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Dachstein 2023


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What: the Dachstein Caving Expedition
When: August 13th - September 2nd 2023
Where: the Wiesberghaus, Hallstatt, Austria

Once again the Dachstein Caving Expedition is returning to the high Dachstein plateau in Austria. After Covid left us unable to run expeditions in 2020 and 2021, a small group headed out in 2022, and we are looking forward to a re-invigorated Dachstein expedition in 2022. We have opportunities for new and seasoned expedition cavers. For those not familiar with the area the scenery is fantastic and there is plenty to do on the plateau (climbing, via ferrata) as well as lots of caving.

For those new to expeditions we can teach you Alpine expedition caving including prospecting, surveying, rigging and bolting. Keen, fit and SRT competent people may also (weather and objective dependent) get to camp in our main cave almost 700m down. Last year we found a new area further up the hill covered in open entrances, which present a fantastic opportunity for new expedition cavers to explore new caves and start looking for higher entrances to WUG Pot and the Hirlatz.

For more experienced cavers there is a lot to be done. As well as various open leads in the deep cave, we would like to set up a second underground camp and find a route around the sumps into the rest of the 115km long and 1560m deep Hirlatzhöhle (9th deepest cave in the world).

Sign up for details about the Dachstein expedition and to help us apply for Ghar Parau funding!

Last year the expedition fee was £150 for all three weeks (£100 for students) and it should be less this year. You don't have to stay all three weeks, but staying at least 10 days will help you get the most out of the expedition. I'm hoping that the exped fee will be quite a bit less than it was last year but the treasurer (me) needs to get on and actually run the numbers!

This fee covers:
  • Food for the three weeks
  • The equipment we purchase (ropes, maillons, hangers, drills, cooking equipment etc.)
  • The seilbahn which carries your gear (but unfortunately not people) up to the Wiesberghaus where we stay.
This fee does not include:
  • Travel to Austria
  • Caving travel insurance (which is mandatory and must include search and rescue cover and is likely to cost £50-£100)
  • Accommodation at the Wiesberghaus in alpine hut-style accommodation - this was €10 a night last year and is likely to be similar this year
  • Your beer tab at the Wiesberghaus bar (sadly!)


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The long report isn't written yet (another job for me) but I have just finished our three-page short report if you want to see what we got up to last year...

We will probably run our usual training weekend in the Spring but don't have any details yet.


  • GPF_short_report_Dachstein_2022.pdf
    2.8 MB · Views: 55


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A few photos to show you what it's like:

(credit Paul McCarron)
This is Camelot, our home away from home where we sleep, cook, and do all our gear faff.

(credit Andrew McLeod)
Looking down towards the valley you can see Camelot on the left and the larger Wiesberghaus on the right. The Wiesberghaus has power, toilets and of course the bar. It is also where some people stay if Camelot is full.

(credit Paul McCarron)
The Wiesberghaus makes an excellent Strudel. In the distance you can see the Dachstein plateau. Our current main caving areas are on the left of the large block in the centre of the picture.


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You get up to a lot of different things on exped in the Dachstein:

Carrying heavy bags (credit Paul McCarron)

Measuring rope (credit Paul McCarron)

Walking on bare limestone (credit Paul McCarron)

Cooking (credit Paul McCarron)

Faffing with gear (credit Paul McCarron)

Improvising - here winding wire onto a drum ready to go underground as Cavelink antenna (credit Paul McCarron)

Poking around down small holes - this one dropped into an enormous ice slope with the sun shining down from above that was sadly blocked with snow at the bottom and had been previously explored from another larger entrance (credit Andrew McLeod)

Dropping big holes - this one didn't go anywhere either (credit Alex Reid)

And most importantly of all - washing up! (credit Paul McCarron)


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But we do also get underground...

Emerging from WUG Pot, our high entrance to the 115km long, 1560m deep Hirlatzhöhle (credit Paul McCarron)


Newly rerigged tyrolean early in the entrance series of WUG Pot - note the ice on the walls! (credit Paul McCarron)


The tight pitch-head - now less tight thanks to some excellent capping work by the dynamic duo of Alex and Oscar (credit Paul McCarron)


Re-rigging the entrance series with fresh ropes (credit Paul McCarron)


Rerigging the 'water pitch' where we collect water deep in the cave (credit Paul McCarron)


And our home away from home, underground camp nearly 700m down and further down than that below the surface as there is a large hill directly above it (credit Paul McCarron)


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Sign up for this year's Dachstein Expedition is now open!

If you are planning on coming this year, then you need to do three things:

1) Complete the Google form here:
2) Fill in your entry in the Google sheet linked in the form
3) Pay your expedition fee as soon as possible

Exped fees:
£110/€125 for students/U25
£160/€180 for everyone else
Accommodation: €11/night (paid to the hut in cash; €15/night in main hut if we run out of space)

PS thanks to Ghar Parau for supporting us, and to UK Caving for supporting us in the past with rope and letting us post here :)


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We have tried to keep costs down for students and young people this year, hence the £50 discount. We are aware that going on expedition has become more and more expensive for a number of reasons. Some of these, like insurance and travel, are obviously out of our control and not included in your expedition fee. Others

We lucky to be hosted by the wonderful Wiesberghaus mountain hut (but we are based in a small separate hut about 100m away from the main hut, where we have some sleeping space, cooking space, eating space, our gear store and space for people's personal caving gear out the back. We are lucky that the Wiesberghaus give us a discount on things like accommodation, and are also able to organize things like gas cylinders and rubbish disposal, but they have also had rising costs and so things (particularly the seilbahn cable car) have become more expensive which has pushed the exped fee up. The general increase in prices in food and gear also pushes the fee up.

So here are a breakdown of costs you should consider before you join us (and I hope you do); these probably apply to any similar expedition...

1) Expedition fee (paid to us) - we have tried to keep this as low as possible, especially for younger cavers. It includes all exped food (except snacks), reasonable use of the seilbahn and use of exped equipment like ropes, hangers and maillons (and pays for a load of other things like kit for the hut, cooking gas, rubbish disposal costs...)
2) Accommodation - €11 per night (paid to the Wiesberghaus at the end of your stay in cash)
3) Travel - you have to get to Austria somehow. Irish Ferries currently looks to be the cheapest UK-France crossings.
4) Insurance - don't forget about this! BCA membership is not sufficient; you need a good insurance policy e.g. from the BCA Expedition policy or Snowcard. If you are going on several caving trips in a year, it is usually cheaper to get an annual policy (but cheap limits on how long each trip abroad can be).
5) Your bar bill at the Wiesberghaus (to be paid in euros in cash at the Wiesberghaus).


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We are a bit more limited in accommodation than we were in pre-Covid years. At the moment I'm expecting us to be limited to about 15-20 people at any time (so sign up now!). On the plus side, this should mean we can do a better job of the most important part of the exped - training!

The Dachstein has for many years been an open invitation expedition where people can learn expedition skills - rigging, bolting and surveying. We intend to make sure that everyone who comes to the Dachstein gets a chance to learn some new skills and do as much caving as they can (safely) do.