Author Topic: Dachstein Expedition 2019  (Read 1864 times)

Online andrewmc

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Dachstein Expedition 2019
« on: March 14, 2019, 07:43:56 pm »
Are you feeling keen to explore snow-covered peaks in the Austrian Alps, learn to find new caves, then bolt, rig, survey and push them? Does the idea of being the first person in new cave passage excite you? Or are you an experienced expedition caver, looking for an area where exciting discoveries are being made yearly?

This year’s Dachstein Expedition will be held between the 17th August and the 7th September 2019, hosted as usual at the Wiesberghaus mountain hut on the Dachstein plateau, Austria. As usual, the expedition is open to all cavers. It is a very cosmopolitan expedition; as well as attracting cavers from university club across the UK and Ireland it has also attracted French, German, Austrian, Bulgarian, Israeli, American, Irish, New Zealand and Czech cavers.

The Dachstein is a relaxed expedition; join us for a week, the whole three weeks, or just a few days.

Last year, the expedition’s main cave, WUG Pot, was finally connected to the 112km long Hirlatzhöhle deep in the mountain after over 40 years. This made the Hirlatz 1560m deep and the 9th deepest cave in the world. This year one aim is to find a higher entrance and make the Hirlatz even deeper!

In 2018 the cave Blood Moon was discovered. This has already been connected to the 600m+ deep Burnie’s Pot, and may also connect to WUG Pot. Resurveying an inlet at the base of WUG has shown that it comes within 50m of the 600m+ deep cave PL2, which ends in a chamber well over 100m wide. The 2017 discovery Thundergasm is now 200m and still going, with several open leads for keen cavers...

Although being competent at SRT will make it a much more satisfying expedition, training is a key part of this expedition. As usual, we will be running the Dachstein Training Weekend (date to be confirmed) to let all cavers learn expedition skills before using them for real on the expedition.

The Wiesberghaus and the caving area we explore are set 2000m up in a stunning area of the Austrian Alps. To the south the Hallstatt glacier rises up towards the 2995m summit of the Hoher Dachstein and the enormous south wall of the Dachstein plateau. To the north is the valley of the Hallstattsee (lake) and the famous town of Hallstatt with its prehistoric salt mine. There are four other mountain huts on the plateau, the show caves of the Dachstein Rieseneishöhle (ice cave) and Mammuthöhle, as well as a range of via ferrata for all abilities, so there is plenty to do on ‘rest’ days.

Join the Dachstein Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/dachsteincaving for more information and to keep up with the latest expedition news. You can also join the group’s Dachstein 2019 event.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2019, 07:54:54 pm by andrewmc »

Offline Joel Corrigan

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2019, 03:19:33 pm »
Recruitment is slowly starting to gain pace (we're fairly lazy these days) so if anyone wants to join what is (un)arguably the finest exploration project ever then you're welcome to join.  Andrew has posted most of the details but it's worth emphasising that two decades ago we were the first of the major projects to have an open invite as the organisers were fed up of the unnecessary elitism & cliques within the expedition game back then.  That means that we really do welcome 99% of people who want to go regardless of experience.  All we ask is that you be able to operate as part of a team, get involved with the chores, and not do anything that's likely to lead to an accident.  And just like many things this can be as hard or as easy as you choose: if you've not been down a deep Alpine cave before then you're best advised to cut your teeth in some of our shallower caves & building up to exploring the monsters.

It's also CHEAP & plenty of us have loads of gear we can lend out to worthy causes.  Many of the leading lights in cave exploration have been part of this project & it's our intention to get more people to join as we need fresh blood for the future. 

We are running our annual Cave Expedition Training Workshop over the weekend of 15-16 June based at the outstanding Gloucester Cave Rescue Depot in Cinderford in the Forest of Dean so again this is an open invite regardless of whether you're joining us in Austria (numbers allowing, of course). 

See the Calendar for more details.       

Offline Wolfo

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2019, 04:10:51 pm »
Joined  :)
Lower Saxony - Harz Mountain Area - Germany

Online andrewmc

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2019, 11:43:58 am »
Expedition Fees:
The Expedition Fee (for anyone coming on the expedition has now been decided and will be:
£70 if paid before 15th July
£75 if paid before the exped
£80 if paid during the exped
This includes use of the seilbahn this year.
Payment can be made to the shiny new bank account:
Sort Code: 40-27-02
Account Number: 91867555
Account Name: Dachstein Expedition Society
PLEASE DON'T SEND MONEY TO THE OLD ACCOUNT
International payments to my PayPal at my personal email address for now (PM me) and I'll transfer them over. Please don't use PayPal unless you can't pay into the UK bank account!

Online Juan

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2019, 06:25:33 pm »
Quote
but it's worth emphasising that two decades ago we were the first of the major projects to have an open invite
The Matienzo expeditions have had an "open invite" to all interested people since the early 70s. I'm not saying we were the first though, there may be others!

Online andrewmc

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2019, 09:33:36 pm »
Expedition Training

The Dachstein expedition has for many years ran an expedition training weekend, and 2019 was no exception. As usual, the expedition training is open to all cavers including those not planning on attending the expedition, although it is naturally focussed on the skills needed for deep, cold Alpine caves such as those in the Dachstein.
The format of our training weekend has varied over the years. In 2017 the first day of the weekend was spent in a rope access centre training for French-style counterbalance pitch hauling, with the second day spent in Pwll Dwfn putting these skills into practice. The 2018 event was more similar to this year’s weekend, although it had a longer rescue practice.
This year there were 33 paying attendees, with 8 people staying for one day only and the rest staying for the whole weekend. There were also 8 trainers who attended during the weekend, all of whom attended voluntarily and without claiming expenses – for which the expedition is very grateful. As in 2018, the weekend was held at the Gloucester Cave Rescue Group headquarters which features a large meeting room, a small kitchen, camping and parking space and a large barn with various platforms suitable for SRT training. We are grateful to the GCRG for use of their venue for a second year, and were happy to make a donation to the team. The expedition provided breakfast and lunch for the two days out of the fee of £20, and a large takeaway curry order was organized on the Saturday night.

Day 1 – SRT and Survey Training

The trainees were split into four groups. Two of these groups headed off in the morning to Bixhead stone mine, an underground sandstone quarry, for survey training led by Tom Foord and Rich Smith and underground survival training led by Ian Holmes and Sam Lee, with the two groups taking turns.
The survey group learned to use DistoXs and SexyTopo to survey the stone mine. Meanwhile, the underground survival group set up camp in a corner of the mine. The demonstration showed the use of various important tools, including group shelters, the ‘gimp mac’ (a waterproof jacket), the MTDE poncho (which can be combined with another poncho to share body heat with a friend), blizzard blankets and small gas stoves. Alpine caves cold, and in the event of flooding it is critical that cavers have the right equipment to stay dry and warm.
The other group groups stayed at the GCRG base to practice SRT techniques and basic hauling. SRT practice ranged from the basic to the advanced. Topics covered included SRT kit setup for use in tight caves, rebelays and deviations, rope protectors, additional braking for descending on ‘fast’ ropes – including an 8mm rope covered in washing up liquid – and finally to rebelays with pendulums and horizontal and sloping tyrolean traverses.
The groups then swapped, following lunch, with the underground groups now staying at the GCRG base for SRT and hauling practice and the surface group heading to the stone mine for surveying and underground survival.
The final portion of the day was lecture format, with the expedition leader Joel giving an overview of the expedition and Alpine expedition caving generally. The use of survival equipment was again demonstrated and discussed, together with general information about the expedition such as where the expedition takes place, what sort of caving people should expect, what other activities are available and what people will need to bring or organize.
A brief overview was also given of French-style counterbalance pitch hauling techniques in preparation for the rescue practice the following day, including the use of plywood boards with anchors mounted on for showing rigging techniques.

Day 2 – Rescue Practice

Following 2018’s successful but lengthy rescue practice at Miss Grace’s Lane, this year’s rescue practice was held at the Wet Sink entrance to Slaughter Stream Cave. The cave had been pre-rigged with tri-hang anchors for the counterbalance rescues, and the trainees were split into two groups. One group went deeper into the entrance series to practice hauling a casualty up several pitches, while the other group practised on the first few pitches of the entrance series, ending with bringing the casualty out of the entrance.
The surface group were first shown the use of the expedition’s Ferno split basket stretcher, which was purchased last year. This stretcher is ideal for relatively large but deep caves, such as WUG Pot, and can be broken in half for carrying. The casualty was then taken down the fixed ladders to the bottom of the first pitch series, strapped into the stretcher (in a vertical position due to lack of space) and then hauled up the series of pitches.
Counterbalance systems were used for the majority of the pitches, but a simple Z-rig system was used to haul out of the entrance gate and onto the surface. Both the surface and deeper group’s rescue practice were successful. This rescue practice was shorter than some in previous years, enabling people to get home somewhat earlier although possibly not drilling home the important message of any Dachstein rescue practice – getting rescued will be thoroughly unpleasant, so don’t hurt yourself in the first place!

Online andrewmc

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2019, 10:08:01 pm »
Just a quick update from the Dachstein team. There are still spaces available for clearly the greatest caving expedition on earth :)
The exped fee has now gone up to £75 but that is still a bargain (as treasurer I am currently in the process of trying to work out how to buy as much kit as possible with minimal money!).

For those who are new to the exped writing up a list of helpful information is on my list of things to do, but here's a few brief points:
The exped fee includes exped gear, use of the seilbahn and most food. There is a small charge per day for fresh food (probably €1.50 / day). There is also a daily fee for accommodation (last year it was €5 / day) which goes directly to the Wiesberghaus. Bring cash! :)
Food is porridge for breakfast and a cooked dinner. There will be some lunch stuff available (bread, cheap jam, margarine). It is highly advised to bring snacks and cave snacks (chocolate, cereal bars, luxuries) and the exped is vegetarian with a vegan option so if you want meat you will have to bring it.
On the plus side the scenery is fantastic, there is plenty of stuff to do above as well as below ground, and the bar is never too far away... :)

In the near future I will hopefully have photos of shiny gear to show, although like Dachstein participants it will probably be coming from all over the place! :)

Offline BK

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2019, 11:16:27 pm »
Sent you a message Andrew!

Offline Alex

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2019, 01:08:10 pm »
Quote
Food is porridge for breakfast and a cooked dinner. There will be some lunch stuff available (bread, cheap jam, margarine). It is highly advised to bring snacks and cave snacks (chocolate, cereal bars, luxuries) and the exped is vegetarian with a vegan option so if you want meat you will have to bring it.

Has it changed now then, is it not an option to just buy a meal or two next door? When I was there I used to buy a few meals from the Wiesberghaus house when I got sick of the Tex Mex.
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline Joel Corrigan

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2019, 01:34:52 pm »
Andrew is being a bit dramatic & not a lot has changed since you were there, Alex.  Breakfast is generally porridge but traditionally those people about to head deep underground tend to raid the supplies & scoff down pancakes, eggy bread, omelettes etc... but we discourage that for normal day to day meals as forty + greedy buggers will decimate our stores.  And lunch in Camelot is deliberately kept fairly basic to encourage everyone to do something more useful...  And whilst the Exped is essentially vegetarian that's not just because I have a conscience (!) but also because meat goes off very quickly, costs a fortune, and it's far easier to make the same communal meals for everyone & those who want it can hunt, butcher & cook their own marmots for the pot.  We haven't made it sound very impressive but the food is generally very good on the trip but that of course varies year by year. 

Online andrewmc

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2019, 03:14:07 pm »
Has it changed now then, is it not an option to just buy a meal or two next door? When I was there I used to buy a few meals from the Wiesberghaus house when I got sick of the Tex Mex.

It is a great option; the food at the Wiesberghaus is excellent :P

Online andrewmc

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2019, 09:40:54 pm »
In just a few days, the World's Greatest Caving Expedition will begin, and cavers from across Europe will start converging on the Dachstein plateau. The final purchases of gear and food are being made, cars are being packed, and excitement levels are increasing.

This year we are lucky to have been given free or heavily discounted equipment from a variety of sources. UKCaving has always supported cavers and caving expeditions, and we were lucky enough to have been awarded 200m of Spanset 9mm rope, which we look forward to using to rig the deep caves of this area.



You can't get very far in a vertical system without some anchors to hang that rope on, and so we are very grateful to Fischer, the well-known German manufacturer of high-quality anchors and fixings, who have supplied us free of charge with 200 zinc-plated and 100 stainless 8mm through-bolt anchors.



Bolts need hangers, and we are lucky to receive 150 heavily-discounted stainless hangers from a new German supplier whose name I will add as soon as I get sent it :)



Last of the big donations but certainly not least, we were very lucky to receive a grant for £1200 from the Ghar Parau Foundation. This has been spent on an underground Cavelink unit which together with a surface unit purchased by CUCC (again largely funded by Ghar Parau) forms a set which we hope will be of use not just to the two Austrian expeditions (Cambridge and Dachstein) but also to other expeditions.

We were also lucky enough to receive 3 tackle sacks from 2 individuals after an appeal for large tackle sacks to bring gear down to the new deep camp we are establishing this year. We have also, via a group of visiting Austrians, received 6 synthetic sleeping bags for the new camp from Vaude.

In addition to the generously donated or discounted gear, we have also bought:

200 Petzl hangers from the illustrious Mr Seddon



600m of Beal rope
200 maillons
A new Makita drill
3 tents
12 sleeping mats
A new large burner and pot
And lots of the usual boring but essential stuff (food, cleaning equipment etc...)

This year is yet another exciting year for exploration. Deep down in WUG Pot we will be establishing a forward camp to accelerate exploration of the previously diver-only area of the Hirlatzhöhle. With open leads in all directions, this will no doubt be a multi-year (or multi-decade?) project. Higher up we have Thundergasm, now 200m deep and still wide open. Closer to the surface we have Blood Moon, discovered last year, which has connected to the deep Burnies' Pot and will hopefully connect to WUG. Finally resurveys last year showed the long-neglected PL2, a 600m deep cave with an enormous chamber at the previous end, is within 50m of a heavily-draughting inlet in WUG...

Some objectives this year:
- To continue exploring the western end of the Hirlatzhöhle
- To connect WUG to a higher entrance; either Blood Moon/Burnies, PL2, or a new entrance
- To push Thundergasm and other caves as they are discovered
- To continue prospecting the plateau for new caves; the area is riddled with them!

As usual, any glory is due to the Dachstein team; any mistakes are my own  :halo:

Offline David Rose

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #12 on: Yesterday at 08:38:53 am »
I wish you the very best, and that I could join you. The sheer tenacity involved in the exploration of WUG - Hirltatzhohle over so many years is surely without parallel in the history of caving, and it's evident that the story is far from over. I have my own unfinished business to see to at Ario shortly, but I hope I can get to the Dachstein again next year. Awesome place, astonishing caves.