Houping 2008-1 Expedition Logbook


27th December 2007: Recce North of Huolu

Duncan Collis, Dan Nolfi

We walked out of Huolu to the north, initially heading towards the hydro station above town. Before the power plant we reached a T junction and turned right. Followed the track past a couple of pits. We reached a clean-washed streambed and went upstream to a small town with a road, which we followed to where it passed a dry aquaduct. There was another pit below the road here. Further on is an impressive L-shaped rift at least 20m deep. We continued back down towards Huolu, finally meeting a farmer who showed us several shafts near the town, a couple of which are probably 30m deep

27th December 2007: Fish Farm survey + big cave

Nancy Pistole, Matt Oliphant, Matt Ryan, Rick Yan, Charley Savvas

We drove out of town towards Longba and started asking around for caves. A woman guided us to a house and behind the house was a gated cave (Chuan Dong) entrance. The owner (?) took us inside - there were lights, steps, and over 100 tile basins plumbed to be filled with water! The cave was a nice-size, big walking passage, and there were maybe 4-6 entrances that had been blocked off or walled up. The place looked like a giant laundry mat, but the guide said that it was built to raise a certain type of fish. There were 2 cisterns built in a side-passage that were full of water (most of the tile basins were empty). We surveyed ~215m.

Several men hung around while we surveyed, then one of them told us about another cave nearby. He rode his motorbike and we followed. We walked up a hill ~5mins and came to a big entrance. The passage went down a 35° slope getting bigger and bigger to a huge room. Then the passage continued horizontally with a mud floor + nice big columns + stalactites, then ended. The owner (?) said he wanted to make it a commercial cave. He also said that many years before the passage continued much further, but then silted up. He wanted to dig out the silt plug. (Suan Zao Dong)

27th December 2007: Dry Cave Survey

Erin Lynch, Jean Krejca, Johanna Kovarik, Andrea Croskey, 4 Biker Boys

On the way to the cave

We were whisked away by four Chinese bikers and headed to a small village ~15min ride. Upon arriving, after querying some locals we parked the bikes and hiked through farm fields, arriving at a resurgence, ~5m across. Only .5m air space at tallest spot of entrance. Photos, notes + sketch taken, appx. flow measurement. Continued out into the fields, arriving at a walk in entrance, res. water coming out into a walled pool. Wall w/ door built in entrance. Group survey through large borehole passage, checking all leads - 2 surveyed to end. Cave continues past 2 nd entrance w/ stairs in it to large going river passage flowing water evident - continues!! Guides went further, claimed water gets waist deep. Jean took several photos, and some pseudoscorpions were sampled as well as some bat bones.

28th December 2007: Dry Cave Survey Part Deux

Andrea Croskey, Johanna Kovarik, Jean Krejca


Though not whisked away on motorcycles, we caught a delayed ride from Matt, gas fumes not "taken care of". Showed Duncan, Dan & Rob leads and took off upstream. An amazing troglobitic millipede found near the rail track entrance. A high lead near the rail entrance. Jean caught a few fish. Took pics at last station which is on top of a massive flowstone (actually ceiling above). Hauled tail out of cave. Drank beers at corner shop until Matt Ryan returned to give us a lift back up the hill

28th December 2007: Dry Cave Survey - Side Leads & Dry Passage

Rob Garrett, Dan Nolfi, Duncan Collis

Cleaned up side leads in main passage back to the stream passage. Most terminated quick with "BAD" air. Caught up with chicks survey on a big lead that headed downstream. Actually never linked with stream again. Big passage continued to a trash dump at the bottom of a high surface pit. Traverse around "dump" of bones, etc. to high large passage. Passage full of dog shit. Smells like dog shit! Ran out of time with passage continuing. Headed out, met with chicks, drank beers while waiting for pickup.

28th December 2007: Suan Zao Dong

Matt Ryan, Rick Yan, Matt Oliphant, Charley Savvas

Today we continued to wake up to beautiful sunny day. (Mat R, Rick, Mat O, Charley) were off to look at the gas smell in Mats Jeep, we tracet it down to a loose gas cap. A replacement in needed. In the prosses we located a missing bolt holding down the radiator. After a bit of modifying bolts + rubber biscuts we headed back to the hotell. We loaded up the truck with cavers+ were of for the day at 12:00. Mat R, Mat O, Rick and Charley went back to Suan Zao Dong to drop a pit in the main chamber wich seem to drain the cave. Mat O set 2 expansion bolts and I headed down the drop while Mat set a redirect. Mat R was coaksing Rick on his first SRT absail. It was a 10m drop to a small room with drain along the walls to small to fallow. After deriging the pitch we set up a feue big room shots. We headed back toward the truck were we were taken to another sink. This sink had a bambo filed flat area that drained to a 30° to 45° pitch to a mud + flood debris filled sump. This cave was a good place for Rick to practice his SRT technick. We dergs surveyed on the way out + heade out to pick up the other cavers. A fun day.

28th December 2007: 1000 Steps

Erin Lynch, Nancy Pistole

We took off w/ 2 biker guys. It was drizzling + very wet + slippery, but we were on a rock road with little traffic, and the bikers were careful. We stopped at a farm house and a farmer took us to a cave that was ~200m higher elevation. We went up many slick limestone steps to get there. The cave was on one side of a curved headwall - big slanted entrance. The floor sloped down + the ceiling was straight, so the passage got really big. At the bottom, the passage weaved through some boulders, and finally ended in a pretty room with some flowstone and a dry calcite pool floor. We finished the survey ~3:30pm, then took our time going back. Checked out one garbage pit that didn't go.

TU: 3 hrs

29th December 2007: Dropping Pits

Rob Garrett, Jean Krejca, Andrea Croskey

We walked up the hill out of Huolu following the concrete staircase through the drystone terraces-cum-graveyard. We weren't halfway to our destination (one of Duncan and Dan's promising pits) when the path ran straight over the top(!) of a shaft down which a good-sized stream cascaded. I asked a few local farm women what it was called but couldn't get anything more than "a cave"

We found promising pit #10 without too much difficulty and Jean rigged it. It was blind but while Jean and Andrea surveyed it I shivered on the surface. Some locals took pity on me and built a fire. I was also shown a nearby cave (later found to be blind) and told an exciting tale of a cave 6-7m deep to where it went horizontal for 100s or metres with a stream. When the first cave was derigged I descended it with a farmer who claimed to have been down before. 7m down and the cave was full of mud. "It's become blocked" he explained insisting that it used to be very different.

After the 3rd great pit had failed it was time to come back, arriving just before dark.

29th December 2007: Small Mammal

Duncan Collis, Dan Nolfi, Nancy Pistole

We went to Gan Dong to look at the lead that Dan said smelled like dog shit. Duncan was pretty sure the lead would end quickly, so we left our pack and started surveying. After a short hands + knees crawl, the passage opened up and smelled better! We continued allafternoon - everytime we thought the passage ended, we found a wy to pop through into more nice-looking walking passage. It FINALLY ended; on our way back we cleaned up some leads that ended up looping back into main passage. We saw the animals that (presumably) had been leaving the piles of droppings - small (rabbit-sized) black animals w/ pointed noses and long fuzzy tails. Five hours later we returned to our packs, had a late lunch, and headed out.

TU: 6 hrs

29th December 2007: Recce

Johanna Kovarik, Erin Lynch

Took off on motorbikes above Huolu. Roads bumpy, approximately 30 minute ride, 5 minute hike to Dong Pian - small door/wall built in entrance, begins small but quickly opens up to 20m ceilings. Air drafting pre pit - pit is 2 sec. rock drop. Ends appx @ 150m - perhaps a steep mud climb lead in back. Old man claims this connects to Gan Dong! hmm... Hopped back on the bikes and drove out to "Rhinosc." Cave - 1 hr hike down to stream - bushwack up stream to tiny cave, not large enough for Rhinos, but perhaps large enough for 3 cavers. Hike back up to bikes - back to town - bumpy road. Walked above town to lovely Tiankeng, ~20m across perhaps 40m down - waste present, no medical waste. Good rig site on N. part of pit. Hike home, ~2mn. Beer

29th December 2007: Mai Tou Dong + Shan Wang Dong

Matt Ryan, Charley Savvas, Rick Yan, Nick Whittingham, Matt Oliphant

We were shown two caves near very substantial but grown-over trails. The 1 st cave (Mai Tou - also known as bi head cave) had a flat, mud-bottom floor. It appears that a lake forms (~1m deep) in the wet season. There are rock platforms in the back of the cave. The tops of the platforms stay dry in the wet season - could be for sleeping on. No evidence of "nitrating".

The 2 nd cave (Shan Wang Dong) had a cistern built near the entrance on the righthand side. Lots of evidence of human activity. Tricky climb near back of cave. The most outrageous false floor I've ever seen in a cave - ever! See photos. If anyone returns to this cave - careful. Many trails in this area - very confusing - especially at night.

30th December 2007: America, Fuck Yeah!

Jean Krejca, Johanna Kovarik, Dan Nolfi, Andrea Croskey

Johanna and Dan in Gan Dong

Returned to Gan Dong to continue past the rimstone dams. Three shots into the survey there was a bridge climb across a ~3m deep pool on flowstone. Jean made it look like a breeze, Johanna & Dan made it with some assistance from Jean, and I just decided to go for it. After a keen foreshadowing by Johanna saying "Perhaps you should pass the notes", I proceeded to dunk myself in the pool which flipped the notes and headlamp off my helmet. The loss: 1 $70 light, 1 $5 station light, 4 HMG rechargeable batteries, notes with 3 beautifully drawn shots, and 1 Rite-in-the-binder :(

Bravely, the team pressed on and surveyed ~650m with little mention of my huge screw-up. Sigh did I mention I lost my light :( Did I mention that we surveyed ~650m & finished the cave :)

30th December 2007: Trash Pit

Matt Oliphant, Charley Savvas, Nancy Pistole

Erin showed us the big pit behind the school. The 3 of us came back w/ the drill and rope. Matt + Charley rigged on the higher side, where there was less vegetation + trash. The pit was dead-bottom, no leads, but lots of trash + dead things at the bottom. Surveyed + left.

31st December 2007: New Years Eve

Jean Krejca, Andrea Croskey







31st December 2007: No real cave day

Rob Garrett, Charley Savvas, Matt Oliphant, Dan Nolfi, Johanna Kovarik, Rick Yan, Matt Ryan

We ride out in the Matt-mobile + are dropped off + find a guide to take us to a cave w/ a wall + human remains. We hike up a canyon + are shown a small cave/shelter that only goes back ~8m + conclude that our guide knows of no cave w/ a rock wall. He takes us to a another cave that Charley checks + it does not go. The rest of the group arrives + we all go back to a sink that they had been shown earlier. This sink did not go. We then checked out a resurgence that was dammed + a reservoir + fish farm had been built + only a shelter. Cave most likely flooded. Back to hotel + fireworks at midnight.

01th January 2008: New Year's Day

Matt Oliphant, Charley Savvas, Nancy Pistole

Nobody up early. In afternoon, Erin arranged motorbikes for the 3 of us to a cave in a nearby village. The cave entrance was in a field - we could see the bushed moving from the cave air from across the field. Entrance full of trash and one enormous fresh dead pig. We popped into the middle of a stream passage - downstream big + pretty. We did one small side lead - ended. We went the other direction (upstream?) a little ways - there is a pit (possibly downclimbable) and good air flow, but we ran out of time (motorbike guys were waiting). Good lead.

01th January 2008: Looking for steaming pits

Rob Garrett, Johanna Kovarik, Dan Nolfi

Hangovers in tow we went off to a random valley between Tongzi and Er Wang Dong. We were dropped off and walked up valley seeing no one nor any steaming pits. At the top of the valley a local farmhouse had nobody who spoke half-decent chinese but they eventually directed us up the hill towards a road. We followed this to the next valley and thought we saw a big entrance in the distance. Once we got there it was already dark and we were still far from base and our phone had no power

We passed through a little village when a local wandered past talking about "gui zi" but later they pointed us the way home. Even when we were across the valley and took a wrong turn, the calls of "bu tong" echoed through the night. We corrected our course and after a round trip of 8km made it back to the waiting minibus...

TU: 0 hrs

01th January 2008: New Year's Journey to EWD

Matt Ryan, Erin Lynch, Rick Yan

After our hangovers had mellowed to an acceptable level, we set off for a bumpy journey to EWD. On arrival, we were delighted to hear that Wang Qiong would be returning "manyana" to prepare for her wedding. Our attempts to establish where we should house the expedition were ignored as the Wang family discussed the relative merits of wedding jewelery, silver that cures disease, etc. A bumpy ride back with a stop in Tongzi for a slap-up meal from the goddess of breakfast rounded out the day

TU: 0 hrs

03th January 2008: Inconclusive

Jean Krejca, Duncan Collis, Dan Nolfi

Got a late start due to lack of keys into the cave. In the meantime, while changing sleeping arrangements, Charley slipped of the ladder to the upstairs splitting his head nicely. Jean did a nice job putting his brow back together with a suture and in a short time we were off to the cave. The trip in was pretty basic other than a slow degradation by my intestine. I had been feeling some intestinal issues off and on but nothing of concern as of yet. We descended the "Mumbles" pitches with the only hangup being my mis-judge on a redirect that I fought from below (descended below it). Big passage below was quick with some short crawls. We arrived at our destination, the traverse at the "Inconclusive" passage. Duncan easily bolted the muddy traverse and as I sat for a moment, I began to feel quite a bit of disruption in my stomach. We surveyed about 140m before heading out! Our intention was to leave the rigging for at least a return by Duncan. After the first ascend my guts had all they could take and I hurried away from the top of the pitch to find a hidden spot to relieve myself of lunch. Feeling only slightly better we headed on quickly trying to make our 8pm dinner time (which we most likely had no way of making). The bottom of the second ascend resulted in a discussion of Duncan heading ahead and waiting at the top of the last ascend. I started up feeling OK but went South quick. My muscles fatigued quickly and I had to clench my ass not to mess my cave suit. The climb became brutal as my strength left me. I was sick! I got a little better as I slowed my frog motion but the top wouldn't come fast enough. After what felt like a long time I got to the top of the 50m rope and called off rope. I tore into my bag grabbed my water bottle and chugged the rest. I screwed the lid on my empty bottle and my mouth quickly began to salivate - I was on the verge of vomiting! I ran down the passage with my pack. I threw up in the corner of a bend in the passage. It was mostly water with some red and brown solids. The only saving grace was a cricket at that location I saw that matched the cricket Jean was after. Jean got to the top of the drop and after a short explanation of why I was where I was she captured the cricket and I hobbled to the base of the next ascend. Climbing went less than OK and I was tired. Duncan was at the top and we made our way to the entrance slightly behind schedule.

TU: 8 hrs

03th January 2008: Sickie/Shattered Stream 2

Matt Ryan, Charley Savvas, Johanna Kovarik

We hiked in w/ Erin's team as far as the split off to our lead. Charley rigged the ~60m deep pitch w/ several rebelays + redirectionals. Couldn't find the orig. rigging points so C. improvised. Finally arrived down in "Shattered Stream" - lots of wind, quite chilly! Found a survey station near the top of the pitch as we headed downstream. C. rigged - sporting rebelay to a 6m pitch. 3 legs shot which will be continued tomorrow. C. set another set of bolts, we stopped for the day. Headed out - found our way. Duncan's team was close behind. Left rope, rigging, + vert gear - ropes rigged, extra rigging at lead, vert gear at top of pitch

03th January 2008: Down Shi Wang Tiankeng

Matt Oliphant, Nancy Pistole, Erin Lynch

A leisurely start got us to the cave a bit after noon. We romped to Shi Wang Tiankeng, which was as spectacular as ever. Matt refound the old thrubolts and rigged the pitch no problem. While looking for tie-in stations we heard Charley rigging over in Shattered Stream. After shouting back and forth a bit we decided to go downstream. The first short pitch had some very nice stylolites at the bottom and anastomoses writ large. The next pitch descended past several leads to a dry streamway which meandered, dropping in short climbs. We left it at a pitch and were out late.

TU: 9 hrs

03th January 2008: Er Wang Dong - The Vivisector

Rob Garrett, Andrea Croskey, Rick Yan

A return to Er Wang Dong was long overdue. A well placed draughting lead was only known by myself and Mike Ficco and it needed to be pushed lest it be lost. It was Andrea and Rick's first time in the cave so route finding was down to me, slightly hampered by a dim light. Not too many problems though and only a bit of furtling in Sea of Holes soon saw us down with the minor addition of a handline.

The lead was easy to find and our footprints from 2 years before were still visible, slightly allaying the apprehension heralded by unfeasible large logs all down the meander. The old survey station was relocated and progress swiftly made with Rick proving adept at choosing tape stations.

After a while stooping a promising hole rattled down into space but we followed the draught ahead eventually breaking out into bigger passage. Rick wondered how I had known to persist with what seemed to him an unpromising crawl - had I been there before? - I explained about draughts

The lead soon split and the less promising direction was followed for 100m to where the passage forked again and a large pool hampered further progress. Empty space beckons on all sides and a return cannot happen soon enough.

The journey out was uneventful.

TU: 8 hrs

03th January 2008: Shattered Stream

Matt Ryan, Johanna Kovarik, Charley Savvas

Today we headed in to rig Shattered Stream we hauled in a but load of rope + hardware. We could only locate spits at the top of the first pitch we used them + using collar bolts re riged the pitch. On the way down to SS I relocated a spit which I used to redirect the pitch. Down SS to the next pitch and our first survey point. We relocated the last station + started bolting the next pitch. This 10m pitch led to a pool which was traversed easely, at the edge of the pool was a 1.6m down climb to a pool wich spaned wall to wall. You could stay fairly dry with great difeculty. At the edge of this pool was our next pitch it was verry windy + cold here. I proceded to rig the pitch + toss down the end of the rope. The survey fallowed down to this pitch setting the last station on the far bolt. It was getting late + we were cold hanging out here so we headed to the surface. Hoping for a better day tomorrow. Our survey was a wapping (3) stations

04th January 2008

Matt Ryan, Johanna Kovarik, Charley Savvas

Today Mat Ryan, Joe Hana Kovarik, and Charley Savvas continued on down to Shattered Stream to continue the survey. We continued down the 50m pitch stoping at a ledge 15m up from the floor to set a station for the leads on this level. From here we shot a station to a ledge on the opposit end of the bottom of the pit at a leadge on an upper level. Theres a (2) pits of this leadge witch were surveyed on a later day. The survey continued down the bottom of the pit to a new drain about 4 stations were we had to manouver around a deep pool of watter to the next pitch. Mat rigd this pitch it was late so we dumpt gear here and headed fore the surface. Better day nice lead + better days ahead

04th January 2008: Inconclusive II

Andrea Croskey, Rob Garrett, Duncan Collis

Duncan and Rob decided to let me tag along to the leads just past the traverse they rigged. Collected a many legged creature for Creature on the big mud slope. The 1 st lead on the left didn't look like much. Duncan climbed up and we did one shot. Continued on to survey the line left yesterday. It started grim with a narrow meandering canyon with sucking mud at the bottom. Wandered up and down the canyon until we hit a dome (aven). Rob and I were ready to call it a day but Duncan pressed on to a super sketchy climb up relying on crappy rocks. His perserverance paid off though and found a crazy breezy lead. After a double team assist from Duncan and Rob I made it up the climb. A double length of webbing tied around a natural anchor was of great help. We proceeded to run down the passage noting selenite crystals in the floor and singing Duncan's praises. I took a video of Duncan next to the flagging of the last station whipping in the wind...

TU: 10 hrs

04th January 2008: Tiankeng Downstream

Matt Oliphant, Jean Krejca, Nancy Pistole

Nancy in Anastomoses

We continued down the downstream lead we (Matt, Erin + I) started yesterday. We got an earlier start (10:30 am!) but wanted to be on time for dinner. By the time we took photos, we didn't have a whole lot of time for surveying, but the passage got nicer with drops + pools. We got closer to a connection w/ known cave.

05th January 2008: Big Log Tie-in

Andrea Croskey, Matt Oliphant, Nancy Pistole

I accidentally ate a large orange peel at breakfast which proceeded to cause me serious stomach issues after entering the cave. Matt and Nancy encouraged me to relieve myself of the issue by ejecting said orange peel. Thus I got to make myself puke for the 1 st time in my life. Feeling much better we proceeded on. Matt and Nancy helped me through several climbs including the one in the crystal sandy crawl section and another at the bottom of the Tian Keng just after re-entering the cave. Matt rigged the last bit of the pitches as Nancy sketched and I set point. We across a few more tricky traverses and were able to tie in the aven called Soap Opera(?). As we exited Matt derigged faster than I could climb. Great Trip! Especially since Matt found the tie-in quicker than anticipated. He replaced the flagging with webbing in the hope it would last longer. Great Trip!

05th January 2008: Deadwood

Matt Ryan, Johanna Kovarik, Rick Yan, Dan Nolfi

Got a late start to the Tiankeng. Descended to the floor along with Charley & Erin who split off. The four of us surveyed from a known station in the biggest entrance on the floor to a tall fissure above a short < 10m climb up over vegetation. Surveyed ~150m total. 1 st half of the survey was relatively level until we reached a 15m pitch. We climbed around and past the pitch and found a easy descent to the floor of the pitch. At the bottom 3 or more leads headed off in all directions. One was blowing good air which we surveyed in washed passage to a small room < 10m around. We ended survey there with three leads leaving the room and wind dissipated. We headed out & randomly met Erin & Charley at the floor of the Tiankeng. We all ascended and as Charley made his way completely up, Nancy, Matt and Andrea surfaced from an earlier trip and requested two people wait for their ascend to help with rope & derig. Matt, Johanna, Rick and Me (Dan) dropped off some gear above "Shattered Stream" and headed out. We got "off trail" for 5-10 minutes but Matt found the way and we hit the exit gate ~ 1930. The tiankeng was awesome and although the trip was light we had a great trip for two ill cavers and one learning SRT!

05th January 2008: Inconclusive III

Duncan Collis, Rob Garrett, Jean Krejca

Draught at the pushing front

The previous two days' trips had shown that trips here running between breakfast and dinner could only hope to make limited progress. As we had left the lead looking very promising, with a very strong draught in a hands & knees crawl, we wanted to make the most of our time at the pushing front, so we set an 8am callout and decided to survey for as long as possible

We reached the front in 3 hours and immediately stopped for a photo of us posing by the flagging tape streaming out from the previous survey's final station. We surveyed a few legs into a chamber with two ways on, both draughting. We surveyed a leg into each and took the right-hand turn, since that was the second lead and so we were already there.

We spent the next few hours surveying ~5m legs in an exuberantly meandering canyon, mostly coated in sticky, moist, isopod poop. Finally we broke out into larger passage with lots of gypsum deposits. We surveyed several branches, and in one place found a 38cm long gypsum needle. At 10pm we stopped for a break, having found a small streamway, which was once more 5m survey leg territory. We decided to push upstream for at most 1 hour more, but in fact we just kept going until at around midnight we reached the bottom of a large aven.

We started heading back, surveying some way into a few other leads as we went, until eventually we got back to our first junction, where we went to the left this time and immediately found ourselves in a big abandoned stream passage about 4-5m wide with a good draught. A small stream has cut across which comes from a sump upstream (Jean collected a fish here, which will be sent to Kunming Institute of Zoology), while downstream was left unpushed in 1.5m high, metre wide passage - but the draught must go off into a higher level passage, probably where a big ceiling trench can be seen heading off to the west above a very steep mudslope.

At 3:30am we turned for home, taking some photos and derigging on the way, reaching the surface after just under four hours.

TU: 21 hrs

06th January 2008: Broken Wood

Matt Ryan, Charley Savvas

After Jean, Rob + Duncan's mammoth trip and the efforts to finish Matt O + co's other stuff in the tiankeng, nobody seemed to want to push Charley and I's huge drafting lead. We'd also had two trips with only a few survey legs before it was time to go out for dinner so after Jean, Rob + Duncan's long trip we decided we needed something a little longer than 'out for dinner' to get anything done. Charley and I set off without acomplices for a trip out 'sometime after midnight'. To the pushing front in record time and we soon made the decision for an overnight trip. Charley dropped the 25m pitch into the deep water we planned on plumbing then retreating for alternative leads, only to hook a rock and land out of the water. Another short pitch and onto a sump like passage. Surprisingly didn't sump and eventually broke through into known cave and nail varnish. Derigged our way out via other pitch leads which we dropped and surveyed, eventually connecting in via shorter routes. Finally out of time for our 8am callout we left some rope at the bottom of the Shattered Stones pitch and headed out for the surface with heavy bags.

TU: 20 hrs

06th January 2008

Nancy Pistole, Erin Lynch, Matt Oliphant

The three of us cruised in to the Tiankeng + placed a few bolts up some overhanging rock (last bolt is bad). We surveyed left up big passage for a couple of shots + it ended :( We surveyed a belly crawl past a dead rat to the bitter end. We continued up from the top of the climb about 4-5 more bolts (lots of rotten rock). It was getting late so we set an anchor in the top + left it for the next day (3m x 3m passage w/ air) + boot steps

TU: 7.5 hrs

07th January 2008: Dig Past Frog Inlet

Rob Garrett, Andrea Croskey

Rob derigged Cherley and Matt R's route to Shattered Stream. Andrea went and assisted Erin and Nancy with pics in the Tiankeng. Then went to find Erin's blowing dig lead. After searching around the 'T' intersection for a while we decided to go down a blowing hole in the floor. We couldn't find any stations so we started to survey down it only to find a station just a few shots down. Rob had to assist me with a climb down and we found the dig. Rob dug just a bit and we squeezed through the howling wind. Surveyed through a sandy crawl much like The Bone Collector until we reached a room. The room had a high lead in a dome climb and the other lead was a canyon which was blowing air into the room like the passage we came in from. Is the high lead taking all the air out? Shot a few splays in the room and continued down the canyon lead. Surveyed until we got to a pitch. Rock is crappy but there is a bridge for a natural anchor. Cruised back to the Tian Keng team and they were back to photographing. Rob wanted to inestigate for a continuation of a passage so we set a few stations but didn't find what he was looking for. Thus we hauled all the rigging from the Shattered Stream route ou, Rob taking the lion's share.

07th January 2008

Nancy Pistole, Matt Oliphant, Erin Lynch

Matt quickly rigged yesterday's climb while I snapped a few piccies of Andrea looking out into the tiankeng. Soon enough we were surveying along some very interesting not-quite-virgin passage. There were indeed footprints. We followed Mr Footprints past a rodent? skeleton, to a junction. The trail went right, but we decided to take the larger (walking) passage to the left. The wind blowing in our face, we passed a number of phreatic-tube crawls. Beyond, most of the air was coming up a pit on the left, and there was another drop to water on the other side of the passage. A few more shots and we ran out of easy walking passage. It degenerated into a maze of tubes. We surveyed a short way along two of them, and then returned to the junction where we'd lost Mr Footprint's trail. There, we found definite signs of human activity - four barefoot footprints. It didn't look like a major thoroughfare, but someone had definitely been up there. Piles of sticky black goop compounded the mystery along with a now-dry stream channel full of small animal bones, and even some torch embers. Thoughts of carbon dating danced in my head. The speculation flowed thick and fast - where had the miners come in? Why had they modified Frog Inlet so much? Did they do it to get into SWD or to get out to the fresh air and light of Shi Wang Tiankeng? There were no answers here, only more questions.

On the way out we photographed Nancy's favourite mouldy moth and the footprints. I also made note of some fist-sized paleo-stream cobbles. Cosmogenic isotope dating anyone?

TU: 10 hrs

08th January 2008: Guai Guai

Rob Garrett, Andrea Croskey, Charley Savvas

Entered Er Wang Dong @ 11:30AM. Charged in like champs to the lead. Route finding was much easier this time since both Rob and I had been there 5 days before. Though Rob intended on us taking what he thought was the downstream lead, it turned out to be upstream. Surveyed a "lovely" cobble stone crawl and stopped in a room where about 14 white millipedes were counted. The lead was dug open but we went to the lead back before the "T" junction since it looked to pirate water to a lower level. Cave life was abundant in this section with beetles, crickets, and even another lithobiomorph. The lead we checked on the way out only took 2 legs and then hit a pitch. Ran into the Ran into the tour group and raced them to the Tian Keng where they tried to see us from a window. Ate a snickers bar and turned back . Leads left in the area: 1)plunge pools with a mud traverse, 2)cobble crawl, 3)high lead in the room where we dug a death-defying cobble sump, 4)pitch to the highly anticipated lower level... right time out? 7ish.

TU: 7.5 hrs