Tianxing Exploration history

Tianxing Exploration history

What follows is a brief and very incomplete of this history of the exploration in Tian Xing, focusing on Qikeng Dong and Dong Ba.

Early days: CCP

The China Caves project has been working in Jiang Kou's Tian Xing village since 1994. It was first opened as part of a project by the Guilin Karst Institute to develop and promote the nearby Furong Dong as a showcave. In 2001 Brian Judd organized a joint CCP-HMG expedition to the area, and on the last day he descended the first hundred meters of Qikeng Dong.

TV interview in Wulong

Wulong Media Frenzy 2002

In April 2002 Brian returned to Chongqing and after a month in Hongchiba, he and Matt Ryan decided to quickly check out Qikeng. The general consensus was that it'd probably sump, so Brian and Matt took a minimum of rigging gear to Tian Xing while the rest of the grup cntinued on to Houping. But Brian's enthusiasm was well placed and Qikeng went big (as did Houping). He and Matt used some creative rigging techniques to stretch their rope and anchors as far as possible while they tried to contact the others for more gear. That proved to be more difficult than anticipated because the Huibang Company (which was developing a geological park and had smelled a good publicity stunt) had taken Matt and Brian under their wing, and kept insisting that the road was washed out. Eventually Erin Lynch, Rob Garrett, and Duncan Collis joined them just in time to drop Sonic Screwdriver. At the bottom of the 90m pitch the drill switch broke irreparably. The next day Brian abruptly had to return to England, and that very afternoon Matt Ryan broke a tooth, so the decision was made to have one last push and then pull the ropes out.

Gooseberry Sump in Dong Ba
Photo by Andy Harp

Return to Qikeng

In August 2002 a small CCP/HMG team returned to push down the 160m deep Pitch Out of Time to a level of scrotty horizontal development at -707m. They were ready to derig when a final push by Brian and Tom Chapman located a sump bypass that led to wide high level fossil passage and then the roar of what is surmised to be the area's master cave.

To be continued...

Summary and References

  • 1994 - China Caves Project
    • Dong Ba explored to -168m
    • Reports:
    • K Senior (Ed.), Oct. 1995. Yangtze Gorges Expedition 1994.Cave and Karst Science Vol 22, No. 2
    • Brian Judd's Jiang Kou 1994 pages
  • 1996 - China Caves Project
  • 2001 - China Caves Project/Hong Meigui
  • 2002 - Hong Meigui
  • Brian rigging The Master
  • 2002 - China Caves Project/Hong Meigui
    • Qikeng Dong explored to -770m
      • pitches down to -707m, ending with a p90, p50 and p160
      • extensive horizontal development (rather small, however)
      • large streamway at limit of exploration
    • Reports:
    • CCP-HMG Joint Tian Xing 2002 pages
  • 2002 - Hong Meigui
    • Qikeng Dong explored to -920m (to a sump)
      • deepest* pothole in China
      • streamway sumped upstream
      • downstream sporting, including a fantastic 60m pitch into a big lake
      • fossil development above the active passage not fully explored
    • Dong Ba explored to -655m (to a sump)
      • second deepest* pothole in China
      • 60m wide fossil trunk passage at -550m
      • streamway met at -640m, sumps almost immediately downstream, choked upstream
      • many unexplored leads in the fossil level
    • Reports:
    • Qikeng Dong 2002 pages
    • Descent (168) Oct/Nov 2002 p 17, "News from the sharp end: Qikeng goes deep!", Erin Lynch
    • Descent (169) Dec/Jan 2002/03 p 18, "Qikeng Dong's bid for a depth record", Brian Judd
    • Canadian Caver (awaiting publication), "Tian Xing" ,Taco van Ieperen
    • Descent (awaiting publication),"Going deep in China", Erin Lynch

* Xiaozhai Tiankeng Dong is 964m deep, and often quoted as the deepest cave in China, but the first 660m of this is a huge, 620m wide doline with a footpath down it.