Tianxing 2004 Expedition Logbook

Logbook:

3rd October 2004: Liu Chi Ao Kou

Rob Garrett, Duncan Collis, Matt Ryan

Duncan and I headed down the cave expecting Matt to follow shortly. Never difficult but always gnarly it was handy to have a guide. Matt didn't catch us up until we were well into surveying new stuff. The new stuff is surprisingly complicated with a plethora of inlets and several unexplored side passages, some large, which could easily lead to easier entrances. Despite getting quite large the current continuation involves a wet crawl although it is about to open out again. larger high level alternatives are not impossible and no pitches have been encountered for quite some time, just boulder ramps down.

We dallied rather longer than intended and came out too late for dinner making do with half a dozen electric sausages...

4th October 2004: Liu Chi Ao Kou Shang

Rob Garrett, Ilya Boiko, Ilya Akhmetshin, Kirill Bagrii, Masha Grigorjeva

Unh (entrance) ... arrh (slide) ... ooh (good stuff) ... eek (slippy bit) ... yeuch (corpse) ... hmmm (easy going) ... oh (near dead end) ... err (nasty grovel) ... ng (squeezy bit) ... eh (getting bigger) ... aha (p20m) ...

6th October 2004: Liu Chi Ao Kou Shang

Rob Garrett, Duncan Collis, Matt Ryan

23rd October 2004 - 26th October 2004: Da Keng Camp: Descent into madness

Brian Judd, Dave Barrett, Oliver Trueb

Brian Judd:

Day 1

Dave thought it would be a good idea to spend our Saturday night by beginning a four day camp down the second deepest cave in China, Da Keng. This would involve descending the 500m deep entrance shaft and setting up camp at the bottom. Dave prepared himself mentally and physically by staying in bed all day, while Oliver and Brian packed the bags. Eventually at 10.00pm all was ready and we set off into the darkness, fortified by a couple of beers (except for Dave, who fortified himself with paracetamol).

Dave Barrett:

The walk to the cave entrance is about 30 mins along a few slippery paths (on occasion). The trip was almost cut short by Olly's enthusiams to descend to the pitch head by falling off the path, into (luckily) sturdy undergrowth which prevented his direct route down the shaft.

Oliver Trueb:

After this mad night hike through snake infested territory we finally arrived at THE ABYSS unaware of the danger we are about to move it we kitted up quite cheerfully. Brian made a bold step towards the entrance, clipped his descender in, looked one last time at the open sky, and descended. Touch luck; this forced us to follow!

Brian Judd:

We plunged down into the bowels of the earth, our descenders creaking on the rope, gripping the handles of the stop until our knuckles ached, trying to stope the mad descent. Eventually the bottom hove into view. We found ourselves in a large canyon the roof invisible to our lights. It was 1.00am by the time all our party were down and we set up camp, camp desolation .......

Dave Barrett:

Dreams of wide-open passage, cobble stream gently meandering streamway & fantastic formations were horribly obliterated by a voice ....... 'who's putting the kettle on?' Volunteers are always in short supply when the sleeping bag is comfy & warm compared to muddy & ice-cold air. 'Bollocks, I'll do it myself then! said Brian.

Oliver Trueb:

Soon the kettle was humming and the rest of the gang crawled out of the sleeping bags. To our horror we had to realise that the breakfast drink selection was very restricted: we had a choice between 'creamy deluxe chocolate' and 'creamy deluxe chocolate' b-fuel was later found in the depth of our giant tackle sacks but it resembled too much a urine sample to qualify for breakfast consumption.

Brian Judd:

Once the breakfast drink selection dilemma had been resolved we moved on to our choice of solid food. At this point we realised that we probably had enough food for a couple of months. There would be nothing for it but we would have to strengthen our resolve and eat ten times as many portions as was needed otherwise the cave would be cluttered up with dried food. Having achieved this goal we set off to caving. Our first obstacle was a squeeze ....

Dave Barrett:

Now, I had been told that this cave was a beaut. Big shafts, walking passage etc. I looked at the squeeze, thinking no problem but then there were the tackle bags. Why is it that tackle bags assume the shapes of cubes & triangles when taking them through squeezes? We needed a mathematician to sort this one out ....... 6m squeeze, 15 mins thrutch -- this wasn't in the Tian Xing advert!

Oliver Trueb:

After complaining bitterly to the tour operator we decided to continue after all. A boring small 10-m drop followed, quite an anti-climax after descending 210 and 285m respectively. A narrow but high passage lead us to a further drop, named popcorn. With its 35m it was worth to clip in the descender.

Brian Judd:

I ran carefree down the huge walking passage while Ollie followed crawling and stooping, squeezing his ten foot tall frame through the splendid canyon. Dave scampered behind dragging an unfeasibly large bag of camera gear, battery kits and other heavy weights designed to slow him down. All too soon after an hour or two we were rigging down Pony Express the passage previously explored with the Russians.

Dave Barrett:

Wow, exciting stuff at last! Crappy rock, walls that fall apart whilst being your main grip; true sport with the added spice of 'no rescue from here!' Another omission from the Tian Xing 'sales pitch' -- boy, these marketeers are good!

Oliver Trueb:

The cave changed character frequently from here on. Canyons, drops, walking passages and crawls merged into a mad blur while I tried to keep up with Brian; my view tightly focussed on his left heel. Hours went by like this.

Brian Judd:

Leaving the dry crystal covered passages behind we hit the water; -- a quick plunge pool, a very wet cascade, a climb up, a climb down, a 25m wet pitch, a 15m wet climb and then the swims, ... it was here that we discovered that Dave's Chinese life jacket was designed for a sub aqua diver who wanted to go underwater. I heard a plaintive cry, "help." I thought he was joking. "Help!", "Help!" again. I thought he was messing around. OK Dave that's enough now. Then Ollie dived in and pulled him to safety in a fine display of life saving worthy of a denizen of a land locked nation. Once we'd rung Dave out and administered first aid we continued on our merry way.

Dave Barrett:

Dave's memories of the 'swim'.

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TU: hrs

22nd October 2004: Mi Dong

Brian Judd, Oliver Trueb

Mi Dong sounded like a good idea for my first cave in the Tian Xing area. Brian and me set off, first on the back of motorbikes and then by foot. THe approach was like a psychadelic dream. Music was all around us in the tress, the rocks, our heads... we never managed to pinpoint the source and already suspected last night's mushroom dinner to be more than just food...

After descending down a slippery slope into the 200m deep doline we found ourselves on top of the entrance shafts. A few well-rigged sections brought us to the river and beyond the daylight zone.

Brian took a few photos at the first lake and the adjacent dry section. We then followed the underground river through a beautiful large passage, interrupted by small cataracts that needed to be rigged with rope. A large, roomy pitch with a 13-m cascade was the end of the previous survey and we took it on from there. We explored and surveyed some 400m after the previous end but unfortunately it later turned out that this area had been visited before and we only added about 16m!

It was getting late and we made our way back upriver. It was quite tiring to get from swimming sections onto the rope to climb the cascades and I lost a lot of strength trying to haul my water-filled tackle bag up those ledges. Finally we made it up the entrance shafts, derigged the cave and crawled on hands and knees up the doline. No music this time. We were hoping to see some light from the nearby farmhouse but all was dark. No choice to keep going with all our tackle. After another hour or so we reached the road and the family in the farm there was still awake. It was midnight but they cooked food for us, offered us tea and water, dry clothes and a place at the fire. We rested a bit, left our luggage behind and walked to Tian Xing for a well deserved bed.

26th October 2004: Lan Mu Cun Cun

Barry Kennedy, Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch, Rob Garrett

Barry and Duncan left TX village at noon to rig the pitch that was left on last trip. Duncan rerigged first pitch with 3 rebelay's. The third pitch was then re-rigged with 2 ropes. First bolt placed at -30m, and then second -30 drop. 3 pitch was 7-60m.

Duncan and Barry waited for Erin and ROb who entered 2 hrs later to survey down to bottom of 3rd pitch. At the bottom of 3rd pitch passage becomes horizontal streamway. Surveyed +130m passage to another pitch. Probably 30-40m. Passage headed N/NE. 4th pitch left due to no rope. All four started out. Erin took several photos in the streamway. Cave was left rigged. Rob and Barry returned to TX just after 7pm followed shortly by Erin and Duncan.

TU: 7 hrs

27th October 2004 - 28th October 2004: Journey back to Hong Kong

Oliver Trueb

Now it was time for me to leave Tian Xing. Ms Wei's son (name?) agreed to drive me to Wulong. My 30kg bag was strapped to his motorbike, I hopped on and off we went. The next hour was the most frightening experience of the entire expedition. I arrived after dark and now I saw the road for the first time. I had not the slightest idea of what was waiting for me. We coasted down with the engine turned off, slipping and sliding on the muddy surface. The brakes must have been red-hot and the driver has probably super human finger-power to bull them. I was wondering whether I would be killed by the fall itself or by my bag falling on me in case of an accident. We had a flat tire short before Jiang Kou and this thankfully slowed us down. Unfortunately the steering was now tricky and sometimes we used the entire width of the road, coming dangerously close to the steep slope that descended hundreds of meters into the Wu Jiang River. A pit stop in Jiang Kou solved this problem and soon we were roadworthy again. The road to Wulong was paved, there was not much traffic and my adrenaline levels went back to normal.

The movie "Speed", dubbed into Chinese was shown in the bus back to Chongqing. The bus driver took a few hints from the movie and we reached our destination in about three hours. Passengers complained to the driver that they want to go to the toilet but he kept going. I was quite relaxed; nothing could shock me anymore after the Tian Xing - Jiang Kou section...

I checked back into the hotel and caught up with my mates who were in Chongqing on business. Shower, shave, food and off to "Falling", the hottest club in town. Hours of prusiking out of Da Keng has given my leg muscles the right training for non-stop dance floor action, alcohol flowed like rivers, dices rolled and the girls got systematically drunk left right and centre. The way back to the hotel was a blur and most likely not very direct. Some rest, a flight, painfully climbing the stairs to my apartment and finally home in good old Hong Kong.

29th October 2004: Mysterious cairns

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis

Just as the Da Keng derigging team was returning we got underway for a record late start. GPS'd the cave + surveyed along the gully to the collapse/cave I'd noted the day before. Dunks spotted a crawl at ceiling height + followed it until it came to a boulder ruckle with a view of bigger passage beyond. We figured it'd probably connect through to the main cave -- and it did.

The main cave was about 4m away from the collapse + it immediately went down a 5m climb. I was impressed by how much cave life we saw -- loads of crickets, a family of rats, etc. The pitch which had halted my progress yesterday was in fact free-climbable -- down to a pungent pong of rat urine This was followed by a decorated aven + then a sloping climb down over calcite to... a cairn. Mystery! We were pretty perplexed. It wasn't a good place for a survey station + there didn't seem to be more than one set of plimsoll footprints. Local farmer? Chongqing Exploration Club? Dmitry? We weren't sure -- but whoever it was they'd gone through the narrow bit that followed, down a climb, into a 10m-wide chamber where 2 small streams entered, and on downstream. In short, he'd gone farther than us. Back at the village we entered the numbers + low + behold the gps point was 5m from one made by Dmitry. Mystery solved.

PS. Worth noting there's a static rising sump that looks like it flows in wet weather. Maybe penetrable, but tight.

28th October 2004: Small cave near Da Keng

Erin Lynch

I went to help with the photo trip down Da Keng + on my way thought I'd have a look at the gully to the left of the path on the way from Da Keng to Qi Keng. I'd thought we'd checked it out before + wasn't surprised when a hole down between fill + the side of the gully went to a small cavey-chamber with a single stal + over 60 brown cave crickets. At the bottom, amidst lots of mud + rock infill, I dug open a squeeze for a further 2m of not-really-cave. A few meters up the gully I found better - a series of climbs down led to proper rift passage. There were a few puddles, so it must take water when it's very wet. I saw 2 rats + a rats nest, and left it at the top of a short pitch which may be free-climbable.

TU: 0.5 hrs

28th October 2004: Lan Mu Cun Cun Dong

Rob Garrett, Duncan Collis

Went down to push the pitch at the end. En-route put another rebelay in on the 60m Cloudburst pitch, which makes the final hang a little drier. Probably the best solution though would be to traverse round to the far side on the half-way ledge and rig down the opposite wall.

The undescended pitch turned out to have very little real rock for bolting. To get a dry hang the best thing would be to go to the left (looking out from the pitchhead), but the rock there is a load of crap. To the right, there are small bits of good rock, but unfortunately there's also a small inlet which makes the descent a bit soggy. Eventually halfway down decent rock is met and a hang to the floor is possible, but by then there's no way of avoiding the spray. At the bottom is another pitch, probably 50-60m. It should be possible to rig this dry by climbing up a couple of metres and walking over to a dry hole down into the same rift.

TU: 4½ hrs

27th October 2004

Brian Judd, Dave Barrett, Barry Kennedy

Brian Barry & Dave decided to wander down valley toward Cow Zi ba -- objective: preliminary investigation & survey of the entrance, plus note sites of interest on route.

The walk down valley is very scenic as well as interesting. Passing through many farms we met several locals, witnessing their routine (farm duties). Our route off the main road was a recently new trackway large enough for a vehicle (approx 15 mins north of Tian Xing village).

This route passes Ken Dan cave. Another 15m shaft entrance was noted nearby -- no draught. Brian navigated based on memory of a previous visit to the cave. Close to the site, a closed depression seen nearby caused interest. Two locals worked out what we were looking for when we started nosying into an obscure hole caused by a landslip. The farmer (with small boy clung to his back) guided us into the depression where we discovered a shaft of some depth. Barry tried to skirt the edge to enter a higher entrance seen. We managed to obtain a written name of the cave from the farmer (though later it appeared to make little sense!). Some photos, GPS etc & we moved on.

Tracking around various fields, ten minutes saw us at the entrance of Chow Zi Ba. It appears low from a distance but the width is impressive immediately. Inside are two skylights and 30m wide passage with a tickle of a stream running partially in the cave. Surveying lead us to a smaller walking sized (+) passage in the northerly corner which contained clean washed floors & walls. Clearly this channeled the water flow when it ran higher. A couple of survey legs culminated in a chamber which at first appeared closed. However, Barry could hear water running, the noise helped him locate a small slot in the floor with a rather deep pitch below. Stones thrown down landed in a pool. A stooping, meandering route headed off from the pitch head also.

Survey completed, photos were taken on exit. Our path then took us above & beyond the cave to a house on a road. Luckily a motorbike was there and more luckily some-one who wanted to ride it, so we arranged a lift back to Tian Xing. 10RMB each & very well worth it!

28th October 2004

Brian Judd, Dave Barrett, Barry Kennedy, Erin Lynch

Another trip into Da Keng -- objectives: photo the shaft & derig to bottom of -300m ledge. Brian(camera-man), Dave & Barry & Erin (flash moneys) entered the cave at 1pm, Brian leaving our names on tape attached to rebelays to indicate our initial positions. Various shots were fired off & Erin then exited, whilst the remaining three descended to the bottom, completing more photos on route. On reaching camp, we had a feed.

Barry headed out first, suitably impressed with the size and depth of the shaft. I prussiked last, de-rigging. At the first ledge, I hauled the rope, encouraging Brian to keep going until the big ledge at -300m. Big mistake! We had around 150m of rope used lower in the cave which was connected to the pitch rope -- hauling it alone was hard-going.

Once completed, I slowly de-rigged up to the -300m ledge where Brian awaited me. He was cold, I was roasting! We hauled for 30 mins, no snags. Using a mini-traxion made it efficient. Whilst Brian piled it correctly at the foot of the next pitch, I headed for the surface. Brian de-rigged the next section.

On reaching the 45° section 80m from the surface, I found Barry waiting to haul ropes. It seemed cruel to advise him that we were not going to carry out any hauling now, as he was freezing! Nevermind, a quick prussick would warm him -- we made the surface in a half-hour, pleasantly surprised to find Rob, Erin & Duncan there with beers.

Cave exit 1am.

TU: 12 hrs

29th October 2004

Brian Judd, Dave Barrett, Barry Kennedy, Rob Garrett

With Da Keng prep'd for rope haul, we arranged 4 porters/rope pullers for the afternoon. Brian popped over the lip to de-rig the last few bolts, whilst attaching a separate rope to the main pitch rope in preparation for hauling.

FIXME INSERT DIAGRAM

He then came to the surface, positioning himself as pulley man to ensure knots passed successfully. The rest of us (6) hauled whilst Rob supervised, controlling 'pull' & 'slack' with the right words for the Chinese porters to understand.

40mins of hauling saw all the rope up (approx 700m) with no hitches. Very simple & efficient. Ropes were put into the porters baskets to allow the 'cavers' to walk back empty handed.

30th October 2004

Brian Judd, Matt Ryan, Rob Garrett

Brian, Matt Rob to Ken Dang Dang after morning rope washing. Rigged down series of pitches. Rest day for Barry & Dave which involved taking all the knots out of the Da Keng rope & washing it. Quite a task. Washed tackle sacks, cleaned tackle store etc.

TU: 8 hrs

31st October 2004: Ken Dan Dan

Brian Judd, Dave Barrett, Barry Kennedy

Pushing trip into cave. Limit was past a short pitch into'crumble crawl' to head of another pitch. 'Y' hang & deviation to allow access through a tight slot to head of 'pitch proper'. A second 'Y' hang, abseil through water & rebelay to reach bottom (approx 30m). Here the stream runs into a rift which signals the end of large cave size. Removing SRT kit, we pushed the rift for 30 minutes, moving between levels to access widest route. Involves crawling in the rift on occasion.

Route continues north in tight rift. One large abandoned water course coming in from SW was checked. Two bats seen here, no water, no draught. Draught flow going with our progress north.

Surveyed to start of rift passage, tape marks the final station at base of 30m pitch. Decided not to conduct further survey due to constricted route & unlikelihood of any-one ever going there again. Tougher passage than Lucia-aio-kou.........

Notes:

  • cave entrance is in a mud & boulder choke (1st pitch) & then stable rock for a short period.
  • 3rd pitch is loose, additional safety bolt was placed in the floor in case of inital bolt failure. Very muddy also.
  • Base of 3rd pitch is a large boulder collapse, a climbing route down to access next pitch.
  • Generally, the cave contains lots of muddy sediment, either 'recently' new or long abandoned. Good mud formations where the latter exist.
  • Cave follows dip of the beds. Small folding features seen. No faults. No fossils noted.

TU: 8 hrs

3rd November 2004: Liuchi Aokou Xia

Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch

An 'early' start: underground by 11am. Got to the pushing front not long after 3pm, having put in an extra spit on the pitch at the end of 'You Lucky, Lucky Bastards' to rebelay way from the water -- a big improvement, although the cave was very dry (odd, as it was awash with rainwater on the surface). Another bolt would probably keep the descent dry even in wetter conditions, but as it is it's OK.

Found that the pitch at the end could be easily bypassed by dropping down the hole the stream goes into and then crawling to where the stream emerges again at the foot of the pitch.

Another pitch of about 10m followed almost immediately. This pitch was broken by several ledges, and had no good enough rock for bolts, but the rig off a pile of boulders with a 'tector over the edge gave a reasonably good descent, without too much spray.

At the bottom, the water went into a crawl and then out into the blackness of a wide shaft.

Considerably time was spent rigging this pitch head, as what naturals there were were made of soft, flaky rock and only a few small bands of good rock were available for bolting.

Eventually settled on a very big thread in shit rock and a bolt in good rock. Unfortunately it was obvious that my descent line from here was going to be very, very wet, and that a new start would have to be made -- just before the pitch head the stream split and part went down a crawl which appeared to give a better chance for a dry hang.

Using the same thread and a new bolts in good rock in the crawl, I got a look at the pitch from the new vantage point. Much better, still a bit wet, but it would do. Crap rock was still a problem, but there was a good thread near the edge and then I eventually managed to get two bolt placements I was satisfied with to avoid ledges and get a bit further out from the water.

The hang was still wet, though, and a deviation I put in half way down fell off as I expected. After about 20m I landed on a big ledge. From there the true scale of the shaft became obvious. It was even wider than it had looked at the top, and there was a further 4 second drop. As I only had another 20m of rope left, and knowing that Erin had been shivering at the pitch-head for a long time, I made no attempt to descend further.

On the way out, we surveyed upstream for a few legs until a deep pool blocked the way -- Erin was too thoroughly chilled by her long wait to be able to face immersion. We left the big passage at 11pm and taking a few photos on the way out, hit the surface at 4am.

TU: 17 hrs

1st November 2004

Brian Judd, Barry Kennedy, Dave Barrett

Rigged Cha Zi Ba pitch. Dave GPS'd new entrances. Photos. Motorbikes there and back 10y each way.

TU: 4 hrs

2nd November 2004

Brian Judd, Dave Barrett

Left TX by Motorbike at 10.00am! Survey and rig 3rd pitch in Cha Zi Ba. From bottom of 2nd pitch an easy walking passage leads to a mud slope with evidence of rat foot prints. Up the mud slope is a squeeze and a dead rat. Beyond this the passage opens up at the head of a 20m pitch. Unfortunately this drops into very glutinous mud and the passage further on is completely blocked. Derigged and returned to the farmhouse to help with pig weighing. Fed by farmer's wife and then up hill to get a motorbike. Journey home a little difficult due to lack of petrol and blasting on road. Eventually got a second bike to accommodate our heavy bags. An evening of washing SRT kit and charging batteries followed.

*Shown a couple more entrances while waiting -- one described as very wet with water coming from 3 valleys -- dramatically illustrated by local man by pouring water from a basin.

TU: 5 hrs

3rd November 2004

Brian Judd, Dave Barrett, Barry Kennedy

Brian Dave Barry wash gear, rope. Barry went to Jiang Kou to find net bar but found closed down. Then to Wulong but no joy so bought apples and oranges before returning home. B+D continued washing tidying and getting in beer, water, toilet paper + washing powder.

4th November 2004

Brian Judd, Dave Barrett, Barry Kennedy

Brian Dave Barry to Bamboo cave. Lift by coal lorry easy walk down. Quick rig to couple of trees descended 40m in splendid daylight shaft surrounded by trees and bamboo. Wide passage with logs washed in descended down couple of small pitches to walking passage with climbs down for 100m to another pitch. The 27m rope wasn't long enough. Probably needs a 40m rope. Left some gear in for early return surveyed and photo out. Barry decided to walk home and gave his gear to Brian and Dave. Unfortunately they failed to get transport back and ended up walking with their bags and Barry's. On Dear! Home in time for tea, bath, and survey entry.

TU: 5 hrs

3rd November 2004: Liu Chi Aokou Xia

Duncan Collis, Rob Garrett, Erin Lynch

We finally got underground at quarter to mid-day, after a fairly prolonged session of fettling Rob's light at the entrance. We each had a fairly full tacklesack, between us carrying 190m of rope, a drill & 2 1.3Ah batteries, 20 hangers, maillions & thru-bolts, a gas stove, a pan and some dehydrated meals. This slowed us down a bit in the entrance passage and in Dysentry, but we got to the top of the big pitch 'The Penetrator' in just over 4 hours nonetheless.

Rob & Erin then backtracked to go and survey an interesting rift I'd found that points towards Lanmu Cun Cun Dong, leaving me to repack the rope and rigging kit before setting off down The Penetrator.

Eventually, with everything packed into 2 sacks, and the drill & hangers hanging from my harness, I set off. The top 20m of the pitch, which I'd previously descended to a big ledge, was a bit wet, so I put in an extra rebelay to get a bit further out. Still a bit splashy, but an improvement.

Once on the big ledge, I dropped the bags and had a clamber round to decide where to rig from. As I'd suspected, the best bet appeared to be a climb up into a crow's nest platform at the end of the ledge. From here I'd be descending well away from the water, and the rock looked good. Not being a lover of big, airy freehangs, I was a bit concerned to find that stones thrown from my ledge fell a long way...

Throw: onethousandandtwothousandthreethousandfourthousandfivethousandsixthousand BOOOOOOOOOM!

Lowering the first 70m of rope over the edge it was clear that the wall was gently but determinedly overhanging -- the rope disappeared off into the blackness of the middle of the huge shaft. The far wall was about 15m away, and no walls could be seen to left or right.

After taking a few minutes to compose myself, I set off over the edge. Two rebelays were required a short way below the lip, and then I could no longer reach the wall, and was wondering quite how far it would be before I next encountered something to rig off. As the first rope ran out though, a huge buttress rose up out of the mists beneath me and I was able to join on the next rope at a rebelay at the top of the butress with just enough slack in the first rope for me to get my stop off.

Below this point, the pitch became much friendlier. I still had a huge black void behind me, but in front of me was a nice wall that I could look at to take my mind off how far off the deck I was. In fact I was enjoying myself immensely, keeping an eye on where the water was falling and swinging around to choose the line of the next hang. A couple more rebelays down and another huge butress appeared, and I chose to drop down the gap between the two walls. Here I joined my final long rope, a 56m length, and still couldn't see the floor. After I'd descended further and put in 3 more rebelays, I could see a sheen of water below me reflecting my light back up, a floor, or at least a big ledge that would allow me to get off the rope. However, soon I realised that the end of my rope was swinging 8m off the floor. Luckily, when I'd been repacking, I'd chopped 20m of unused rope from the bottom of 'The Lubricator', the splashy little pitch before The Penetrator, and this got me to the floor, where I touched down at just before 8pm. I bagged the drill up and stashed it in an alcove, and then went for a look around.

The bottom of the pitch is a huge, multi-lobed shaft bottom, with a few small inlets coming in as well as the Liu Chi Aokou water, and it all combines to flow away down a tall rift passage. Climbing & traversing I set off downstream for a quick look, and turned around after about 80m at a pool which might or might not have been deep. Expecting Rob & Erin to turn up soon (we'd agreed that they'd aim to set off down the pitch at 8pm), I went and joined the drill in its sheltered alcove, sitting on an empty tacklesack and using the drill's dry bag, inflated, as a pillow, and wishing I hadn't left my flapjack & condensed milk at the top of the pitch.

I waited.

I waited some more.

At twenty past ten, I heard Erin shouting something a long way above me. Thinking they were finally on their way, I shouted 'Pitch Free!' and promptly fell asleep for an hour. When I woke again at 11:20pm, I was shivering uncontrollably and there were no sounds of people surveying down the pitch above me, so I packed up all the rigging kit & the drill and set off prusiking. At the 3rd rebelay the strap broke on my Pantin foot jammer, by the 4th rebelay I stopped shivering and at the 5th rebelay I found that my watch had fallen off my wrist since the 3rd rebelay. Oh well.

As I climbed the big freehang, Rob shouted from above, and on hearing me answer shouted that he'd get the stove on. Twenty minutes later I was eating partially rehydrated Paella from a foil packet without a spoon and finding out that Rob & Erin's passage had gone for over 300m, was reasonably wide in places, quite pretty and finally ended at a too-tight squeeze with open space and the sound of falling water beyond. Sure that they were only metres short of a connection to Lanmu Cun Cun Don and a much easier route out, they spent ages trying to hammer the squeeze with a rock, but eventually gave up.

On the way out, Erin's stomach decided it was too knackered to deal with the Pasta in cream sauce she'd eaten, and as I followed her upstream little flotillas of macaroni kept floating past me.

We eventually hit the surface at ten to six in the morning after an 18 hour trip.

TU: 18 hrs

3rd November 2004: Blue Balls

Rob Garrett, Erin Lynch

We left Dunks at 4pm and headed upstream. A quick climb up the inlet and we were soon in the rift Dunks had found on the previous trip. It was muddy, oh boy was it muddy. After a few legs Rob said 'looks like it's doing something ahead' and I headed into a small chamber + started wondering where the passage had gone. There was a short bolt climb, and easy climb up into a too-tight aven/rift, and some uninspiring low holes in the floor. I had a go at digging one of the open + found myself on the wrong side of a false floor, but luckily I could crawl/squeeze along the side of it into more reasonable sized passage. At this point we decided to ditch the camera, which was a mistake as the passage beyond was really quite pretty. There were mud cracks followed by a trench in the mud which had a small, windy trickle flowing down it. After a short while a larger inlet entered form the RHS and beyond there was a smattering of white popcorn + grey/white flowstone. All this calcite proved to be a bit of a nuisance, as at one point we had to squeeze along a flowstone false floor. It was all looking good, with occasional 20+m legs mostly heading in the right direction for a connection with Lan Mu Cun Cun Dong + a easy way out, so we kept surveying until 9pm when all of the sudden we went round a calcited mound + the ceiling started coming way down. Crawling past stals led to ... a dig which I quickly opened up, which was followed by... another dig. This one was a bit more serious -- a squeeze between greenish slatey rock + calcite. In theory the slatey rock should break easily, but we had a lot of difficulty hammering it with a rock due to the constricted nature of the passage. At 9:30 we gave up -- it needs a hammer + a few hours -- totally frustrated, as we could hear the sound of falling water beyond.

5th November 2004: Surface survey

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis

Fixing Lan Mu Cun Cun relative to LCAKX seems like more + more of a good idea, so today we surface-surveyed from TIan Xing in Lan Mu. We'll hopefully finish connecting the two tomorrow.

5th November 2004: Bamboo Cave

Brian Judd, Dave Barrett

Brian & Dave to survey & rig further into the cave. Barry caught us up a few hours later to help. Rigged 3rd pitch (30m) & cave then continues as a pleasant clean-washed steeply descending walking sized canyon. An appreciable change to caving so far....!

Some climbs, a shaft pitch, leads to tighter canyon for a short distance & 30m pitch (drippy). Another short distance in gently twisting canyon ends at a currently undescended pitch, estimated at 80m.

Surveyed to this point but on entering the data into the computer, discovered that Dave had fucked up with the book. In addition, he hadn't been arsed to do an elevation. Result, a smack & must do better! Agreed to carry this out on next trip...

Despite this, a great trip in the second best cave I have visited in the area. Brain rigging ahead made survey progress easier with instructions to stay high. Very strong in draught in canyon & pitch head limit.

TU: 7 hrs

6th November 2004: Derig of Ken Dan

Brian Judd, Dave Barrett

Brian & Dave 2½ hrs, including photos. Doddle trip, another easy cave knocked off. Crap cave though in general, lots of others better than this one. Washed all the gear in readiness for tomorrows trip. Barry helped sherpa gear & provided the customary beers at the entrance!

TU: 2½ hrs

7th November 2004: Bamboo Cave

Brian Judd, Dave Barrett

We'd planned a big pushing trip into Bamboo cave the previous evening but in the morning Barry didn't feel too good and was complaining of a pain in his lower back and sore throat. We decided to go ahead anyway as the time to the end of Brian's expedition was getting short. We quickly transported two bags of rope down and into the cave. Dave stopped after Perched Boulder pitch to check on survey details while Brian went ahead to finish rigging Drafty Pitch. A straight Y hang dropped straight into the water falling down the pitch but 3 rebelays using thru bolts and a sky hook kept the rope away from the water and provided a good free hang.

The shaft was about 60m deep and quite large. Halfway down another shaft entered although the bottom of this shaft was separated from the other shaft by a bridge of rock. The water from this shaft finds a different way down.

By now Dave was at the top of the shaft and I headed off down into the cave with drill, rigging gear and rope expecting to find another pitch. Instead there was horizontal passage cascading down which picked up a couple more inlets, one with much more water, gradually enlarging.

It was big enough to go down with back pack on most of the time and after running down it for quite a way I decided to wait for Dave. He soon caught up and I pushed him to the front. He soon got exploration fever as we galloped down horizontal passage, expecting it to sump or end in some way but instead continued in beautiful clean washed streamway. A couple of small boulder falls were passed and several big avens, cavernous and black spaces appeared in the roof. However progress was easy in the floor. We passed another boulder pile and then the floor started to be made of white calcite. There were also some stalagmites and stalactites and other flowstone formations around for the first time. In fact at one point flowstone almost blocked the passage but a small hole at stream level and a larger hole about 3m up provided a ready way onwards.

We were very aware by this time that we should stop and survey but the lure of open passage and a desire to reach some definite point of conclusion such as a pitch or sump led us along. Eventually we reached a boulder blockage. We spent ten minutes poking around but didn't get through it. However the draft was very strong and there were plenty of holes in, around and above the choke which will provide a chance to pass the blockage.

About 12 legs into the survey I noticed we seemed to be getting a lot of plus readings from the clinometer even though we were leap frogging. A check of the clino revealed a fault later found to be the capsule of the clino having rotated in the housing. Both Silva (this was a Silva) and Suunto clinometers aren't up to the job of surveying caves and I wonder if they're much good in a forest either because dirt and moisture penetrate them with consumate ease. Maybe when you're measuring the height of the odd tree this is not too infuriating but when you've got a couple of kilometres of cave to survey its fucking annoying. Someone please make a new clinometer. Something like the Silva Type 80 Compass which is waterproof and robust.

Anyway 2 hours later we were back on the surface somewhat sweaty and left our SRT kit at a friendly farmhouse, who gave us hot water and offered food. We began the walk back to TX but managed to get a lift on a motorbike after a relatively short time. Arriving back cold and tired we found ourselves locked out and no one around. Luckily we managed to break in after a while and changed into dry clothes. Duncan Erin and Rob then arrived having surveyed 60m into a large cave which was unfortunately blocked by flowstone. Barry had had to leave because his back pain may have been a kidney infection and he'd been passing blood. He'd caught a motorbike down the hill and was hoping to get to HK. More soon on this... Had some food then collapsed into bed.

TU: 7 hrs

8th November 2004

Brian Judd, Dave Barrett

rest day for Brian & Dave.

9th November 2004: Bamboo Cave

Brian Judd, Rob Garrett, Dave Barrett

This trip was dedicated to completing a survey from the top of the Drafty Pitch to the end of the known passage. Rob came along to keep book.

Though it had been raining heavily the day before, this cave showed little difference compared to previous trips. Drippy pitch was even drippier but this was our fault for not rigging a deviation or re-belay! Progress to the pitch head (Drafty Pitch) took about 50 mins.

Our survey kicked off in this fantastic 'double barrelled' shaft with a pitch length of around 65m. From this point, Brian & Dave took the instruments, scouted for stations & surveyed along the passage. I expected Rob to cry 'halt' several times as we were moving quickly but he never did. Well done!

The lower streamway had a little more water in it than previously, though no concerns were raised. The tackle we had left in the cave was dry, including the rope left on a ledge only 30cm above the stream level. 7 hours of surveying with a quick snack stop, saw us reach the current limit.

On return, a few 'options' were quickly recce'd & we stopped for a brew whilst sorting the kit into bags ready for return to the surface. It was a good call to stop, considering the fact that we would not be back to base in time for food.

Moving back upstream, heading for the pitches, the passage is appreciated a lot more, I think. It is a 'jolly' piece of streamway, meandering, gravel banks, some pools. Progress with a backpack is easy.

At the 65m pitch, Brian headed out first to prepare for a photo shot of the entrance shaft. Rob followed (who was to model for the shot) & Dave last, as I was going to swing onto the ledge to view the parallel shaft & take out the bolts on the way up. The ledge is flat & a 3m climb down to a pool leads into another canyon passage -- something else to explore maybe. Likelihood is that it joins the streamway further down as an inlet, but where does the water come from?

We exited at 11.30pm, all tackle sacks left at the base of the daylight shaft in readiness for a de-rig & haul. Walking to the farmhouse, we quietly removed our kit, hanging it up, then walked home. Returned 12.40am.

TU: 12½ hrs

7th November 2004: Tong Luo Jing

Rob Garrett, Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch

Rob + Dunks came back from an afternoon stroll + reported a new entrance only 300m from where we're staying. It sounded like a good prospect for an evening trip, so we donned helmets, grabbed survey kit, and then failed to find the right path down to the cave. Eventually the goat track we'd been following hit the path we were on and we were soon down to the cave. I was impressed by the entrance -- 5m high, 2m wide + sloping down over mud + medical waste. A short way inside the entrance there were the remains of a wall -- perhaps for diverting water? The cave looked good -- it opened out beyond + was 3m wide, 10m+ tall, with a wet mud floor. Dunks + rob had a jolly time of it as they were wearing Tevas. Round a bend we were dismayed to find -- the end -- a calcited choke from floor to ceiling. Bum. The cave runs parallel to Acheron, but we're not sure which way it used to flow as we couldn't find any distinct scallops. Perhaps it is a fragment of a very old Qikeng?

TU: ½ hrs

9th November 2004: Lan Mu Cun Cun Dong

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis

Some filthy sod had done a shit in the streambed right outside the entrance, which had been washed into the cave by the previous day's rain, making the first 40m of the entrance crawls rather aromatic.

Quite a bit more water in the cave than on previous trips; pitches a bit spray-lashed in places, and the bottom half of Cloudburst downright soggy.

Decided to push for a connection to Liu Chi Aokou first, and then survey. At the base of Cloudburst it is possible to head upstream, but the way on soon splits. To the left I did did some hairy clambering up boulders in a big rift aven, and eventually clambered back down the other side to find no way on (too tight). Straight ahead was a 4m overhanging climb up choss with a small stream trickling down it, which we left for later.

Went downstream to the head of Typhoon, checking out the right-hand wall along the way; one possible lead, but a vertical climb up shaley choss to get there, and it's not very promising anyway.

Had a look at the options for getting into the inlet which is presumed to be the other end of Blue Balls in LCAKX.

  • Option 1: climb up r.hand wall before head of Typhoon, then traverse along to the inlet. No sign of any decent rock, all brown shaley shit that easily delaminates.
  • Option 2: Descend a couple of metres down Typhoon, then bolt straight up into the inlet. This at least has a little bit of real rock at the start, but then would become an overhanging flail up chossy shale with a stream falling on your head.

Chose option 1, and placing long thru-bolts in the shitty rock for purposes of karma rather than any expectation that they'd hold a fall, made rapid progress, getting to within 1½ metres of my objective within 4 bolts. All that was in the way now was to get round a shattered corner and into the passage, but after a long time staring at it, and a few tentative prods at the rock, I gave up. It'd mean traversing a reasonable way past my last bolt, on shattered choss holds, above a 35m drop. Having little confidence in the holds, and not much confidence that my bolts wouldn't all pop, sending me & then Erin, who was belaying, to the bottom of the pitch, I had little choice. We need someone with no concern for their own safety to come & do this!

Then went back to the overhanging climb upstream from the base of Cloudburst. I could see that the rock at the top was good, and after a few goes managed to lasso a big nose. I prusiked up but couldn't get off the pitch, so had Erin tie the drill to the rope so I could pull it up and put some bolts in.

There was an encouraging draught, and we had high hopes of marching straight to the bottom of the aven near the end of You Lucky Lucky Bastards. However, after a couple of legs, we were stalled.

To the left went about 15m to a boulder blockage through which a black space could be seen and falling water heard. Straight ahead a pitch down was blind, leaving an awkward climb up into a roof tube. This was overcome using a single bolt with a stirrup hanging from it, and I scraunched my way along on awkward rift passage for some way; it duly eased somewhat and finally ended at an aven, but almost certainly not the one in LCAK that we were hoping to reach.

Got out at just after midnight.

TU: 10¼ hrs

11th November 2004

Dave Barrett, Brian Judd

Went to derig Bamboo Cave on Brian's last day in Tian Xing. We kitted up at the farmhouse & walked toward the shaft noting the amount of water in the paddy fields & thinking it might be a wet trip. As it happened it was. There was a stream flowing into the shaft on the opposite side from descent & it made the second pitch very wet. A stream flowed throughout our trip, whereas previously some sections were dry.

We decided to take the drill & some rigging gear into the cave as some previously drippy pitches were expected to be very wet. This was a wise decision as two deviations were installed to help hang free of the water. However, it still didn't stop us getting a soaking!

With extra rigging to de-rig (?), our trip became longer. In at 10.10am, we exited at 4pm. Brian had the toughest task of hauling 5 tackle sacks up the 40m shaft whilst I watched guided the rope over the ledge to avoid snagging.

All in all, a very sporting Swildon's style trip.......

TU: 6 hrs

11th November 2004

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis

We had a leisurely start + got underground at 1pm, only to be immediately confronted by our first lead. Just inside the entrance a passage stretched off to the left. We quickly located a tie-in station + surveyed along a number of crawls in this area. All ended, but the most interesting must be very near the surface, as we could distinctly hear a cow mooing. Presumably it connects to a grike/cleft on the surface. Other noteworthy items: cave pearls, a rats nest complete with 2 big wriggly millipedes, and the shattered remains of a skull which had been whole earlier in the expedition.

Near station 2 in the main passage Dunks noted a crawl but was stopped after 8m by an imposing hairy-mary. We believe it is just part of an oxbow, but this has not been confirmed.

We were dismayed to come to the end of the nice easy walking passage. The crawl to the head of the 1st pitch had an inch of water flowing down it -- most unsalubrious. We'd planned to descend the first pitch, but spotted a continuation over the top. It'd all been scooped before, but was interesting nonetheless. We surveyed several branches, but at all points were stopped by boulder chokes, one of which had tree roots poking out of it.

Many good leads remain below the first pitch -- don't rule out a connection with Xia yet.

15th November 2004 - 16th November 2004: The Big Bang

Rob Garrett, Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch

We'd put the inevitable off for long enough -- it was time to derig Liu Chi Aokou Xia. Armed with camera + survey kit we made rapid progress into the cave, arriving at the top of The Lubricator at 2:35pm, three hours after leaving the surface. It was much wetter than usual thanks to a week of rain. Although we managed to stay dry-ish through Dysentry + most of the rest of the nigh on 2 kilometers to The Penetrator the final 100m did us in, with a final fuck-you form the cave in the form of a waist deep wade followed by a very aqueous abseil down The Lubricator, leaving us soaked from head to foot as we set off down The Penetrator

We quickly reached the ledge 25m down + started surveying the new stuff. The plan was for me to go first, Dunks to follow with instruments, and Rob to go last with the book.. I gardened what seemed like a ton of mud + choss off the top 2 rebelays, then did a long slow abseil down the 60m hang, admiring the shaft as I went. it was big, with blackness stretching off to the north, while to the east the wall was at least 10m away, and sometimes much further as it connected through to a parallel shaft. I descended past a rock bridge that separates the 2 shafts and soon came to a ledge which split the main shaft in two, most of the water going down a gully to the west while the rig thankfully went to the west. Sitting below the belay I waited for the survey to reach me, but instead of numbers I heard a garbled "Come... Back... Up...". My first thought was surely they must not mean me -- it was bloody 60m to the top of the hang! But it all too soon became clear that Dunks wasn't coming down. I had no choice but to go up, lugging the tacklesack full of bolting, cooking, and camera kit, and muttering under my breath that there better be some broken survey instruments or a popped bolt when I reached the top. I arrived at the belay to find Duncan with his legs going numb as he held a breeze-block sized lump of rock into the wall. Some rather dramatic gardening ensued, with thunderous bangs as the rocks lost quite a lot of potential energy. As the survey continued, I was actually quite glad of my extra exercise, as below the big hang the rigging, dry a week before, was engulfed in a light but constant cold rain from above. By the time we reached the bottom at 5:30pm we were chilled to the bone. Dunks showed us the rock he'd slept under on the previous trip + we all crowded in for some pasta + sauce.

The bottom of the shaft was complex, with several lobes + spray everywhere. Downstream the gently dipping ~half meter thick beds of white + grey limestone continued. The passage was classic Tian Xing -- 1m to 3m wide canyon that went up, up, up, with polished, sculpted smooth rock, pools, and climbs . We were scoured clean in no time. Previously Dunks had stopped at a pool, which was easily skirted. This was followed by another pool and then, unsurprisingly, a pitch. It was still early, so Dunks ran back to chop the tail off The Penetrator rope, while Rob + I attempted to photograph the Big Bang Streamway. A flashgun that wouldn't charge, a firefly with flat batteries, and a camera that wouldn't open all conspired against us, so Dunks had placed 3 bolts before we'd finished. FIXME was reminiscent of many of the Qikeng streamway pitches, with water cascading from the lip onto a ledge 3m below, and then down the short pitch. From the bottom, 2 legs saw us to the top of another pitch. Out of rope, we peered into blackness. About 10m below we could make out a ledge of white limestone, and below that another ledge. Beyond.... who knows. We couldn't hear rocks hit the bottom. It looks a LONG way down. Well satisfied that we'd pushed the cave to the limit of our rope, we turned 'round and were back at the base of the pitch, starting up by 10:30pm.

I prussiked slowly up The Penetrator with the tackle sack while Rob + Dunks derigged below me. By 00:15 I was at the base of The Lubricator, contemplating the soaking I was about to get, while Rob was at the top of the long hang. He + Dunks pulled all the rope up + bagged it while I huddled under a rock trying to keep warm. I woke up at 1:30am to the sight of the two of them with enormous heavy tackle sacks. We ate, drank, and shivered for an hour, then set off with the bastard heavy things. Just lifting my tackle sack up climbs was a struggled, and mine was the lightest of the three. By the time we'd reached You Lucky Lucky Bastards I was well past my best. Rob'd played the hero + gone ahead with two bags leaving me with Duncan's and giving Duncan and empty one for the 25m pitch rope. Heave, thud, heave, thud I moved that bloody bag half a metre at a time until Dunks caught me up + took it off me. I practically begged him to give up the derig + go out, but he was having none of ti. We met Rob in the chamber just before Dysentry for a council of war. I was struggling to stay awake, much less move my limbs. The lads gave me a prussik bag + told me to go out -- they'd take 2 bags each through the grovels + rifts of Dysentry + Soap Dodgers. I was relieved to be shot of my bag, but still struggled with the climbs. Behind me I heard Dunks and Rob as they inched along. Such was the extent of my knackeredness that they actually caught me up at the end of Soap Dodgers. At 7:45 totally shattered, I was instructed to dump everything at the top of the Pig Fat pitch. Even with only my prussik bag, it still took almost 2 hours to get out, the others hot on my heels with a tackle sack each. At 10am we reached the surface -- a cold, clear morning with brilliant sunshine + amazing visibility. The scenery was all the more stunning for the fact we'd been underground for 22½ hours on a totally gruelling trip. Ah, well, it's all good training.

TU: 22½ hrs

19th November 2004: LCAKX Final Derig

Rob Garrett, Duncan Collis

Went in to collect the remaining two (fat bastard) tacklesacks from the end of Potatoes Chamber. Got to the bags and sat chopsing for about half an hour rather than face the struggle out with the reluctant bags. Finally set off. Amazing how quickly our arms felt just as tired as on the way out from the previous derig. We broke no speed records on the way out and eventually derigged the entrance pitch to uninspiring drizzle.

TU: 4 hrs

22nd November 2004: LCAKS Solo Survey

Erin Lynch

Rob + Dunks were off to derig Lan Mu Cun Cun so I went to LCAKS to re-survey the 2nd pitch and below, for which we have no Grade 5 survey. The route finding below the 1st pitch was more complicated than expected. The passage was mainly 10m tall, 4m+ wide, and full of breakdown with a thin layer of mud. The rock was chossy/cherty throughout + the breakdown formed large mounds, sometimes with the stream in a low oxbow to the side. Several passage came in at various points -- this area definitely merits a closer look.

It's worth noting the cairns are for routefinding; they are not all stations; stations are marked with red. I started surveying from station 3 of the day2 survey, which is a short way before the wet crawl to the head of the second pitch. From station 3 I could see a high level continuation of the large passage I was in.

It took a while to get the hang of solo-surveying, but I eventually made it through the crawl + to the top of the pitch. It was horribly loose at the top. Anyone on the traverse to the top Y-hang is liable to rain a shower of debris on those below, so I was glad to be on my own. On the far side of the pitch the ceiling is higher and a small stream enters, which with the water from the crawl makes the pitch rather damp, although all the rigging is well away from the direct flow of the water. With having to changeover + prussik up to retrieve the end of the tape after each leg, it was slow going, but by halfway down the pitch I was rewarded with the sight of beautifully banded limestone -- a few meters thick + alternating dark + light -- the good shit. At the final rebelay I ran out of time + had to head out. Good trip.

TU: 10 hrs

22nd November 2004: Lan Mu Cun Cun survey-derig

Rob Garrett, Duncan Collis

We set off in the early afternoon anticipating a quick jolly. The cave was the wettest we'd seen it despite several days of relatively settled weather. A small stream was flowing down the entrance and several pools had appeared where there used to be none. As I had the tacklesack with the survey instruments I moved slower taking care to keep them dry. Duncan went ahead to start the derig. I caught him up just as he was hauling the rope up the aptly named Typhoon Pitch.

So far everything was going smoothly enough so we proceeded to phase 2. This involved surveying the remaining passages at the base of Cloudburst. The first was about 100m or so of climbing on large loose boulders in a high rift which terminates at an aven. Although we encountered no problems it took a little longer than expected. The second lead was 150m. An initial awkward climb aided by a fixed rope leads to a tight roof traverse along a straight rift. After a while progress is made in the floor of the rift which has a liberal quantity of wet mud. Eventually the passage relents slightly before terminating in another large aven. The whole passage draughts well and took quite a while to survey although since we had no watches we had no way of knowing.

The derig itself rapidly became hard work as we soon had 300m of rope plus rigging and survey gear between us. This translated into a very heavy tacklesack each through the 200m entrance series. Progress was slow, strenuous but steady. Unfortunately about halfway along in a T-shaped passage my tacklesack disturbed a large rock which landed directly on my big toe. An inch of water offered very little by way of cushioning although the resulting injury took, rather bizarrely, the form of a large blister.

It wasn't until we got back to the pharm and found that we'd missed dinner that we realized quite how long the trip had been...

TU: 8 hrs

November 2004: LCAKS final derig

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis

A leisurely derig afforded us the chance to make note of the many leads in this cave, the most promising of which is just before the crawl to the top of the 2ndpitch. It is an easy climb up over boulders to the continuation of the main passage. Duncan went ~50m to a boulder choke, which was easily passed, followed by more sizeable walking passage to a handline climb down (undescended), where a misfit stream is met, heading towards the 2ndpitch and presumably the source of the second waterfall on that pitch. The passage continues beyond and it is definitely worth a return trip asap.

20th November 2004 - 2nd December 2004: Gear fettling

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis, Rob Garrett

During + following the various derigs, we repaired, organized, and inventoried the club's equipment:

  • patched tackle sacks; suggest sewing webbing on seams of Xitu bags
  • grouped hangers into 20's with thrubolts + maillons
  • tethers on all drills, hammers, and spanners
  • grouped loose thrubolts into 20's and 50's
  • numbered tackle sacks, dry bags, stoves, prussik bags, map/radio cases
  • tested all stoves + radios
  • cleaned all metalwork
  • checked all dry bags, map cases, radio cases
  • charged all rechargeable batteries; numbered un-labeled
  • washed, checked, measured + labeled all ropes (note, some need re-labeling with heat shrink)
  • constructed 2 new survey books + repaired old ones
  • sorted most items into clearly labeled sipper bags
  • aired duvets
  • inventoried everything in detail

We also established a permanent gear store in Wulong for 1200Y a year. The current arrangement is quite neat + tidy with all the rope organized by length + places to hang krabs, tackle sacks, prussik bags, hammers, duvets, slings, etc. Future expeditions should consider building shelving to keep more things off the floor.