When asked if I would like to join the 2019/2020 New year expedition to Benerat in Mulu I of course jumped at the chance.
What follows is an excuse to show off photos rather than an actual blog as there are more qualified members of the expedition for that type of report.
I would like to start though by saying a huge thanks to everyone for all the help carrying kit and patience with the photography so in no particular order…..Tim, Mark W, Mark S, Dave, Frank, Chris, Ben, Rachel, Toby, Si and Di….cheers guys, I had a ball.
So just a few days after Christmas I waved goodbye to the leftover turkey and mince pies and headed off to Mulu.
Monday 30th December
Many of the team had arrived earlier and had headed in to Clearwater on jolly to help acclimatise, whilst Frank, Tim and Mark W fettled gear ready to head to Camp 5 the following day. Dave however had other idea’s and was keen to go and take a look at a lead in Lagans Cave. There is many huge and beautiful passages in Mulu, unfortunately for me Dave led me through copious amounts of liquid mud, crawling, and even a duck! But unfortunately the crowbar and lump hammer had been dragged along for nought as after many hours of searching Dave declared that we were out of time and needed to head back.
This definitely wasn't in the brochure!
You can almost feel Dave's frustration that he didn't get the chance to hit something!
Tuesday 31st December
Just one of the many treats Mulu has to offer are the boat rides and to reach Camp 5 we would head upstream for 45min’s before being dropped off to walk the 9km to camp 5 on good paths through the Jungle. We arrived in good time, sorted the kit and were soon celebrating the arrival of 2020 in one of the most scenic locations on the planet.
Wednesday 1st January
What a way to see the new year in! after a pleasant 4 ½ km walk following the Head Hunters trail we cut across to climb the cliff face and were soon at the impressive Cobweb Cave entrance and not to disappoint there was even a huge cobweb hanging in place. A very slippery moonmilk slope headed in to the darkness to give way to massive collapse passage. Tim led us first down to the lower passages and sumps before continuing on to loop around in to the higher level Monolith passage to rig a short pitch that would provide a shortcut to the bolt climb which was the main lead in this part of the cave.
Cobweb Cave Entrance
Chris in the lower passages of Cobweb Cave
The team rig the short climb in to Monolith Passage
Thursday 2nd & Friday 3rd January
Back to Cobweb where Mark S completed a traverse in to the huge avens above the entrance to the elephant warren. Toby derigged and the two squirreled off in the new passage which would go on to lead in to Just a Mile Passage and prove key to discovering further leads and over a km of new cave.
Rachel admiring the monolith
Ben in the foreground looks across the chamber to Chris at the start of the Elephant Warren, Whilst Toby De-rigs and Mark is stood high above in the passage he has just bolted to.