Author Topic: CUCC Austria Expedition 2019 Blog  (Read 608 times)

Offline tcacrossley

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CUCC Austria Expedition 2019 Blog
« on: July 11, 2019, 01:16:18 pm »
At the time of writing, I am sat in the Tatty Hut at Base Camp in Bad Aussee. It is day five of expo and a lot has happened.

We discovered on Sunday (day one - 07/07/2019) that our Top Camp, Steinbrueken, was full of snow:

Philip Sargent standing in snow-filled Steinbrueken

Meanwhile, Base Camp preparations were well underway:

The Beer Tent being assembled at Base Camp

The beer tent was being hoisted (above) and the new rope (thanks to UK Caving and Spanset for the sponsorship!) was being soaked, coiled, and cut into usable lengths ready for caving.

The next few days consisted of Expo members undertaking multitudes of carrying trips up to top camp, and a few hardy folk doing their best to fettle the bivvy for habitability. Tuesday (09/07/2019) night saw the first people sleeping in Steinbrueken. Mostly, they described the experience as "chilly" but one person went as far as to claim he had been warmer there than at Base Camp.

People carrying equipment to Top Camp

Also on Tuesday (09/07/2019), a new route was devised and cairned directly from Heimkommen Hoehle to the tourist path on the coll. The idea being that Homecoming could be close enough to push from Base Camp rather than Steinbrueken. This came with the discovery that Fischgesicht Hoehle's entrance was under two to three metres of snow:

Michael Holliday and a broken shovel standing on top of the snow that covers the entrance to Fischgesicht Hoehle

On Wednesday (10/07/2019), Expo split into three groups. The majority went to Steinbrueken to commence the final push towards habitability while some went to investigate Balkonhoehle. Three of us (Dickon Morris, Daniel Heins, and myself) went to Heimkommen to rig to the pushing front (the decision to concentrate on Heimkommen and Balkon having been made for us by the plateau).

Daniel Heins and Dickon Morris on the rigging trip to Heimkommen

That's all for now,

Tom Crossley (11/07/2019)
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 01:24:40 pm by tcacrossley »

Offline Peregrina

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Re: CUCC Austria Expedition 2019 Blog
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2019, 07:18:01 pm »
For months leading up to the start of the expedition the assault on Fish Face had been discussed, carefully planned and plotted over drinks late into the evenings. The entrance being under several meters of snow has been an unfortunate setback. Michael H spent a part of Tuesday evening kneeling in the snow hopelessly attacking it with a shovel until the handle snapped in half. This wouldn't have been half so painful if we hadn't spent the previous evening with Becka getting excited over the survey from last year, with its numerous continuing passages and undropped pitches.

Photo from Michael H

As our cave was inaccessible we decided to find another one. Me, Michael H and Reuben spent the next two days tramping back and forward over the plateau looking hopefully down every crack in the limestone pavement waiting for an entrance that connects through to the caves below. We found lots of promising horizontal entrances leading a few meters to small, drafting holes or choked continuations. The snow plugs in every depression this year have unfortunately probably hidden some entrances. Our most promising cave was a shaft we climbed down on Wednesday which went horizontal, widened out into a reasonably large rift and continued on above a bold climb. Reuben's exploration fever carried him flailing up the overhanging climb with impressive determination. Sadly after another aven the cave ended in a pair of choked crawls. Reuben then got an introduction to solo surveying when I passed him up the tackle sack, as I had no intentioned of repeating his feat of strength to see these short crawls. In the end the cave was around 50 m in length. We dropped a nearby shaft, which led to a remarkably similar cave to the one we had just discovered, which was *definitely* not the same as the first one, according to the first explorer. Once someone else got down there, it was very clearly the cave we had just surveyed.

Reuben dropping the shaft and finding a 'new' cave:
Photo from Michael H

The forecast for the weekend is poor, and most of us are now back in base camp sheltering from the rain. Yesterday's pushing trip down Homecoming ended up being another slightly embarrassing excursion as the team drove up from base camp and walked across the plateau before realising they had not brought any bolts.

Photo from Michael H

Me and Michael H also found a pretty snake guarding a cave entrance:

Photo from Michael H

The weather is due to improve after the weekend, and pushing trips are planned into Homecoming, Balcony, and into Happy Butterfly which hasn't been touched since 2017.  Happy Butterfly is likely to connect with Fish Face and allow us to bypass the new snowplug, and reclaim what was lost.

Offline DanH

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Re: CUCC Austria Expedition 2019 Blog
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2019, 01:16:07 pm »
More Details on Homecoming

As Crossley stated, he, Dickon, and I rigged to the pushing front of Heimkommen on July 10th.

Dickon rigging the entrance series

On a second trip (July 12th), Andrew, Crossley, and I went down to investigate the leads and improve the rigging.  The air blows strong, and many bolt holes were drilled, though a miscommunication left the actual bolts behind, to be placed another day.

Crossley concentrating intensely on drilling holes, dust blowing away by the power of the drafting cave.

The way onward continues along this long rift, to a section of beautifully decorated passage, and onward to another long (and slippery rift) in need of more rigging.  The air blows strong, and a large chasm calls for dropping.

Andrew looking at a wonderfully decorated section of passage.

Weather has been a bit rough thusfar, but we are heading back up to top camp this evening (July 14th) and hoping for a return to good weather to push a number of exciting leads in Homecoming (along with a fair bit of rigging to add and tidy).

Dickon and Crossley returning to the col from Homecoming
« Last Edit: July 14, 2019, 01:41:04 pm by DanH »

Offline Mr Dinwiddy

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Re: CUCC Austria Expedition 2019 Blog
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2019, 09:10:09 pm »
Am I the only one who can't see those images? I just get a small blue icon with a question mark within.  :(

Offline wookey

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Re: CUCC Austria Expedition 2019 Blog
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2019, 10:50:44 pm »
Nope. They are images on a googleusercontent page that says 'this is a priviliged page'. No use for posting on a forum like this. (I worry a lot about images referenced here getting lost over time unless they are carefully put somewhere that will last - like on the expo server which does a reasonable job of keeping things for 40 years.)