Miyi 2005 Project Logbook

Logbook:

14th January 2005: Guilin to Kunming

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis, Yang He Ping, Deng Ya Dong, Sakina

Same story, different project; packed + uploaded then hopped in what has become our regular van to Guilin. The driver spent a good twenty minutes trying to avoid the toll going out of town but was foiled by gates, concrete blocks, and large stones on all sides - at one point doing a 17 point turn to reverse out of what had seemed like a sneaky way past.

We arrived at the Institute in good time, collecting Deng, and to our surprise Engineer Yang. Han, who was to be the project leader, had gone ahead the previous day. Neither Duncan nor I knew Yang. He'd been reassigned from the first floor to the Caving Group only recently, but he seemed to grasp the fundamentals - what every expedition needs is good grub. We had an excellent feed on the train, but not before a bit of comedy.

Earlier in the week I'd made the mistake of mentioning to Han that foreigners often get preferential treatment for upgrades on trains. He'd apparently taken this to heart + bought 2 sleeper tickets (for Yang + Deng) and 2 no-seat tickets for Duncan + myself. When the train to Kunming arrived at Guilin D + I had about 10 bags between us, which we wheeled to Yang's carriage #10, only to be told "No, upgrades are in #6", where they said, "Too many people here, go to #8." We finally ended up in #13 - a posh new hard sleeper carriage with pseudo-compartments + all. We were joined by Sakina, a French lass Dunks had helped get an upgrade, although it later transpired that she spoke more Chinese than he.

15th January 2005: Kunming to Miyi

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis, Yang He Ping, Deng Ya Dong, Liu Hong

Arrived in Kunming a bit before 3pm. Duncan was having a rough time of it. He'd been ill with the runs two day s previously, but had felt a bit better before getting on the train. Now he was decidedly worse - leg cramps, aches, headache, etc. A full blown case of flu-like symptoms.

With Duncan-zombie + myself doing most of the heavy lifting, we rolled off the platform + hoiked our bags up the stairs, only to decide to put everything in storage. No problem said the baggage clerks as they directed us back down the stairs we'd just come up. Argh.

Dunks + I stole away from a few hours to visit Liu Hong + were sad to see that he was ill, but despite that he was ill, but despite that he was in good humor as always + seemed to particularly enjoy a few of the photos from 2001 that I'd recently scanned.

Back at the station - a new space age incarnation which looks as though the designer was inspired by Gattaca - we had the unexpected pleasure of being allowed to roll our humungous luggage trolley straight onto the escalator; sometimes you gotta love China. The waiting room was packed + I wondered why they hadn't bothered to build the station a bit bigger, but nevermind. We boarded without too much hassle + slept until 2:30 when Zhou Ping from Miyi tourism met us on the platform for a quick ride of 26km to the Long Tan Dong showcave complex.

16th January 2005: Showcave tour

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis, Yang He Ping, Deng Ya Dong, Han Dao Shan

Obligatory "kan yi kan" of the showcave + surrounds. Initial impression: lots of steps. In places the cave has been enlarged + the top entrance is a longish tunnel obviously blasted from the outside in. Long Tan Dong has several nice waterfalls but the course of the main stream is rather confused, with it sinking + rising from between boulders in a number of places. Higher up in the cave the formations are generally more impressive, with white curtains + a few large mounds of white flowstone. The lighting at present is extremely poor, but it should be nice once Mr. Han is through with it. I think his plan is to get rid of some of the green + red florescent tubes scattered about the place.

After the cave tour we went down a waterfall walk which (if the current steps were removed) would make a nice beginner's canyoning trip, with half a dozen cascades to be abseiled. Mr. Han told us that in addition to limestone, the area has granite + some sort of volcanic rock (roughly translates as lava?) We had a quick squint at a map -- well over 1km of depth potential here. Shame Han thinks the limestone is pretty sparse. Have to wonder where the water in the cave comes from. It's also curious how much moonmilk + very white flowstone there is in the cave - it's fairly different from most of the other showcaves we've seen in China in that respect.

17th January 2005

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis

Early start, out of bed at 8am, straight to breakfast and into the cave by 9:30. For my part I was glad finally not to feel ill anymore -- the wonders of ciprofloxacin.

At the entrance we were met by a couple of local chaps who accompanied for this day's work. A slog up through the cave, gaining 200m of height.

We began by looking at the lead at the start of the exit funnel, which surprised us by very rapidly leading to the top of a drop down to the stream. However, it almost certainly requires a rope to get down, and our guides showed not the slightest interest in it. The way we surveyed had very clearly already been surveyed by somebody else -- great big numbered survey stations painted all over the place.

It was quite pretty, but not very big, with several crawls. Eventually we met a small trickle of a stream which is impenetrable downstream and not much better upstream -- our companions made turning around signals, which suited us fine, although in a fit of enthusiasm I squeezed in to have a look, and followed a tight, catchy passage for maybe 20m to where the stream seemed to rise from a pool, and the only obvious way on was a flat-out crawl. I was not the first person to visit this bit of the cave, as a single set of footprints and an empty fag-packet showed.

On the way back to the showcave, Erin looked at a side passage which she declared very pretty but very small. Next we did a quick survey out of the exit tunnel to tie-in to a gps station ((well, Erin & one of the locals did most of it while I went back to to pick up the torch I'd left behind ...)

Finally we went back to about ½ way down the cave to where there's a hole down to the streamway. Lots of broken glass on the way down, but its worth it as the stream is sporting with several climbs down. We surveyed downstream (leaving upstream unpushed) almost as far as where the stream rejoins the showcave, before leaving the survey in order the be out in time for dinner at 6pm.

18th January 2005

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis, Mr. Gao

Slightly later start, but still underground by quarter to ten. Completed the survey we'd left yesterday, surveying upstream until we connected with yesterday's final station. At this point it turned out that Erin had packed all the photo kit except a camera, so the planned photography session at the cascades was not possible.

After lunch we went back into the lead just by the end of the tunnel, planning on rigging a rope down to the streamway. Here it turned out that the rope & SRT kit we'd brought with us was superfluous, as our local showed us a sneaky route down. He told us that upstream goes to the surface and that downstream goes to a big undescended waterfall. We opted for downstream first, planning to try rigging the pitch off naturals if possible, then to survey back up the streamway.

However, the rock at the head of the pitch is shit, and there are no good naturals, so the drill will be needed and even then it will be difficult to find a good bit of the wall to drill into. We started to survey upstream, but were led astray after the first leg, and ended up surveying a fossil route back into the showcave, where we spent a long time trying to find a survey station to tie into.

Finally, we went back and surveyed the streamway, connecting yesterday's survey to the rest of the cave properly.

19th January 2005: The Wrong Wellie

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis, 7 rescuers

A slightly later start, but still underground by eleven. We carried the drill, rigging kit, a 34m rope and 2 SRT kits up to the top end of the cave in order to descend yesterday's waterfall. Mr. Gao wisely was somewhere else and didn't get to carry and tacklesacks.

We got to the pitch-head and set about braying at the walls with a bolting hammer. At the larger pitch-head the rock was decidedly iffy, plus peering over the edge it was clear we'd run into a ledge not far down, so we went and flailed the hammer around at the smaller pitch-head closer to where the water falls. Here some determined quarrying exposed a couple of postcard-sized pieces of reasonably sound rock. Erin always complains (with some justification) that she never gets to rig, so the drill was unpacked and she set-too.

It soon became apparent that there was a problem with the drill - the hammer action would not engage. This is the old-style Bosch from Andy Eavis, which was noted to be drilling slowly during the Nandan expedition. Out came the Roc-pecker,and Erin got some practice at bolting by hand.

After ⅔ of a bolt we decided that heavier blows from the hammer would speed up proceedings, so I took over. Two bolts were placed for a Y before the climb down to the pitch-head, and after some deliberations about naturals and some more hammer work, a bolt was placed for a hang down, which was well clear of the walls but unfortunately met heavy spray before encountering anything to deviate off.

Two more bolts were needed near the top to get away from the water, and a natural deviation half-way down improved the rig slightly, although it was still wet at the bottom - I wished we'd rigged on the opposite side after all.

Downstream was followed for about 100m of mostly small, mostly crumbly passage. Through one short section of larger prettier stuff to a sump. We surveyed out. Approaching the bottom of the pitch, we could see the beam of Gao's torch, and reaching the top we found a rescue part, as we were late for dinner. Four rescuers made short work of shifting our kit out of the cave, and the three additional rescuers on standby halfway down the cave were surplus to requirements. Got back to the hotel to find that everyone else had waited without dinner for our return.

20th January 2005

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis, Mr. Gao

A slightly later start, but still underground by 11:30. We were delayed slightly by a visit by the Miyi PSB's head of foreign affairs, who wanted to see our passports which we didn't have with us. Fortunately we had scans of our passports, and printouts of those seemed to keep him happy.

We went up less than halfway through the showcave, and surveyed up an inlet on the left. This was mostly comfortably large passage, apart from a short crawl and a wet squeeze just about where the water emerged from impenetrable holes beneath flowstone to the left. Beyond this point the cave became much larger, and soon connected in on the corner by the waterfall over which a bridge carries the showcave path.

Next we wet back to Hairshirt to take photos of the streamway and cascades but Erin's camera batteries died so we were not able to take pictures.