CUCC Expo Logbook 2022
Luke Stangroom, Hannah Collings,
Balkonhöhle - Entrance rigging
Walked over with Chris, Hannah and Alice.
Rigged handline with nice rope (replaced with tatt later). Rigged the entrance, Hannah arrved just as I was finished We went off to see if Natural Highs was rigged,
it wasn't, back to the entrance to get the rope. (Needs more than 26m). Then rigged Natural Highs, 2nd traverse and 10m down pitch, all in need of fettling. Went to
the top of Honeycomb for an explore and then back to the entrance to find Alice and Chris. Arrived just as Alice was descending. Hannah led everyone back to Honeycomb,
we all helped put a bolt in then left Alice and Chris to rig Honeycomb. Me and Hannah left with minor fettling to the rigging on the way out. I headed down the hill to
sort out rope for Fishface.
T/U: 6.0 hours
Chris Densham, Alice Kirby,
Balkonhöhle - Balkonhöhle Fanny by Gaslight?
It was great to be equipped with laminated surveys and a system expert in the form of Luke to show us the way forward, as I hadn't been further in the cave since
first rigging natural highs and Leeds Bypass years ago. Luke demonstrated impressive recall by pointing out a tiny pocket in the wall on the far side of Honeycomb as a
necesssary deviation thread, then he and Hannah left me and Alice to it. One of the pitch head Hiltis was rusty and sticking outa few mm so I put in a new thru bolt
and descended to Luke's thread. Having stuffed string down the hole, I abbed down a metre to look up and see it was indeed a long thread with my string stuffed in the
top. Looking below I couldn't help but notice the floor about 2m below. Hmm. I derigged the string and popped down a neighbouring pit, to so encounter the floor at
about 6m. Back up at the pitch head, there was an obvious traverse level with a pit beyond where rocks (all about 50m. Could this be the actual Honeycomb?) I could
only spot 1 bolt a yard above my reach and didn't fancy waltzing across without a better grasp of the situation so we headed out to mutter a lot about our written and
verbal instructions about what must be "Fanny by Gaslight" traverse.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Anthony Day, Harry Kettle, Hannah Collings, Amelia Oliver,
Balkonhöhle - Honeycomb pitch
After Chrs' experiences failing to find Honeycomb pitch, we were quite keen to find out where it actually was. Two vintages of the survey showed an identical depiction of the pitch head, excapt that one was labelled 'P6'; the other 'p52' and 'this bit looks completely wrong'. Some phone calls to Luke and Nat eventually yielded a pitcure of the pitch head that confirmed dthe traverse that Chris had spotted lead to the pitch head. Infused with confidence, we headed in where I started to rig while the others sat in the bothy playing cards. Rigging proceeded mostly without incident, apart from the P7 beyond Honeycomb rainging boulders with disconcerting regularlity. Rigged the Hangmans traverse and replaced the rope of the climb up to the start of Mongol rally. All the ropes were exactly the right length to the inch. Headed out without incident.
T/U: 9.0 hours
Harry Kettle, Hannah Collings,
Balkonhöhle - Rigged Mongol Rally
Rigged Mongol Rally - ropes for wich were taken down on a previous trip and left at the bottom of Hangmans. I rigged first half and then we swapped on a big ledge, and Harry rigged the second half. Harry rigged a knot pass just over half way down - suggestions have been made afterwards for this to be re-rigged. Got to the surface before heavy rain set in.
T/U: 11.0 hours
Luke Stangroom, Wassil Janssen, Keiran Appadoo, Joel Stobbart,
Fischgesicht - rigging trip
After a late carry up to camp in the dark with all the rope needed for the first 9 pitches (thanks to Keiran, Joel and Jonty). It was a slightly slow morning organising ropes, walk down to Fishface was straight forward, leaving reflectors on our way (half complete). Then I rigged the first 2 pitches. The ice plug we used to walk across was completely melted, so the way on was 5m off the ground. Tried swinging and climbing but couldn't do it. Keiran had a shot but the rope rub was too much despite finding a nice natural to rebelay off, it was not possible. So we headed out to get a drill from top camp. Some noodles and walk alter we were back underground where Keiran and Joel had been adjusting the first pitch due to an extra bolt being missed. Me and Wassil rigged up to the 4th pitch. Then out of the cave and back to the top camp before midnight.
T/U: 8.0 hours
Jonty Pine, Lucy Hyde, Anthony Day, Amelia Oliver,
Balkonhöhle - Natural Highs
Jonty, (visual storyteller), Lucy (scribe), Anthony, Mealy
Lucy had a careful time descending the long rope on her stop
Down to Natural Highs
Rerigged Natural Highs from both ends
Mealy, Lucy and Jonty sat in bothy for long time
Put Handline on muddy slope (this took a while because of group indecision as to what is a good natural). Insert picture from log book!!!
T/U: 6.0 hours
Lucy Hyde, Martin Green, Frank Tully, Paul Fox,
Balkonhöhle - Hilti-a-plenty rigging in Balkonhöhle
Lucy and Martin rigged Hilti a plenty and did a little exploration. Returned to meet Paul and Frank. Went to misidentified pushing front. Redescended some pitches and traverse. Frank explored a tight key hole passage and did a rough survey. Lucy and Paul set out first whilst Frank and Martin found the proper next pitch. Martin got soaked on the entrance pitch by a short 10minute thunderstorm.
T/U: 8.0 hours
Wassil Janssen, Alice Kirby,
Balkonhöhle - enjoyable tourist trip
We headed into Balcony with the intention of rerigging the pitch after Honeycomb but first decided to descend to the bottom of Mongol rally to have an explore.
Having somehwta underestimated how long it would take to ascend from Mongol Rally, we found ourselves cutting it too fine with out callout to have time to complete the
rigging Therefore our rerigging plans turned into an enjoyable tourist trip and we made it out in time to watch the sunset.
T/U: 9.5 hours
topcamp - Top Camp
Fettling the new section of the water collcetion and installing ropes on top of the tarp to stop it blowing up and being damaged against the roof of the stone bridge
T/U: 0.0 hours
Basecamp - Setup
Blog Author: Luke
In our 2 year absence, some wasps had conveniently weaved a hat for the expedition Mascot but everything else seemed to be in order.
Photo Credit: Julia Day
With a well-manned first week, many hands made light work and base camp was rigged before the expedition had officially started.
Photo Credit: Julia Day
This meant by Monday we were already on our way up to the top camp looking to set up the all-important water collection tarp to catch the forecasted rain. The lack of snow was noted in comparison to 2019 when the bivy site and one of the caves we were meant to be pushing were completely snowed over. Once again with a strong team, we managed to set up top camp in a day despite the temperature soaring into the 30's. Now, all we had to do was wait for the promised rain and the place would be habitable.
The Bivy Site disguised as a snow drift and inside Photo Credit: Jonty Pine
With the water buts full we could finally make a start at rigging the caves to the pushing front. This involved carrying a load of gear up the hill and over some treacherous limestone plateau. This has been fondly named the plateau monster, fortunately, it hasn't caused any serious injuries this year but it has been known to break and twist legs in previous years.
The Plateau Monster with its toothy grin....... Photo Credit: Jonty
Although we don't have helicopters or even donkeys we do have a very atmospheric walk up.
Photo credit: Jonty Pine and Luke Stangroom
All the hard work carrying and rigging means we are now ready to explore some new passage. With two trips planned for tomorrow to the pushing front, we are finally ready to explore some caves.....
T/U: 0.0 hours
Frank Tully, Martin Green, Paul Fox,
Balkonhöhle - hilti a plenty
Martin rigged 'hilti a plenty' whilst I fettled the bivi, then turned up a bit late. Headed down to the 'sponge chamber' sandy slope and missed the low crawl to 'let's be appalling', slid down the low slide onto the pitchhead which we started to rig. Whilst bored I climbed 2m above the pitchhead, gaining access into a tiny tube, 'sponge chamber2 tiny tube'. Phreatic tube trending down, wide enough at the top but slightly narrower below, basically its quite strenuous, pushed for a few meters beyond the end of the survey. The tube continues much the same but it is not draughting much. Headed out because we got cold, found the passage to 'let's be appalling'.
[Frank's writeup just says "Paul". This is presumed to be Paul Fox not Paul Walko given that they were
all caving together the previous day.]]
T/U: 0.0 hours
Hannah Collings, Harry Kettle, Chris Densham, Anthony Day,
Balkonhöhle - pushing in Northern Pitstop
A fairly efficient start saw us heading underground by 10:00. Straightforward navigation to the seing off Mongol Rally. A combination of the survey and a passage description on arry's phone enabled navigation through to Northern Pitstop. We overshot the 6m pitch. When we found it, we decided some bolts weren't in order, so out came the drill to install a proper rig (about 10m rope, Y hang, bolt deviation and thread devisation). Shortly after we got to the traverse round a wet pitch and a 5m up pitch which was universally declared to be horrible. More wandering through the maze led to the pushing front in the far north west - three parallel phreatic tubes. Harry and Anthony took the left hand one while Chris and hannah went right. As expected, all the tubes connected in a maze of rock pillars that later inspired the name, Erecktheim. Progress continued in well-proportioned passage thouggh the complexity did not abate. Found a couple of pitch leads, and eventually called it a day at a continuing phreatc passage at the top of a loose climb. Headed out with a few route finding mishaps. The youth zipped out at a lightning pace whilst the veterans were somewhat more sedate.
T/U: 14.0 hours
Frank Tully, Amelia Oliver, Oakem Kyne, Lucy Hyde,
Balkonhöhle - Hilti-a-plenty NO SPANNERS
trip with lots of problems but very fun. Mealy forgot oversuit so walked back to top camp. Lucy and Oakem learnt a lot from Frank meanwhile. Descent down entrance pitch and then Oakem and Lucy went and descended down Hiltiaplenty and waited near the bottom. Unfortunately by miscommunication Frank has not appreciated this was the plan. Thinking Lucy and Oakem has gone for water, he and Mealy spent 40 minutes waiting above the pitch. Eventually the group regrouped at the bottom of Hiltiaplenty. Went through crawl pulling ropes to top of next pitch that had been taken down on Lucy, Frank, Paul and Martin's previous trip. Arriving at the start of the pitch however they sat and discovered that no one had happened to bring a spanner. Having considered this they realised they wouldn't be able to rig further. Oakem and Frank set up for rigging while Lucy and Mealy had an explore. They went down some small crawls in the vicinity and found a passage that petered into mid filled passage after around 5m ( was previsouly marked as QMB) though clear was not. They decided this was a good place to dig due to Mealy detecting a 'draft'. So had some fun digging by hand, as moles do and decided to return. Once things to do were exhausted, the group headed on up. We looked in passage on the way back that would later be explored as 'digging matilda'. Trip aim failed but ropes moved deeper (by 50m).
T/U: 5.0 hours
Expo - live webcam
Also before I forget there is now a live webcam at the expidition carpark. Which can enable you to monitor us 24/7 and see what weather conditions we are suffering or enjoying.
Here you can see a negotiation in progress to determine how heavy everyone's bags should be taking in consideration the approaching thunderstorm and sunsets at 20:40.....
Spotted by Julia Day
Also thanks to the recent UKCaving website update it has been possible for me to post this from top camp on my phone with relative ease
T/U: 0.0 hours
Frank Tully, Amelia Oliver, Lucy Hyde, Oakem Kyne,
Balkonhöhle - forgotten spanner
Basically a clusterfuck. I forgot my spanner and lent my survey gear (which contains my spare spanner), everyone else did not realise they needed a spanner - we need to update the expo recommended kit list...
Killed off some qm's in the area, some of which were passaged which were not closed on the mini survey and not actual qm's. The two qmB's above the pitch which links 'Let's be appalling' to 'Can't stop now it's bat country', were mud filled tubes and did not draught, interestingly there is a potential QM'c above the pitch which will require climbing up 4m but I'm not happy doing it.
Mealy and Emily had a dig in the West tube...
T/U: 0.0 hours
Hannah Collings, Harry Kettle,
Surface Prospecting Trip in area sound of Fishface
HH-01 47.69165 degrees N, 13.81549 degrees E
Just off top camp-fish face path. Snow plug, no draft.
HH-02 47.69165 degrees N, 13.81517 degrees E
Next to HH-01, just off top camp-fish face path. Snow plug, draft. Accessible with rope at far end, down side of snow plug.
HH-03 47.69080 degrees N, 13.81234 degrees E
Approx. 1.5m hole in ground, narrow. Drops ~10m to floor, needs rope to access.
HH-04 47.69062 degrees N, 13.81182 degrees E
Rift approx. 6m deep, free climable. Rift goes ~5/10m before crapping out with boulders. Small draft.
HH-05 47.69025 degrees N, 13.81180 degrees E
Big hole with snow plug and no draft - suspect goes nowhere.
HH-06 47.69017 degrees N, 13.81158 degrees E
Large open pit approx. 25m deep - needs rope to drop., Unsure about draft.
HH-07 47.68906 degrees N, 13.81090 degrees E
Very large entrance, sloping down. Two passages off entrance chamber choking up within a few meters - no way on. Found a gemser skull and ice column.
HH-08 47.68906 degrees N, 13.80940 degrees E
Large rifty hole approx 20m deep. Requires rope to inspect.
HH-09 47.68859 degrees N, 13.80918 degrees E
Large hole with stone bridges over and big snow plug, approx 20m. Needs rope to inspect.
HH-10 47.68797 degrees N, 13.80954 degrees E
Deep rift approx. 20-30m deep. Needs rope to inspect. ~5 away from 1623.p98
HH-11 47.68665 degrees N, 13.81102 degrees E
Approx. 10m shaft with possible but unlikely way on at bottom. Needs rope to inspect.
HH-12 47.68620 degrees N, 13.81185 degrees E
Large hole, craps out.
Of those found, the ones potentially worth revisiting with rope to inspect: HH-02, HH-03, HH-06, HH-08, HH-09, HH-10
Photos of entrances uploaded to expo website.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Luke Stangroom, Mike Butcher, Jonty Pine,
Went into Fishface to do some surveying at the bottom. Having not been told much about the cave beforehand, I left my water bottle 'halfway', which later became apparant was the bottom of the second pitch. Fortunately my blunder was overshadowed by Luke making an absolute mess of his surveying after numbering his compass diagram anticlockwise. After ensuring Luke was appropriately shamed, we contintued our surveying, discovering License to Kill and making a loop closure, much ot his chagrin.
T/U: 10.0 hours
Mike Butcher, Luke Stangroom,
Fischgesicht - A lead off Elizabeth line
Mike rigged a Y hang for a slope on cramblely slide, lots of excitement about how much the wind there is. Mike then rigged a traverse line up into the window on the right, large free arse (phreas?) tube. Started surveying along 2x3m passage but after 100m became a rift went high but became too difficult to continue without a traverse line but promising [phreas] visable 50m further along. Went back down into the rift followed the bottom. Dropped a little hole in the floor and found a pool dead ended. Back up and over hole in the floor and found a nice pitch. Mike bolted a Y hang but then we were out of bolts and rope. Pitch continued so would have to be back. Out of the cave for a lovely sunset.
T/U: 10.0 hours
Hannah Collings, Harry Kettle, Rob Watson, Becka Lawson,
Balkonhöhle - pushing in Northern Pitstop
Rob and Becka had an early start to get up the hill in good time for our trip. Cotinued on from previous pushing trip and frist went to promising borehole where pushing previsouly stopped. Harry and Becka took the borehole which sadly crapped out after about 20m. Rob and I took the passage off from the previously explored rift which quickly connected into the crapped out borehole.So far, not a promising trip, the main achievement being installing two handlines in Erechtheion, one of which was swiftly removed when a bypass was found. Backtracking into Medusa's maze we followed some more A leads, again splitting into two surveying teams. Harry and Becka followed a lead which got too tight so came to help me and Rob with a loop in our area. The passage was very cheesy, with lots of muddy sliding around. We finished the day with a rift which would require a rope to get down, a muddy upwards sloping passage and a potential path through a boulder choke - so there's still lots of potential in that area. There's also a large pitch at the end of Erechtheion which is very drafty. We had a stop for noodles at Northern powerhouse before heading out. Becka and I led the way whilst Harry and Rob went back to Erechtheion for a forgotten drill. A relatively swift exit was had with no incident.
T/U: 12.0 hours
Frank Tully, Paul Fox, Aaron Clair,
Balkonhöhle - Balkonhöhle
Rigged down the pitch which links ‘Let’s be appalling’ to ‘Can’t stop now its bat country’. Surveyed the passage up dip from the bottom of the pitch, howling draught coming towards us, the passage ends in a clean washed chamber, possible continuation of the passage in the North East. There is a QMA lead from ‘Let’s be appalling’ above. I need to confirm that all the draught is coming down the shaft, or that the continuation of the lower passage is where the draught is coming from. Needs looking at.
Followed the lower passage down dip to where the survey ended, ducked under the left wall and found a continuation of the passage. Surveyed this. This ends in a pitch into a small chamber with rifts exiting below, and a continuation of the passage across the pitch this appears to go into a larger space. Down appears to be 15m from the floor. Across is 5m or so. Need a drill and a rope. Continued down to below the ‘can’t stop now its bat country’ pitch which is not on the survey. Scan for rigging guide!!!!
T/U: 0.0 hours
Rob Watson, Alice Kirby,
Fischgesicht - rebolting
Headed into Fishface with the Japers and Becka's survey team not far ahead. Route well reflected by Luke and quick progress made to the climbs at the Bubbly Bypass (Bx4) that neeed to be bolted. Alice commenced rigging but after 1.5 holes, battery 23 stopped working unexpectedly and smelled of electrical fire - deduced to be short circuit. Battery 6 provided no holes so we decided to head down to the Kubla Khan level to inspect the leads there and possibly pinch a battery off the Japes. Flew down to the TK Max which is pretty big, passed Mr Naughty where Luke had left a note instructing us to add some rigging. On arrival at the Nicolas Cage traverse through some excellent howling passage we acquired the necessary gear and it was deceided that I would add 2 extra reblays to the TK MAX then rig Mr Naughty before Alice finished bolting the climbs. Added the necessary rebelays, first was suboptimal as one of the bolts causes some rub (left bolt of the Y hang). Then continued up, rigged Mr Naughty with the others hot on my heels then cracked on to the find Alice and continue her rebolting. this eventually done after more battery issues (no. 20, big tick) we were out and back at camp around 11.
T/U: 10 hours
[Insert Rigging Guide Fish face - Updated TKMAX]
T/U: 0.0 hours
Andreas Klocker, Keiran Appadoo, Becka Lawson,
Fischgesicht - Kubla Khan
Keiran ably guided us to the east QMs at the far south end of Kubla Khan then Andreas and he both did book in ideal passage for practising surveying - sandy floored phreas. We surveyed steadily past a junction (left we surveyed until it ended, mud-filled, this is almost certainly the other end of the mud filled passage on the R of Kubla Khan just before station 5; right was suveyed by Becka and Hannah on 4/8/22.) We continued then started climbing up and ended at a more complex area with a possibly free climbable aven and two horizontal leads (surveyd by Rob and Amelia on 4/8/22). Slow out as 3 teams converged on the pitches and Rob was also rerigging.
T/U: 9.0 hours
Luke Stangroom, Joel Stobbart, Jonty Pine,
Fischgesicht - Nicholas Cage traverse
Return to Fishface after a good rest. Joel and I rigged the Nicholas Cage traverse, which we took great pride in. Rob Watson stole our drill as we were deliberating how to finish the traverse. Alice turned up and decided the Nicholas Cage traverse was in fact the Nicholas Cage handline. After gaining access to the far side of the traverse and having been relieved of our drill we dutifully decided to continue on and survey what we strongly believed to be the best lead of expo. This led to the discovery of Keanu Breeze, so named whilst we were fighting for our lives in the cold winds. After reaching the end of our lead at the top of a large pitch we decided to return the next day to bolt it. Getting out this time was a lot easier thanks to the aforementioned rest day.
T/U: 10.0 hours
Frank Tully, Paul Walko, Aaron Clair,
Balkonhöhle - Hiltiaplenty - Unnamed area above start of Sloppy Seconds pitches
Trip to Balkonhohle – HiltiAPlenty – Unnamed area above start of Sloppy Seconds pitches
Followed the unnamed area down the canyon to a undescended small pitch. Dropped the pitch with a pushing rig and found it comes out more or less above the top of ‘sloppy seconds’. Surveyed from the unnamed passage above ‘sloppy seconds’ to the previous unnamed canyon, so we should have a loop now.
Re-rigged the pitch for a trade route, attach line to large boulder; natural down to bolt and another natural over spike. Follow slope down to hang into the lower passage, landing on ledge half way down mud slope. I’m not sure if we can abseil all the way the slope without the rope rubbing. Scan for rigging guide!!!!
Brought drill and kit further up the cave, basically to rig the traverse across the lower ‘Sussex by the sea’.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Lucy Hyde, Amelia Oliver, Martin Green,
Balkonhöhle - Hiltiaplenty
Lucy and Mealy descended, followed by Martin down Hilti a plenty, withthe idea to rig traverse observed on previous trip of Frank, Lucy, Mealy and Oakem. This was previously rigged by Becka but no rigging guide supplied. They managed to rig across the 1st pitch and while rigging they heard - to their surprise - the sound of Frank beneath them who had gone with Paul and Aaron to rig as described in Frank's description of this day. We however ran out of rope so abandoned this track, returned and spent the rest of the trip investigating small leads. Returning to the passage visited by Lucy, Mealy and Frank on the 31st. This was the much anticipated DIG that had been laughed at in top camp. Lucy and Mealy were armed with s(?????) and most importantly shovels so set to work. By 'work' this meant lying horizontally in narrow passage and singing "Don't come a digging matilda with me" for quite a time. After Martin had endured this with great patience, he taught Mealy and Lucy to survey up the passage 'digging matilda' - Mealy did laser and Lucy did book. Having surveyed they were cold. They set off to explore leads i nthe Martin loop. Lucy was cold and tired and wasn't as entusiastic as Mealy to go down small holes. They explored most small holes on the loop. saw the pretty cracked mud, licked the wall in the chalky passage, took photos. Mealy followed a narrow lead for 20-30m where she found it to widen into a samll ?? before discovering a freshwater body described as a pong, otherwise considerd to be a puddle. There is a pitch to allow the viewer to make their own decision.
On the way up Martin adjusted the rigging and deviation on Hiltiaplenty to make it more user friendly.
T/U: 10.0 hours
Fischgesicht - 2022 exploits in Fish Face – Part 1a of 3
[From blog post dated 19th August.]
Four years had passed since Fish Face was last visited in 2018, and the dreams Luke repeatedly had during that time about the caverns measureless to be found here were essentially the only thing that prevented him from giving up caving completely. He and three others surveyed over 200m on a trip that was meant to be focused on derigging the cave, and six top leads, each blowing a howling gale, were left staring east into blank space. Back at Base Camp, the data looked exceptionally promising: all the remaining leads pointed directly towards 204 (Steinbruckenhohle), the ‘key’ to the SMK system which links the major caves to the south (161 - Kaninchenhohle, 107 - Gemsehohle and 115 - Stellerweg) with those in the North (258 - Tunnockschacht and 264 - Balkonhohle). If made, this connection would really expand this part of the SMK system westwards and keep the flame of the ‘great connection’ with the Schonberg system burning in the far distance, along with adding over 1.5 km of passage to the total length of the system (this was the length of the cave in 2018).
I arrived in Bad Aussee in week 2 after a very fun week at the UIS conference in Chambery, with the cave already rigged to the pushing front and with several hundred metres of new passage having already been found on the monster horizontal level around 250 m deep (at an altitude of ~1400 m asl). Having been involved in the initial exploration of Fish Face in 2017, I had then spent some time away from the expedition, meaning that this trip was my first beyond the third pitch which I had bolted on my last visit. After a good but long trip into Balkon after only 4 hours sleep, exploring alphanuepsilonupsilonepsilonrhosigmaeta (see Harry’s report above), I made my return to Fish Face with Alice to supervise her bolting a few naughty climbs that had remained unrigged but were now apparently quite slippery with mud [Trip 3rd August]. After hearing Luke and Mike’s gushing praise for the new passage they had explored the day before (big, clean sandy, lots of cool formations), eight punters wished to descend FF that day, of whom only Luke knew the way to the leads. He therefore decided to extend the system of reflectors (used to guide us on the surface to Top Camp and the caves) to underground, again quite naughty but extremely effective (although Becka of course still got lost). Alice and I soon arrived at the climbs just below the 4th pitch, but drill battery failure curtailed our mission after only one and a half bolts [Trip 3rd August] . Not to be deterred, we decided to head to the pushing front in the hope of pilfering a battery or two from Luke, who was supervising Joel and Jonty (collectively referred to as ‘the Japes’ – see glossary above) while they bolted a short traverse to horizontal passage beyond. We would then head to the surface and complete the job en route.
Beautiful helictites, impressive amounts of speleothems (for Austria) and big clean phreas... MIke and Luke strike good in FF. Photos: Luke Stangroom.
My overall impression of the cave as we descended was that it was essentially like a souped up Dales pothole: a few larger pitches to start with, the odd meander, a few more pitches, some climbs, some nice phreatic passage, a succession of shorter pitches in a meandering rift interspersed with the odd larger chamber, and then a big pitch, all in fairly quick succession (in contrast to Balkon, which has a long romp along some very draughty and muddy phreas followed by a series of pitches around 300 m deep – far more alpine in character). The absence of sticky alpine mud was also a major attraction and the trip into FF definitely cleaned my SRT gear after the previous days trip into Balkon.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Hannah Collings, Becka Lawson, Amelia Oliver, Rob Watson,
Fischgesicht - pushing Kubla Khan
Having got used to Fish face yesterday and knowing the way to the leads, it was decided that Becka and I should return to show some students of survey the way of data and drawing. I rebolted the one-bolt wonder 9th pitch (rigged for convenience only) on the way down; had to nick some rope from the base of the previous pitch. Arrived at the pushing front, Amelia lacked sufficient clothing for a tiny woman drawing in the breeze so Becka lent her an extremely unfashionable vest. Becka and Hannah set off down an A lead heading off East (?) while Amelia and I headed off towads a very sediment-filled passage with a very climbable aven heading far away and drafting strongly down. The sediment had carved much pargenesis, with a lovely anastomosing half tube in the ceiling and many roof pendants. The clasts were occasionally very large (5cm diameter) indicating a high energy environment of deposition. We proceeded to destroy history in the name of progress by surveying on the sediment banks to a QMC. We then headed back to the main passage to survey along a fault-guided passage (strike 015, dip 65 degrees East). This fun soon ended when we reached a pitch and had no rope with which to descend it. So we headed off to find the Japers, but no joy there either, as Jonty was busy sinking all the rope into Keanu Breeze (which predictably turned into a pissing wet no-hoper later on). So then headed out after crapping out a number of Luke's leads just by looking at them.
T/U: 8 hours
BECKA note: Becka and Hannah surveyed a complex area that connected back to known passage in 3 locations but via some sections of lovely walking phreas.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Luke Stangroom, Joel Stobbart, Harry Kettle, Jonty Pine,
Fischgesicht - bolting
Enthusiastically we set out to do justice to the Keanu Breeze pitch. With drill, hammer, and spanner we made our way to the bottom of Fishface and layered up in
preparation for the cold bolting job As this was my first pitch bolting job Harry came to help me while Luke and Joel split off for some survey work. After finding a
nice natural for the leading line, the first Y hang was easy to install. We had a good discussion about game plan during which Harry kettle's love of deviations became
apparent. I descended a short distnce and found a nice ledge witha potential clean hang to the bottom. The obvious place to place the bolt happened to be in a very
large boulder that looked like it didn't want to be part of the wall. Harry did not seem concerned about this until we swapped places and he got a look at it himself,
at which point we agreed to bolt next to the boulder instead on into it. As we did not have a skyhook this involved a sustained heel hook, during which I nearly lost a
welly, as I drilled the first hole. After some time and some strange noises from the bothy I completed the rebelay. We then proceeded proceeded to descend the pitch
and Luke soon appeared at the top shouting something about us having left the survey kit behind. As he descended the pitch he made some faces and muttered something
about 'nasty water'. Joel and I had faith however and postulated that we may even have discovered the Loser master cave. Being the rigorous caving team that we are, we
took our measurements and, having got slightly wet, left hastily despite Harry reckoning he could push the wet passage. The Keanu Breeze pendlum to a nice looking
phreatic passage remains to be attemped by a bold caver who still has the energy to go to the bottom of Fishface.
T/U: 10.0 hours
Oakem Kyne, Anthony Day, Alice Kirby,
Balkonhöhle - Balkonhöhle
Anthony guided us to the Custard Cavalry in Southern Pitstop using Becka's description. The survey was being used as a "no pissing" sign in Fishface. We rigged a pitch down an aven and off a natural and a hilti down on the left. Ascended the rope left in and began surveying. Alice started with sketching but soon retreated to the bothy. Anthony took over. Oaken weilded the disto with great skill and precision. Overall about 130m of cave were mapped. The tunnel continued down a straight line before taking an obvious right turn (with a B/C lead on the left up a 3m climb.)
T/U: 13.0 hours
>Top camp - Feeling a bit knackered
A beautiful still morning drinking coffee whilst watching the sun rise over the plateau, basically I'm knackered.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Top camp - suspended solar panel storage
Assisted Martin Green to install solar panel suspension in Traungold.
It is assumed that the solar panel got damaged because it was stored on top of the gear pile and point loaded when the blown in snow consolidated as it melted. There is a ledge on the left but it is known that this gets an ice flow which pushes stuff off it some years, so this is out.
It is intended that the installed ropes are used to suspend the solar panels from the dry roof high enough that they are not buried in snow. Or if powder snow is blown around them it drops away when it consolidated.
1. Basically pack up solar panels in their plywood case,
2. Attach to ends of rope,
3. Haul up into ceiling such the panels remain level and secure.
4. Tie off the ropes on the bolt, on the left wall. (the attached Mallion is a knackered one so try not to remove it).
T/U: 0.0 hours
Lucy Hyde, Mike Butcher, Keiran Appadoo,
Happy Butteryfly - cave (GSH)
Set off late after midday due to faff with 200m of new white shiny rope walked to the entrance. Some snow, skull from a few years back still there. Mike had derigged GSH in 2019(?). Keiran and Mike started to rig down the 1st pitch. Mike later returned to this and changed it to a traverse instead. Keiran taught Lucy to rig on the second pitch which she did. The third pitch was a bit confusing with too many bolts for what was needed. Lucy too start to rig.
scan for rigging guide
Continued on, sweets above 20m pitch, we did not descend this but instead traversed into a crawl on the left hand side. Exploring this, wind from thie crawl did NOT howl on and io connection with the previous passage (Keiran returned to pitch 3 to find out). This is therefore a phreatic passage connected to the window poking into the 30m pitch tothe left of the crawl. Looking down the hole in the floor, Mike thought it might be urinad d/f drips (???) and shape of hole, Mike rigged a pitch as descended,
scan for rigging guide. Mike's note: 1st pitch has been replaced by a traverse using the first 2 Hilti bolts of the original bolting, with 2 new thru bolts along the left wall.
up to 100m of rope into a big cylindrical chamber. Rope did not reach the floor by 2m. Big blocks and scree. Lucy and Keiran began prossicking, Mike explored and found a survey point marked 2.6. Is this Fishface?
Trip aim = to connect to Fishface
Prussicking up = fun. Lucy swang badly coming off pitch 3.
Exited the cave after midnight. Walked back under pretty stars. No survey equipment taken :. Need to survey big pitches.
T/U: 11.0 hours
Rob Watson, Amelia Oliver, Becka Lawson, Hannah Collings,
Fischgesicht - 2022 exploits in Fish Face – Part 1b of 3
[From blog post dated 19th August.]
With the climbs now bolted and some extra rebelays added to the big pitch to speed things up, I was back again the next day with Amelia, Becka and Hannah. The aim was to push some leads at the southern end of the horizontal level, and Amelia wanted to have a go at doing ‘book’ (making notes of the survey data and drawing the passage), which I was more than happy to supervise (and thus avoid having to do myself). Surveying in Austria is a chilly affair: my usual layering system was to do ‘active’ caving to the pushing front in just a furry suit, and then on arrival to strip down the top half and add a t-shirt and grid baselayer underneath along with a buff and headband, then furry back on (dry layers beneath dry out any sweat accumulated, although the aim is not to sweat) and then a pac-a-mac on underneath my oversuit (to keep the wind off – extremely effective). After starting off pushing down an easy passage full of sediment which ended in a dig, we turned our attention to another horizontal lead heading further south. After a few legs along a clearly joint-controlled passage progress was stopped by a ~10m pitch; having no rope, we set off towards the area where Luke was supervising the japes, with a view to snaffling some. We headed across the ‘Nicholas Cage’ traverse toward the pitch which Jonty was rigging, named ‘Keanu Breeze’ (these names really sum up what the creche is all about – nonsense and japery). Sadly it appeared that Jonty (and by extension Keanu) could not spare any rope, so Amelia and I decided to head out after writing off a couple of other leads (left by Luke and the Japes) simply by looking at them (though Amelia seemed to really want to grot around pointlessly in a sediment bank).
Amelia making survey notes in front of an impressive sediment bank (photo: Rob Watson) and the Creche hiding at the pitch head while Jonty rigs Keanu Breeze (photo: Luke Stangroom).
Back down the hill for a few days to draw up data and form a plan of attack for the coming week, when the number of cavers on expo would theoretically almost double. Water levels at Top Camp were much lower than would be ideal for a full capacity bivy, and objectives for exploration would have to be carefully outlined to ensure that new arrivals could get stuck straight in. During this planning session, Luke, Mike and myself resurrected an idea first toyed with by Mike in 2018 (before a heavy drinking session at Base Camp got in the way) – camping at the pushing front in Fish Face, but without the traditional camping approach of communal tent and pits. Instead, this camp would be very minimalist: bivy in your personal sleeping bag in the passage, with each person bringing enough food for themselves for the duration of their stay (much more like the approach to camping taken by our Austrian and German caving friends). This camp would not only allow us to push the cave more efficiently, it would also ease the strain on the water supplies at Top Camp as there in an active streamway very close to the proposed campsite, and also provide a chance to test the viability of using CaveLink in this part of the system to communicate with Top Camp.
Part two, detailing what we found on our camping trip (lots), will follow in due course…
T/U: 0.0 hours
Joel Stobbart, Andreas Klocker, Keiran Appadoo,
Fischgesicht - Hug the plug and tasteful noods
Surveying and pushing shallow leads (no deeper than top of 3rd pitch)
We went underground planning to survey the new ice plug which me and Wassil dropped last Monday, survey Tasteful Noods and then explore the lead going N at bottom of entrance pitch. First finished bolting and rigging down near ice plug, names "Hig the plug" - Andreas drilling. Put in a second Y hang then dropped to ice - squeezed around but qucikly crapped out. Surveyed (but not to link in - need to redo to close the loop) then got out as very cold.
Insert rigging guide!!!
Surveyed tasteful noods (spanking new trade route and 2nd pitch courtesy of me, keiran and Mike with deviations galore) from station 14 at the top of ice tube, but again didn't bloody link into existing station.
Once done surveying, we went along the surveyed passage at bottom of entrance pitch to drop the unsurveyed pitch. Passage doubles back underneath with some nasty false floor but after another small pitch continues to glimpse a larger chamber with large boulders - needs another short pitch to get in but we were a bit done by this point. Will go back to survey and push into chamber to see where it links into - have left around 90m of rope.
T/U: 6.5 hours
Nat Dalton, Chris Densham, Hannah Collings,
Balkonhöhle - N Pitstop
After some last minute plan changed, Chris was able to convince me that a Balkon camp trip would be a good idea, despite the fact I'd only just arrived on expo/up the hill! We packed up the camp and assorted chattels (with Chris trying to unsuccessfully fat-shame Hannah and I into taking less food) along with rope, drill and hangers into several oversized tacklesacks. We managed to find some willing volunteers to assist with the ridiculous carry and we were off.
Steady progress was made down to Pitstop, with some minor route finding issues in Upper Balkon trying to avoid the sandy crawl. Whilst Hannah and I faffed, Chris has found an excellent , so we commenced work. A while later a cosy camp, wellstocked with a variety of delicious foods, fluids and pits. After a full on day, we got an early night.
After trying to hide from Chris, who got me up at about 7:30, for a while, Hannah and I gave up and got up. After a leisurely start and a 45 minute/hour commute, we were at the pushing front, an about 50m drippy pitch that Hannah rigged under Chris' tutolage avoiding going down the wet shaft to land in a bouldery chamber (Tartarns). A lead off to the right has a cathedral echo and with various bottomless holes in the floor potentially leading down to the same place.
Carrying on down the passage (with various leads on the right) intersects in a passage going up/down (dip/~30degrees) with a wet trench at the bottom. Needing to survey up the pitch we headed back to camp after a long day. (Bed 3am)
After a late start we headed out, fettling various bits of rigging on the way out. (out 23:30). Bolted crappy pitch before Mongol Rally.
T/U: 59.0 hours
Wookey, Mike Butcher, Amelia Oliver, Paul Walko, Aaron Clair,
290 - WhichCave - Rigging Amelia's Pitch
[Editor note - Unknown which cave this is, not identified in this logbook entry or in any scanned notes. It is assumed, purely from the people and the date, that this is the same trip that surveyed Horrorbank in 290.]
Went to bottom for Amelia to rig her 1st pitch.
Very windy spot so surveying team (illegible) arses off to about an (illegible) whilst Mealy & Mike started down the pitch. Calibrated disto & fiddled with Topodroid to while away time.
Descended 1st 10m pitch whuich didn't lead to more horizontal (illegible), but (illegible) (much bigger) pitch.
Wookey got very annoyed by topodroid's perverse interface & returned to paper for 2 legs (which it seems TD lost anyway so they had to be re-done!).
Mike took other & did sterling job of desceining ~28m pitch, and then another 20m below to wet sumpy place where water disappeared into crawl. Weather forecast was bad so this was only inspected for ~10m to the point where you would get wet. Deeply unpromising - the big wind had gone (illegible). So that was derigged.
Remaining options are out the col halfway down shaft or swing into the windows at the N end at about the same height.
Long prusik out. Very nice cave!
Rigging guide and plan in hard copy to be scanned and uploaded
T/U: 11.0 hours
Balcony - Happy Campers
Happy Campers with 2-3 bags each off to camp in the "Northern Powerhouse" in Balcony. For 2 nights to avoid the forecasted rain this weekend.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Hannah Collings, Chris Densham, Nat Dalton,
Balkonhöhle - first and last of the 2022 Balkon camps – Part 1a
Blog Author: h_collings [Blog post dated 30th August]
This year’s CUCC expo was my first caving expedition, and I was very excited to find out what expedition caving was all about. Having been on all three of the rigging trips from the entrance of Balkon down to Pitstop, and then on the first couple of pushing trips to Northern Pitstop, I became rather attached to Balkon for the duration of expo. And Balkon was very much in need of support with so many singing the praises of Fishface and its lack of clinging mud.
My commitment to Balkon saw me go on the first and last of the Balkon camps at Pitstop. The first trip [5th August] was instigated by Chris Densham, who first persuaded Nat it would be a good idea, and then, in need of another body to carry gear, Nat in turn persuaded me to join the venture. A lengthy couple of hours followed of packing gear and debating with Chris how much food was an appropriate amount… Nat and I were advocating for greater quantities. After acquiring a couple of sherpas (in the form of Luke and Lucy) to assist with the carry of kit to the entrance, we set off; I was feeling distinctly nervous at the unknown of underground camping and the large array of tacklesacks we had to manage between the three of us.
Slow but steady progress was made down to Pitstop, with some teamwork required to negotiate the large tacklesacks through an awkward crawl above Mongol Rally. On arrival Chris quickly set about finding a fantastic camp spot, in a cosy alcove off the main passage. After some re-sculpting to create a flat area to sleep and a kitchen counter of sorts, camp was complete; I was pleasantly surprised at the (so far) civilised nature of our camp. Dinner and an early night were had after a long day.
Chris enjoying his well found pitstop camping spot.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Hannah Collings, Chris Densham, Nat Dalton,
Balkonhöhle - first and last of the 2022 Balkon camps – Part 1b
Blog Author: h_collings [Blog post dated 30th August]
Chris rose early the next day, unsuccessfully persuading Nat and I to join him with his early start. Eventually we surfaced from our pits and after a leisurely start we headed off down Northern Pitstop to the pushing front. On the previous two pushing trips we had explored two areas off Medusa’s Maze each of which had yielded ongoing leads. We decided to head to the most promising of these, a large, open pitch approximately 50m deep, at the end of Erechtheion. I hadn’t yet rigged any new pitches and was strongly encouraged by Nat and Chris to have a go; I was very nervous and only coaxed into it by the promise that I could do the first couple of bolts and then let someone else take over. This was a good tactic as more confidence was gained with each bolt and, a few hours later, I had rigged the whole pitch. At the bottom of the pitch we landed on a boulder floor, with a further drop to our left, a passage on our right and a climb down straight ahead. We headed straight on, and Nat rigged a short drop down onto a boulder slope. Here there was a lead off to the right with a cathedral echo and various bottomless holes further down the passage potentially lead to the same place. We carried on down the passage and reached an intersection with a passage heading up and down with a wet trench at the bottom, and a lead off to the right just before this. As we needed to survey the new pitch on the way back up, we set off on our return to camp and after a long day got to bed around 3am. The new pitch was later named Tartarus, continuing with the Greek mythology theme of the previous areas.
Left: Looking up Tartarus pitch. Right: Speleothem in passage below Tartarus.
We had a late start the next morning [7th August], before heading out and fettling some rigging along the way. All in all, I was very happy with my first experience of underground camping and was eager to go again. To be continued below…
T/U: 0.0 hours
Rob Watson, Luke Stangroom, Mike Butcher, Jonty Pine,
Fischgesicht - Kamp Kresh
Awoke restless after terrible dream that I had spilt all the coffee and had no time to make more before venturing underground. Up the hill in reasonable time,
however in just 15 minutes into the walk to Top Camp Mike managed to topple over and cut himself badly on his hand. We were very poorly equipped to deal with this but
cleaned it as best we could with hand sanitiser and soldiered on to the Stone Bridge. Once we had begun packing in earnest Mike decided he was committed and rolled his
karrimat in a big red AV bag. Packed the shiny nice 8.5mm, Mike's drill, bunch of hangers etc. Down the cave in reasonable time, discovered an excellent kitchen
counter in the main passage towards Miracle Maze so began to decant food there. Then went to have a look at the leads in Coconut Chamber while waiting for the Jape to
show up. Once he arrived, it transpired that his entire supply of food for the camp was three chocolates and 3 curries, the first jape of many.
After setting up the
cave link and failing to send/recieve anything we had a curry. Then Mike and I headed off to survey Balcony's arse while Luke and the Jape fettled the Cave Link. Got
very muddy in the Arse only to break out at a junction, where we elected to look at the meander rather than the small tube higher up. Left a QMC pissing off upstream
then back to camp for noodles. Schnapps and bed.
Awoke around 8am for an enormous shit then off to survey Balcony's Nostril, just off the start of the Elizabeth line.
That ended in a dig, then we tied up the phreatic tubes in the Arse whilst Luke and the Jape bolted at the end of Red Light. Quick noodle stop at camp then back to the
front and down to the bootom of the pitch, heading east along a very big rift with phreatic development on the other side (big traverse needed from pitch head). Around
70m deep to ledges leading to a further 4s drop, very promising. Stripped the nice 8.5mm out leaving metalwork in (so that the light rope could be used for pushing).
Then inserted noodles into the Japebefore commencing to kill Keanu Breeze by shuffling and scuttling across the big jammed flakey block. This done (after having to
place a rebelay bolt above my head) I surveyed into a downstream meander and realised that the shrapnel in my eye was more persistant than I initially realised.
more small pitches then the measnder continued as an utter shreadpiece and it was time to stop japing for the day. Surveyed back to an unlabelled Jape station then
curries, candle worship and the last of the Schnapps. Tried to sleep the eye off but it didn't happen. Coffee grinding was a less involved process as Luke and Mike
decided they couldn't risk it given the volume of shit in the Jape Drum. A final visit to admire the tarp and penultimate jape to surface via cave link then we headed
out, abandoned the Jape to worship the candles, left him the drum, which he proceeded to empty into the Grike, sandwhich bags and all.
T/U: 44.0 hours
WhichCave - God knows what I was up to
God knows what I was up to, probably caving down Bat country....
T/U: 0.0 hours
Wookey, Philip Balister, Arndt Karger
Rentner-Express - ARGE cave near Windloch
Went on a trip with ARGE ( Arndt Karger) to see their new cave, Reutner-Express, which has the pleasing characteristics of a) being
a 20min walk from the car-park & b) only being about 60m deep.
[Why is Arndt's name not being recognised by parsers/people.py ? ]
This sounded short enough that Philip decided he'd come caving (and had his gear at base - I'd carried mine down specifically after
a whole one trip at top camp).
Arndt had a lead from the day before, off 'Schwarze Biest' chamber that needed surveying.
To get to the cave take the usual path to part where the split between loser alm/plateau and eizhohle/(illegible) is & turn
right (!) off the path up a few meters into a gully in front of an obvious wall a few m high on the left. Except this morning it wasn't obvious
at all as it was thoroughtly misty & we could only see about 20m.
We found the rope up the cliff that the (illegible) had installed & then the (illegible).
Cave starts with short tight pitch then a couple of bigger ones leading to a tricky up-pitch.
The lead we had to survey turned out to be quite small. AC6 into a twisty passage to the right & an even smaller one to the
left. Philip huffed & pulled round a couple of corners & tight bits before deciding that pressing the '(illegible)' was not wise, and
retreated back to the chamber. Wook & Aradt continued to the pitch it pops out into, then went back & surveyed the left passage. This
rapidly degraded to comedy person-sized surveying but with a flat floor it wasn't quite miserable enough to give up so we surveyed for about an
hour (& 50m).
I went another 10m but it got awkward in the same vein.
Back in the chamber, Philip had finally cooled down to a reasonable temp (his furry was too warm). We set off to traverse the
system & do the the through-trip to the Windloch (031*) entrance. This was very pleasant with a few short pitches & an entertaining mud
sump, which was apparently full of water 2 years ago, but now is just a friction-free U-bend.
Met the other ARGE group on the way out. Still foggy but we managed to get back to our gear & return after very civilized trip.
[Editor note 1 - 031 is named as Elchole in cave list. 032 is Windloch. Should this be corrected? (Gwen Tawy)
Editor note 2 - This Windloch is apparently Windloch am Stogerweg, not the other one - and our cave
description is very out of date. Elchhöhle was visited by CUCC in 1978. (Philip Sargent)]
T/U: 6.0 hours
Balkonhöhle - derig of the Unnamed traverse above start of Sloppy Seconds pitches
Popped down to derig Martin’s traverse in ‘Bat Country’ pulled the rope to the bottom of the balcony pitch in bat country.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Fischgesicht - 2022 exploits in Fish Face – Part 2 of 3
[From blog post dated 19th August.]
2022 exploits in Fish Face – Part 2 of 3
With the plan to camp in FF now hatched, Mike and I prepared for the trip in the only way we know how – Gosser and schnapps. Despite this attempt to delay ourselves in the morning, we were up in good time. I had not slept well though, after having a terrible dream that I had spilt the one and only coffee I was allowed before going to underground camp, now facing days without… A truly horrific prospect. Thus I decided that the camp would have freshly ground coffee and packed my handgrinder and aeropress in preparation.
It transpired that we were to be accompanied by Jonty the Jape, who had managed to get up and packed earlier than the rest of the Creche. This was good as two teams of two would be more effective than a single team of 3, allowing for pushing on two fronts simultaneously. After procuring a daren drum suitable for transporting human waste out from camp, we set off up the toll road. However, only 15 minutes or so into the walk to Top Camp, we were befallen by misadventure as Mike was bitten by the Plateau Monster (despite not really being on the Plateau yet), cutting the palm of his hand badly. After disinfecting it we decided we would press on to Top Camp, where there were more abundant medical supplies, and then see whether Mike’s hand was up to a multiday underground camp.
After further cleaning of the wound at TC, Mike decided the FOMO would be too much if he didn’t come with us, so we sealed his hand inside a surgical glove and forbade anyone from thinking about it until we came out in two days time. Sleeping bags, roll mats, rope, drill, bolts, CaveLink, shit drum, jetboil and food packed, we began the unwieldy stumble across the Plateau to the cave entrance, with the mornings drizzle still wet on the rock and threatening to further disrupt our plans.
We emerged at the entrance intact though and I began the steady plod down to the area where we planned to camp, just at the base of the big pitch, arriving just before 6pm after just over an hours descent. By far the shallowest and easiest to access underground camp I had ever done: quite reassuring to know that the surface was barely two hours away if we had forgotten anything crucial! Mike and Luke soon arrived behind me and we decided to have a look at some of the leads in the northern part of the big horizontal level while we waited for the Jape to join us, and to also try and make a rough plan for where to set up the CaveLink and our sleeping pits. Jonty arrived at around 7 and we set up camp, heading down to the Tap to fill up on water. This was a camp of many firsts: I have never had such easy access to abundant fresh water camping underground before. It was possible to fill a 10L Daren drum from the Tap in a matter of seconds as opposed to the minutes or hours that are sometimes needed under dripwater – sheer luxury!
Having eating a curry and setting up the Schnapps Shrine (complete with lemon, as the Creche had taken to consuming lemons underground at any opportunity) we tried to get the CaveLink working in time for our scheduled comms appointment with Top Camp at 8pm. However our connection was repeatedly ‘very bad’ – not promising. It was decided that 4 people were not required for this job, so Luke and Jonty continued to fettle the connection while Mike and I headed to a couple of unsurveyed horizontal passages in the Elizabeth Line, the big passage that Mike and Luke had discovered last week. The new passage proved to be the muddiest squalor yet encountered in FF, summoning visions of the ghost of Balkon past (no thanks!). We persevered however and soon reached a larger passage where a stream was flowing towards us far below in a narrow rift. This level of the cave is characterised by many interconnecting inlet passages arriving radially from many directions and apparently collecting into a larger stream somewhere deep in the rift below the lovely draughty horizontal phreas that we wanted to stay in.
Becoming bored of meandering upstream towards nothing at about 11pm we decided to leave this as a QMC (unpromising lead) and head back to camp in order to get a good nights sleep before our proposed start at 7:30am next day. Noodles and schnapps before bed went down splendidly, with the kitchen-top ‘shelf’ in the passage making cooking standing up possible – another underground camping first. Then to bed, where we slept in a line in the almost flat sandy passage. The maze-like nature of the passages even meant that Luke, who was at the far end, had an easy alternative route to the pissing pool. So many serendipitous aspects of the cave lending themselves to the camp!
Happy campers at the Tap, cooking and enjoying the fruits of their labour (photos: Jonty).
T/U: 0.0 hours
Amelia Oliver, Joel Stobbart, Lucy Hyde, Andreas Klocker,
Fischgesicht - Shallow trip looking for HB connection
(Mealy == Amelia Oliver)
Lucy and Joel wento to link Tasteful Noods to entrance survey. Mealy and Andreas went to Captain Crunch to bolt the pitch left previsouly. Swapped ropes around in Captain Crunch. Joel and Lucy then joined us to survey Captain Crunch. Mealy dropped a pitch and found a survey station suspecting she was in Happy Butterfly she was pleased. Dropped antoher pitch 'flying cottage' found more survey points. Surveyed and left.
T/U: 6.0 hours
Rachel Turnbull, Wookey, Tobias Turner,
Plateau - Finding Orphaned Caves
Originally surveyed 2001, but lost.
We took a picture of the entrance, and resurveyed to both entrances.
Picture by Wookey in Rachel Turnbull file.
Carried on up the hill dropped caves at Top Camp.
Found 2012-NS-13, took picture of enstrance - 292 Motte Hohle. Photos were lost, now in R Turnbull folder [Scanned survey notes, but no actual survey existing, so have resurveyed. By Wookey].
2012-NS-02 - needs to be katastered* (surveyed, photoed, tagged).
2010 - 02 - Resurveyed zigzag cave - Wookey drawing. Photos on Wookey's phone/device.
Wookey continued the next day with Phil + Dinny.
T/U: 1.0 hours each
Eric Landgraf, Paul Walko,
Fischgesicht Höhle - "Red Fish Blue Fish" entrance resurvey
Becka had been demanding a resurvey of the entrance series (as the notes
were allegedly lost, original survey was of poor quality and in too many small
sections, etc. etc. Don't argue with the cartographer). I wanted to warm up my
sketching in metric, and warm up my caving after spending a week drinking at
base camp with COVID; I was dying to get underground, and had hiked up that
day. Paul wanted to play with SexyTopo. Armed with 2 distox2s (his and mine),
we hiked down to Fishface, dumpped gear, and proceded to faff about for half an
hour before getting into the cave. In this process, we determined SexyTopo
would not allow 2-disto frontsight and backsight survey (if we were going to
resurvey, there'd better not be a question of accuracy!), so we just did paper
It's worth noting that Paul and I do way more resurvey than we should in the
States, so this was a bit of a gag trip for us; we were on vacation and trying
to enjoy it. We set a surface station, got a good GPS fix (that I still haven't
gotten off Paul's phone), and then proceeded to use the existing stations to
the top of the first pitch. From there, we were setting new stations all the
way down to the jumping-off point on the 3rd pitch: this included following the
new 2nd pitch route and noting all the silly unmarked leads in the entrance.
Much of the survey was Paul reminding me "you've got to sketch faster, or you'll
freeze the Brits! You're the only one here sketching to scale in the cave".
Survey length was approximately 145m, Only about 30m should be new length
added to the cave. We entered at 16:00 and hiked back to the Stone Bridge in
T/U: 0.0 hours
Fischgesicht - 2022 exploits in Fish Face – Part 3a of 3
[From blog post dated 19th August.]
Up bright and early for a shit and freshly ground coffee. The Jape had claimed he would not be shitting while in the cave, but after seeing all of us do so he became jealous and headed off to the chamber we were using to house the shit drum. After checking the CaveLink, it appeared that our messages of last night had now been sent – happy days! The timing of these messages did cause some confusion on the surface though, as Frank thought we were japing around by saying we were ‘kreshing down for the night’ at 7am! It was decided that Mike and I would continue to tie up loose ends surveying while Luke and the Jape dropped a small pitch at the Elizabeth Line pushing front. After around 30 legs of largely uninspiring (though easy to draw) passage, we had ticked all of these small leads off, so went back to camp for lunch (only a 15 minute commute!), and then went to see what Luke and Jonty were up to.
It turned out to be big. A small pitch had been dropped and then a short section of meandering passage led to an apparently huge largening of the rift ahead, which would eat all of our pushing rope. Luke was still questing downwards when Mike and I arrived, with Jonty worshipping a tiny flame from a tea light in the group shelter in a nice alcove. We backtracked and began to survey from the end of Elizabeth Line, reaching the pitch head just as Luke bellowed ‘ROPE FREEEEEEE’. Mike set off into the blackness wielding the disto, while I scribbled notes and drew frantically behind. Luke had rigged the pitch very nicely with lots of y-hang rebelays, making the SRT very easy. We soon arrived at the end of the ropes on a drippy ledge, where delicate scuttling around the edge of a big hole led to a further continuation of the rift. Luke flicked a small rock over the edge and we waited around 4 seconds till it hit a ledge and then a further second until it clattered to the floor. We would need to return with more rigging gear, but we wanted to save the nice 8.5mm pushing rope, so Mike stripped that out leaving the metal in place.
Luke bolting what would become 'Clap My Pitch Up'. Photo: Jonty.
By now I had been on book for over 60 survey legs (spread across the two days) and around 300m of passage, so I requested a change of role. Luke said he had just the thing for me: a naughty traverse over the top of a huge hanging flake/block in Keanu Breeze, where the Japes claimed they had seen a horizontal continuation on the far side of the shaft (the bottom turned into a miserable dripfest). Jonty and Mike made preparations to drop an unexplored pitch heading down towards the streamway in the rift (a little downstream of the Tap) while Luke and I headed to Keanu Breeze with Mike’s drill. The aim was to kill off this lead today so that the rope left there could be repurposed at the earlier find. Keanu Breeze is located in a huge fault and thus the rock on the shaft walls was often poor, meaning I needed to be a bit creative with the rigging (but also not wanting to use too many bolts on what we assumed would be a no-hoper). After plenty of skyhook japery on the traverse and subsequent rebelays I was hanging in space trying to kick across into quite a substantial window on the far side of the passage. This eventually done I shouted to Luke to come and join me with the survey gear and drill bag as the meandering passage beyond clearly continued. I bolted the next small drop in the rift while Luke came to join me, muttering about ‘japery’ and ‘not a trade route’ as he did so (I never said the rigging would be beautiful…). A quick scamper along the rift led to a further small drop which I rigged to land in a continuation of the meander, now heading northwest, which had descended into a slippery shredpiece which reminded me of the cave we had explored in Albania in 2017: you want it to end, but you know it won’t for a very long time.
We considered continuing, but now I had a medical issue of my own: some shrapnel had got into my right eye while I was hammering above and it still hadn’t cleared and had become quite painful. By now Mike had joined us, with Jonty having headed back to camp to take on some fluids as he was dehydrated, and he again derigged the ropes as Luke and I surveyed back out. At the first aid kit drop above, I attempted to clean out my eye with saline solution but it stubbornly refused to improve. Vision by now faltering, I struggled back to camp to find Jonty again worshipping a tiny candle. After prising him from his sermon with the flame to have another go at cleaning my eye (which still didn’t improve), I began boiling water for curries and couscous. Luke and Mike arrived back having repacked all the rope and the final half of the bottle of schnapps was finished off before turning in.
Bedtime. Photo: Luke.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Amelia Oliver, Joel Stobbart, Eric Landgraf,
Fischgesicht - Happy Butterfly connection
Back to flying cottage. Suspecting HB was near, a team had gone that way to make noise. Unsure which was to explore the rift, we went one way until we had to chissle Joel out of a boulder choke and we could go no further. A small water hole was found. We went back to flying cottage. The day before we had found some hilti bolts making a Y hang over a large rift. Using these, Mealy descended. Kresh connection was found.
Visual/ Audio connection was made withthe HB team. However due to a lack of rope Mealy was levitating about 30m above/diagonal from Emily. We turned around with plans to bring more rope. Insert scanned rigging guide!!!
Eric says: survey where we followed existing stations from our crawlway to the flying cottage has now been surveyed 3 times: 12 monkeys, gardening school, and us!
T/U: 0.0 hours
Frank Tully, Charlotte Payne, Andreas Klocker,
Happy Butterfly - make that connection
this trip should have included Charlotte, Andreas, others?
Tourist trip for me :¬)Went down to the top of the defying gravity pitch and surveyed back across the traverse. As we completed the survey Amelia appeared high up in a parallel rift and much shouting and celebrating occurred, it was very loud. Not enough rope to make the connection.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Wookey, Philip Balister, Paul Walko, Dinny Davies,
Plateau - Sorting more caves
Headed Balcony-wards to continue OCD work completing previous finds.
2012-NS-15 was first. Tag already present, matching GPS within 10m or so. But leg '20m down' clearly not possible.
Rigged off Bunde & sent Dinny down. Did better survey. Cave in a 20m deep [illegible] snow plug.
Small hole in [illegible] (~3m) shows a bit of cave passage not actually [illegible] through loose choss, but no draught so not worth returning.
Surveyed, Re-GPSed, photoed. Katasterable.
2012-NS-05 & 2012-NS-06
These two are ~12m apart, so surveyed as one survery.
Tags for both added.
Dinny descended 05. Paul W descended 06.
05 is qute small joint-controlled cave 0.5m width, 1m long & 10m deep under a chockstone.
06 is open rift on joint about 5m long, 3m wide 18m deep. About 8m down a passage heads off to NE along joint.
Gets too tight in 8m in. Probably comes out in diff.
Again descended from Bunde (NE corner).
Both photoed (Wook & Philip) so both Katasterable.
T/U: 0.5 hours Dinny, Paul W
basecamp - Cave Notes
[From blog post dated 16th August.]
All "in cave notes" from 2022 survey folder are scanned to either Wook laptop or Luke's. Specifically, surveys 01-44. Where there is a drawn plan or elevation in the folder at this date it is also scanned. Exceptions 32 - Anthony - in folder 31, and 35 - Frank - PDA files in folder.
Fischgesicht - 2022 exploits in Fish Face – Part 3b of 3
[From blog post dated 19th August.]
Next morning the poo drum was nearing capacity, Mike and I both had a need to seek improved medical attention and the Jape was missing his friends in the Creche so we decided to head straight out, Luke and Mike even declining a final coffee to ensure the shit drum didn’t overflow. The journey out was uneventful and my eyes really struggled to adjust to the glorious sunshine at the entrance. I began the stagger back to Top Camp, meeting Amelia, Joel and Eric heading in the other direction [This was on Tuesday 9 August] to finally connect FF and Happy Butterfly (see earlier report). At times my bad eye gave up completely and I had to shut them and sit down to let them calm down – not looking good, especially given that my new GHIC card hadn’t arrived before I left for expo (you can get an emergency letter which covers you, but I really couldn't be arsed to talk to a government employee on the phone explaining my situation).
En route back to base camp we stopped at a pharmacy to get some eye drops for me, however while I was applying these at base camp my glasses fell off my head and broke at the bridge into two pieces! Having no spare pair we constructed a frame to hold the pieces together while they glued back together and I settled for simply hearing what was going on ( think not seeing was quite a good break for my eyes actually). Mike’s hand smelt bad but overall seemed no worse and not (yet) badly infected, so to celebrate we walked into town where a summer festival was going on, with lots of oompa bands and direct involvement from the audience via short bursts of clapping in a sort of call and response with the brass instruments. Back at the Potato Hut Mike and I proceeded to get quite pissed until 5am. Awakening at 10am I discovered that my eye was cured – the healing properties of Gosser know no bounds!
So, camp was pretty successful, tying up plenty of leads and leaving some great new ones to go at on future trips, while also proving that camping in FF is a very good option with abundant resources and facilities along with a good CaveLink connection. In the final instalment, hear about what we found at the bottom of the big pitch Luke dropped, which we named ‘Clap My Pitch Up’ not only in honour of the Prodigy song (which I liked to play as an antidote to the terrible music favoured by the Creche), but also in homage to the great musical traditions of Bad Aussee as observed at the summer festival.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Gwenllian Tawy, Eric Landgraf, Tobias Turner,
Fischgesicht - Through trip
The creche had made the connection between Fischgesicht and Happy Butterfly on the previous day, so the plan today was for a group to go into Fishface to do the
through trip and survey the connection, while another team followed to survey some unsurveyed passages in Fishface and derig behind the other team once we knew they
were through to Happy Butterfly. Amelia, Joel, Charlotte and Rachel were on the 'throughtrip' team. Despite giving them a head start we caught up with them at the
entrance. Tobias and I got dressed, not knowing what awaited us as it was our first ever expo trip. I was surpirsed by how cold the entrance was compared to the
boiling temperatures outside. I was even more surprised when I bumped into the other team who had dropped their drill down the first pitch. After dropping the bag, Amelia
realised the drill was not working, so her and Joel left to get a reserve.
Our team continued with the original plan, so we dropped down to the pitch above the 50m above the connection. We were dismayed to see survey points here, meaning
someone had done the job before but the data was missing. We completed the survey quickly and caught up with Rachel and Charlotte who were rerigging the 50m pitch
above the connection.
Eric, Tobias and I then went up a couple of pitches to a passage Eric had explored on a previsou trip. This passage ended quickly in a boulder choke so the survey
didn't go as long as expected. After completing the survey we went back down to the 50m pitch to see if we should be derigging on our way out. By this time, Joel and
Amelia had returned and were bolting the traverse in Happy Butterfly. It sounded like they had a long way to go, so we decided to leave without derigging in case they
couldn't get down Happy Butterfly.
Insert scan for 290 clap my pitch up rigging guide
T/U: 0.0 hours
Becka Lawson, Christopher Holt, Nathan Walker,
Fischgesicht - to Coconut Chamber, surveying Coconut Sky
Covid crew + Nathan headed to the bottom of Fishface and had noodle lunch at the waterpool before checking out the Coconut Chamber leads. We started to survey at old station 11 (of Coconut Chamber 3) then, 3 stations later, tied into Coconut Chamber 3.14... oh well, at least it confirmed our tie-in. The rest of the survey trip was confusing - we surveyed back under ourselves to a deep canyon which is the same one in Coconut Chamber. However the two C leads above this seem to be sepereate and are still not pushed. We then headed in the opposite direction (N), up the canyon. This soon lead to a low but wide chamber with many rock pillars. The canyon continued N but it is deep with slippy, muddy, sloped sides which would need rigging to explore safely. The only other lead was a QMB in the top left of the chamber. We exited with a very pleasent curry, couscous and 2nd noodle tea before prossicking out in about 2.5 hours.
T/U: 9.5 hours
Kristian Brook, Lucy Hyde, Emily Mabbett, Frank Tully,
Balkonhöhle - Nothing to See (resurveying 2017's Shite)
It was time for my penance. Adam Aldridge and I did such a shit job of surveying in 2017 that no survey was written up for half of Nothing to See. The purpose of this trip was to show this series to someone more competant to ensure it is further explored. It is heading to Bat Country - a T junction is encountered shortly before the pitchhead for tBat Country. Turn right at this T junction and a pit is encountered (left takes you to Bat Country). Traverse over the pit and drop a small pitch. Way on is true right. True left is a view of a lower passage that conencts to Bat Country; there is a hole in the floor that has potential to be dropped. Way on leads to GalactiRamp. GalactiRamp was dropped in 2017, and links to GalactiShaft. Exposed traverse around GalactiRamp leads to a 4 way junction. levft is an exposed traverse to GalactiShaft MAze. Right is a passage that soon ends with a too tight rift in the right. Straight on drops into a chamber with a pit in the floor (unknown if this has been dropped). Beyond chamber, a passage leads on and a passage to the left leads to Galacti-cock, a 200m (estimate) shaft dropping to Galactica. Carry on the passage to a T Junction. Right leads to Dead Battery Run a blind pit that has two leads from the top, a QMB and QMC. Left goes down into a Fucking Maze with leads A-Fucking-Galore and will be a treat to survey on a future trip.
Back to the entrance pitch there is a  in the left of the high level which leads tothe GalactiShaft to maze series. I'm gonna have to survey that.
There is a load fo work still to do in this area so revisit will be done. Notable events of the trips were that K Brook's rigging is amazing and Rebelays are NOT TOO TIGHT. If you weigh less than 7 stone, you C rig, and the double stop method is optimal. Insert scan of rigging guide !!!
T/U: 0.0 hours
Rachel Turnbull, Charlotte Payne, Amelia Oliver, Joel Stobbart,
Fischgesicht - to Happy Butterfly Connection via Kreshconnection
2 Teams descended Fishface. I'd never been so was relieved of the pressure of knowing anything remotely navigational. Mealy led the way through the entrance, immediately tossing her tackle sack with the drill and batteries down the entrance pitch and onto the traverse line. After an enormous thud, she went to retrieve it and hid in the sandy crawl. This entrance pitch is still a bit loose and we descended one at a time. I abbed to the the sound of her sad 'Oh's. Mealy called up the pitch, 'is it allowed to ooze?'. Unsure whether she was talking about the drill or batteries, I shouted to her to keep her hands clear. Ooze was something I was fairly sure was not good. Thankfully, the batteries were not oozing, just the drill. Everyone else descended, we faffed and discussed what to do. Eric's team had caught up with us by this point and it was decided he could show Charlotte and I to the lead, whilst Mealy and Joel went to investigate if there was a spare drill at the Stone Bridge. They removed the drill and batteries and left the rest of the bolting gear at the bottom of the entrance pitch.
Erik showed us the way. We were baffled to see our route had been previsouly bolted on hiltis and survyed, and wondered why we were back there. To kill time, I rerigged the 50m pitch above the connection to a long, thicker rope. Charlotte dropped it as a sub-optimal free hang, noting the rebelays we didn't have the bolting gear to utilise. Unable to get safely off the rope, she ascended and we surveyed the top of the pitch area and waited for Mealy and Joel.
They reappeared, and Joel rigged the remainder of the pitch and bolted a traverse below that headed along the rift to a stone bridge. Down and across the traverse, we passed under the Bridge and formally into Happy Butterfly. Wuheyy. Found HB survey points to tie into. Erik's group were due to derig behind us, but due to us being 4 hours behind schedule, they'd left, leaving the traverse and pitch into Fishface rigged. There was a climbing traverse into HB that Mealy was hesitant to derig and despite lots of tickling, that got left. Down the hill, we found out there might be potential leads there anyway.
Left via Happy Butterfly, myself derigging and Mealy (Amelia) derigging a pitch where the bolts weren't a meter above her head.
Expected time underground - 6 hours. Actual time underground - 11 hours. A warm welcome to the creche. Insert Kreshconnection rigging topo below.
In Mealy's defense account: The donkey's dick failed me, it was very sad. Braking [sic] drills is sad
T/U: 11.0 hours
Frank Tully, Kristian Brook, Emily Mabbett,
Balkonhöhle - NOTHING TO SEE
Quick trip into Balkon HiltiAPlenty, nowhere,
Headed in and lifted the rigging kit from ‘top of ‘bat country’ to ‘lets be appalling’, so that we could rig across the traverse into nowhere. Rigging down the small pitch is a bit rubby an it hooks under a flake, it might be easier to rig it as a traverse towards the maze traverse.
Surveyed from the large boulder overlooking the pitch to the sandy climb down – dead battery run, so named because Christian tried to drop the pitch only to find the drill battery was flat, so went out to the Stone Bridge to get another battery and that was flat too… a 2018 story.
The rigging gear is stored at the top of the 40m pitch between ‘lets be appalling’ and ‘bat country’
Notes on leads left around here: (Before I head home)
The ‘Suffolk by the sea’ survey went up the bed from the bottom of the ‘lets be appalling’ and ‘bat country’ 40m pitch. It stopped where a shaft came in probably from the QMA above, see survex.
The passage is very windy with the draft blowing down the bed. The upper ‘lets be appalling’ is believed choked? So the draught must be coming in from across the pitchy area.
Down from lower ‘Suffolk by the sea’ there is a traverse across a pitch which appears to already be on survex, however it appears the passage continues. Probably requires a few bolts.
The ‘bat country’ (martin’s traverse) has been de-rigged and the rope is at the bottom of the balcony pitch in bat country. We could cut the bottom of the rope and rig the pitch down into the unnamed passage which connects the top of ‘sloppy seconds’ and ‘Galactica’.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Basecamp - Glossary of Expo terms
Japers - any crechling whose name begins with J
Crechling - member of the creche
Creche - group of new expo goers who enjoy japing, wittering and giggling
Jarry Crechle - Red Bull Athlete and vlogger
Plague pit - Potato hut in 2022
T/U: 0.0 hours
Becka Lawson, Nat Dalton, Wookey, Andreas Klocker,
Balkonhöhle - Charon & Underground Camp
T/U Fri ?7, Sat 24, Sun 15
(also Wookey + Andreas on camp)
I food-panicked and insisted on us taking down unfeasible numbers of curries etc. We each had a heavy bag down, taking a lot extra rope. Camp disappointed Nat - dirty cups + very damp pits. Also very muddy hangers. Drip for water very slow.
We all headed to the 70m pitch (Tartarus) at the end of Nothern Pitstop + Medusa's Maze. Wookey + Andreas then continued the horizontal lead that Harry + Johnno had left on the previous camping trip whilst Nat + I went down the muddy slope along a deep stream canyon. The angle meant that it needed a rope as the mud was thick + treacherous. At the end of their rope Nat bolted + naturaled down a short pitch. We had great hopes of horizontal but just round the corner the ledges returned (not before we passed a gorgeous wall of white crystal/helictite balls). I had been following behind Nat with the survey but I got to rig a short traverse along the muddy ledge (3 bolts, last one particularly poor - there were two hammers at camp but we had failed to bring either so we were using rocks which weren't very effective). The ledge ended + we'd have had to rig a pitch down to continue so we decided to derig all of our rope plus what Harry + Johnno put in. I started on this whilst Nat checked out dropping directly into the stream canyon. He decided this was too deep (>30m?) to do so we plodded on with the derig. I properly ran out of steam, fighting to move in the disgusting thick mud with the ropes + bags + our gear coated thickly in it. Met Andreas + Wookey at the top of the slope + divided out the gear so we all dragged one heavy bag back to camp. 12 hours caving. (Woke 7am, left camp 9am, back 9pm).
Up at 7, packed up, left 9.30, out 2.30 to 3pm. Slow steady plod as we all had big bags, taking out excess rigging gear + the 4th pit from camp. Met Gwen, Kristian, Dinny + Chris Holt at the entrance.
T/U: 49.0 hours - 7 hours Fri 12th, 24 hours Sat 13th, 15 hours Sun 14th
Rob Watson, Nathan Walker, Max Weiser,
Apis Medicus- Below Clap My Pitch Up
[Missing logbook entry for Cpt Chris & Eric trip ?]
Trip began very efficiently due to Captain Chris and I deciding not to
partake the evening prior & due to pre-trip packing the evening prior.
Underground by 10am after a relaxed breakfast. Quickly down pitches &
arrive at the (illegible). Show Chris & Eric the start of the survey at
Mourning The Moths then headed off to continue bolting down 'Clap my pitch up'.
Chose to name the passage 'Bee Doctor' [Apis Medicus] (in latin) after Keiran's
antics on Wednesday where he attempted (succesfully) to save a drowned be (and
was then stung by a different bee). Hopped down a traverse then down a very
impressive 50-60m shaft to a very bouldery collapse chamber from which a muddy
meander passage was heading nearly due south. We surveyed dilligently along
this until we reached a watery impasse (3m drop, (illegible) without getting
soaked) just beyond a drippy inlet (suspect this passage is not ideal in wetter
conditions, considering we are in a drought it would appear this is probably
wet often especially as we expereinced much drippier conditions in 'clap my
pitch up' during its exploration eariler in the week which we disliked).
However it was only just 6pm at this point & we felt it premature to leave,
so I lashed some dyneema around a thread then attached some slings to that
& we made a highly japist descent, only to discover that just around the
corner the water plunged down a further 10m pitch.
Back to the big pitch for the drill then Nathan had his first go on the
bolts to drop the climb of pitch on the last of the nice 8.8mm rope which we
cut from the base of the big pitch (felt bad). This done we rounded another
courner, with the passage becoming ever more meandery & shit, only to
discover that a further ~10m pitch lay just ahead. With no further drill
batteries, rope or enthusiasm we decided it was time to head out, derigging the
lead as we went.
After a stint in my group shelter, I took the full rope bag & Nathan
took over derigging from Max while we headed off to make noodles. This done we
began to head out. Nathan & I arriving at the surface shortly after Eric
& Chris at 2am. After waiting till 3am for Max we then began a slow plod
back, only to see his light emerge when we had just arrived at the convenient
viewing point. Happy days! Curry & cous cous were very welcome. Then
Chris, Max & I partook in a very fine moon & stars before turning in at
T/U: 16.0 hours
Gwenllian Tawy, Rachel Turnbull, Keiran Appadoo, Dinny Davies,
Fischgesicht - Derig Kresh Connection
The aim for this trip was to de-rig the traverse into Happy Butterfly and everything above it, excluding the entrance pitch. We quickly made it down to the traverse whre Rachel pointed the way on to Happy Butterfly, which she had de-rigged the previous day. Here, we decided to split into two groups.
Keiran and Rachel looked at a lead above the traverse, while Dinny rigged a rope into the rift below for me to descend. It appeared that Keiran and Rachel's passage was an oxbow back into the top of the rift I was exploring. The rift I was in had two survey stations at the bottom (1.5 and 36 - since located on HB survey). The rift ended in a pitch which has previously been dropped as there were bolts at the pitch head.
After ruling out any other leads we turned to de-rigging. Rachel head out first with a couple of bags while I assisted Keiran with derigging the lower pitches. I then derigged the last pitches with Dinny's assistance.
T/U: 5.0 hours
Eric Landgraf, Christopher Holt,
Fischgesicht Höhle - Find Wookey's lost data in Horrorbank and extend Mourning the Moths
Chris and I entered the cave with Rob, Max, and Nathan; the group stayed
mostly togehter all the way down to Rob et al's camp from earlier in the week.
There, we picked up the spare bolting kit and drill and made a beeline to the
end of Mourning the Moths, where Chris and I were to start our survey. Then
Rob, Max, and Nathan peeled off to their lead.
The pitches for Horrorbank were still rigged; it was an easy task to
oversurvey and tie-in Wookey's survey for which he lost the first 2 shots. From
there, we continued down the rope, to determine that hangers going further down
had been pulled, and it was not where we wanted to go. So I got back on the
rope on ascenders, and used the 1 skyhook we had to superman up a crack to the
saddle seperating 2 adjacent wells, with a drill and bolts, and set a large
"deviation" so I could pull Chris over.
We proceded to rig very stupidly down the next pitch (45 degree climb up the
wall), surveying as we went. In the process, Chris asked me to teach him to bolt,
so I walked through what good and bad rock sounds like, how wedge bolts work,
etc. And had him bolt the next 5m pitch. At the bottom, the passage turned into
a keyhole-shaped mud-filled tube of awfulness. And kept going and going. Continuing
indefinitely was a possibility, but at about 1m x 1m in the upper part of the
keyhole, and past our rough turnaround time (I had to hike back down the mountain
in the morning, pack, and catch a train), we called it quits after 90m of
On the way back out, we stopped briefly to bolt a sketchy traverse, to discover
the drill bit had fallen out of Chris' rather perforated pocket on our way. Oh well.
We stopped at the camp for some noodles, then grabbed all the steel (and the drill)
and made a rather slow 4-hour exit. The other team got out of the cave just as we
finished changing on the surface
T/U: 0.0 hours
Rachel Turnbull, Nathan Walker,
Fischgesicht - Connecting the Kresh Connection
Rob tipped us off to a window ledge opposite the pinnacle on the 3RD pitch of Fischgesicht.
SUN I tried to faff for a day but by 1pm was fully resorted to never endulge in this again. Headed underground in FG with Nathan. Came off the rope onto the safety scree on the 3RD pitch and Nathan descended to the pinnacle to swing to a window on the far wall.
The rope was rigged off a very conveniently placed thread off the right hand wall. This passage continues meandering, to a pitch (13/16?m) into a rift I sort of recognised with blocked rock and bridge.
Closer to the thread there was a climb on the right hand wall (total 8m). This circles back into the rift with the main pitch (illegible).
Nathan forgot the drill bit, no fault of his own, so we left.
T/U: 5.0 hours
MON We returned four an efficient trip with Cpt. Chris, returned to the pitch where Nathan put in two thru bolts and dropped to a ledge there, he found the cave had been pre-bolted and I joined him to confirm we were, as I had suspected two days before, in the Kresh Connection. I welcomed him to Happy Butterfly and we tied in the survey. On the way out Becka and Nat napped Chris and we reflected on a well spent day.
T/U: 3.0 hours
Wookey, Andreas Klocker, Becka Lawson, Nat Dalton,
Balkonhöle - Camping in Pitstop. N. Powerhouse leads
Main trip already written up by Becka. (Becka and Nat also on the trip). This is an addition on our finds. Becka + Nat took the inviting, muddy ramp lead whilst we went to check out the 'P4' at end of side passage. We got drill first, but a short inspection showed that the "P4' was a very easy C6 with no need for bolting. Took drill back to others, then spent some time looking for survey stations. Couldn't find end points so went back till we found 3 in a row to sync to. Also checked out upper canyon not on survey. Shit with gear, but blowing. Left for water.
Main passage is nice 3m (illegible), windy, with deep (~5m) trench in floor. Down the c6 we ended up in awkward trench and surveyed about 6 legs with the 90kg Andreas getting increasingly unimpressed, until Wook realised a slightly wide bit allowed him to climb up back into main passage, which was dramatically wider. Worked out how to bypass the shit bit, and continued surveying for another ~50m to a large cross-rift. Pitch to left (~15m) with strong wind blowing out and very dodgy false floor. Realised whole floor here may be false. Very hard to tell if there was any solid floor. Crossed assorted dodgy boulders over a couple of ~10m climbs, probably until the bottom of the same rift (needs rope).
Arrived at spot with very pretty floor. Real shame to cross without (illegible) as no obvious 'best' route. Up to L is a fairly easy 6m climb (QMA) into what is almost ceratainly the continuation. Ahead in 15m dead straight passage to blockage of rocks. But there is a thrutchy climb possible up into black space (QMB). Almost certainly the same passage. May be esaier route?
Ascending these really needed a rope, if only to avoid having to climb down again. We had left that at the start & time was a-passing so we returned to start & surveyed the other way down the passage. Beautiful water-filling pool then a descent into canyon. Looks like it gets a bit small, and needs a rope. QMB downstream, C upstream (no wind). Also a couple of small passages near the pool not (illegible) QMB.
We were following the wind the whole time. Becka & Nat were going into the wind, so this route should be 'downstram' even though it is gently rising.
Also checked out shitty rift/canyon at start, concluding that it rally is quite committing & almost certainly is just the floor canyon in what we surveyed (drawing-up should clarify). Overall a nice day out, 180m surveyed & number of QMs increased. This is still going strong.
Camping with the Nat & Becka slow was fun & it was good to have such a strong team.
Campsite rather muddy & the razor-gauntlet to go & have a piss was awkward, but over all a pretty comfy 2 nights.
The far end of N. Powerhouse leads quite remote, at a solid 8hrs caving (with bag) from the entrance.
We wore Andreas out on the way out (not least due to slipping croll). Nice to get in a satisfying trip for (illegible) go before going home, even if it was ridiculously hard work.
T/U: 46.0 hours
Gwenllian Tawy, Dinny Davies, Christopher Holt,
Balkonhöle - Bolt traverse in Nothing to See
Today's plan was to visit Nothing to See and rig a traverse to it. Kristian was planning on showing us how to get there but suddenly fell ill at the entrance. Unfortunately nobody else on the trip had been in Balkon before, let alone been to Nothing to See, so Kristian drew a crude map for us before rushing off to be sick.
Once we had the crude map and survey, we made our way down to the bottom of the entrance pitch. There was a bit of route finding to do here as Kristian hadn't told us about the slope we needed to walk up shortly after the bottom of the entrance pitch. We eventually reached a chamber where we found more clues from Frank. Frank's clues had been very welcome earlier in the trip as they had led us to Hiltiaplenty. Frank's note in the chamber pointed to Sloppy Seconds. This appeared to be nowhere near Nothing to See in our survey, so we ignored this and retraced our steps, and went left at the bottom of the Hiltiaplenty pitches rather than right. This took us to a rabbit warren of crawls, which didn't sound like Nothing to See, as Kristian had assured us that there was no crawling. Eventually we decided to return to the chamber and follow Frank's signs to Sloppy Seconds. Soon we found a traverse line, which suggested we were on the correct path. We then got to a pitch that Kristian had previously rigged. He wanted us to bolt a traverse across the top of the chamber to make the crossing to Nothing to See safer.
I initially descended the pitch and quickly realised that it landed on a number of large boulders suspended on top of a 200m drop into Galactica. I switched over and we decided that Chris should bolt the traverse across the chamber into Nothing to See. Dinny and I clipped into the existing traverse line to the top of the pitch and got the bothy bag out. Eventually, after much moving we acheived 'peak comfort', which involved me lying directly on top of him.
After some time Chris revealed the traverse was ready. We came out of our bothy bag and joined him at the other side of the traverse. We were expecting to need to survey some passages here, as Kristian had assured us there were loads of leads. Instead, we found it was simply a series of dangerous holes into Galactica. Nothing to See is a suspended swiss cheese of mud and is not worth returning to. After ruling out any leads, we returned the way we came and were out of the cave by 11pm.
T/U: 7.0 hours
Fischgesicht - 2022 exploits in Fish Face – Part 4 of 3
[Written on 22nd, but this trip down FGH must have been Saturday 14th., from bier book.]
After a couple of days away from Bad Aussee visiting friends in Graz, returning to base camp in time for the expo dinner, I was keen to return to Clap My Pitch Up and drop the continuation of the pitch series, though I would need to assemble a new team as Luke and Mike had by then departed and the Creche had decided to take a break from caving to focus on eating icecream and giggling. In the meantime, we had been joined by former ULSA caver Mex (it's how he says 'Max'), who had just begun a PhD in lasers in Munich. He was keen to return to FF, having been involved in the infamous ‘PushDerig’ trip of 2018, so he, Nathan and I planned a return effort for Saturday. During my absence, Luke had plotted up the data for CMPU: it was clearly heading toward a rather miserable section of cave in Steinbruckenhohle (204), named ‘Razordance’, which in 2007 had been pushed to a sump at 1200 m asl. The limit of exploration in CMPU was currently 200 m NW of this sump and 136 m above it, so I felt that with a concentrated push and a lot of luck a connection could be possible.
After waiting out the rain at base camp on Friday afternoon with activities such as: ‘group reading of “Hiroshima” by John Hersey’; ‘who can stand on one leg with their eyes shut the longest’; and ‘who does the best headstand’; it was eventually time to return to Top Camp. The walk across the plateau in the evening sun was beautiful and we arrived just after dark around 10pm. Much of the gear was in the cave already from the last trip so packing the night before was reasonably swift. The rain in the valley frustratingly had not graced the shoulders of the plateau, meaning water supplies were again a concern.
Sunset on the Plateau.
Up around 8am for a relaxed breakfast yet still at the cave entrance before 10, top work. Eric and Chris were also with us, heading to the lead first explored by Amelia and I in part 1 (named ‘Mourning the Moths’ after Amelia drowned two moths in her curry) which had been subsequently pushed further to another deeper drop. After a pretty speedy descent I showed Eric and Chris their lead and then Nathan, Mex and I headed to Clap My Pitch Up. Mex and Nathan proceeded to try and continue to traverse above the initial stage of the rift, still in the phreatic level, while I commenced bolting the pitch. Without the absolute unit that is Mike’s Bosch, I was more conservative than I might have been with the bolting as we were using two batteries of unknown quality, one of which was not fully charged. The descent was dry but it felt as though it could get wet (we were in drought), and the rock at the pitch head was quite flakey and poor. The space I had entered was very impressive though, descending a ~50 m pitch to reach an immense boulder floor below.
Nathan and Mex had traversed as far as they could along the exposed muddy tube above (Mex: ‘it was very shit, I got scared’) so had begun to survey down to me. I explored around the chamber in the meantime, noticing a significant meandering passage heading off in what seemed to be a SE direction, bang on with where the intersection with Razordance should be… Elated by this fortune, I jumped in to help with surveying, firing off beams of laser towards Mex’s varnish markings while Nathan noted down our findings. The passage was a meandering keyhole with a small but significant streamway in the base of the rift/trench below, with a number of avens entering from the eastern side, all carrying streams of their own. The convergence of all the water on this one collector route convinced me that this passage could be our ticket to the connection, so we pressed on with renewed energy.
After scuttling gingerly under a pile of teetering boulders and shimmying down some muddy drops in the rift, we reached an impasse: a 3 m drop down a completely smooth, belled out shaft with no chance of free climbing it without getting fully soaked (and even then it would have been an ask). We really didn’t want to chop the nice 8.5mm rope just for this tiny drop, so I ran back to the bag with the rigging gear and scavenged all the slings and extra bits that I could find. A convenient chockstone was found and I lashed a length of dyneema around it, then attached various slings to the bottom of that, hoping we would be able to use them like etriers to negotiate the drop. The way down was simple enough (just arms really), but all was in vain as just around the corner out of sight was a further 10 m pitch with no chance of another episode of japery. So Nathan and I re-ascended to get the drill and sadly chop the 25 m of 8.5mm that was still in the bag. The ascent of the pretend etriers proved far more taxing due to the slippiness of the dyneema but we managed to avoid the water almost entirely, very good.
Nathan installing his first thru bolts above the naughty climb.
We descended both drops with one rope (rigged very tightly, we just about made it). However, at the bottom we were thwarted again after only 5 more legs by a further 10 m drop. Having by now used up all the drill batteries, rope, and bolts, it seemed fate was indicating that we would have to leave the connection for another time. We decided it was unlikely that anyone would be back this year, so we decided to pull all the rope back to the campsite of the previous trip in case anyone wanted to drop Big Bastard, a very big drippy hole adjacent to camp (we had used the pitch head as the location of our shit drum). Mex offered to derig and I wasn’t going to say no, so Nathan and I headed off to the pitch head where we jumped in the group shelter and talked shit for some time before we saw Mex’s light at the pitch head.
Nathan then took over derigging and Mex and I headed back to camp carrying most of the gear. Quick water stop at the Tap and soon we had noodles on the go, finding a message from Eric and Chris saying they had left the Kitchen around 2 hours before. And so began the long slog out, with Nathan and I getting to the surface around 2am only to find Eric and Chris who had only just finished changing. We waited at the entrance for Mex until around 3am then decided we needed to sleep so began heading up the plateau, relieved to notice his light emerge from the cave around 15 minutes later. Back at TC curries were eaten and hot beverages drunk. Most turned in but Chris and I stood admiring the moon and then the stars until around 5am.
And so ended my last trip of the expedition. Soon down the hill, I ignored strong hints from Jonty that he wanted me to pack to leave and instead got the new data in, to find that we were now only 60 m above and 120 m east of the sump… looking pretty promising, though the nature of the new passage suggests it will not be an easy connection to forge. Speaking to Wookey in the Potato Hut while entering the data, it appears that there were a number of extremely promising leads that were climbed up into at the far end of the Razordance Sump in a passage called Silk Road, which was visited only on a single trip in 2007. So, if made, this connection would allow us to push these leads far more easily as well. Exciting times!
Plot showing the possible connection between 290 and 204.
Huge thanks to everyone that I caved with who made this year such a good one, and special thanks to those stalwart attendees who can always be relied on to put their all into making the expedition so welcoming and successful: Anthony Day, Becka Lawson, Chris Densham, Frank Tully, Martin Green and Wookey. Looking forward to next year: that connection won’t make itself…
Julian Todd in some lovely looking sandy passage in Silk Road, Steinbruckenhohle. All only seen once, all waiting to be further explored... Photo: Andrew Atkinson.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Rachel Turnbull, Nathan Walker, Christopher Holt,
Fischgesicht - Connecting the Kresh Connection 2
MON We returned for an efficient trip with Cpt. Chris, returned to the pitch where Nathan put in two bolts, and dropped to a ledge then found the cave had
been pre-bolted, and I joined him to confirm we were,as I had suspected the day before, in the Kresh Connection.
I welcomed him to Happy Butterfly and we tied in the survey.
On the way out, Becka + Nat napped Chris and we reflected on a well spent day. TU = 3hr
Rigging guide for Kresh Connection Connection to be scanned and uploaded
T/U: 0.0 hours
Hannah Collings, Charlotte Payne, Jono Lester,
Balkonhöhle - Camping trip at Pitstop pushing Southern & Northern Pitstop
After a long morning persuading Nat that I was capable of caving despite the covid and establisling that no covid free person was keen to take my place, we were allowed to go caving. But only after Dinny and Nat repacked my bag as they took great issue with the tackle bag swinging off the back - they were so proud of their handy work they got a picture with the finished result. We finally got underground at around midday and Jono promptly disturbed the peace of the cave by descending the entrance series with his speaker! It was Charlotte's first trip down to Pitstop, so I pointed out the sites along the way.
We got down to camp around 16:00 and after a quick snack of noodle soup headed off to southern pitstop for some afternoon pushing. It was a first time for all of us down southern putstop and we pushed a good A lead beyond Safe and Comfortable. Charlotte and I surveyed whilst Jono did his 3D scanning. We did around 100m up a fairly steep, muddy passage (this new passage was named Covid Corner) ending with a passage down into a rift and a climb up connecting into the same rift higher up. The lower passage is too tight so the only way on is the higher passage which requires rigging to drop down into the rift. A little cold and hungry we headed back to camp for a glorious dinner of curry and smash, during which we filmed some fantastic media content in the hopes of curry sponsorship for future expos.
Nat Dalton, Becka Lawson, Christopher Holt,
Fischgesicht - Perseid (ex - Big Bastard)
Becka had disappeared down the hill in the previous day (in need of a wash) so a leisurely start was had with Becka arriving back at Top Camp for second breakfast at ~1100.
Walking over to Fishface in the midday heat was slightly gruelling but we arrived & were underground by ~1400. At the entrance we picked up Christopher who had been on a disappointingly quick trip with Nathan and Rachel. It was my first trip in Fishface & I was exceedingly surprised at how pleasant it was & all the pitches were very manageable (despite a variety of rigging styles, there was very minimal mud & very little to complain about!).
After ~1 hour 15 we were at Becka's noodle bar, which we immidiately put to good use. Becka banged in a few bolts whilst I enjoyed a smashed Mi Goreng. Once sated, I kitted up ∓ Becka & I swapped places. Swift progress was made due to some optimistic rigging (later corrected by Gwen - thank you (!)) until a large window was encountered. This seemed wetter than the drippy clean-washed shaft I was in, so I carried on down our original shaft until I reached a particularly puzzling section. This whole section is clean washed and feels like it will get wet, but I was unable to avoid it entirely; it will be interesting to see what this does on a wetter year. A few more bolts took me to ~30m above a large ledge with a big black hole swallowing lights (& rocks; a ~3 second drop plus rattle @ end). At this point I was down to my last hanger so put a rebelay in with a vague hope of being able to utilise cord & threads to progress further down. With limited mental capacities & a wall of cheese (Becka after I hit a promising looking natural with a hammer: "No thank you!"), I headed back up to offload gear (drill batteries stuffed down my front) to Becka. After ~100m rope of pitch descended we headed back to the noodle bar for a quick snack before ~3 hours saw us out at the surface. On the way up I admonished Becka for dropping little rocks on me to be told "they're only small shooting stars". After a while watching Chris get changed & pack in a spectacularly inefficient way I strobed him with my light to try & inspire a sense of urgency. This had limited success & Becka proceeded to get more exasperated after Chris had offered us figs & I suggested Becka do some mindfulness. We were finally ready & we were back at Stone Bridge for 3:00am.
T/U: 13.0 hours
Gwenllian Tawy, Dinny Davies, Emily Mabbett,
Plateau - Surface Prospecting between Balkonhöle and Griesskogelschacht
Having had a couple of underground days and one planned for the following day, Dinny and I decided that a day surface prospecting would be sensible. Nat and Becka suggested we scout the area between Balcony and Griesskogelschacht (#232), as there may be a better way into the deeper parts of Balcony between the two entrances.
As we were getting ready to leave, Emily decided she wanted to join as she wasn't feeling well enough for a caving trip.
With minimal batteries on our phones we set off to Balcony, where we dropped off our caving gear for the following day. We then walking along a path waymarked by cairns that Dinny had followed on a previous prospecting trip with Wookey to Noel Snape's previous discoveries.
We then followed the best available path towards Griesskogelschacht. We split up along the way to check out any potential holes. Most were already tagged or were mere alcoves or bridges. We were keeping a keen eye out for any horizontal leads, similar to the Balcony entrance, but found nothing of interest.
Eventually we found Griesskogelschacht and spent some time exploring this area, not that we were expecting to find anything of interet, as it had clearly been explored by others before. Dinny found a stash of gear in one cave entrance, believed to belong to the Germans. We stopped for lunch after wandering around for an hour or so. While eating lunch we saw two holes at the opposite side of the valley. We decided to visit them on the return journey, but they turned out to be alcoves that went nowhere.
We took a slightly different route on the return to Balcony, but nothing of note was found. This area appears to have been fairly well explored by CUCC/the German cavers previously.
Expo - Jonty: visual storyteller
I write this from the car as we (me, Jonty, Keiran and Amelia) head for home. This thread has been a bit quiet in recent days; however, that's not for lack of caving, or indeed for lack of content creation. My current pilot Jonty, in fact, has really shown himself to be an excellent visual storyteller, capturing many key moments of the expo of late. I'll post a choice selection here as a brief morsel before Amelia pens a report of an important connection between two previously distinct caves, Fisch Gesicht Höhle and Glücklich Schmetterlinger Höhle. This endeavour involved an unfortunate loss of some crucial equipment, as you may glean from Jontys creations below...
T/U: 0.0 hours
Expo - Jonty: concoction
And here are some more general concoctions from the hand of Jonty, mostly relating to one of the stronger characters present on the expedition who I'm sure will be well known to many UKCaving users for her commitment both to environmental justice and thorough cave surveying...
T/U: 0.0 hours
Fischgesicht - Connecting fishface to happy butterfly
Connecting fishface to happy butterfly
At the end of week 2 the kresh set out with the plan to connect fishface to happy butterfly. After looking at the surveys we (with much help from Mike) highlighted 4 possible areas in fishface that we thought we could connect from. On Monday morning Mealy, Joel, Andreas and Lucy set off from base camp slightly slower then intended. Andreas should be thanked for his tolerance of the youth on this morning. Opting to try the shallowest of possibilities first. Mealy and Andreas at the front bolting and rigging from captain crunch with Lucy and Joel behind surveying as we went. After only a few hours Mealy dropped a pitch and landed at survey point rejoicing at this point we felt we may have already done it! Lucy however was sceptical which she was not shy to voice. Arriving at a very large seemingly floating boulder we descended down the “floating cottage” pitch. Arriving at another survey station. Carrying along the rift we found some hilti bolts which we did not have hangers for. It was in this rift that mealy managed to get lost having spun around and gone up and down so many times, Andreas came to the rescue. Not having any more bolts with us and being unsure of exactly where we’d ended up we decided we would survey where we were; connecting to the old survey stations and go back to top camp and ring the nerds.
Calling the nerds we discovered no record of any of these survey stations in either caves.
Puzzled we decided the next day that Lucy would get a team together to go down happy butterfly and make some noise (a particular talent of the now formed “kresh”). Whilst Joel and Mealy would go back with bolts to fishface recruiting Eric to employ his excellent American nerd survey skills. Now on this fishface trip we were unsure of which way along the rift we should be heading. So we chose one way which became particularly narrow meaning we had to hammer and chisel Joel out, who felt Mealy chose science over fun. We then found some ropes which turned out to be one of our previous pitches. Reaching a dead end we turned and tried the other side of rift. We surveyed all dead ends - please tell Becca!! Eric noting that the problem with these caves is that all cross sections look Phallic. Going back to the Hilti bolts we descended that pitch with the remaining rope. At this point we begun to hear something that sounded a lot like the kresh! Getting very excited Mealy continued down the rope. Unfortunately the rope was about 20m too short. sitting on the end of the rope 30m below Joel and Eric, the other team was spotted! Thus kresh connections was formed! Realising all teams had no more rope we shouted, sung and waved and all then returned to the surface. Due to the large gap in space and Joel having lobbed the nail varnish down the rift we could not survey the connection. Much to Becca’s displeasure.
Day 3: Mealy and Joel still very keen to make this connection and this time dragging Rachel and Charlotte along for the fun set out once again with the plan to come out of happy butterfly and de-rig that. With a small team behind them to de-rig the fish face side of kresh connections. The trip started quite poorly with a failed donkey’s dicks resulting in mealy lobbing the tacklesack down a 40m pitch. The drill and batteries did not survive. Frustrated Mealy and Joel returned to the surface, ran back to camp and after nearly 3 hours made way back to the pushing point with a working drill. Meeting an unimpressed Nathaniel on the way. Mealy was then banned from carrying the drill which was actually quite nice. Drills are heavy. Now back at kresh connections Joel put on a good shift bolting quite a tricky traverse. The team were now in happy butterfly and the two caves successfully connected! This final trip taking about 11hrs was not the short day 1 expo trip we had marketed to Rachel who without curry went straight to sleep waking up the next morning to complain the day had been too long and kresh-ey.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Expo - expedition glossary
Just for some clarification, I'll define some terms here from the expedition glossary:
The creche (sic: kresh): clique of new expedition goers who enjoy partaking in japery, wittering, giggling and singing mid 2000s hits out of tune.
Crechling: member of the creche
Jape: member of the creche whose name begins with J. Especially prone to making errors of judgment and then failing to admit to them. Alternative meaning: derogatory term for one who has fucked up eg "Amelia why did you drop the drill you absolute jape"
T/U: 0.0 hours
Paul Walko, Aaron Clair, Philip Balister, Andreas Klocker,
Plateau - "interesting" holes
Blog Author: pew
After spending a couple days doing cave trips, myself (Paul W), Aaron C, Philip B, and Andreas K visited a few holes previously marked as "interesting". Typically these holes are either filled in with small rocks or ice plugs, with proper cave entrances having a horizontal entrance that's more protected. We did not find any going passage (aside from a small entrance pitch) but did manage to cross a couple of these holes off our todo list!
Philip and Aaron debating whether or not this pitch is even worth surveying
A week later we tried this prospecting thing out again, but this time with the help of Wookey who had a bit more experience than us. We visited a few slightly larger holes in the ground in the Balkonhöhle area, but once again these were ice-plugged. One of the 3 small holes had a small side passage that unfortunately choked out after about 8m. Wookey had a great time learning to use SexyTopo and we crossed a few more holes off our todo list!
Myself, rappelling into a small hole rigged to bunde and using Philip's brand new pack as a rope pad.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Balkonhöhle - Camp trip down Balkonhöhle
Camp trip down Balkonhöhle
I was on the last pushing trip down Balkonhöhle in 2019 so was excited to finally go back in 2022 and continue our promising leads, after Covid put a stop to the 2020 and 2021 expos. My fifth and final trip down Balkonhöhle this year was a two night camp in pitstop, joined by Anthony, Alice and Jono.
After an impressive amount of faff we finally got underground around 5pm. Jono and I headed straight to camp, with a brief stop halfway down to swap the rope on a small pitch. Reaching camp around 9pm we set up the cavelink and made dinner. I was not particularly looking forward to camping; my only prior experience was in Daren Cilau at the Hard Rock Cafe, during which the camp flooded at 3am leaving us huddled on a ledge for 10 hours waiting for the water levels to drop. The Balkonhöhle camp was remarkably civilised, however. We had plenty of food and water, the sleeping bags were very warm and it didn't flood!
Eventually Alice and Anthony arrived, having done some rerigging on the way down. We exchanged some messages with camp kresh in Fischgesicht over cavelink and shared some questionable alcohol Jono had carried down before heading to bed.
In the morning after a fairly slow start we headed to the pushing front beyond Medusa's Maze. We passed through the newly found passages in 2022 of Erechtheion, Alphanuepsilonupsilonepsilonrhosigmaeta and down the freshly bolted pitch named Tartarus from the previous camp trip. Rope below the second rebelay had caught itself round a flake so I had to down prussik 20m to free it. Anthony later put two more deviations in to prevent this reoccurring.
As Anthony had the rope and drill for adjusting Tartarus, Jono and I were unable to push the main leads so started surveying down a small side passage above a rift. The passage was remarkably decorated by SMK standards with lots of popcorn, stalacmites and tiny helictite formations. We also found a very impressive fossil of five vertebrae, about 40cm long (pictured below). We are yet to work out what it's from but guess some kind of Triassic fish or shark. After about 150m we hit a short pitch, so without a drill or rope turned round to find the others. On the way back Jono 3d scanned the passage with his phone, producing a much quicker and more complete survey than our initial one with notebook and Disto. An exciting glimpse at the future of surveying.
On return Alice and Anthony were rather unhappy with us. Whilst Jono and I were surveying they had managed to get themselves stranded on a mud slope above a 20m deep rift, and had been shouting and whistling at us to come and rescue them for over an hour (we hadn't heard anything!). Once back to safety Alice hid in the bothy, having gotten very cold and Anthony began bolting and rigging a rope down the slope they had previously stranded themselves on trying to free climb. After eating some food Jono and I took over from Anthony, who headed back to camp with a now very cold Alice. We continued down the slope but annoyingly soon ran out of rope, leaving the pushing front at three huge drafting tunnels.
Heading back, the brand new rope on Tartarus that had been in the cave less than four days was already so muddy that none of our jammers would work properly. After lots of grumbling and swearing we eventually reached the top and got back to camp around 1:30am, finishing off a reasonably successful pushing day with about 200m of new passage surveyed and leaving lots of exciting leads for future trips. We named the new passage Ichthyes, a fish from Greek mythology inspired by the fossil we had found.
Tired from the long day of pushing we all slept well and after a slow morning the next day headed back to the surface. Not keen on another dinner of couscous and curry Alice and I headed down the mountain to base camp, and were treated to a stunning sunset on the walk down.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Balkonhöhle - First and last of the 2022 Balkon camps – Part 2a
Blog Author: h_collings [Blog post dated 30th August]
Unfortunately, my hopes for more camping were thwarted by some untimely catching of covid putting me out of action. On the tail end of my covid recovery I was desperate to get back underground and managed to argue my way onto the final camp trip of expo, insisting I was well enough for the trip.
After what felt like a very long week at base camp, I was very excited to be going caving. Jono, Charlotte and I packed our bags and headed off for Balkon. It was Charlotte’s first camp trip and her first time down to this area of Balkon, so I pointed out the sights along the way. We got down to camp in reasonable time so dumped kit and headed on to Southern Pitstop for a few hours of pushing before dinner. None of us had been there before so it was something new to the group. We surveyed around 100m of easy horizontal passage, naming it Covid Corner after my recent affliction. Charlotte and I surveyed the traditional way whilst Jono 3D scanned the passage, with the aim of later comparing the two results. At the end of the passage, we reached a drop down into a rift which required rope and as we had left rigging gear at camp to travel light, decided this was a good time to return for dinner and bed.
Surveying in Southern Pitstop.
Hannah Collings, Charlotte Payne, Jono Lester,
Balkonhöhle - 2 Camping trip at Pitstop pushing Southern & Northern Pitstop
[trip continues] We had a slightly slow morning on Tuesday, setting off from camp around 11:00 to head down Northern Pitstop. A little confusion was had finding the pushing front beyond Tartarus and Ichythes, in which Charlotte, as the smallest person, was sent first down a swiftly narrowing rift. A climb up out of the rift revealed the much roomier way on. The pushing front was very pretty with a wall of popcorned stals and calcite on the floor - photos were taken before carefully picking a route across the floor. The immediate way on promptly met an awkward thrutch up a bouldery climb which ended in a 20m pitch. We double backed and followed an A lead on the left which started in a exposed climb. Jono tackled this as an aided climb, bolting on his way up - a bold decision for his first time bolting. But with expert training and strong encouragement from moi success was had and Charlotte and I were able to safely follow up. Charlotte had a go at book for the first itme with me on Disto and Jono 3D scanning. Above the pitch nice passage was found with two pools in the floor and water could be heard nearby. Further on a rift intersected the passage with a large passage above heading off on the right - this would be potentially challenging traverse to persue. We continued down to junction with a lower and higher passage both coming into the same slanting rift - we ended our day here. We noticed bat bones at this junction. We headed back down the passage and Jono fettled his rigging before we all headed down the new pitch. This was left rigged with the crab removed from the deviation.
Rigging topo to be scanned and inserted here
I derigged Tartarus and the short pitch below it on the way out, leaving the ropes at the top of the pitch. Attempts to rescue seized crab on northern powerhouse up pitch were unsuccessful so maillon and crab were left on the y-hang - bigger plyers needed in future to get crab off. Next short pitch in northern pitstop was rerigged with rings and rope pulled up to top - deviation tat left in.
Back at camp we made a strong effort to eat as much camp food as possible to reduce the carry out tomorrow - struggles were had with consuming the vast quantities of smash. After a long day we got ot bed around 2:30am. A reasonably early start was had to pack up camp on Wednesday morning, with another meal of mass smash consumption.
Emily Mabbett, Dinny Davies, Gwenllian Tawy,
Balkonhöle - De-rigging Hiltiaplenty and sloppy seconds and nothing to see
Today I joined "Gwinny" as a third wheel...The idea of derigging Hiltiaplenty originally soudned like a nice little jolly, until we realised how much shit Frank had been storing in that area. On top of the 200m+ of pitch ropes and traverse lines we derigged, Frank had left us a lovely present of an extra 120m of rope, a drill and hangers. All in all we ended up with 7 bags between us (including personal kit) which we slowly slogged out the cave with. Despite having a little more rope than originally planned we were still efficient. Once down Hiltiaplenty we split into 2 groups with Dinny going to de-rig Nothing to See and me and Gwen heading to de-rig sloppy seconds. We managed to start the trip early ~8:30am, which combined with our efficiency meant we were ot of the cave by 2:30pm :)
Kristian Brook, Alex Hanam, Tobias Turner,
Plateau - Prospecting - NS-01, NS-13, NS-14
I was fucked and coming down from cave-allergy. Alex had arrived at expo the night before so determined to get me out of my funk. After a quick shop for food and water we set off up the hill, Alex carrying all his gear and me and Tobias carrying a fuck ton of water as top camp was running low on water. I was personally carrying 17 litres.
Arriving at camp we found the water situation was not as dire as predicted so that was a waste of single use plastics.
Camp sorted we set off to look at some orphaned caves, wrecking as much of the plateau as we go. Heading to the area of NS caves aiming to look at NS-01, NS-13 and NS-14.
NS-01 was found amongst a series of shafts on the side of a rubble-filled valley. This entrance is a free climb down to a couple of passages that link the shafts in the area. No clear way on.
NS-13 was upon a lump above the valley and simply a tube that led through a rocky outcrop. NS-15 was looked at but Wookey and Dinny had already done this.
NS-14 was the last call of the day and appeared on the website as a dummy tag for March of the Penguins. This it was not and it was a rift leading to a small hole. A rock drop revealed that this hole was very deep and a visit was needed with a rope as we saw no sign of a previous drop.
Expo - snapshots of expedition japery
Just to pass my time while we wait at customs at Calais, here are a few more snapshots of expedition japery, this time mostly concerning our in-house man of the world, nuclear power specialist and comms connoisseur Mr Tully. The focus on bolting is in reference to an entire team forgetting their spanners and trying to set thru bolts by other means... the trip was unsuccessful
T/U: 0.0 hours
Balkonhöhle - First and last of the 2022 Balkon camps – Part 2b
Blog Author: h_collings [Blog post dated 30th August]
The next day [16th], after a slightly slow start, we set off down Northern Pitstop for the pushing front beyond Tartarus, which was now turning into a considerable commute from camp. Since my last trip, two camp trips had been down Balkon and Ichthyes (one of the new sections found beyond Tartarus) had some promising leads, so this was where we headed. A little confusion was had finding the pushing front, in which Charlotte, as the smallest person, was sent first down a swiftly narrowing rift; a climb up out of the rift revealed the much roomier way on. At the pushing front a very pretty area of formations was reached with a high wall of popcorned stals. To begin with we followed the passage straight on, which quickly led to an awkward and unappealing thrutch up a boulder climb, opening onto a pitch head.
Feeling uninspired we retreated to an A lead, which was a 7m climb up on our left. Jono volunteered to tackle this as a bolt climb, as it would’ve been an exposed free climb. I expressed some concern for this plan as it was his first time bolting but success was had, and Charlotte and I were able to follow up. Horizontal passage was reached above the pitch, with two pools in the floor and the sound of water nearby. Once again, Charlotte and I surveyed with the Disto whilst Jono did 3D scanning.
The passage was intersected by a trench with a large passage above off to the right; this would be a potentially challenging traverse to pursue so we continued straight ahead, following the draught. Further on we reached a junction with lower and higher passages both leading into the same rift, and with a good draught this presented a promising way on. However, aware that we had to derig Tartarus on our way out, we ended our day here and returned to camp, leaving this as a promising lead for next year. This new passage above the up pitch was named Cerberus, once again continuing the Greek theme. On our way back Jono fettled his earlier rigging after some constructive criticism from the group.
Left: Area of formations at beginning of Cerberus. Right: Bolting lesson at bottom of bolt climb.
Back at camp we made a strong effort to eat as much camp food as possible to reduce the amount to be carried out, including a struggle to consume a vast quantity of smash. The next day a reasonably early start was had to pack up camp, and despite another meal of mass smash consumption we failed to finish all supplies and resigned ourselves to carrying the remaining food out.
With camp packed up, we started the long, muddy slog up Mongol Rally, weighed down with camping kit. We met the first wave of the de-rig team at the top of Mongol Rally and the second wave shortly after, at which point came the very welcome offer of help with bag carrying. We made it out just in time to catch the last light of the day, which was very welcome after two nights underground.
Hannah Collings, Charlotte Payne, Jono Lester,
Balkonhöhle - 3 Camping trip at Pitstop pushing Southern & Northern Pitstop
With camp packed up we left pitstop around midday weighed down with camping kit, leaving a couple of bags we couldn't manage for the de-rig team who were heading in for the afternoon. A slow and muddy progession was made up mongol rally with some slightly unhappy jammers and a lot of commentary from Jono. We met Becka, Nathan and Alex at the top of mongol rally - the first wave of the de-rig mission. Jono's struggles up mongol rally were summed up by Becka's commentary at the top - "Have you caved before?". We met the rest of the de-rig team at the top of Hangman's - Nat, Kristian and Toby. Bags were swapped and shared out between people before heading out. Nat and I dropped back down to the top of mongol rally as Becka was coming up with the remaining camp bags. Nat remained whilst Becka and I headed out with the camp kit. On route, Becka rerigged short pitch between Hangman's & Honeycomb with rings so it can be left in. I continued out, catching up with Charlotte, Toby and Jono just below the entrance pitch. We were out by 20:30, just to catch the remaining light of the day. All in all a successful last Balkon camp for 2022 and we think Charlotte enjoyed her first expo underground camp.
T/U: 0.45 hours
Kristian Brook, Nat Dalton, Tobias Turner,
Balcony - Derig
Setting off from top camp 2 hours after Becka's group we descended and met the last camp team at the bottom of Honeycomb. Nat continued down to assist the first derig team at Mongol Rally. Tobias and I assisted Charlotte, Jono and Hannah with their bags back to the water that comes in near Natural Highs.
Tobias, Hannah, Charlotte and Jono left for the surface and I went 2 minutes back to take a bag off of Becka. Back at the water spot I set up a stove for noodles and smash while the others hung the rope in the water in anticipation for the next couple of days of deluge. All set up and fed we left the cave and went back to top camp in sweaty conditions.
T/U: 8.0 hours
Becka Lawson, Alex Hanam, Nathan Walker,
Balcony - Derig: scrabble & flail
We'd had no peep from the Balkonhoehle cavelink so we weren't sure when the campers would have left so we headed off leisurely but there was no sign of life at the top of Honeycomb so Nathan + I dragged Alex on a trip down memory lane to Icecock aven. The ice is in a sorry state with rotten, melting ice lumps melted from the avens littering the floor. I wanted to check out the snow ramp but it was so melted that there wasn't enough left to climb up.
That jaunt frittered away an hour + we headed on down + met the campers exiting at the top of Mongol Rally. They hadn't managed to empty camp so I went down + collected the final 2 bags then I derigged the swing in at the bottom of Pitstop. As I tried to gently swing from the Pitstop ledge to the main pitch I realised I may have screwed up by having 2 heavy bags hanging off me.
Scrabble, flail and I was swinging free in space, hurrah, success. I got ready to prusik + realised in the kerfuffle I'd lost my pantin. "I've dropped my pantin", I wailed up at Nathan...then looked up more carefully - shit, shit, shit, the rope had caught round a sharp flake + I was now swinging in space. Sod the pantin, I'm gonna slice my rope + freefall 50 metres. I spun + saw a small spike that I managed to grab. I gingerly unloaded the rope, flicked it off the flake + swung back on then gently prusiked up to the rebelay, checking the rope - it loked fine, I'd got away with it.
At the rebelay I waited for Nathan to come down so he could continue the derig + glanced down and - there was my pantin! I'd put it on the outside of my left foot - doh!
After that I plodded out whilst Nathan derigged & Alex + he took out the Mongol Rally rope then Nat continued the derig. We got the rope to the water pool at the start of the 2nd traverse. Kristian was noodle-wallah, cooking endless cups whilst we got the rope unpacked, stripped the metalwork + undid some very tight knots.
I went back to help Nat with his 2nd bag then us two + Kristian finished sorting the rope out so it could be left to soak. We three were the last out of the cave at 9pm.<.p>
T/U: 11.0 hours
Gwenllian Tawy, Becka Lawson, Dinny Davies,
Perseid Showers, Fischgesicht
Nat had convinced me it was a good idea to go on one pushing trip before the end of Expo seeing as all my other trips had been shit according to him. Then there was a plan to return to Perseid Showers to fix some of the rigging and venture further into its depth. I took a day off on the previous day to conserve my energy for the trip. I almost ended up using that energy on a rescue mission that evening when Dinny and I arrived at camp at 8 pm to find no cavers there. The 9 pm callouts arrived with no sign of anyone. Just as we were preparing to leave we saw lights on the horizon. For future reference please can we add columns to the callout form to say when a party left camp and how long they expect the trip to take!
After the stress of the evening before I was worried I would be too tired for a long trip but I was committed now. We set off at a reasonable hour and were underground at 11.15am. Becka sent me in first, assuring me it was essentially a nylon highway all the way down and then I should be able to follow the reflectors. Despite being keen that I was leading, Becka would occasionally find herself in front of me at a pitch head (she later referred to Dinny and I as slugs).I was surprised by the number of pitches, some of which were practically steps but others that were considerable. When we reached the pitch prior to Perseid, Becka told me to drop my bag in the kitchen before looking at the pitch that I would be bolting.
After peering over the edge, I wasn't sure I would be able to do it. To calm my nerves I agreed to get water with Becka and Dinny. Becka then went down the pitch to collect some gear. Dinny and I ate some noodles and we cooked some for Becka when we heard her getting close. I was then kitted up with the drill and hammer. Becka gave me instructions on where to put in the deviation. Thankfully we had gone through the theory before arriving but I wasn't confident I would do a good job. My initial task was to put in a 2nd deviation to avoid rub on a nearby flake. This took me some time as I had to balance between the flake and wall whilst drilling, not as easy as it looked. I occasionally could hear muffled noises from above so I knew Becka and Dinny hadn't died of hypothermia yet.
After an eternity my deviation was complete. I initially told the others I was going to come back up and leave the Y hang to Becka as my right leg was dead from the weight of the hammer and drill. Once I put the hand jammer the blood returned to my leg and I decided I could continue. I descended to the rebelay below and dressed the rocks for a Y hang. It took me a long time to work out where to place it because the rock wasn't good. I eventually went for it but messed it up by initially dropping the nut. I then tried to screw another nut on but it wouldn't go. I used my spanner and found, to my dismay, that the thru bolt hadn't set properly. I lost confidence and called up to Dinny and Becka to say that I was coming back up, dejected.
At the pitch head we had a quick debrief then Becka took the gear to fix my mess (she later agreed it was tricky so I didn't feel so bad). After fixing my Y hang Becka placed an additional Y hang on the descent then called rope free. I was pleased to find my deviation worked. After leaving the new Y hang I was surprised to see how deep the shaft beneath my feet was. I had been so engrossed by bolting that I hadn't really thought about the depth.
I eventually met Becka on a ledge. She suggested I bolt a Y hang here to avoid the Y hang Nat had bolted beneath the ledge in water. Before getting started I had to derig Nat's Y hang. This involved lying on my stomach on the ledge and posting my head and torso vertically below the ledge to remove the Y hang. Once this was done I could bolt the new Y hang hight from the ledge itself. This was much easier than the other two and having Becka right next to me gave me some confidence.
Becka then went ahead of me to descend to the next ledge where they previously had reached. There she bolted a new rebelay and Y hang and unfortunately there was not enough rope to go further so we only surveyed two new legs on they way back up. As I reached the top of Perseid I shouted to our chef to put on some curry for us. Dinny and I ate our curries together whilst waiting for Becka to finish surveying. When she returned she announced she needed to do an inventory so Dinny and I set off on the slow slog out.
I think my Expo fitness had increased by now though as I found myself flying up the pitches with Dinny hot on my heels. When nearing the entrance we started to wonder if Becka was OK as there was still no sign of her. Had she gone out a secret bottom entrance or had she got lost? 15-30 minutes later she emerged complaining that we had somehow evolved from slugs to butterflies. Great trip!
T/U: 11.0 hours
Becka Lawson, Chris Holt, Jono Lester, Alex Hannam
Balkon rope wash
Walked up the hill in clag and up to Balkon. The water pool was perfect for rope washing using the small astroturf tube. Alex and I were about half way through when Jono (sadly without his wetsuit) and Chris turned up. We chained the rope and left it on a washing line then took the metalwork out and I derigged the entrance pitch getting still damper in the process. Foolishly I'd sent Alex and Chris off with just the metalware so Jono and I ended up with monster to stagger back with and we had to teeter around picking up the reflectors. Once we could see top camp on the way home I shouted "can you help us carry?". Unfortunately, this was heard as "help, help, help!". Alex and Kristian dashed up and helped us back in the rain.
T/U: 5.0 hours
Becka Lawson, Jono Lester
Fishface - Push Perseid Showers and derig
A fairly enthusiastic crack of noon start, 1h45 to the camp and picked up the pushing gear then set off down the ominously wet-sounding Perseid Showers. I got to where Hannah had turned back yesterday. It was splattery but OK. The ledge below with Gwen's rebelay on the far right took you far from the water which exited as a clean spout down the next section. I was worried this would get too wet but the right wall rig was OK and I got to the Y hang hangers that I placed on my previous trip with Gwen but hadn't had the rope to descend on. I rigged them with the ~70m and dropped cleanly about 30m to a large ledge. Fortunately, the main water spout disappeared into a hole behind the ledge so it was quite dry. The drop to the right had crap rock and looked to connect to the drop to the left so I put a bolt in mid-ledge then three to traverse to better rock on the wall then descended ~15m to another substantial ledge.
I dangled my remaining rope down and sadly it didn't the tantalisingly close (~20m down?) boulder floor ... though this looked like it might only extend around 30m before reaching another drop (I tried to throw rocks down but it was too far and the water meant it was hard loud to hear). From my ledge water entered at either end and further upstream.
We started the survey and, 4 legs, had tied in to mine and Gwen's survey and I derigged the 70m then prussiked up with the kit whilst Jono derigged. We then spend around 2 hours taking knots and metalware out of the Perseid Showers rope and leaving it at camp. Then we prussiked out with the excess metalware, drill, etc. En route I derigged the 4th pitch (so the rope could be cleaned) and I pulled up the third pitch and removed the metalware and left it coiled at the top. I derigged completely the first and second pitch with Jono ferrying back and forth taking bags off me. We set off from camp at 9pm and emerged at 2pm, shattered, so we left 3 bags for Nat and Hannah in the morning and headed back for 3am curries.
T/U: 14.0 hours
Fishgesichthoehle - The Final Push: Perseid Showers
Blog Author: Becka
[Online Blog date 1st Sept, but from BierBook this trip must have been the 17th Aug.]
Expo was winding down when the long-awaited rain hit. We left it 24 hours, but by then time was running out, so the final few cavers had to head up the hill from Base Camp for derigging.
Base Camp entertainment in the rain: Emily lost in TunnelVR, Julian's 3D cave drawing software
Virtual Reality cave surveying -- TunnelVR
Hey folks, I've been working on a cave survey drawing program in VR (after spending the last two decades doing the conventional cave survey drawing program TunnelX: https://github.com/goatchurchprime/tunnelx/ .
I think it's a lot more fun to use, and simpler because you're not trying to represent something that is fundamentally 3D in a technical 2D diagram. And you can edit it over the network in real time with other people.
There's a release here, which works on the PC (if it doesn't have VR then you can steer it with mouse and keyboard). https://sidequestvr.com/app/1630
But if you've got an Oculus Quest (now retailing at £300), it runs pretty well on that.
I'm looking for anyone with an interest who wants a demo (it's networked, so I can guide you from within the game).
I was on the final trip into Balkonhoehle - we sorted out the rope that was to be left in for next year and took out the metalwork, etc. Meanwhile, Hannah and Nat went for one last, cheeky push into Fishgesicht to continue the massive shaft, Perseid Showers, that, after two trips, was still only partially descended. However, halfway down the rope, Hannah found it too wet to be safe to descend further, so she returned to Nat (who had chosen the noodle-preparation job rather than the checking-out-the-thundering-abyss-which-definitely-doesn't-need-two-people job) and they came out without having been able to either push or derig.
Unfortunately, this meant that we were now behind schedule and there'd need to be another Fishgesicht trip the next day. Expo energy was waning and, far from fighting over who'd go on this plum exploration-then-derig trip, there was little enthusiasm from the four remaining cavers. Nat said that, if necessary, he'd suck on a wet teabag and force himself to go. Hannah, likewise, was prepared to do it if there was no alternative. In the end, Jono and I volunteered, leaving them to pack up Top Camp.
To our frustration, both Hannah and I caught COVID on Expo and we each had a week stuck, waiting it out, at Base Camp.
Here's Hannah in her COVID-corral (fenced in with our expensive reflective tape, grrr), with Tess on patrol.
Jono hadn't been to Fischgesicht before, so he enjoyed the attractive (mud-free) pitch series interspersed with short rift sections down to the final, impressive 70m hang. Most of the 2022 finds had pushed the extensive horizontal level that fans out from the base of this pitch. Rather oddly, though, nobody had tackled the monster pitch that lurked directly under it. Eventually, Nat began rigging down it, descending 100m with plenty more black space below. We named it Perseid Showers after the tiny shooting stones that rained down from the prussiker above - though the showers could also refer to the many inlets that pour in after rain.
On the second trip to Perseid Showers I'd returned along with Gwen and Dinny. Gwen gamely set off down for her first go at bolting whilst Dinny and I shouted advice from the pitch head. It was a really intimidating place to learn to put in thru-bolts. It starts with a step straight out over a sheer edge and the pitch is not only deep but is also hugely wide, with high avens, multiple, parallel windows and a powerful draft pumping up out of who knows where. Between us, Gwen and I improved Nat's initial rig, then we tried to descend further. Unfortunately, we were largely foiled by there being far less rope than we had expected in the bag at the bottom, so we could only add one more rebelay.
Now, on the third rigging trip to Perseid Showers, Jono and I had the final chance of 2022 to bottom it. We picked up a new rope, drill and rigging gear and cautiously headed down. I've been flooded in Austrian caves several times before and I really didn't want it to happen again, especially with only two other cavers left on Expo. Compared to the peaceful, slow drips of my previous two trips, which had been in drought conditions, the pitch now sounded scary, with multiple inlets feeding in and a fine spray filling the air. However, when we got to where Hannah had turned around the day before, it now looked like I could stay dry by bridging out away from the stream. The ledge below was damp, but the main streamway came in at the far side of the ledge where Gwen and I had, fortunately, re-rigged the next rebelay. We descended another spray-filled couple of rebelays which, nevertheless, remained well away from the main water spout. Finally we got to the Y-hang bolts that I had put in on my last trip with Gwen but that I hadn't had any rope to descend on. I quickly rigged them to let me drop to the big ledge that we'd seen from far above. There were two ways down from here. The right one looked wetter, with chossy rock, so I headed left and put in a short traverse to try to drop inbetween the two streams that were flowing. This got me down to another large ledge and this was just 20m above a bouldery floor - so near - but, argh, the knot at the end of my 70m rope was dangling at least 5m above the floor - game over.
Jono had been gamely insisting that he wasn't cold but he must have been relieved to get the short survey over and done with. The ledge I descended to is ~150m below the pitch head so, with the undescended drop below it, Perseid Showers must be at least 170m deep. If the boulder floor that I could see below me leads immediately to another drop (it looked like it did but I couldn't throw rocks far enough to tell) then it could be substantially deeper. I then derigged the 70m rope and headed up with the drill, etc, whilst Jono derigged the remaining ~200m of rope. Next, we spent a long time prying apart the knots to leave the rope neatly chained at the top. At last we could head up with the metalwork. En route we derigged the few pitches which either had muddy rope or which might get wet. After 14 hours of steady effort, we got ourselves and our four bags out. We decided we'd done our bit for the day and left the gear at the entrance and slogged the 45 minutes back to camp for a 3am curry and bed.
Hannah slaves away, rope-washing in a teeny-tiny bucket, whilst Nat fiddles with one of our many, poorly-sized donkey's dicks
T/U: 0.0 hours
Kristian Brook, Alex Hanam,
NS-14 - Failure
We set off for NS-14 to drop it and investigate this massive hole. Kristian carrying a very heavy survey kit and Alex carrying 100m of rope, metal work and the drill and batteries. Alex was carrying the trip. We got to NS-14 and while looking for suitable bolting locations we found two bolts that suggested the hole had been dropped. Further investigation revealed that this was 288 and useless cunts had not linked it.
Stoked killed we went to the next hole over where a hole in the side of a rifty depression showed some mystery. After some umming and ahing we decided to appeoach the hole from above as it was 6m above the ground. K Brook rigged the drop and found the hole blind and only 7m long. Not enough for a Kaster number but it will be entered as 2022-KB-01.
Time wasted we set off down the hill to avoid further rain.
Location = 47.69869 degrees N, 13.82425 degrees E
T/U: 0.0 hours
Expo - I'm going on an adventure!
Blog Author: ILoveCaves [guessed to be Kieran. ??!]
The Beginning (Post 1 of 2) -“I'm going on an adventure!”
After spending the better half of 2 months in north Africa on research, I was VERY MUCH not in any 'cave-fit shape', however, the idea of doing two underground camps some 500 meters down somehow seemed like a good idea at the time.....
As I sit now facing my beautiful majestic breeze block office wall, I think back to how the view on top of the plateau might have been slightly better.
- Sunset on the plateau. Following on from a conversation about why dog bowls are suitable eating vessels by Hannah -
One of the discoveries mentioned earlier was that of the 40cm 'fish' spine, some 500 meters down. A basic rendered model can be seen here: Fish Fossil 3D model
Currently, we do not have any further information on the species or if it is a fish... However, some nicer renders from the point cloud data I collected are here. Being an Indiana Jones wannabe archaeologist, I'm not interested in fossils. But after waiting what felt like 15 hours for Harry to draw a single line in his sketching book, it seemed rather more interesting; that and the feelings in my hands had left me, the Disto laser wasn't warming my hands up when I pointed it at them.
Once I have finished processing the rest of the data, I will make part two of this post, going over the types of data collected this year and how this will start feeding into the CUCC expo. Alongside why this new way of surveying is indeed the future of underground surveying (Further info here), Cave Surveying
As usual, all of our research data is available for free! 3D Data
- Covid Highway Passages
- Covid Highway Passages Mid, Cross Section -
Hannah - "My Van has Safe Spaces"
Harry, Alice, Oakham - "Let's do Via Ferrata the other way around"
Charlotte - "Is up bolting as your first bolting experience a good idea?"
Nat - "There is more protein in a Kit Kat than these Curries"
T/U: 0.0 hours
Balcony - a video of the resurveying trip to Nothing to See
Blog Author: KristianBrook
Whilst my writing endevors this year have been lacking by far I have turned my efforts to a more visual medium. Here's a video of the resurveying trip to Nothing to See in Balcony which when first explored in 2017 had such a poor survey some of the survey team refused to hand over the notes in shame.
Armed with a crack team we descended Balcony to tackle this "suspended swiss cheese of mud" and I recoded the faff along the way.
T/U: 0.0 hours
Expo - Yet another video
Blog Author: KristianBrook
Yet another video. Lessons learnt from the last attempt I set off with a new camera angle and much more commentary to document the very important role of derigging.
T/U: 0.0 hours