Nandan 2003 Expedition Logbook


1st March 2003: Visa Dash

Duncan Collis, Matt Ryan

Having got our visa applications in two days earlier, having done various odds & ends that needed doing in HK, we were having a lazy day up at the Mt. Davis YHA, planning on picking up our visas "sometime today". I was sitting in the kitchen having a nice cup of tea, whilst Matt was in reception chatting to Fiona.

Matt thought I was busy finishing off breakfast, and was wondering how long it would take, as the visa office shuts in the afternoon on Saturdays. At about 11:40 he came to suggest we set off. By 11:45 we'd checked our receipt and discovered that the office actually shut at 12:00, so Fiona rang them to ask them to wait for us while we set off running down the hill, through Kennedy Town, catching a cab to Central running into the MTR down wrong platform back up the escalator down again and onto the train then running through crowded streets in Tsim Sha Tsui, arriving at 12:18 to find the office still open.

1st March 2003: Journey to China by Wayne and Denis

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Fred Yeung, Matt Ryan, Wayne Sheldon

A quick flight to Frankfurt with Lufthansa on a plane that had plenty of legroom, about 1 and a half foot of space. Changed planes in Frankfurt to a larger plane to find that the legroom was at most one foot.

We landed in Hong Kong on time but it took nearly one hour to get through the immigration desk and walk straight through customs afterwards. Duncan and Matt met us, we were took from the airport to the center of Hong Kong to find a bank but realized that they were closed due to it being Sunday. From here it was on to a train for a 45 minute ride to the border. Through the border crossing, onto a bus in Shenzhen for a short ride to the long distance bus station. A quick meal for about 3 hours before it was the overnight bus ride to Guilin, luxury on these buses. The ideal way to travel. Arriving in Guilin, a walk to the bus stop for a ride to the Karst Institute and Duncan + Erin's apartment. I have never been on so many buses in a short space of time. Anyway a good but tiring journey over.

4th March 2003: The Hong Meigui return to Nandan

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch, Fred Yeung, Judy, Liang Hui Ren, Matt Ryan, Wayne Sheldon

The traveling bit went reasonably smoothly. Guilin to Hechi took 4 hours of karaoke + bizarre films, then another 2 through beautiful karst peaks to Nandan. Confusion at the bus station left us wondering where to go + what to do. Zhang Hai had recommended contacting Mr. Liang, but we had no address or phone number, plus the cabbies didn't recognize the name of his business. Luckily a Bai Ku Yao tourism official just happened to overhear us asking for directions + from that point everything was out of our hands. Mr. Liang was exceptionally welcoming + put us up in a three star (unfinished) hotel for free. At first I thought we would have to pay, but Fred confirmed it was gratias. Judy + Matt had already arranged a hotel for 95 Y, but this seemed like an even better deal.

Dinner was a banquet + everything started to seem a bit familiar. We'd seen far too much of this sort of treatment in 2001 ... Mr. Liang was in good form. He thought Duncan's bare legs were hilarious + kept slapping them until Duncan had had enough + hoisted Mr. Liang over his shoulder. The conversation then moved to arm + chest hair. As the dinner was wrapping up, Mr. Liang pulled me aside and conspiratorially asked if we wanted to go to the "re shui" place. Denis was well keen, so we hopped in a minivan + left the very pissed Mr. Liang behind. At the hotsprings we went to the posh private pools + Judy + I even had a pool just for the 2 of us. The hot water was delightful + even better with a few beers, although I have to say that this was the most sober I have ever been at the hotsprings. It looks like Nandan 2003 is off to a good start!

5th March 2003

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch, Fred Yeung, Judy, Matt Ryan, Wayne Sheldon

I Denis was amazed by the rawness of the showcave trip, and the lighting. Effect being little but much. The trip gave you a tourist a real insight into wild caving. Not over the top with health and safety and lighting giving an effect of true caving as the normal tourist completely flood lighted, with different colour lights, to me the impressive part of the trip was the exit which made me feel so humble compared to the size of the passage.

6th March 2003

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Wayne Sheldon

Day started with both teams having two caves to tackle and survey. Our team, Duncan, Wayne, myself and a Chinese man we called Tenzing, who had slippers and shirt and smoked a lot. Pick the better of the two because we stayed dry while the others had swims. The trip went well with no hiccups, with a bonus of finding a surface exit, our Chinese man was amazing, friendly and smiled all the way through the half mile trip. We had one stop and I offered him a moon cake which he accepted, but would not drink with us. On arriving back I decided I was going for a run but Wayne managed to lock us out so I had part of my run in the dark, every body was happy with the 2 trips because between them we added over 1000 meters of new cave to China's known caves.

6th March 2003: Gan Tian Ba - day 1

Erin Lynch, Fred Yeung, Matt Ryan

Gan Tian Ba is "that cave from the photos" - the one with a foaming mass of brown water rushing into the entrance. I'd been looking forward to it with a mixture of fear + excitement. But what a world of difference two months makes. Water levels were meters lower than before, and the torrent was a mere trickle. In May water flows over the top of both the dam + the aqueduct, but today it was just trickling a little over the aqueduct. Quite a bit of rock was exposed in the stream bed + we were able to do a few legs before it was time to change into wetsuits. The cave began with a lovely skylight and some small brown fish. Shortly we came to a longer swim that looked like it could be broken in two. At the halfway mark Matt spotted a side passage that looked nice + dry. To warm up we took a few legs down it, finding ourselves first at the top of a partial bypass to the swim (needs a handline) and then in a maze of vadose rifts. The cave obviously floods a long way up, as there were static pools throughout. We followed our noses to the surface, leaving many side-leads untouched. Sitting in the sun to warm up a bit we noticed flood debris (plastic bags, the occasional bra) and mud 5 meters! above the dry entrance we'd just come out of. The whole depression must flood in the rainy season.

Back inside, another swim + we found an inlet with a deep pool full of white fish. We're not sure if they're blind, but will take the net to find out! The active cave continued in fine fashion - 8 to 10 m wide, with swims, traverses, and a bit of boulder hopping. In total we surveyed 490 m before it was time to turn around for our 6pm pickup. After 2 months not caving, it was great to get underground!

7th March 2003

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Wayne Sheldon

Went to the big dong beyond Gan Tian Ba Dong (don't yet know what it's called) and surveyed in through the smaller entrance near the road to connect with yesterday's effort. Then went into the hot sweaty passage just inside the big entrance to the same cave. This went fairly quickly to a 10m wide passage containing a large stream. Downstream was a swim, but dry land could be seen beyond. A short way upstream was another swim.

Another passage in the entrance was pushed past a skylight into a dry series where a number of leads were left ongoing.

7th March 2003: Gan Tian Ba -- Flat Tyre

Erin Lynch, Fred Yeung, Matt Ryan

We swam in to Matt's final survey station, checking for fish along the way. They'd all disappeared -- no sign of any at all, the must have heard we were coming back with a net. Big of rock hopping, then swimming + we came to an oxbow (no swimming) with 2 qm's which cut out a bit of canal. More swimming with some fairly fast flowing water at constrictions ended at a short waterfall. Matt rigged a handline for a climb down, then scrambled to the top of an overlook + down the other side into a now abandoned continuation of the passage we'd been surveying. The water went down the 2m waterfall and then down a slot, where he could not follow it. Meanwhile Fred + I were slowly freezing after the long immersion, so once Matt had determined that there was a way on, just not with the water, we decided to head out to the sunshine.

8th March 2003: Xiniu Dong

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Fred Yeung, Wayne Sheldon

Went to Xiniu Dong (entrance on E side of depression, opposite road) to survey stuff in S end of cave. Were joined by Li Chan Rong, one of the guys from the nearby stone crushing plant. He sometimes goes fishing in the underground stream. He told us that 200 years ago water used to flow from the entrance on the W side (under the current road) into the entrance on the E side but that then something moved and the water now goes by another route. Named after rhinos that used to roam there, apparently!

Surveyed a couple of hundred meters of walking passage, but not particularly huge. Found an aven which went to the surface - Denis & Duncan climbed up 40 m and dug a route out - named it "Biscuit Pot".

Then went into the west entrance - big (20m) passage stonking off with several skylights. Exited from 3rd skylight, leaving ongoing passage which Denis had run along for several hundred more meters.

9th March 2003: Xiniu Dong West

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Fred Yeung, Wayne Sheldon

Surveyed over 1 km in this fine fossil cave, with a number of 50m legs. Several impressive skylights were passed enroute. Near our limit of exploration, the cave branches and there are a few very good ways on. Denis reports a large stream ahead. We left a 20m wide fossil passage as a qm.

At dinner we were told that Xiniu Dong used to be called Di Shui Dong until the 1970's, and that the name "Xiniu" refers to some insects found in the entrance depression which have large noses.

Transport today was a bit random. The jeep could not be started (we suspect the engine was flooded by an inexperienced driver), so after helping lots of men in good suits push it around, we were put in a bread van. In the evening, our transport didn't turn up at 5pm as agreed, so we set off walking. At 5:40 we saw a car approaching in reverse. When it was about to pass us, it stopped and we were invited into an immaculate leather-and-walnut-veneer interior. Stately progress was made back to the village. There was a blue light on the roof, which sadly wasn't used, but from the generally plush fittings and the big green hat on the rear parcel shelf, we concluded the owner was a big cheese of some sort.

Back at the village, a police van with a holding cell in the back was waiting, and about 15 people in expensive looking clothes were standing to observe the arrival of our car. Just as we were wondering what was going on, lots of handshaking happened, all the people got into the police van, and we strolled to our rooms.

10th March 2003: Day trip to Nandan

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Fred Yeung, Wayne Sheldon

No transport available today, and Fred feeling ill, so we decided to have a rest day. Caught bus into Nandan with Mr. Li. Wayne & Denis went on a shopping spree, Wayne splashing out £ 8 on a nice pair of trainers, Denis spending a massive £ 10 on all manner of things.

11th March 2003

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Fred Yeung, Wayne Sheldon

Fred still feeling ill, decided to return home. A real shame, as he's a likeable bloke, quite apart from being very handy as a translator. He asked if he could take his boiler suit as a souvenir, which we immediately agreed to; he left us his buoyancy jacket and donated his water bottle to Denis. I suppose most of us westerners would have given it a bit longer before deciding to go home but (a) Fred's probably immune to loads of the things that'd make us ill here and (b) it's not so far for him to go home.

I think caving in Nandan probably wasn't what he'd been hoping for, as we've done no ropework but lots of swimming; hopefully it hasn't put him off caving - Tianxing should be much more Fred's cup of tea - and he's most welcome to come along.

Wayne too hung over today to face jeep ride or caving, so Denis + I decided to do surface work. However, we were promptly hijacked by Lu Jin, who seems to be a local showcave developer. He took us to a couple of caves which are in the process of being made into show caves. Both have already been surveyed by Mr. Han of the Guilin Karst Institute.

The first was a large entrance with a dam just inside which held back a substantial lake. We were told that the downstream cave extended for 3km. This attraction is billed as the 8 natural bridges; I don't think they're quite as big as the 3 in Chongqing, but they're much more dramatic and beautiful, but perhaps the feeling of wilderness is heightened by the incomplete paths, etc.

The second was a small (just slightly stooping for me) entrance, which immediately enlarged to motorway size. We went up very many steps in a colossal passage, and soon were crunching our way across a vast gravel floor - at least, we thought it was a gravel floor, until our guide bent down and came up with a handful of cave pearls. To our amazement we'd been led into a huge area of six inch deep cave pearls, millions and millions of them. The cave continued for a considerable distance before we finally emerged from a 40m high 100m wide entrance.

Oh yes, and over lunch we were told that there are at least 4 underground rivers here, which resurge 20km away in Da Gou He (Big Dog River). Apparently there are a couple of 40m deep shafts near Li Hu which have a river at the bottom, but have never been descended.

For dinner we had a huge plate of beef, which was delicious. Half an hour later we were invited to join in with a feast of dog meat to celebrate the clubbing to death that morning of a wild dog which had been killing livestock in the area. Chewy but delicious. Wayne + I equaled the local men with 9 gambeis of local rice spirit. As you can probably tell from my handwriting.

12th March 2003

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Wayne Sheldon

Night before the connection of J.J. Dong Wayne ill all night due to indulgence of strong white fluid. Nick named Nedd Kelly due to having his head in a bucket all night. Dunks and Denis went back to tidy up a few lose ends in Xiniu Dong West. On site of end and daylight entrance we noticed a passage on left of main chamber. This turned out to be a the important connection to J J Dong. We realized this on noticing red flagging tape on entering a steep slope down to the streamway. We quickly exited JJ Dong with lots of exciting talk of the connection, then back to reality of tea at Gan-He and check Wayne out.

13th March 2003: Haystack & Hillside Cave

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Wayne Sheldon

Haystack Cave was entered by all three. This cave was 2 high rifts joining into one and continuing as a pretty passage with lots of flow stone to [where] a large rift pitch stopped the way. A low muddy bypass regained the rift passage and it continues in big proportions, broken by odd rock falls and more pitches with we did not have rope for.

Wayne Denis & Duncan Hillside Cave. Wayne sat this one out. Denis & Dunks ascended the hill to the cave entrance which lay near the top which made the ascent tough. But they were not disappointed for the cave had a large wide mouth full of pretties. The cave was basically one large alcove with 3 different rooms connected together with curtains of stals. The 3rd and final room closed down to a mud flat choke very wide.

14th March 2003: On the Tourist Trail

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch, Lu Jin, Wayne Sheldon

As promised Mr. Lu arrived in his swank Pajero and a whirlwind tour of tourist sites ensued. From Gan He we traveled west, looking at several depressions with many cave entrances to the S of the road. At the end of the road we went for a walk over hill + dale, thru the river cave w/dam that Dunks + Denis had previously visited, and on westward to the big natural bridge. Dunks had a bit of a rough time, as his piles were acting up, so he got into a bit of a drinking competition with our host at lunch. Shortly we returned to the jeep and drove a short way to the village near the cave pearls cave. Dunks declined to join us on a jaunt through the cave, opting to nurse his sore cheeks instead. So the rest of us went on a thru-trip, taking a different route from the previous visit, and popping out in a cultivated valley. Along the way we encountered a number of water buffalo being driven in the dark. It was not something you see every day. In the valley Mr. Lu took us up to a pretty cave which he is not going to "kaifa". It had a bit of a gate on it, so I think they may choose to protect it. Wayne twisted his ankle a bit and I think we were all glad to get back to the jeep. A jovial Dunks greeted us + then tried to molest a cow. He was quite load + I think he frightened the local children outside a shop. But his Chinese does improve with a little Baijiu, so he managed to stir up another little drinking competition, finally maxing out at 20 glasses, at which point he was put on a pop diet + had to be restrained from drinking Mr. Lu's baijiu. That night he spent a long time chuntering on about god knows what, including what I am sure were profound comments about the "Level of Sniff" of his feet. Come 3am he woke up + could remember none of it, so we all had a good time recalling all of his various transgressions for the rest of the day.

15th March 2003: Xiniu Streamway

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch

After hearing so much about how Xiniu was going to storm off upstream to connect w/ Gan Tian Ba, I was excited to finally see the streamway. It was fine stream passage that ended all too soon in an upstream sump. Denis heroically swam to the center of the pool + plumbed it with a nice bit of chert that had a convenient attachment hole. Surveyed downstream for a few hundred meters to alas, not a sump, but a section of low ducks and no draft. Deemed to grim we decided to plumb the canal (14m!) and in the process Denis + I lost our krabs. Doh! Luckily Denis was able to break the tape nice + low + we were left w/ a 49m tape. On the way back a side lead at the top of a boulder pile led to a canal that had been spotted on a previous trip. We surveyed through the ice-cold canal water, brr! and back into daylight. A quick tie-in and then we surveyed along nice 5-m wide passage "All Choked Up" first with a cracked mud floor, and then along white-veined limestone with a flow of orangish calcite down the side + in the depressions. 2 boulder chokes led to entrances (one new, one old), and then we were out of leads + it was time to meet the jeep. Nice cave.

16th March 2003: Walking above Liang Feng Dong

Denis Bushell, Wayne Sheldon

A surface day by Wayne & Denis to go and have a look for the skylights of Liang Feng Dong that were spotted by Erin the last time the cave was looked at. We took the road out of town, in the direction of Nandan. After about 0.5km, a steep path on the left, just after when the bend begins to straighten. This path must rise approx. 700 meters. It zig zags very steeply up this hill for about 300 meters, before straightening out for the rest of it. You eventually reach a point between two cols, the path stays to the left had side of the hill, with a flat valley floor in the bottom. We skirted the hill on the path looking for skylights. At one point we came to this Chinese bloke who was working. Denis asked his if he had seen any caves in his best english, , just when I looked across the valley and saw a cave entrance, about 4 meters by three meters. Me and Denis rushed to this entrance to check it out. Denis descended the first pitch with the aid of sling, for 2.5 meters to a sloping passage for 20 meters to a Z bend, then a straight rift to another pitch. There was a howling gale blowing through the hole. Denis returned and told me. There would be know way to see daylight from the second pitch. This can't be a skylight we thought.

We continued our walk, onto the main footpath through the valley floor. I saw blackness out of the corner of my eye, we were walking between two skylights about 6x10 meter size. We tried our best to look down, we couldn't see the floor at all. After GPS's both entrances, it was time to continue our walk. We had a plan, a route to follow but somehow we didn't follow the planned route, as we found out later that night when we studied the map. We did end our walk at a village of name we don't know. It was a very productive walk, especially with finding the skylights.

17th March 2003: Liang Feng Dong Skylights

Denis Bushell, Wayne Sheldon

We returned today to survey the skylight entrances + the hillside entrance adjacent the skylights.

Hillside Entrance Adjacent Skylights. We rigged the first pitch of a flake down the slope and over a smooth edge. The first drop of 2.5 metres is then followed by a sloping passage, and a narrow rift to another pitch head. A pitch of 6 metres leads to a sloping chamber. Down the slope for about 15 metres, gives you a choice of two ways to go. The left hand route is blind while to the right, a slope for about 4 metres leads to a pitch. The pitch wasn't descended due to the rock being very poor for belaying + there were no natural belay anchors available either.

The plan was to survey out but having not descended the pitch, we didn't see it feasible to do a detailed survey of the cave. I made a sketch survey of the cave then we could go and tackle the skylights. We were underground for about 90 minutes.

18th March 2003: Return to Liang Feng Dong

Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch

Today was almost 2 years in coming, but at long last I returned to the site of my last pushing trip of Nandan 2001. It had been a fabulous trip -- lots of max legs, 2 large leads left at the end, and a glorious bob out, floating with the current. The return was not a disappointment. Beyond the influence of the dam the water level was noticeably lower -- the Dirty Dog Ducks sporting a good half-meter of airspace. We arrived at the long canal just in time to meet Wayne + Denis. As a 4 some we surveyed the fossil oxbow + then photoed "The Magic Wand" a > 40m stal that came to a point.

Wayne + Denis prusiked out + Dunks + I ran off to find 2001's last survey station. After 2 years, it was remarkably easy to find. Dunks scouted ahead + we decided to stick to the modest-sized stream passage instead of the Houping-esque fossil branch. 2 legs + we were cruising along nice gravel banks with a small stream to the side. After a few max legs the ceiling started to come down + soon we were swimming, but then the ceiling went up again + it seemed like we might have lucked out + passed through the "sump". But the cave was just teasing. ALl too soon we saw the real sump, rising out of the left hand side of the passage, with a large mud bank on the right, and no way on. From there it was a v. leisurely 1.5 hrs back to the village for a top meal of pig fat in soup

17th March 2003: Liang Feng Dong - Rigging the pitch (Merlin Pitch)

Denis Bushell, Wayne Sheldon

Rigging the pitch was not straight forwards, Wayne & Denis thought the day before it would be simply a matter of a sling round a overhanging tree and down to the bottom free hanging. This was not to be. The route to the tree itself was a major jungle battle with wild thorns and bamboo trees which had to be hacked and pushed towards the yawning mouth of the black void and hopefully disappear. On reaching the tree and securing a belay the rope 10 meter down needed to be rebelayed again. This proved a problem, but overcome with a sling round a stal boss, unfortunately this only gave a 15 meter drop to a cherty wall which would not take a bolt. On looking round up and down I decided this would not prove to be the way on. On inspection of the mouth of the shaft I noted a clear hang could be had on the opposite side to the tree, but would require bolting. Back on surface & wacking down towards hopefully solid rock things looking OK. On starting bolting rock shatter twice. Decided to back up on some substantial roots. Spits lack back 6" off nose of rock, small mallion chain sorted out problem of rub. Way down was spectacular 94 meter free hang into a vast yawning void of magical proportions. 60 meter down had to past knot, due to no long lengths of rope. On passing knot it gave me time to reflect on how wonderful a place this chamber of dreams was. On bottoming the pitch I was quickly on my way into huge fossil passage. All my wildest dreams and anticipation were answered with two huge stalagmites one of which later on was recorded over 45 meter high. After seeing the stals it was back to earth with the reality of the 94 meter prusik out into the green lush valley above and leave the deep subterranean world of magic.

18th March 2003: Liang Feng Dong via Skylights

Denis Bushell, Wayne Sheldon

We had a 35 minute walk up to the skylight entrance. This was already rigged from yesterday so firstly we took a GPS reading then a survey leg was taken to a position on the edge of the shakehole, then readings from this point to the bolt. Erin would take the next reading from below, from the bottom of the rope. Denis went down first then I followed. A very dry rope it was so it was very hot going down. When at the bottom, I drew up a section of the pitch from observations Ipitch took while abseiling down. After some surveying and photographs, it was time to go.

Denis had gone up early to be on a photograph so it was my turn. On the way up, I took some readings and approximated distances of the shaft and also drew up the section of the pich facing the other way. Once at the top, I derigged the pitch, then Denis and I pulled up the rope + my bag which was on the bottom of it.

Once derigged, it was time to measure the rope. We doubled the rope and laid it across the field then took a measurement with the 50 meter tape. The measurement was 46 meters, so that made it 92 meters in total. The knot was also two metres above the floor when the instrument reading was took in the chamber, so that 2 meters also needed to be added. From the bolts to the top of the shakehole, the distance was 3 meters. The pitch was 97 meters in total. A pitch of 100 meters + could have been achieved, as there was a drop of , at least 20 metres back into the stream passage, NE of the pitch; this could have been achieved with a deviation.

19th March 2003: Nothing doing

Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch

Woke up in the middle of the night + vomited, lovely. Spent the day sleeping + working on the computer. Pretty much a write-off.

19th March 2003: Shopping trip to Nandan

Denis Bushell, Wayne Sheldon

Myself + Denis went for a shopping trip to get some supplies for us. One of the occurences of the visit was Denis getting his walking boots polished by one of the shoe shiners hygiene executives (shoe shiners). She had very good speedy handwork and Denis wished it was being used on another part of his body (use your imagination) it was a good day out.

20th March 2003: Liang Feng Dong - Looking for a Sump Bypass

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch

We strolled and swam steadily upstream, past the skylights and the long canal, to the old limit of the cave. Here our objective was the large fossil passage at the top of the boulder slope to the right of the stream.

The survey went well, but unfortunately the passage did not--we followed the wall, as the passage was too wide to zigzag across, and found ourselves gradually turned round until we were heading back on ourselves. The passage was infact just a colossal alcove, although it would make sense if it continued beyond the boulders at the end--there are some holes into the boulder pile which need checking out.

As we descended back towards the stream and the closure of our survey loop, we passed a large funnel down to a dark opening, into which a draught seemed to be blowing, although to descend the funnel looked rather tricky. Fortunately, at the end of the next survey leg, which took us almost back down to the stream, there was a perfectly good passage heading off towards the bottom of the funnel, and it was also taking a draught. As Denis set off into the deep pool at the start of the passage, it looked like it might not go, but it doglegged out of sight and then continued dry.

Now the survey began to be racked up. The passage grew in width from 5m to 20m, and we were soon reeling out maximum legs of our 50m tape. After a couple of hundred metres a black, echoing space appeared, framed by the almost rectangular cross-section of the passage, and we suddenly found ourselves in a chamber about 80m long, 40m wide and 60m high, with amazing acoustics. The echo was fantastic.

Our passage continued beyond, and we romped on and on along easy walking passage, which was usually about 20m wide, and varied in height from about 2m to 15m. Eventually we stopped at a deep pool, with the draughting passage continuing, and headed off out pausing en-route to do a 19m leg to close a loop from the previous survey. 2 hours to get out, and when we entered the data we found we'd got 2km of survey--just; the final 19m leg had just nudged us over the line. It looks like about 600m more to go before it hits the entrance on the map that it's heading right for.

21st March 2003: Spring + Fossil near Gan He Village

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis

I was well keen for an easy day bagging 1.5 km of streamway after the previous day's successes. After the jeep failed to show in a timely manner, Dunks + I headed off to the southwest corner of the Gan He valley, tracing the feeder that joins the main Gan He streamway near the village. There was a surprising amount of water coming down the stream, and all the locals were out washing their clothes in the sunshine along its banks.

At the headwaters of the stream we found not a cave, but a spring. We asked a few locals about a nearby cave, but they weren't any help. We followed a completely dry sub-tributary to 2 uninspiring holes at the foot of the hillside + then walked back the the village to get out of our sweaty neoprene.

Dressed more appropriately we climbed up to near the top of the Gan He Dong hill, checking out 3 non-caves along the way. One, at the foot of the hill opposite went for < 20m and was full of cow piss, while a long slot/overhang and nearby keyhole halfway up the hill were both no-go. Near the top of the rather steep path we encountered a woman carrying 3 thin tree trunks down the hill. The view from the col was okay and there was a small dilapidated hut.

Back at the ranch we had a quick look at the map and discovered we'd looked in the wrong place from the very start. From the spring, following the hillside around to the SW another 100m leads to a short gorge, ending in a stooping height "Dong Kou" -- At last!

21st March 2003: Teapot Cave + Entrance , Four times the size of Peak Cavern entrance

Denis Bushell, Wayne Sheldon

A walk was the norm for today + a little caving equipment. Denis packed is Chinese style alpine rucksack, full of gear that it weighed a tonne. Off we went walking from base. Getting to teapot valley (the name of the valley that Denis gave it), Denis showed me Teapot Cave but we would go into it later. We carried on walking, through a couple of valleys until the valley with our destination in it. The entrance that is called "Four Times the Size of Peak Cavern Entrance" looked splendid in the middle of the hill but i had a sneaky feeling that it wouldn't go anywhere but i didn't share this with Denis.

We made the climb up the hillside, up some rock outcrops up to an easier going slope. This is when Denis's rucksack parted company with his back and did backward flips down the hill with Denis swearing as it went. One of the straps had broken so i had to return down the hill to bring it back up the hill.

The cave entrance was about 25 meters high, by 12.5 meters wide, rift shaped. Once we were up the final slope, straight ahead lay a choked wall of mud and boulders while to the right was a sheer wall with a crack up it that could be possible to climb. The climb was very overhanging, with good footholds but limited handholds but Denis struggled up it. He had to use a rope to come down, which he doubled then pulled thru.

Once at the top of the pitch, it went a little before it crapped out, it was a giant alcove thus making Denis very disappointed.

We left that cave, making our way back to Teapot cave. Up the easy going slope lead you to the entrance that was 8m wide by 8 m high. The cave was totally flat. Denis showed me is Teapot + bowls that he had found in there on a previous visit before it was time to explore past the limit daylight went. I was kitted up first so i made the first trip beyond Denis's previous point. The passage narrowed down and roof came down to stooping height then into hands and knees crawling until a black void was reached in front of me. This was after about 30 meters when i saw this. At first it looked like we were coming into the side of a large passage. It wasn't until we were right up to the edge that we could see it was a chamber with a sloping floor down to a pitch. Ahead you could see that the rift/chamber continued ahead. We would need to return with rope to descend the pitches. A good cave to find we thought + it was draughting inwards.

Note: On the walk-back, the other strap on Denis's bag parted company with it so when he got back to base, he retired his bag with grace and dignity.

22nd March 2003: Teapot Cave

Denis Bushell, Wayne Sheldon

Wet start to day. Wayne & Denis walked to Teapot Cave with tackle for descent to check if passage below was a goer. Pitch estimated at 60 meters plus, rigging was a real pleasure all done on slings no damage to cave. Quite a mare getting down because of cherty rock & muddy calcited flowstone. 5 pitches in all Total depth 60 plus, with main shaft of 50 meter. The cave bottom was a large rift passage 30 meter wide 50 meter high 60 meter long.

With a collapsed bridge in the middle and a 45 meter mud slope at one end & the same at the opposite end becoming steeper to nearly 90°, cave has earthenware teapot & cups at entrance hence name. Cave surveyed on way out. Back to village for tea & crumpets.

22nd March 2003: Ba Gan Dong + a mine

Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch

Yesterday's cave entrance turned out to be a mine w/ bad air. Bum. Determined to get underground, we hiked over the pass (no sweat) to the next village. There was a lovely clear spring which needs diving, and a pleasantly bucolic setting with cows, ducks, and an expanse of grassy fields (no crops!). 500m along the stream sank at the bottom of a white-blue striped cliff. Interestingly the stream had been diverted from its original wide-open sink, to one which sumped immediately. Locals told us there was a plan to build a small dam and create a pretty pond. Personally I think the area was already quite scenic. Beyond a wall of sandbags in the open passage we immediately came back out into daylight. The cave opened out into a 50m wide, 60m high chamber with a fern meadow and a dry 2-m deep stream channel On the far side the diverted stream resurged briefly before disappearing into impenetrable boulders. It was quite a scenic spot with many inaccessible high level leads and a high aven in the middle. On the walk back to the village we passed a number of large fossil entrances that definitely merit investigation in the future.

23rd March 2003: Liang Feng Dong -- Fossil entrance

Wayne Sheldon

I popped across the road to go and take a look at the fossil entrance and pop down to the stream to take a look. Very large fossil passage, indeed another excuse for going across thru was to get some photographs of the Gan He Showcave ent + the village from high up on the opposite hill.

23rd March 2003: Liang Feng Dong, Fluke Street

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch

Went back to the pushing from to see if this extremely promising passage could be pushed to the surface. From the map, this was estimate to be about 600m away from our limit, but the cave had so far gone in a very determined manner for about 1.5km in almost a straight line towards the location of a sink and fossil entrance on the map.

The passage continued in a similar vein, but with a couple of short swims, and occasional pretty bits. Most of the draught seemed to be lost shortly after the first swim (at our previous limit), but the remaining draught was still encouraging

After some distance the passage forked. Right did not draught, and soon ended at a choke. Left was draughting inwards and soon emerged into a 30-40m wide passage-cum-chamber. To the left this went to a crawl, which remains to be pushed, and a muddy climb up, which remains to be scaled. To the right the way was up a big mud slope to a finely decorated big passage which suddenly shrinks and then ended at a calcite blockage after a couple of hundred metres. There is a small hole in the calcite, but it would have been a wetsuit-shredder, and looked unpromising. (no draught) This point must be quite close to the surface, but we think the surface connection must be via one of the areas we passed.

24th March 2003

Denis Bushell, Wayne Sheldon

Wayne & Denis went to recce out the sky lights on hill above Fluke Street. First cave was huge entrance, oblong in shape with a 45° drop down to bottom entrance which contains a 35 meter pitch which was easily bypassed to a mud choke floor and no possible way on. Top of cave entrance runs into a blank wall. Next cave we visited only had a few meter and a 7 meter drop. Next cave which we thought held no hope with it being so high up. Turned out to be a winner with large arch shaped entrance and passage beyond with passage continuing. Went back to base with lots of hope for next day.

25th March 2003

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch, Wayne Sheldon

Denis, Dunk, Erin, Wayne returned to Orchid Cave named-because of flower outside entrance. It was a hard slog up to cave due to all rigging kit, SRT and ropes, which we thought would be necessary to enter into Fluke Street which lay directly below. On reaching entrance we kitted up and were on our way to passages measureless to man. In fact it was soon to disappoint us due to running out of cave after only 224 meters. I was trying hard to find more passage because I knew the team would not be happy after all the hard work of getting to the cave for such a short trip. But they took it all in their stride. The cave, I mean, had a few good size chambers in English terms which we photoed. On returning back to base we had a ferret into 3 or 4 large cave entrances [in Qiao Cun valley] which unfortunately did not go to our annoyance. One hole I looked into turned out to be a mine with some natural. At the termination of one of the passages there were 2 bats having a doze so I photoed them so the day was not a complete loser.

26th March 2003: Gan Tian Ba Dong sump

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch

Pushed on beyond the previous limit in a passage formed of splendidly water-sculpted, polished limestone, with many large milled out pots, false floors, and rock bridges. The stream runs into a small sump after going down the slot--it's possible to reach this safely by climbing over the slot and then descending a milled out pot. A few metres away, the stream emerges again, and flows away down a ~10m wide passage, where after only a few tens of metres it enters a terminal sump in a 45° hading rift. On the way out a small fossil passage between the sump and the slot was noted but not pushed or surveyed, as it looked rather unpromising, but later on, when we surveyed the outlet from the main stream, we found that the two passages were in fact the ends of an oxbow.

26th March 2003: Walk to sink

Wayne Sheldon

While the other three were caving down Gan Tian Ba, I decided to have a quick walk to the Italian Sink to get a GPS reading, and look at the entrance above + to the right of it. Took the road out of town, all the way until you reach the point where the hairpin bends + climbs begin. At this point, there is a path that cuts out the road. It's very steep but it takes you fully to the summit (high point of the road).

At this point, you come to track. To the right is literally the road while to the left, the track bends around to the right. It drops you down to some burnt out builings. Above these buildings, to the right is a path up to the col between two of the hills. On the other side, it drops down to the valley floor, near the top the path is very good and near the bottom, but in between it's not a very good path. The path I thought I was on, according to the map, turned out not to be the one. Anyway, the path I went down on went to the road so I followed the road all the way into the valley where the sink was then took a track to my left to it. The sink wasn't flowing that much.

While at the resurgence, I took a GPS reading on Erin's GPS with an EPE of 9m.

48R 076 2337 ELEV: 628m
UTM 277 1090 WAYPOINT: 692
NOTE: This was took about 50 metres approx away on a rock where I will find again. A bearing of 068 into the cave.

Altitude with Altitude meter: (cloudy, overcast, + breezy)

At GPS point: 640m (NOTE: there isn't 15m height
At river level: 625m between too points)
NOTE: This was took about 50 metres approx away on a rock where I will find again. A bearing of 068 into the cave.

The big entrance up to the right. This turned out to be a large alcove, with a skylight above. A climb up near the rear enabled you to get to a similar sized entrance on the hillside beyond. It's the same cave, but large boulders between. No going leads from this cave.

I couldn't find the path to locate the other cave entrance shown on the map.

The walk back took 1 hr 15 minutes from the sink but that was a very fast pace. Give yourself 2 hours at least if you walk from Ganhe.

27th March 2003: Mr. Li Cave

Denis Bushell, Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch, Li Deqin, Wayne Sheldon

This cave was to prove to be bitter sweet. Story begins with hopes high of huge cave with extension passages. On first entering Erin sent me on my way to ferret out side passages and general cave prospects. On approx 30 mins I came back with the news that the system was not that long so Erin was going to survey all passages on the way in. On reaching the end of the cave at a skylight, Duncan said have you looked at that boulder slope. I had not. In my excitement I had put all my energy on the opposite side of the skylight writing off the boulder slope which looked like a fool prospect. Duncan said that I was to go and ferret it, and was not less pleased I had not already done so. On inspection the boulder slope paid dividends. It was the major way on and everybody was happy again because this meant that we would break the 10km length of cave surveyed. Li and I went on ferreting and found 2 more sky lights the latter being the termination of the cave. This would have been a good finish to the day but this is where the bitter comes in. We noticed several survey stations and realized it must have been done before. We claim the survey length due to the fact it has not been logged in any document we know. We all retired back to base somewhat deflated but still had a good day.

28th March 2003: Burned at the stake + big entrances

Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch, Denis Bushell, Wayne Sheldon, Li Deqin

After much confusion we went w/ Li and an over-full carload of other people + food to Hua Li -- Li's hometown. There we got to see the spectacle of Chinese movie making firsthand. No less than 3 actors/actresses were burned at the stake with a crowd of Bai Ku Yao extras chanting (almost) in sync. We're a little uncertain on the plot, but it's sure to be a block-buster, what with all the drums and guns and stuff. The director also did an impressive amount of shouting, which has to be a good sign.

After we'd had our fill of gawking, we had a quick look 'round the corner at a large entrance at the bottom of a valley. Li says the cave goes off in 2 directions and perhaps connects to Xiniu Dong (unlikely @ 4km).

Lunch was a family affair where we met several of Li's 7 siblings. We sat around the fire and had a delicious meal of cai hua and rice. The 3 kids only had a chance to gulp down instant noodles before they had to race off to school. The house was quite small, with the fire outside, under a roof of wriggly tin. I'm not sure if Li's 2nd brother slept there or in a larger house nearby which was 127 years old (and made of mud!)

On the way back to Li Hu (about 6 minutes outside of the town by jeep) Li pointed out another entrance which he says has an underground river.

It looks like Li Hu will be the place to stay in 2004.

29th March 2003: The other sink + entrance

Denis Bushell, Wayne Sheldon

After my walk early last week when i went to GPS the Italian Sink, I managed to step over the stream that led to the other sink without realising that there was a sink at the end of it + during the walk-over, I hadn't spotted the other entrance that according to the map was up there somewhere.

I took the same route as last week (see the write-up for the 26-03-03) but was more aware when we went over the col between the two hills, so i would not miss a path, as i thought i may have done last time. The map showed that a path ran directly in front of this other entrance. Where was the path? Looking for a path that i had missed came to nothing so when we reached the graveyard, where the paths did split but one of them really came to nothing but Dennis did force a path through it. I waited for him near the grave yard while he trounced through the undergrowth for about 30 minutes until he came back smiling to say that he had found it.

The entrance that Denis had found was a pothole, elliptical in shape running parallel with the limestone face approximately 15 metres in depth with a cool breeze + damp atmosphere and all the signs of a large system below. An attempt to free climb was made but was aborted about 5 metres above the bottom. A GPS fix was made about 70 metres away.

From here, we made our way down the path to the stream. This time I followed the stream downstream and we eventually came to a sink. The sink was underneath a building, an abandoned building. There was no obvious way to go, nothing beyond it etc. When facing the sink, to the right about 5 metres away was a dry soakaway that most probably flows in wet weather and may be the site of the sink itself. I think that the stream may have been diverted in some way for a certain purpose in the past, especially as the buildings in the vicinity are now abandoned. There was a static tank above it, now abandoned with about 1/4 of water in it. A GPS fix was made of the sink before we left.

I then took Denis over to the Italian Sink to take a look at it but what i didn't expect was for Denis to disappear for 60 minutes into the cave.

29th March 2003: The Italian sink

Denis Bushell, Wayne Sheldon

On leaving Wayne at the entrance. I decided to go as far as I could using my headlight and hand held torch. Hopefully keeping dry, I keeped in the light of day by keeping on the right hand side of the stream going in. This included a lot of climbing but kept me dry when I reached the far point of daylight, I knew I had to cross the stream. I would have turned back but the fact I could see light ahead spurred me on. I crossed the stream at this point, and then being wet knew it made no difference if I got wet up to just below my waist. This made the rest of the trip less problematic. The light I saw turned out to be a high chamber with skylight in ceiling approx 60/70 metres and about the size of 2 GG's then the cave passage dived down into a large passage with daylight at the end. On exiting this passage, I did not know if I was in a chamber with no roof or a valley. On the left hand side wall was another passage of good size, while the main passage into the valley changed to vertical sides on both sides. At this point two Chinese men exited the passage on the left, I tried communicate with them about where the passage lead to and where they had come from but I was not very successful. So I joined their party and made an exit back to daylight and Wayne who informed me I had been gone for over one hour. A quick debrief and we set off back on the long road back to Ganhe, but to our surprise after 5 minutes on reaching the road, the jeep turned up on its way back to Nandan. We were offered a lift back and accepted the offer.

29th March 2003: Vist from Mr. Lu

Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch, Lu Jin

Mr. Lu dropped by and asked us to survey a cave in the Ba Gan valley. He said the water resurged in a cave 500m to the N, and could we use our "oxygen furniture" to survey the cave? I strongly suspect he was talking about Ba Gan Dong, which we've already surveyed, but to keep him happy we agreed to have another look in the area tomorrow.

30th March 2003: Walk with Mr. Li about 2.5 km beyond Li-Hu

Denis Bushell, Wayne Sheldon, Li Deqin

Mr. Li last night wanted to show us some caves entrances in his local area for GPS's of the entrances + they will be there for next year's expedition (2004) to the area.

We caught the bus from Ganhe, 10 kuai the bus cost us for three people. Where we got off the bus, was immediately about the valley floor where the first set of caves were. We have no neames for the caves so each cave will be called by a number:

Cave one: Two entrances join up to one large phreatic tube that bends to the right.
48R 0770658 ELEV: 510m
UTM 2783385 WAY: 701
EPE: 13m ALTITUDE: 550m
REFS: Waynes film 6, photograph 14
Cave two: Depression with about a 5m pitch to a possible passage.
48R 0770689 ELEV: 512m
UTM 2783270 WAY: 702
EPE: 12m ALTITUDE: 545m
Cave three: A 10m by 7m pothole with a 4-second drop. Estimated 30m pitch from the front, and 40m pitch from the back wall [recommended to rig from the back].
48R 0770728 ELEV: 518m
UTM 2783231 WAY: 703
EPE: 11m ALTITUDE: 560m
(NOTE: This pothole is lower than cave two)
REFS: Film 6, photograph 16 (Wayne's)
Caves four & five: Two entrances, one at either end of the valley floor. Entrance to right is 10m wide by 15m high. Dropping down on a 45° slope. Smaller cave entrance to left.
48R 0770743 ELEV: 526m
UTM 2783146 WAY: 704
EPE: 10m ALTITUDE: 545m
NOTE: This GPS was taken about 7m above the valley floor in the middle of it.
Cave six: Open pothole with a 4 second drop, the entrance appears to be rolling into the hillside away from the GPS point. Bushes appear to cover the pothole.
48R 0770611 ELEV: 529m
UTM 2783233 WAY: 705
EPE: 8m ALTITUDE: 540m
REFS: Wayne's film 6, photo 16
Cave seven: Obvious sink that takes large stream in wet weather. It's totally silted up according to Denis so works as a soakaway.
48R 0770458 ELEV: 513m
UTM 2783329 WAY: 706
EPE: 8m ALTITUDE: 510m
REFS: Wayne's film 6, photo 18
Large valley: Large valley with lots of entrances, this valley is behind Shui Jiao Cave One first skylight entrance that Erin, Duncan + Wayne surveyed on the 27th March 2003 (Wayne took photo didn't record which one). Its the location where Mr. Li was saying to Denis that there was a way under the road to connect both caves together and they were trying to find. Cave goes into the hill. If you are standing at the cave entrance it's when you are facing away.
48R 0769740 ELEV: 578m
UTM 2782298 WAY: 708
EPE: 12m ALTITUDE: 600m
NOTE: GPS reading was taken on the road between surveyed system + the valley. 100m above valley floor (approx).
Big cliff: Mr. Li showed us a large cliff with possible low entrance with maybe passage beyond.
48R 0769463 ELEV: 596m
UTM 2781475 WAY: 709
EPE: 7m ALTITUDE: 610m
Mr. Li's friend's place:
48R 0769844 ELEV: 585m
UTM 2783438 WAY: 707
EPE: 12m ALTITUDE: 600m
The name of place is FIXME CHINESE CHARACTERS (Guo Zha)

The area is about 4km from Li-Hu. It's within walking distance of Li-Hu, the quickest way being the way we walked back from the already surveyed cave, Shui Jiao Cave One, with some variations.

The cave entrances all seem to be taking the same line from Ganhe, as the surveyed data is showing us.

30th March 2003: Wild goose (duck?) chase in Ba Gan valley

Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch

As promised Duncan + I spent our last caving day looking for a river cave in Ba Gan valley, near Qiao Cun. Since we'd last been there the dam had been completed, and a busload full of tourists were bathing merrily in the newly flooded fields full of cowpats. Personally I thought the area was more beautiful with a burbling brook, as opposed to a stagnant pond, which will undoubtedly be choked with weeds all too soon. But all is not lost at the dam seems to be leaking like a sieve.

We had another quick look around Ba Gan Dong's large entrance + couldn't see a way on, so called it good enough at that. The villagers told us there weren't any other nearby caves so our work for the day was done.

On our way back to Gan He we had a quick look at the square-entranced cave just S of Qiao Cun. We'd previously thought it'd require a machete to reach the cave, but the presence of cows on the hillside gave us a clue that there could be an easy way up--indeed 3m to the right of the entrance at the base of the hill there was a fine path going up to the cave. There were 2 graves just outside, and 3 small entrances, but the cave itself was less than 50m long.

31st March 2003

Duncan Collis, Denis Bushell, Erin Lynch, Wayne Sheldon

The day we were to return to Guilin, but like all good plans things sometimes go wrong in our caves this took the form of our transport not arriving so the day was unplanned, which turned out not to be a bad thing reason being a travelling group of performers turned up in Gan-He They were singers dancer & musicians. We were invited to watch the performance in the hot noon day sun which I real enjoyed. We were also treated to cold drinks while watching. One group of girl dancers dress's were covered in bell and had very very short skirts. I liked this after being away from my woman for 4 weeks at athis time in the expedition I found it hard not to get an erection. Next day all plans went to plan. I was still frustrated.