to ignore.
The cave has a steepish slope, mostly snow-covered, going out of sight about 15m down. We GPSed it, then started survey. Phil put in the handbolt whilst wook belayed off a couple of boulders and descended. Turned out to go further than expected. 20m-ish rope wasn't quite long enough, but snow slope leveled out enough to make ginger descent possible. At the bottom it closes down and the open way on is slightly too small for a person, certainly one in shorts+t-shirt, but there is a decent ingoing draught. It looks like a few mins moving rocks and some actualy caving gear might make it passsable.
Solo surveying is possible with a distoX, although still a fag as you have to check lines, mark both ends and then survey. Getting a shot out into the very bright sunshine prooved too hard, so that shot was done downwards on the exit.
It was now 4pm and we had to be back at the carpark by 6pm as Phil+Sandy had a restaurant slot booked. A Tag 'WK11' was hastily prepared (by penknife scratching as we had no stamps) and attached, and we packed up and left ASAP, except of course that we are still lost in the karren, with the nipple visible quite some distance away. (There was clearly no time for a look at Eishöhle or for wk4 - those would have to wait for another day). The going was mostly not too bad but we did get stopped by Bunde and big (15m) drops into holes in a couple of places. Soon saw a couple of rucksacks, which were ARGE ones at 158 (Donner und Blitzen Hohle). This was helpful as we could now track faint bootprints to get ourselves out of there (There was bugger-all cairning). Eventually got to the nipple where the path become a lot easier to follow. Slogged on for some time, eventually getting to the Storgerweg, for a mere 25mins hike back to the carpark. We had 20 mins to spare on deadline, but it was bloody hard work.
Still, objective of making wk11 katasterable achieved, and thinks muchly to Phil for helping carry the crap.
Only one cave from the 1995/6 wanderings left:wk4, found when attempting to walk down from 161d to the Stogerweg in 1995 to see if it was a better route than back over the col (it wasn't).
Wook and Sam set off at an unheard-of early 7am partly to get Luke up the hill in time to do something before derigging, and to avoid the worst of the heat of the day, at least to start with. As we walked past the Bla-Alm turnoff we were hailed from up the hill, by ChrisD, Anthony, Elliott and Michael who wanted to leave rope in our car. Key arrangments were made, updates given and we carried on our way.
Not hard to follow the Eishöhle path, passing numerous caches of ARGE gear along the way (142, the nipple, Eishöhle 40a). 216 has more cold air than I remember and 40h is transformed. The crawl is now a 4-5m-high passage with the old bolts stranded in the ceiling - soon you won't need any ice gear at all to get in. It was very nice to sit in the fridge as huge amounts of cold air spilled out of the entrance, but soon enough we had to get on with the task at hand.
Found it remarkably easy to get down the hill about 100m back from 216, where there is a path down past 40d. The tag on this entrance is a rather long way from the cave now, presumably due to shrinking snowfield at the entrance. Carrying on down here got us to a nice traverse level below the main cliff here, into a large grassy amphitheatre - very nice spot. This was only 50m from pwk4, but this GPS point was before Selective Availabilty was turned off, so somewhat unreliable, potentially compounded by the steep hilside. The actual point was at the edge of the grassy area, which wasn't right, as it was on a shelf, with bunde either side, and a notable rectangular hole, hard to traverse past, and directly above the hochlapf sattel.
The terrain South of the grassy amphitheatre seemed about right, but it's quite heavily bunded. The cave should be on a nice easy route, as it was found when taking the easiest route down the hill, but 3 hours of wandering round, bashing a lot of bunde, and trying to find every possible traverse level, found no sign of the bloody hole. It just made us both very hot, scratched, and tired. I now have a tracklog of a large number of places that this cave is not.
Surprised to find a red-paint marked path here (which leads to the stogerweg), and an arrow on the stogerweg pointing to a slightly higher path in the same area. Aparently more people come this way than you might think (hunters?).
Eventually we gave up, having given it our best shot, and trogged back along the stogerweg (which is actually very easy to get to from this area using the paths. Took best part of 2hours to walk back to the carpark. We were really quite tired.
Reading the logbook entry for the original discovery, I wonder if it is perhaps lower down?
So, that was a very frustrating day. We can move this cave to the 'mostly lost' pile.