Author Topic: Dachstein Expedition 2019  (Read 4580 times)

Offline mrodoc

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #25 on: September 05, 2019, 06:15:16 pm »
Looking forward to a detailed report for the BB!

Offline Subpopulus Hibernia

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #26 on: September 05, 2019, 07:10:44 pm »
PL2 Connection Attempt

Since last years connection between Wot-U-Got Pot and the Hirlatz the combined depth of the Hirlatzhöhle system is 1560m, making it tied at ninth deepest cave in the world with the Sistema Huautla. Also last year, a connection was made between the nearby caves of Burnies and Blood Moon. These two latter caves sit at a higher altitude than WUG, with the entrance of Burnies sitting about 58m higher than WUG. Less than 60m separate WUG and Blood Moon, with several leads heading from Blood Moon toward WUG.

Higher still is the cave of PL2. This is a classic Dachstein cave - cold, drafty, narrow, hard, and generally unpleasant. Originally pushed in the late 80s by a Polish expedition, the cave ended in a 100m free-hang into the largest chamber in the Dachstein, lying only a short distance away from WUG. A large branch passage exists from WUG heading towards PL2, and re-surveying last year positioned the end of this passage at 40m below and 20m away from the end of PL2, with a high-level continuation visible from the foot of an aven.

The connection with PL2 would add some 78m to the depth of the Hirlatz, positioning it as the world’s sixth deepest and Europe’s second deepest cave system. Pushing PL2 Passage from WUG was then one of the main focus’s of this expedition.

Mid-way through the expedition a team of Jean-Paul Sounier and Sylvain Furlan pushed this passage. Aid-climbing up the aven for 8m, they climbed an ascending canyon reaching a large chamber some 40m long by 15m wide. At the very end the draft emerged from the foot of a boulder run-in, with no way on apparent. A few days later Tom Foord, Tom Chapman and Nadia Raeburn-Cherradi went and surveyed this extension, and in conjunction with a surface survey between the WUG and PL2 entrances, this indicated that the two caves were separated by as little as 10m. They looked at the choke and Tom F had been able to poke his head in enough to see black spaces just above the underside of the choke. Without tools they hadn’t been able to do any proper digging, but it was felt that the choke might be a short one, and with a bit of luck it might be possible to collapse the boulders and climb upwards into the PL2 chamber.

So, on Tuesday morning Joel Corrigan, Tom Foord, Christan Vogel (Wolfo) and I set off on a camping trip with the hope of connecting WUG and PL2. Laden with gear, including a huge 1.2m long crowbar we made sluggish progress down to the bottom of the ropes at -580m. Ditching our camping gear, we made off into the huge horizontal tunnels that make up the majority of WUG. After a half-hour tramp up and down over boulders we reached the turn-off for PL2 passage. This passage was originally pushed by Joel Corrigan and company some 8/9 years ago, and started off as a series of short upward rope pitches separated by sections of muddy horizontal passage. The third of these climbs is particularly awkward, being a dismal trudge up a mud ramp while struggling to move jammers on the greasy rope. Lord only knows how Joel climbed this originally. At the top is a squeezy boulder choke, which finally pops up into another big horizontal borehole. Unusually for WUG this passage is filled with old muddy flowstone, with some big pillars and stals visible. Some of the old calcite is disintegrating into fine calcite needles, which sit in the mud and make it remarkably clumpy, wellies can swell to three times their size within a few steps.

Up Jean-Paul and Sylvain’s ropes we went, skinny 8m bootlace rope, exactly what you want when you are completely caked in mud. We reached the chamber after some 10-11 hours of hard caving. While Joel and Tom set up a stove to make a hot meal Wolfo and I started prodding the choke. The first few boulders were easy to drop out of the roof, enough to reveal that the black spaces were just more voids in boulders. The boulders seemed to continue up, tightly packed for several metres. After 5 minutes it was apparent that we weren’t breaking through, but since we’d come all this way we continued on making increasingly futile progress for some 45 minutes. Caked in mud and frozen by the powerful draft, we gave up.

Joel and Tom had enough energy to climb a nearby mud slope and drop a tight pitch at the far side. This dropped into a small chamber going nowhere. Other drafts were followed into chokes in the floor, but there was nothing happening. We started the grim plod back down the passage. At around six in the morning we arrived at camp, then began the chores. Gathering water from camp was a particularly unwelcome task, involving hauling water drums up a series of awkward climbs and pitches from the foot of a drippy waterfall. Finally at 10 in the morning, as Europe set about it’s day, we went to bed with over 18 hours of caving behind us.

Waking at 4pm, we spent the day sorting gear and closing up camp for another year. The WUG camp is a fairly pleasant space to while away the day, once you’re dry and active it’s fairly warm. Also, a bit of music makes it a much more homely space. At midnight, we set off for the surface, collecting various bits of kit along the way, arriving on the surface to morning sunshine.

Sadly, WUG remains at the same depth it did at the start of the exped. We’ll continue to push both Blood Moon, Burnies and PL2 in search of a connection to a higher cave. Who knows, perhaps pushing from above in PL2 will reveal something not obvious from below in WUG…

- Petie




Born Salzburg 1691. B.Phil. University of 's-Hertogenbosch 1718. Personal assistant to King Frederick of Liechtenstein, 1803-1857. Speaker of 35th Upper Silesian Parliament (fl. 1904-5). Owner/operator, Bridgend Underwear Factory, 1973-present.

Offline Subpopulus Hibernia

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #27 on: September 05, 2019, 08:06:45 pm »
Any updates from our last year capping project in Blood moon?

A group of us rigged back down to the very end and did an improved survey. We didn't end up doing any further capping as the focus was on the PL2 connection. It's a priority for next year.
Born Salzburg 1691. B.Phil. University of 's-Hertogenbosch 1718. Personal assistant to King Frederick of Liechtenstein, 1803-1857. Speaker of 35th Upper Silesian Parliament (fl. 1904-5). Owner/operator, Bridgend Underwear Factory, 1973-present.

Offline Alex

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #28 on: September 06, 2019, 10:27:47 am »
I seem to recall after the tigth pitch head at about -200m you emerge into huge canyon passage with water surging in from all over the place, this is just before the 70m. My memory is hazy, it's been many years but has all the avens here been explored, this seems like a large convergence point to me.
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 David Rose

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #29 on: September 06, 2019, 10:47:40 am »
Gripping, inspiring stuff. Thanks for a terrific report.

Offline andrewmc

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #30 on: September 07, 2019, 01:46:01 pm »
My memory is hazy, it's been many years but has all the avens here been explored, this seems like a large convergence point to me.

To be honest while I wouldn't know if they had, I suspect none of them have been explored by bolt climbing up - most of the focus has been getting down, rather than going up and trying to push up all the inlets (which inevitably just lead to surface chokes in most cases). Bolt climbing all the avens on the pitches would probably take 20 years of expedition on its own...

Offline andrewmc

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #31 on: September 07, 2019, 01:48:59 pm »
So the expedition is winding up now, and most people are either home or on the way home. I hope everyone involved enjoyed themselves, and hope people enjoyed the reports. I am hoping for a few more reports still to come and I will thank the sponsors again who helped make it all possible, but for now let me just say thanks to everyone who helped in any way. And if anyone has any issue with anything to do with the expedition, let me direct you to our relevant department...  :tease:


Offline Alex

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #32 on: September 07, 2019, 08:07:11 pm »
Quote
ather than going up and trying to push up all the inlets
Just thinking those inlets may lead to higher entrances.
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 JoW

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #33 on: September 09, 2019, 12:37:08 pm »
Quote
ather than going up and trying to push up all the inlets
Just thinking those inlets may lead to higher entrances.

They could be yours for the taking next year  ;)

Offline Subpopulus Hibernia

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #34 on: September 09, 2019, 10:17:34 pm »
Tiger Trap

Tiger Trap was my first cave on the Dachstein Expedition. In 2018 I arrived up the mountain and my first trip beyond the Wiesberghaus was a prospecting trip in Schladmingelloch, a huge glacial corrie. One of the caves that Joel advised us to visit was the C-106 (Tiger Trap). This was a promising lead he’d looked at in 2005, and was happy to turn over to the young folk.

The entrance is a 2m square horizontal opening, dropping down onto a large snowbank that you can shuffle down into a 6m square chamber. The most obvious route out of this is a climb up and over a loose pile of scree and then down into the foot of an aven. Leading off from this is a narrow calcited rift, that ended in a minuscule squeeze. Here, Rob Moffat somehow managed to squeeze through, descending through several more squeezes to the head of a pitch he estimated at 30m deep. But no-one else was able to follow.

More interesting was the discovery of a 16m pitch off the entrance chamber, accessed via a flat-out crawl over scree. Later it transpired that the cave had been visited by a prospecting party in 2017, and they hadn’t found the pitch as it was covered by the snow slope.

The interest in Tiger Trap was in it’s position 800m above the recent extensions at the far end of WUG. If a more direct way could be found to far end of WUG this might open up the area for further explorations. Also, given the position of Tiger Trap at the back of the Schladmingelloch corrie, with numerous large choked shafts above and beyond the cave, there was the possibility to break into a large shaft series that could descend anything up to 800m before hitting the horizontal levels.

Flash forward to 2019.

Trip 1
A group of Irish cavers had flown out a drill, bolting kit, and a capping kit with Tiger Trap planned as a key project. The group pushing the cave was Petie Barry, Adam Prior, Emily Punzalan, and John Paul Wallace. After reaching the cave we got off to a poor start with me forgetting my SRT kit, and realising that we’d left all the through-bolts at Camelot. JP heroically lent me his SRT kit and went off on a two-hour round hike to pick up the through-bolts. To pass the time until JP returned the rest of us went to cap the squeeze at the end of the main passage. After setting off two caps, Adam squeezed through and reported that the 30m pitch was actually 10m free-climb into the foot of a large aven, with a possible continuation. It took about 6 more caps before the squeeze was passable to SRT kit-clad cavers of a more average build. We called this passage Righty Tighty. By now JP was back with a fistful of through-bolts, and a bit sunburned after two hours in the sun.

So off to the other lead, the 16m pitch. This was soon rigged and dropped. At the bottom there was another drop of 6m, and also a boulder-choked crawl under the wall of the pitch that seemed to lead into a large chamber. I kept rigging down, with the 6m pitch dropping to the head of a 3m pitch, after which a short crawl lead to a 15m pitch. By now we’d run out of rope and metalwork, so I drilled several holes in preparation of another push the following day. While I’d been drilling, Adam and Emily had dug out the boulder-choked crawl to reach the head of a booming 23m pitch. This was a very promising lead! So at the end of the day we’d turned our two leads into three, a very satisfying return. The main route ending in the 15m pitch we called the Sunburn Series, the big pitch we called Next Big Thing, expecting it to be just that, a huge never-ending lead.

Trip 2
Expecting to drop a huge number of pitches, we carted up 100m of rope and about 25 hangers and maillons. We went straight for the jugular, bolting and descending Next Big Thing. Alas, at the bottom a 6m free-climb lead to a progressively narrower rift that quickly pinched off. Leaving the other three to survey, I grabbed a 50m rope and headed back up the pitch to continue rigging the Sunburn Series. As I approached the end of the previous day’s rope I suddenly heard water falling. It was as if someone had turned on a shower, it was that instant. Thunderstorms had been forecast, so this was no great surprise. We ditched the gear and high-tailed it for the entrance chamber, spending 2.5 hours sitting in a shelter listening to the thunder rolling outside and making inane chit-chat. Eventually Emily tired of the inane chit-chat and decided to make a bolt for Camelot in the rain, the rest of us followed her lead.

Trip 3
Straight down to the end of the Sunburn Series today, popped in two bolts and dropped the pitch. At the bottom, the only way on was a desperate squeeze along a rift that only Adam could manage. A little further along he found a narrow 8m pitch down a rift, which was blocked by several boulders. With a lot of capping needed to even reach the pitch, this lead was more or less dead. We went all the way back to the surface for some sunlight. Adam and JP headed back to Camelot, eager to beat the forecast rain. Emily and I were happy enough to chance pushing the Righty Tighty rift, and headed back and pushed through the previously capped squeeze. A few further squeezes down the rift we reached a tight squeezy pitch head. I popped in a bolt and abseiled down through the unpleasant drippy squeeze. At the bottom of the 8m pitch was a 5m diameter chamber with the way on a snaggy hole through boulders. I wriggled in, in full kit and gimp mac, and got properly shredded. Beyond was 6m of rift reaching another 15m aven. The way out of this was a tight rift, which reached a 6m pitch. Sadly this was too tight to get to. However, it was clearly continuing beyond, and drafting strongly. We left an 8m rope for a push the next day.

Trip 4
A solo derig with Camilla Casella for surface support / donkey work. I derigged the Sunburn Series and then went down Righty Tighty to retrieve all the gear. Overnight I’d decided I wasn’t bothered capping the tight pitch head - in spite of it’s promise it was only 33m down and already getting fairly desperate. Capping the pitch might only suck us into an unending circle of miserable pushing drips with increasingly committing ongoing passage. Joel had warned me that Schladmingelloch caves are typically miserable and hard. While struggling to derig the tight drippy pitch and fighting my way up through the squeezes with a rope bag I felt vindicated with this decision. Perhaps next year if we’ve nothing else on we’ll have a crack again.

Total passage surveyed was c.200m, and 57m deep at the deepest. A fun adventure while it lasted.
Born Salzburg 1691. B.Phil. University of 's-Hertogenbosch 1718. Personal assistant to King Frederick of Liechtenstein, 1803-1857. Speaker of 35th Upper Silesian Parliament (fl. 1904-5). Owner/operator, Bridgend Underwear Factory, 1973-present.

Offline Wolfo

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #35 on: September 10, 2019, 04:39:15 pm »
Three golden rules of 
british faffing:

1. Never start a trip before 12 o'clock - you could miss sleep, your porridge or the coffee.

2. Always pack your stuff directly before the trip - otherwise you would propably take a 110m rope while finding a 100m shaft on the actual trip.
    Better take the 25m rope.

3. Faff is an art. Celebrate it.

Greetings, your german cave bugger
.aka "german jesus".  ;D


There is still so much to do on the Dachstein karst and I'm looking eagerly forward to next year's exped.







Lower Saxony - Harz Mountain Area - Germany

Offline andrewmc

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Re: Dachstein Expedition 2019
« Reply #36 on: September 12, 2019, 05:12:09 pm »
Still a few more posts to come, but I want to thank the sponsors again:

First obviously UKCaving who provided 200m of 9mm Spanset rope. This can be seen, in use, earlier in the thread :)

Fischer provided us, free of charge, with 200 non-stainless and 100 stainless M8 throughbolts. I'm always a lot happier hanging on a quality German manufacturer's bolts rather than no-name (or worse, Screwfix) bolts!

The new web shop SpeleoConcepts gave us a fantastic deal (roughly half price) on 150 stainless hangers. These have been put to good use!

We also got 6 new Vaude sleeping bags, organized by the visiting Austrians (thanks!) and had three tackle sacks donated by two British cavers (thanks!).