Tianxing 2005 Expedition Logbook

Logbook:

3rd September 2005 - 6th September 2005: The Journey

Rob Garrett, Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis, Phil Rowsell

After lunch with Echo at Gan Guo Yu time suddenly started to slide away. We had a bread van to the bus station but by the time we'd loaded it up we barely caught our bus. A brief argument over excess baggage and all was going smoothly. A couple of hours in the hotel near the Liuzhou train station where Duncan joined us having gone via Guilin to pick up 400m of rope.

A 2am train left us in Chongqing without adventure in the we hours. The new beefy trolly was gradually being loaded more and more and there were no problems getting the bus to Wulong. We even had time for a side trip to Carrefour (opening hours 08:30) to pick up a load of "snickers" bars.

1 night in Wulong proved sufficient for shopping and feasting on barbecue. Then Erin stayed on to work while the rest of us took a truck for 300Y with all our gear up to common proceedings in Tian Xing where we were cheerfully greeted by all and sundry.

TU: 0 hrs

7th September 2005: Liu Chi AoKou Shang

Duncan Collis, Rob Garrett, Phil Rowsell

A late start (3:20pm) due to unpacking and counting kit in the morning. A rather warm walk up to the cave, especially for Phil who had thermals, furry suit and TSA.

We headed in and I rigged the pitch, disgracing myself somewhat by dropping a sling and a tector to the bottom of the shaft before the swing into the eyehole. The sing wasn't long enough in any case and we had to lop 6m off the long pink handline sling.

By the time we'd got down time was against us and it was obvious we weren't going to get much done at the pushing front so we dropped everything but the handline and went for a look-see.

The climb down is easy, but the large passage ends after only 30m or so. However, there are a couple of ways on, one of which draughts, the other (at roof level) is walking size.

We will return tomorrow with an earlier start and see where it heads to.

TU: 3.75 hrs

8th September 2005: Liu Chi Aokou Shang

Duncan Collis, Rob Garrett, Phil Rowsell

Earlier start 11:20. Headed down to lead checked out yesterday. Surveyed in to yesterday's limit and continued along nice key hole phreatic passage until x-roads. Ahead low crawl to slightly easier passage before crapping out at constriction. Possible aven ahead. Possible rats nest at base of aven. Not much draft. Difficult to widen, but possibly dig mud out of floor to gain access? Back to x-roads. Right (heading out) climb / squeeze up to blind 2m aven. Left + down (heading out) Phil dug + pushed tight squeeze to 'T' junction. "Stream" running from left to right. Passage too narrow to negotiate. Water could be heard dripping in from aven further along left hand leg. May be able to dig to gain access to aven but not good.

Headed back to climb up to phreatic + survey crawl to drafting hole (too tight to push) but with aven / passage behind draft not so strong. May be able to dig floor out. But need tools.

Head back to aven (Nr. Stat #15) + push lead at back of aven. Survey reasonably big passage up slope before passage choked out. Headed out + surveyed oxbow from Stat #16 to Station #24 for completeness. Headed out. Nice not to boil in a bag (TSA) today.

TU: 6.75 hrs

10th September 2005: Lan Mu Cun Cun Dong

Duncan Collis, Rob Garrett, Phil Rowsell

Matt Ryan on Cats and Dogs

Went in to rig down to the head of Typhoon and look at the dig in Occluded Front.

The entrance has collapsed slightly - a large block on the right hand side has fallen in and rubble has slumped behind it, but the way in is still open and seems OK.

Further in the entrance passage seems to have gained quite a bit of gravel, with a couple of low sections. Last year's dig and squeeze had filled up again, and required half an hour's digging to get in. The route through the rift on the left is blocked, so we had to go though the bedding to the right, which is very low. Fortunately the cave is very dry at the moment, so the bedding is not taking a stream.

At the pitches, Phil started to rig, but when he came to put bolts in to rerig parts of Cats and Dogs, he found that drill #1 (new style Bosch) was hammering quite weakly and the battery (sealed lead acid #2) went flat after only half a hole. The hole was completed by hand and the rest of the rig left unchanged.

Old Bone was rigged as last year and Cloudburst was rigged partially - a shit bolt was put in on the far wall for a deviation down to the floor. A large nose of rock near the bolt was not used as it appears to be just sitting on a mud bank on a ledge. The rig will be improved if the deviation is replaced with a rebelay (new bolt needed) and a further rebelay is placed below the next ledge down, as far out from the water as possible.

Romped down to look at the rock at the head of Typhoon, slowed slightly by our handline for the slippery climb being far too short, the headed to Occluded Front.

Phil managed to shift a rock from the choke, and after a little hammering wriggled through without his oversuit. More hammering got Rob through. Beyond the choke was an aven about 10m diameter with a too-tight continuation, and something going off about 10m off the floor.

TU: 7.25 hrs

11th September 2005: Lan Mu Cun Cun

Duncan Collis, Rob Garrett, Phil Rowsell

Matt Ryan at the top of Cloudburst

Headed in at 11:30 to fettle Cats and Dogs + Cloudburst and to rerig Typhoon. Left Duncan to fettle the top two + headed on with Rob to look at Typhoon. Spent awhile looking at options to try and rerig pitch "dry". Manage to find reasonable rib of limestone amongst the choss, a little way down. Rig a traverse line along rib of limestone to get pitch out of main water. Still a bit drippy. Set 'Y' hang + drop over large mudstone rib + set rebelay under rib in good limestone again to give free hang to floor. Light fading fast, so did not drop to bottom, but rerig complete. Headed back up. Duncan appeared and headed down for look + did fair amount of gardening, before calling it a day + headed out. (May possibly be able to smash big mudstone rib to give free hang from 'Y' hang + negate rebelay.)

TU: 5.75 hrs

11th September 2005: Same day, Same cave

Duncan Collis, Rob Garrett, Phil Rowsell

Matt Ryan at the head of Cloudburst

On the way in we stopped at the cobbled-up crawl and attacked the large slab that was almost blocking the passage. 20 minutes of sustained tickling with the lump hammer and chisel saw the slab worked free - it should now be possible to dig out the rest of the crawl to avoid the flat-out crawl and stop the passage from getting bunged-up again here.

Cats and Dogs got a new bolted deviation to avoid dropping into the wet gallery, while Cloudburst now has a y-hang rebelay (t'bolt + a thread) below the new deviation - it's now pretty dry.

TU as above (same trip).

13th September 2005: Lan Mu Cun Cun

Duncan Collis, Rob Garrett, Phil Rowsell

Pete at the top of Typhoon

Went down to garden Typhoon and rig onwards. Phil pulled the rope up Typhoon and flailed around with the lump hammer until the pitch was reasonably clear of loose crap.

When we met up at the bottom of Typhoon Phil reported that he had a drill and rocpecker but no bolting hammer. I went back up to get a hammer from the foot of Cloudburst while Phil started rigging using the lump hammer.

When I got back, Phil had traversed round to the far side of the pitch and was putting bolts in. Rob and I waited while the pitch was rigged. The lip of the top is a complete clusterfuck of mud and pebbles, with no decent rock to put bolts in until a bit below where the rope starts to rub on the edge.

At the bottom of the 60m shaft, the stream is met again, and I went upstream to find Phil's lost spanner at the foot of the parallel wet shaft. In the meantime Phil had discovered the missing bolting hammer - hanging from his harness, he'd had it all along.

A futher pitch of ~25m was descended at the foot of which the cave went horizontal for some distance along a winding rift, to the head of a further 10m pitch with another drop visible beyond.

TU: 9.75 hrs

15th September 2005: Lan Mu Shu Dong (formerly known as Lan Mu Cun Cun Dong)

Duncan Collis, Rob Garrett, Phil Rowsell

Y, Y, Y Oh Y

Underground by 10.30 and relatively unencumbered we made good progress into the cave. A new bolt deviation was added to the first pitch (perhaps better changed to a rebelay?) and an extra bolt at the head of Cloudburst. These jobs accomplished the bolting hammer was abandoned secure in the knowledge that there was a second one at the pushing front...

On reaching Pootastic pitch I inspected in search of a large unstable boulder at the pitch head as noted by Duncan when exiting from the last trip. I duly forced one only to be told by Duncan that my dangerous large loose pitchhead boulder was different to his dangerous large loose pitchhead boulder. The solution, after some deliberation, was to be a compete rerig. The sticking point - we had a drill but no bolt hammer. Phil descended the pitch removing rebelays so the rope could be hauled up and then added some handbolts to improve the next pitch. I returned to the base of Cloudburst to fetch the hammer and Duncan prepared to rerig the pitch from an alternative approach line.

After this start things progressed smoothly. The pushing front was further removed from the entrance courtesy of a series of short pitches totalling nigh on 40m or so followed by a longer and marginally more awkward rift. As time ran out the rift ran on reaching a junction where the stream flowed left down a draughting body-sized hole while the right fork seems considerably more appetising.

A swift departure in search of dinner fetched us out at 8:30pm, our longest trip today and a moderately successful one. A bare minimum of rerigging/fettling remain to be done, the way on is wide open and the question of where it's heading beckons to be answered...

TU: 10 hrs

16th September 2005 - 17th September 2005: Fester without power

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis, Rob Garrett, Phil Rowsell

Erin came up the hill on the 16th after hearing reports of much improved internet access speeds. Big thunderstorm that night with impressive lightning strikes. Shortly before midnight the electricity cut out. Not being able to play on the computers, we went to bed.

The next morning the troops were in disarray: Rob's ankles were sore, Phil hadn't slept well and Duncan hadn't slept + was doing sloppy poos. Caving was cancelled + we spent the day bemoaning the continuing lack of power.

17th September 2005 - 19th September 2005: Fleur, Pete, and Chris Travelling

Fleur Loveridge, Pete Talling, Chris Densham

Construction in Chongqing

Unlike Chris, Pete + I got all our luggage through OK and 1 train, 2 tubes and 2 planes later Chris met our flight in Chongqing. A slight misunderstanding with the taxi driver took us to the wrong bus station, but we probably would have still missed the last bus.....

So followed Erin's instructions and got a top value posh-ish hotel room by the train / bus station. The next morning we had trouble getting a bus ticket for Jiangkou, only for Wulong. But we managed to ascertain the bus was going there and stayed on. Worst part of the journey was having "Starship Troopers" played on the bus. Best bit was fantastic gorges on way to Wulong.

Having just missed the bus in Jiangkou we got a sneaky breadvan to be met by Erin, beer and welcome food from Mrs Wei + family.

Most exciting journey aspect was Pete's custard explosion in Shanghai airport. Resulting in trail of white powder across 2 airports and 1 hotel. But no arrests.

17th September 2005 - 19th September 2005: Chris vs. Air France

Chris Densham

I have to give it to Air France - they were worthy opponents to my gear-carrying challenge. With considerable effort, I whittled my 32kg sack down to 25kg. "5kg over - that will be £125 excess please." Ouch. reluctantly, I slung out my pit and all the OUCC sponsorship Smash I had taken and made it through the 20kg barrier. Then the check-in desk girl looked over at my trolly "Your hand bag has to fit into that metal frame too - and sideways!" Out came my 'Yellow Peril' peli-case. "And you are only allowed one piece of hand luggage." By now I had one rucksack, one 10L bum-bag, one laptop bag stuffed with anything vaguely electrical, one pelicase and one poachers jacket that was too heavy to hold at arm's length. In desperation, I managed to distract the lady by trying to get her to explain exactly how I would collect my bag at Guangzhou, until the gate was about to close and I had to stagger off. It was a relief to get to Chongqing and sit down to wait for Pete + Fleur.

18th September 2005: LCAKX Rig to Change of Scale

Erin Lynch, Phil Rowsell

Phil Rowsell in Change of Scale

Our 3 man trip became a 2 man trip when Duncan's headset gave up the ghost. He spent the day dissecting the lead, leaving Phil + myself to go down LCAKX. Phil did the rigging + we were soon at Change of Scale. We dumped our kit and went for a tourist wander downstream. There are several interesting looking high leads on the right, but they will require a maypole. Took photos on the way out (Erin's roll 1).

TU: 5 hrs

19th September 2005: Lanmu Shu Dong

Duncan Collis, Rob Garrett, Phil Rowsell

The Long Rift

An easy trip in just carrying drill and a couple of short ropes. Phil re-rigged last trip's final pitch series with a single length of rope to free up an ill-assorted collection of ropes that had served very inefficiently to get us down on the previous trip.

Rob and I went ahead to survey onwards along the flood-overflow route, and by good chance reached a drop just as Phil caught us up. A short pitch (which could be freeclimbed at a pinch) got us to a position where the stream could be seen flowing in a narrow rift. Wider passage above could be followed at several levels for a short distance to a 20m pitch, and the easiest route, featuring a dogleg just before the pitch, as chosen. Phil rigged and Rob + I followed with the survey.

At the bottom, more rift passage continued and were surveyed down a series of climbs to the head of another pitch, at which point we called it a day and headed back out, pausing to place bolts on the climb were the stream goes down the small hole.

TU: 8.75 hrs

20th September 2005: Lanmu Shu Dong

Chris Densham, Fleur Loveridge, Pete Talling, Phil Rowsell

Fleur descending the pitch on the far side of the traverse

Headed in to check out traverse at top of 2nd pitch. Easy first trip for the others as just arrived. Bolted around to supposed passage, but turned out to be pitch down that joins in 3rd pitch. Bolted further around as looked like passage around corner. No go. Retreat + check out aven above traverse. Drop down to aven previous surveyed from btm of 2nd pitch. Small passage entering this aven opposite. About 10m up small stream issuing. Also found small tube passage heading down. Push to 30m pitch in long rift. Land on shelf with 40m drops at either end. (Survey showed drops to be above known passage.) Headed out.

TU: 5.75 hrs

21st September 2005: Weather report

Duncan Collis

Chris + Phil down Lanmu Shu - expected back late, perhaps after midnight. At about 5pm it started to rain, becoming quite heavy by 7pm.

During a break in the rain at 7.45 I went over to the entrance of Lanmu Shu. The stream crossed on the way there was flowing quite strongly, about 10 inches wide and 4 inches deep, but the streambed that enters the cave was almost dry, with just a small trickle entering the cave itself. (Next morning - the pan I left on the roof has collected 35mm of water.)

21st September 2005: Lanmu Shu Dong [Pissed On]

Chris Densham, Phil Rowsell

Imogen Furlong on the Big Pitch - Jugglers

At least I could tell my arse from Duncan's elbow. The former was producing prodigious quantities of liquid in an explosive manner, whereas the latter was merely throbbing and glowing. Rob's ankle was supperating. Since I had the least disabling ailment I went off with Phil to the bottom of Lanmu Shu Dong.

Not very nice until narrow rifts in pale rock appeared at -300m or so Replaced previous teams ropes with shorter lengths, gaining an extra tacklesack of rope in the process. Rigged a couple of handlines down wet short climbs. Limit of exploration was a crumbling pitch head. Phil rigged down, after dispatching as many of the crumbling rocks as possible. Pitch opened out into splashy base. Short narrow rift reached another pitch. I rigged down this to a splashier base. At this point Phil had to return for the tape measure so I continued on with the tackle. I declined to waste drill power on a dry pitch when there was a perfectly respectable wet freeclimb round the corner. Phil reappeared, rigged short drop down to head of BIG PITCH. My turn - after 2 rebelays 68m of rope ran out ~20m above floor. Looked like a big rift heading round corner to left. Quality stripey strata

Out of rope, out of battery power, 2 thrubolts left. Good trip. Oh - a flood pulse occurred at ~8:45pm as I was prussiking up Broken Levy pitch. Nervously finished survey for a splashy exit. Wettest pitch was 1st pitch of Y, Y, Y Oh Y.

TU: 14.5 hrs

21st September 2005: Liu Chi Aokou Xia

Fleur Loveridge, Rob Garrett, Pete Talling

Phil Rowsell with the LCAKX stream before rain

The entrance series was already rigged. Our task was to rig on into the big stuff, through Dysentry and down the following pitches in order to try to connect Blueballs to Lan Mu Shu. The way in was slow, carrying tackle and rigging as we went. Dysentry wasn't half as bad as all the talk, but wouldn't have fancied it with 2 tacklesacks after hundreds of metres of prussiking. Pete was at home anyway, happily pretending it was South Wales rather than china. Other highlights were the ridiculous 260 pitch and Combined Tactics climb. For the latter I recommend some rigging or taking a tall person.

Rigging wise we rerigged The Big Pitch in the entrance series. The 5th pitch was challenging, but an unconventional deviation saw us through. More entertainment followed at the 7th and 8th pitches where we put the wrong ropes on and hand to re-rig our own rigging.

By the head of the 10th pitch we'd been going 7 hours on the way in and I'd kind of had enough. Retreat was confirmed by the bolts on the pitch being fucked. They way out was quicker with no gear. Crawling through Soap Dodgers I thought it was wetter than the way in, but put it down to the hydrophobe in me. Turned out it had been pissing it down on the surface. Overall a squalid and sporting trip, but the connection will have to wait 'till another day.

TU: 11 hrs

23rd September 2005: Liu Chi Aokou Xia to Lan Mu Shu: The first through trip

Fleur Loveridge, Rob Garrett, Pete Talling

Carmel in You Fucking Fucking Bastards

YOU FUCKING FUCKING BASTARDS*

The trip started with the traditional game to avoid being first through the spider infested entrance. Then the entrancy bit - I liked the little bit of 'Indiana Highway'. Then into the bigger stuff and on through Dysentry. Got to the head of the pitch we had stopped at on previous trip. Rob furtled in a new bolt and incorporated the old ones. The second big bit was pretty good - especially the mud climbing: then to the object of the trip - Blueballs. This was not as advertised in the brochure. Very muddy and loose to start. A solid limestone roof lay above some rock types that defied geological description. Up and over this loose chossy - grimstone finally brought us to the dig. Rob went ahead to hammer whilst I dug a little gravel out to make the approach Talling sized. Then the fun began. A lump of flowstone came down to the right hand side of the constriction. The right hand wall of the squeeze looked solid but (when it did) broke off in biggish bits. The left hand side of the squeeze was a cross between mudstone and Cadbury flake - and often broke off in annoyingly small splinters. Some early success on the right wall gave encouragement but progress slowed as it became most difficult to swing the lump hammer further into the squeeze. A rock bridge across the squeeze barred the way. Rob and Fleur took turns inserting themselves.

Some combined hammer and chiselling was tried. It made for a good soundtrack - recorded by the dictaglove - but led to bent thumbs. After 2½ hours people's arms started to wilt. Suddenly the rock bridge broke away. Rob inched thru backwards. The waiting was agonizing. Do you want the good news he said, on his return. The passage opened out but then closed in again - forming yet more wet grovels. He'd made a rather fine traverse over a pool of ominous depth - this involved neck and footing on a wall of mud-glued pebbles. However - there was indeed a pitch down to Typhoon. It had been an 'interesting' head game - getting more and more knackered hammering knowing that at some point you may have to reverse all the lovely stuff in Liu Chi Aokou. Phew. Huzzah. There was still the issue of finding belays. A rather odd banded white rock provided one bolt. Just as well - the naturals that were back ups were actually holding a pile of loose mud chippings together. The squeeze was gardened to lardy-Pete dimensions - tackle was donned. Rob found that the rope easily reached the top of Duncs' bolt traverse in Typhoon. The crowd went wild.

* Always read the small print in the brochure.

TH: 3 hrs.

TU: 13 hrs

23rd September 2005: Huang Jia Dong (Dead Dog Cave)

Duncan Collis, Erin Lynch

Duncan Collis descending Huang Jia Dong

Mrs Wei showed us a shaft down the hill from Lanmu Shu along the footpath. We were told that a dog had fallen down and that the hole was very deep. Some good rock around the entrance was very welcome, with a big jutting shelf allowing a Y-hang rebelay straight down the shaft once the jungle had been cleared. Another rebelay and deviation got to the bottom, where there was a freshly dead dog, a very narrow draughting lead downstream, which probably needs digging, and an upstream passage to a short pitch down.

TU: 2 hrs

23rd September 2005: Lan Mu Shu [Jugglers]

Chris Densham, Phil Rowsell

Window into Wallowing in Glory

Headed down to start of previous limit + fettled rigging. Replaced 56m on Broken Levy with 35m. Very tight (needs 40m). Put deviation on 10m pitch to avid water at base. Rig new pitch with natural + 'Y' hang (bolts) to avoid wet climb. Needs ~15m rope. Re rig small pitch at top of big pitch with 23m to release 40m. (2m short to drop onto 'Y' hang of big pitch. Needs 25-26m). Move one rebelay to avoid water lower down on pitch + set another to drop 20m to floor of pitch. No horizontal development. Pitch [Jugglers] needs 90m+ pitch for main hang or 115-120m to rig upper pitches too. Head on downstream, drop short 3m pitch, 6m pitch, 6m pitch + drop awkward pitch (10m) to floor. Very narrow rift heading off taking stream. Push Dachstein style rift to head of 30-40m pitch. Decide to head back to pitch as climb up opposite pitch had big passage beyond. Manage to lasso spike and access window [top of Wallowing in Glory]. Pitch series heading off, but ran out of drill power. Fettle access to window + head out. Meet Rob at base of Cloudburst (connection made). With time to spare, head across + de-rig 30m pitch + bolt traverse set 20/09/05. Out of cave at 01:30. Good trip, will be great when we get the new drill batteries!!!

TU: 14.5 hrs

25th September 2005: Liu Chi Aokou Shang

Phil Rowsell, Fleur Loveridge

Phil was looking frustrated at Chris' lack of activity so I volunteered to go with him to his drafting hole. It was only halfway in that I realised I'd signed up for another hammering trip. Some impressive big passage compared to the lower entrance. At the drafting hole rather more hammering than I would have hoped allowed Phil to squeeze through to the predicted aven. Back in time for tea and beer + WINE!

TH: 2 hrs.

TU: 4 hrs

25th September 2005: Arrival Imogen + Dave with Matt

Imogen Furlong, David Foxton, Matt Ryan

Matt, Imogen, and the great white beast

After 2 night time flights - Matt met us from the plane. Spent day semi comatose. Following day saw an epic days expedition shopping. Huge electronics market Chengdu; driving around and round the city visiting every outdoor shop in Chengdu - only two bivi bags in the city were bought. Carrefour supermarket to get basketballs, impromptu session in the shop with a gaggle of children and shop assistants. We bought some frozen squid and prawns for expedition meal. Went to pick up Dave from the airport and finally set off on the drive to Tian Xing at midnight. Al three of us shared the driving. Dave and I wanting to ensure Matt got enough sleep to be able to do some caving when he got there. Steering the "Milk Crate" vehicle was interesting. Having to oversteer to get the thing to go in a straight line. Dark, wet and misty motorways where trucks drive without lights on and cones appear out of nowhere without notice. At about 3am the fish melted and stank! Solution was to hang the bag outside the window to keep it cold, where it completed the journey to Wulong slapping against the side of the vehicle. Had a breakfast of pure chilli and made our way up the hill to the village. Drank beer. Arrival time about 11.30am.

25th September 2005: Lan Mu Shu

Matt Ryan, Erin Lynch

Matt posing for a photo on Cats and Dogs

A week of work, followed by a day of gear shopping, followed by a night of driving and sitting drinking beer with CD + Duncan was very tempting, much more so than a caving trip before another 11 hrs of road back to work. Imogen would have been too upset had I not caves, despite protestations I only came to say hello. Erin proposed a short photo trip to get me underground on an easy trip. Down the first three pitches with a few snaps, quick hello to Rob + Pete starting a traverse over Typhoon pitch before a very unfit prussiked back out for tea.

TU: 3 hrs

25th September 2005: Typhoon Traverse

Rob Garrett, Pete Talling

Rob rigging Beggars Can't Be Choosers traverse

I'd had my eye on the traverse over Typhoon for a while. I'd also checked out the possible approaches - all really chossy. Pete came along and Erin joined us at the top of the first pitch to hand over his camera gear.

Down at the traverse Pete spotted a thin band of limestone and we traced it back up the passage until I could reach it. 2 good bolts and a long loose traverse to follow. Initially bolts close together in whatever limestone I could find but as the slope relented progress between bolts increased. 40m later I was able to make a sloping descent into new passage. A brief foray of 30m to establish going passage and I called Pete across to join in the survey. 130m along a bearing of 330° in 10m passage heading straight for Qikeng until a pitch blocked our way. 10m down to ledge followed by a long free fall of about 65m. Couldn't have asked for a better outcome.

Then a quick exit just in time for our callout, film footage safely in hand.

TU: 9 hrs

26th September 2005: Lan Mu Shu

Fleur Loveridge, David Foxton

David bolting at the top of Comedy of Errors

Fleur took a huge bag (½ her weight) whilst I had it easy, however she was still faster through the crappy entrance series. Then the hard work done, I took big bag + then re-rigged the pitches. Quite nice shafts and the big bag was no more. Then off to Typhoon to re-rig traverse for Erin. Then a single survey leg across the top of Typhoon. Continuation of horizontal passage leads to another pitch - this was a series of false starts. Bad rock, spinning studs and too short legs. Pitch soon rigged, 10m short to a floor of loose stones, over the side and loose rocks fell for a long time - 7s. More false starts, and finally a bolt in the right wall allowing climb up on RHS, to what I hoped would be better rock, however Fleur reported shit... so over to the left and started another hole but battery died. Rob will be happy wide open big shaft, all rope in place... easy life!

TU: 7 hrs

26th September 2005: Lan Mu Shu, Aim: To Survey Connection 14:30-22:00

Imogen Furlong, Erin Lynch

Imogen after surveying the connection

Gave Fleur and Dave head start to allow for re-rigging pitches. Got down three pitches to start of traverse into connection. Started to survey from here. Traverse was really loose underfoot - kicking down choss down pitch below. If this route is to see traffic some gardening is recommended. Traverse round corner into the inlet passage is airy and exposed!! It required fair amount of concentration and I think the jet lag assisted in getting right head space - given that I just didn't care to look too closely at the bolts. The "deep pool" wasn't very deep (knee deep); we dutifully completed our minging survey mission taking 19 legs. Alas, I wasn't particularly keen to hang around for photos and we made our way out. Annoyingly, we left the survey data behind in the connection. The connection is small, muddy, wet with sharp pointy bits to jab you in the ribs. It's bound to become a favorite!

TU: 7.5 hrs

26th September 2005: Lan Mu Shu 'Wallowing in Glory'

Phil Rowsell, Chris Densham

Upstream in Acheron 2, the main streamway

Just before we set off, Fleur asked me the reason for the trip. "Are you going glory seeking?" A few hours and some rope juggling on pitches later, I caught up with Phil at the pushing front.

"This is pure fucking shit" says Phil. A short traverse over the immature rift pitch that has captured the water, steps through a window to a deep sediment filled platform over a muddy pitch head. Anything that touched the floor was instantly coated. Wellies scrabbling for purchase and cursing profusely, Phil rigged down Wallowing in Glory pitch (p10). Another equally brown and sticky platform led the caver knee-deep in glory, to another treacherous pitch head. A 43m pitch landed on a boulder and mud floor.

At the end of the chamber a narrow rift spelt the end. Clusters of razor sharp popcorn almost closed the tiny rift off completely. So, we'd have to return to push the degenerate stream rift above. I poked a hole under the RH wall. A few rocks pulled out made it easier to slide in. Expecting the run-in to have blocked the rift, I was surprised to see a low-level crawl continuing. Even better - that distant roar - surely the small Lan Mu Shu stream could not be responsible for that noise? Phil was packing up the kit. "I think you'd better come through. It's not over yet!" A short scramble down popped out into BLACK SPACE! The roar of water was terrific - we turned right and stopped at a pool to was off the mud on our kit. River poured out of a 10m x 10m passage stretching off. We decided to survey downstream.

The dark, deeply eroded rock was reminiscent of the rock in Qikeng Dong. The streamway seemed at the higher end of the flow rate in that cave. So, the only question was how long it would last before we met a sump.

Beautiful high-level sand banks on the right would make an ideal camp. A trickle of water of the LH wall was, we surmised, the Lan Mu Shu stream entering. Next to this, a far bigger stream entered at the bottom of a deeply eroded canyon. The main streamway was now about 1 cumec. After a few more legs the roof lowered and the river snaked between gravel banks to a low, wide sump. We returned to the major inlet we had just passed. A major dry passage headed off a short way in - it looked like an oxbow but the main inlet carried on uninterrupted. A climb up a mud bank on the left led to a narrow rift ending at a climb up into a popcorn rift. Continuing upstream, another significant stream entered from right - we continued leftwards.

For 500m the stream continued, a steady 1-3m wide and 6+ metres high. At around 11pm surveying brains started to fade. We turned back. With difficulty we resisted the lure of the main river heading out of darkness.

We surveyed the crawl back to the bottom of Wallowing in Glory. A long, slow slog out carrying excess tackle from the bottom saw us back to the surface for 7am.

TU: 19.5 hrs

27th September 2005: LMS Comedy of Errors

Rob Garrett, Pete Talling, Fleur Loveridge, David Foxton

Rob rigging Beggars Can't Be Choosers traverse

Steady progress into the cave with ropes and rigging gear waiting for us. Dave made a slight detour to head of Pootastic to pick up some more ropes retrieved from the bottom.

The problems started at the head of the next 10m pitch across Beggars Can't Be Choosers. It was in poor rock and needed another bolt... and a deviation. Unfortunately the drill was at the bottom. I went down and sent the drill back up to Fleur who was then filmed putting a bolt in. Unfortunately the drill was rather temperamental and the bolt took a very long time to go in. eventually Dave took over and managed tidy the pitch up.

The next drop followed immediately with a 4s free fall (65m). More bad rock at the pitch head meant that the original attempt at bolting was abandoned. Instead a very good bolt was placed on the left. Unfortunately the tack off proved to be dangerous choss so to facilitate take-offs and landings an additional Y-hang was set up above in a thin layer of limestone. After much faffing the whole was then rigged as a tri-hang.

Eventually I set off down but the drill was playing up again and it took an age for me to get down with three rebelays. Also the rope was super stretchy and all my rebelays shrank to be too tight. Meanwhile Pete's filming light had broken and he was keen to head out. In the end only three of us descended and Fleur and I surveyed whilst the other two exited.

There were two ways on at the the bottom in a cross rift. Both ended in pitches one being short and wide, the other long and narrow. Then it was time for us to head out. As a minor detour I nipped into YFFB to collect Erin + Imo's forgotten survey notes. Then back to the Pharm to process all the data.

TU: 12 hrs

29th September 2005: LMSD - 'Stud Suckers'

Fleur Loveridge, David Foxton

David in Beggars Belief, above Comedy of Errors

After the previous trip's Comedy of Errors David + I were keen for a bit of efficiency in gaining some more depth. We were down to the head of the next pitch in little over a hour. David set about bolting the approach along the left hand wall, whilst I tried to think of a suitable Shakespearean name for the squalor of the pitch head. The walls were coated with about 2 to 3 cm of gloop that had to be scraped before bolting. After 3 bolts on the left wall and a deviation on the right, David dropped into the trench and rigged a Y hang rebelay at the top of a big black space. By now the necessary cleaning of the bolts + rigging gear had distracted us from literary themes and the pitch was named. From dropping stones (or was it mud?) we didn't think it was that deep. But a 40m rope left David 20m off the floor and a bit of prussiking re-rigging followed. With a 60m rope on, to just above the floor, we had a fine 50m free hang.

The descent left us on a (perched??) boulder floor of a big shaft, with further ways down in 3 directions. We chose left, and it was my turn with the rigging. The new drill was a dream, and despite my shaking legs, I placed 5 bolts for a hang to the floor. Finally I am converted by drill technology. Although was less impressed by my turn at stud sucking.

At the bottom a climb down lead to a rift back under the shaft with perched boulder death for the roof. Scary! So instead we started surveying + climbed halfway back up the last pitch to side step to another hole. By now I was throughly confused by the survey and we didn't seem to be heading in the right direction anymore. So we finished surveying back out, marking all the possible descent routes. It was a right spiralling head fuck - confirmed by plotting the data later.

An efficient trip out was only soiled by trouble in David's bowels. What we didn't know then was that Rob + Phil were not that far behind us. At least I was safely one pitch ahead.

TU: 12 hrs

29th September 2005: Lan Mu Shu Dong - Master Streamway

Imogen Furlong, Duncan Collis, Chris Densham

Imogen in Acheron 2

Reports of the Master Cave upstream of Qikeng Dong brought the punters flooding in. We reached the master streamway to discover a not from Rob + Phil curiously timed at 3:10pm although we reached it at 3:05pm! They had surveyed into the peach river upstream lead, only for it to sump after 500m. The cherry had been picked! They had now set off to do what we had been planning - the main inlet entering from the left as you head downstream, which Phil + I had left ongoing the previous trip. So that left us the inlets + side-leads leading off that. First off, the dry lead on the right which had initially given the impression of being an oxbow. This zig-zagged + corkscrewed in a tantalising way, until it reached a wide sandy chamber with 3 ways off. A climb down on the right revealed a static sump, a climb up on the right choked at a rift, and a low wide sandy passage straight ahead silted up, but issued a small draft. We returned to continue up the inlet.

Next passage on the right was a significant inlet. After several hundred metres heading South Rob + Phil caught us up and began surveying a small sub-inlet dribbling down the RH wall. Continuing S an oxbow on the right [1] bypassed a low section. The roof of the vadose streamway suddenly stepped up from being 5-10 metres high to perhaps beyond 50m high. We climbed up, the popcorn crunching underfoot, to a major dry oxbow passage. This re-joined the streamway [2] in a 10m wide, 50m+ high chamber with an inlet sheeting in the LH wall. I noted the main part of the water came in a cascade at the far end. We returned to the start of the oxbow to re-start the survey, then continued up the cascade and along a small inlet stream through some calcite streaked dark limestone worthy of the OFD main streamway. After several legs there was a choice. A high level crawl swiftly closed to sub-human proportions (hammering required). The stream continued as a swimming canal. Although it drafted, we decided this was a lead best left for Erin. We turned back, surveying downstream to a sump the passage we had by-passed with the oxbow. Then we linked in another oxbow for the joy of a loop closure error. We returned over the popcorn, Walking on Eggshells. [Ed.: Note, some confusion here. Horizontal stream passage continues upstream of oxbow 1 along the level. It is distinct from stream 2 which is found by climbing up part way along oxbow 1. See Walk in the Park.]

Steady prussik out until I reached the top of Pootastic. Here I found a rather forlorn Duncan. "I've had a spot of bother. Look at this." He'd worn his croll until it was about as thick as bakofoil, and was surprised that the whole front had bent as soon as he's put his weight on it. He tried setting up a system using my top jammer as a chest jammer and my tibloc as a top jammer, but couldn't manage to make it work. So tempted as I was to abandon him to a slow prusik out using his stop, I generously set off to fetch Imogen's croll for him.

TU: 20 hrs

29th September 2005: Master Streamway

Rob Garrett, Phil Rowsell

Rob surveying in Walking with Jellyfish

A fairly efficient start got us underground about 11 o'clock, just before Fleur + Dave. Steady going saw us washing our kit in the mastercave shortly before 1 o'clock. Our first objective was to survey upstream: 15m wide passage with sweeping gravel banks. The stream seemed to split at a large scoured boulder pile before resuming to a sump 400m upstream. Closer inspection of the boulder pile on the way back revealed a potential lead that needs a rope. It also prompted me to temporarily mislay the survey notes. At 15:10 we left a note for the other part informing them that we were on our way to survey the inlet of their previous trip.

The inlet was quite long and decorated in places with notable knife edged stal although the draught today was not so strong. Some flowstone with low draping curtains forced a bit of a belly crawl in the stream but eventually we were turned back by a 10m+ aven.

On our way out the only significant inlet sumped after 4 legs so we began to feel confident of an early exit. At about 18:00 we saw a note from the others saying that they were into the final remaining side branch. We popped along to say hi and arrived just in time to be pointed at a rather unpromising side branch. This, we anticipated, would be unpleasant but brief. 2 hours later it seemed never ending in a passage generously decorated with squid-like stal formations. A partial blockage was our excuse to head out after 7.5 hours surveying at -650m. At 21:10 I set off up the first pitch followed by Phil. At 22:30 I realized I'd left my stop at the bottom - doh! At 12:10 Phil joined me at the top of the first itch and twenty minutes later were were walking back to the Pharm. Once the data was entered we discovered we'd left a going passage heading towards Qikeng. Perhaps a return is in order...

TU: 13.5 hrs

30th September 2005: China versus England: International Basketball Match

Imogen Furlong, Phil Rowsell, David Foxton, Rob Garrett, Pete Talling, Duncan Collis, Chris Densham, Fleur Loveridge, Erin Lynch

On the defense

Dunc, Chris and I emerged from our overnight trip to a wonderful sunny day! After inputting our data, a quick snooze and some breakfast it was time to head over to the school for a presentation ceremony,. We had purchased 40 dictionaries, 1000 pencils, 900 notebooks, 300 rulers, 10 pencil sharpeners, 100 boxes of crayons, 200 shuttlecocks, 2 badminton nets, 20 badminton raquets, 40 educational posters, 2 basketball nets, and 18 basketballs. When we arrived the classes were all lined up in the playground. I was nominated to give the basketballs away and in turn one child from each class came up and accepted a basketball from me. Then several other expedition members gave the badminton raquets and shuttle cocks away in the same manner. Following this the head teacher announced each of our names in turn over the microphone and loud speaker and we walked in front of the children to stand in a row amid clapping. Then we were all resented with a red neckachief called "young pioneer scarves".

After this it was time for the game. Expedition versus Tian Xing Teachers. Us, dressed in muddy clothing, them in a basketball strip!! The team warmed up - passing - shooting - (hardly any went in!) - and quickly establishing what in fact the rules were (we didn't want to look complete fools. The general feeling was, as we glanced over at their basket after basket warm up, that we were gonna get slaughtered. The game started and quite by surprise we started to do really well! Our height and teamwork allowed us to get the ball down quickly and we started to score. The Chinese had far better ball skills, but we were able to get rebounds and pass overhead. By half time we were in the lead by 4 points, Peter having scored an excellent 3 pointer! It was hot and the lads took their tops off. I didn't have such a luxury. In the second half the teachers had put a woman on the court. I guess to even up the sides. The Chinese had picked up their game and were playing more team work. I was flagging, the result of the overnight caving trip, the sun and all the running about. I begged Dunc, Chris and Fleur to sub - but they declined. Phil was getting very into the game and was shouting instructions as the points tally slipped in favour of the opposition. The lady teacher was marking me close - and I just let her - my competitive spirt being severely compromised by hitting "the Wall" - I lacked glucose. Dave managed a good 3 pointer and quickly followed it with a barge into the nuts of a Chinese opponent, doubled over in pain he was. We decided to stop the game there. It was a close run thing but the expedition had won by about 2 points.

The kids went back to class and we were ushered into a classroom where the head teacher burst into a song to welcome us - everyone felling a little bit nervous about having to sing. The next teacher sang a Celine Dioin song - rather obscure, then we all went round in turn saying who we were and where we came from, this all culminated in a group sing along of "Auld Lang Syne".

Then it was time for Tea! Tables assembled in the playground with lots of pots of meat stew, tofu, rice and beer! We all got rather drunk while the head went around trying to recall everyone's name with a 50% success rate. One of the teachers was a bit of a casanova schmoosing up to Fleur, Erin and myself - even more so when drunk. We all eventually staggered back singing "show me the way to go home". For me I went straight to bed having been away for too long. A really, really worthwhile day, which helped build some good team spirit on the expedition.

1st October 2005: LMSD Covered in Chocolate

Erin Lynch, Pete Talling, David Foxton

Pete Talling licking his lense at the top of Covered in Chocolate

Fleur deserted me in favour of rest day and soon we were back for more stud sucking + continued down next pitch. Rock not so perfect but found something good on left then down to a y-hang in better rock. A further rebelay required 20m from floor and finally down. Boulder floor sloping off to RHS, to LHS upslope to base of another aven which obviously has a stream/drip in wet weather. (Smooth sides _ nice pebbly floor). Back right, down slope, rift narrowed to 2-3m wide with 4 ft blacks in "floor", to left appear to open to another drop. Rocks confirmed this as not so big. 3 quick bolts and I dropped pitch into finally a clean rift passage in nice rock, at last! Pete meanwhile was descending previous pitch + confirmed it was truly disgusting, "It's like being covered in chocolate" was his cry. Pete + I went a short way down a nice popcorn encrusted rift with nice draft. The excitement built + the camera caught the action "Live". Pete + were soon joined by Erin was was disgusted that we had not surveyed in. The rift continued, across which was an occasional calcite floor, + progress was easy. Quite good this caving horizontally, Pete was more than at home + posed for more camera action. Survey was required + speedy progress made back home!

Stud Suckers was bad for prussiking with sliding jammers + strong arms, resulting in slow progress. Eventually Erin + I joined Pete on surface where he had been waiting for some time. "Rest" day basketball had severely depleted energy reserves + a proper sleep/eat day was desperately needed.

TU: 13 hrs

2nd October 2005: Lan Mu Shu

Phil Rowsell, Fleur Loveridge, Rob Garrett

Fleur and Phil in Walking with Jellyfish

Headed back to bottom to push Walking With Jellyfish. Take few photos on way. Push passed stal boss stopped at last time + continue along. Reasonably pretty passage to split in streamway. Left goes to aven, right, climb up + aven with rift off back, continues to boulder choke. Troops tired to pulled pin. Headed out. Survey shows 140m from Qikeng. Nice trip.

TU: 14 hrs

3rd October 2005: 'Too Shitty to Push' aka 'Left on the Shelf': Covered in Chocolate II

Imogen Furlong, Chris Densham

Pete and David didn't think it was too shitty

Down, down, down the chocolate covered pitches, wrapping myself up in the rope to increase friction. Reaching the rift - objective to connect into the main cave. Chris + I dragged the tackle through the rift - progress was quite slow. Eventually it became apparent that the connection wasn't going to happen and we abandoned the tackle - removed SRT kit and progress improved. Continued down the rift which had various shelves and false floors - quite delicate. We stopped at a point where the rift widened and a higher traverse on probably dubious shelves was necessary. Tired and disheartened we couldn't be arsed to push any further and started to survey back. It took 45 legs survey 130m. Started out. Left prussik bag at bottom looking like a muddy rock. Chris had already derigged the shitty muddy pitch before I'd realized. I thought these muddy pitches were Vile, so pleased to get to the clean washed third pitch and the last haul out. Full admiration to the teams that pushed these pitches in the first place. Once our survey data had been input of course it looks as if that rift is continuing in an interesting direction above Wallowing in Glory.

TU: 16 hrs

4th October 2005: Covered in Chocolate III

Erin Lynch, David Foxton

David Foxton with mud formations at the bottom of Taming of the Poo

After the complaints on quality of "our" chocolate we decided to return to find an improved flavour. A few nice pictures in Beggars Belief + pretty soon the flash guns were buggered! Nothing left to prevent progress, we continued to Stud Suckers. Pretty soon I had a new pitch rigged but I was 3m off the deck - it was clear this was the obvious "clean" shaft at the base of C in C, + therefore bypassing 2 pitches + half rope! Erin had amused herself scraping mud for the tape which now winds up - Wow! A bit of tidying up - moving + derigging unnecessary ropes - we were finished and off out for tea. All prepared for next trip + glory!

TU: 8 hrs

4th October 2005: Jellyfish

Duncan Collis, Pete Talling

Duncan making a meal in Acheron 2

Went to push the choke at the end of Walking With Jellyfish, which was heading towards an unpushed passage in Qikeng.

After a leisurely descent of the cave, we set off up Walking With Jellyfish, aka the inlet off the inlet off the inlet. It was rather small in places, but well-decorated and it just keeps going.

Eventually we reached the choke, and furtled around in the boulders but found no way on. I climbed up the rift and onto the top of the boulders, only to find an aven after only 15m. Tick.

Turned round and headed back out, emerging the next morning very glad of the beers we'd stashed at the entrance.

TU: 18 hrs

5th October 2005: Fleur, Rob, Phil take the 'Too Shitty to Push' challenge - LMSD

Fleur Loveridge, Rob Garrett, Phil Rowsell

Pete Talling in the Too Shitty rift

After the coarse words from Chris and Imogen, we just had to go and have a look. But first to tie up some loose ends. I took Rob + Phil down to 'the original bottom' for a poke around in the boulders. The roof was actually fine, but the floor less stable. A quick furtle by Phil found a ~30m pitch only five metres on. There is water dripping in here, so it is probably (?) different to the Covered in Chocolate/Taming of the Poo pitches.

Then on to the 'glory' David had so kindly left for us. Rob re-rigged the ropes on Taming of the Poo so they reached the floor + Phil followed on down. I was a little way past the first rebelay when the cry for rope + hangers was heard. Chris had previously derigged the rift pitch below. Now here was my jacking opportunity and I missed it. Given the choice of coming down and then heading out, I foolishly went back for the gear, very much cursing the pitch head in the process.

We de-kitted before the rift, just going for a look see at the end. In the narrow rift, Phil was away, Rob + I catching up at the drop reached by Chris + Imogen. A suitably large thread, a 7m rope and a krab on the belay belt saw Phil down. Rob + I left the ferret to burrow on into the mountain + confirm it was going, before we followed. Approx. 75m progress north was made in gradually widening rift. Oh, and there were some nice mud formations too - shame half of them came off non our oversuits. We were halted by a 5m pitch down - needs bolts - and turned tail for a 10.30pm exit, shame there was no water, food, or beer at the Pharm. Still, some of the 'white stuff' saw the party rage. Chris helped simultaneously enter the data + down the fire water - the result - we've crossed over the main drain - heading into space!

TU: 11 hrs

6th October 2005: LMS

Carmel Ramwell, Paul Windle, Neil Pacey, David Foxton

David in Beggars Belief, horizontal passage on the way to Comedy of Errors

Nice introduction for the new arrivals. Quick trip to base of Comedy of Errors to push the undescended rift pitch. Paul went to rig the pitch - through narrow section to the pitch head. Neil supported from the rift. Carmel was supporting from above, and I further back in the rift. It was like a hospital theater with hammers, bolts, rope, drill etc. all called for at appropriate times.

Dr Killdear soon had pitch rigged and landed on a mud slope. Meanwhile the hospital assistants shot back up rift + to the head of 50m Stud Suckers + a visual obtained.

Paul was abseiling from mud slope into big space + not much rope was left so a hasty retreat was made in time for tea + beer.

TU: 6 hrs

6th October 2005: Rob's birthday

Carmel Ramwell, Paul Windle, Neil Pacey, David Foxton, Duncan Collis, Rob Garrett, Imogen Furlong, Phil Rowsell, Pete Talling, Chris Densham, Fleur Loveridge, Erin Lynch, , , ,

Cutting the cake

This year Rob's birthday concided with 12 out of 13 expedition members being in Tian Xing. It demanded a good knees-up. Yang Li and Liu Chang prepared a slap up feed with an abundance of good food and of course the white stuff. We all stuffed ourselves to the gills, and then the piece de resistance arrived - a cake special ordered from Wulong for the occasion. We ate as much as we could and then smeared the rest on Rob, in keeping with Chinese tradition.

After dinner the serious drinking began, enlivened with a few doodles in the logbook.

7th October 2005: LMS - Aokou

Imogen Furlong, Carmel Ramwell

Carmel in You Fucking Fucking Bastards

The minimum for the day was to see what lay beyond the deep pool upstream in Riggwelter and it was a good excuse to do a thru trip down LMS (as my SRT kit was at the end of the crawl) + out of Aokou. A pleasant trip down to the traverse to take us into the connection, which wasn't as tight as Imo remembered.... because we weren't quite in the hammered out bit. Oh well. Pete now has pictures of several parts of that passage. Both of us were now in new territory + hoped the way on wasn't through the very small inlet. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing found our way down into Riggwelter - fantastic streamway. Changed into wetsuits + headed upstream to find the expected swim wasn't even nipple deep. Got to a draughting aven + waterfall but decided a rope was required for descent if climbed up. Surveyed 80m with climb left to do. Some route finding difficulties on way out from big chamber which is now thoroughly explored. Morale definitely lifted when I spotted the next rope. A steady trip out to a glorious, starry night (causing Imo to fall off path!)

TU: 10 hrs

7th October 2005: Lan Mu Shu

David Foxton, Phil Rowsell

Pete Talling in the Too Shitty rift

Some further re-rigging at top of Taming of the Poo + then back into Too Shitty - CJD is getting soft in his later years. (Not so bad even for me who dislikes this sort of stuff.) Phil shot off at a ridiculous pace. I went at a much steadier plodding rate. He then manfully returned to carry my bag. He then short off again! Finally fat boy rejoined him at the head of 3m climb. It became easier and bigger to head of pitch. Headed on down at Phil's request, dumped tackle and started survey.

Managed 8.39m (Wow!! longest leg) to head of 10m and what sounds > 25m+ pitches. The passage appears to get bigger with another aven joining. We have now continued into space and turned West towards Qikeng (+ I did not fix the compass!) The excitement is high with yet again the hope of connection (a real possibility?) Clearly all hopes will be dashed next trip when we meet sump/choke etc.

TU: 9.5 hrs

7th October 2005: People Go Down Cave

Neil Pacey, Paul Windle

Paul rigging the entrance shaft

Duncan pointed us to a cave 163 metres away, this was ideal for an easy day out. Duncan showed us the way and GPS's the entrance while Paul rigged the first pitch. It soon became apparent, to get down the 40m shaft we would require placing a few bolts. Paul + Duncan returned with the drill and soon had it rigged with a 'Y' hang straight down.

The cave was originally explored by CCP and all we knew was it was 600m long, had quite a lot of traversing, and ended with a 30m shaft followed by an undescended second shaft. With all the ropes and hangers being else where we concentrated on the surveying. Surveyed for about 30 odd legs before ditching the survey, our excuse was we ran out of paper. This was a good reason to check out the rest of the cave. Route finding isn't obvious. At one point in a rift, the way on is up in the roof into an old abandoned fossil rift passage. Easy going for another 300m metres or so, back to traverses over a large black void. Chucked stones down, it looks very exciting...

TU: 5.5 hrs

8th October 2005

Neil Pacey, Paul Windle

Imogen in the fossil passage above the first pitch

Returned with Paul and surveyed to the head of a carbide arrow, marked with pencil because we ran out of paint. The cave has now been surveyed, so it would be good to descend the pitches. Got lost on the way out up an inlet. This needs surveying and pushing.

TU: 7 hrs

9th October 2005: LMS

Phil Rowsell, Carmel Ramwell

Derigging team

A major push to derig the bottom of the cave + photography + tidy up a couple of leads. Would be a long trip so decided to head into Liu Chi Aokou Xia for a top to bottom through trip. Light trip as only one tackle sack between us. Motored down through the cave. Great place + full of surprises route finding wise. Through the connection + at the top of Pootastic in 2 1/4 hours. Headed on down to bottom + met others just returning from photography upstream. Headed back upstream with Neil + Duncan, to look at boulder pitch lead. After much fettling of boulders + some large crashes pitch safe + Neil confirmed just braid in main river rather than additional inlet. Regrouped again + surveyed leads in Walking With Jellyfish. Two leads turned out to be oxbow! Tidied up final lead where water from route down enters streamway. Headed on out derigging as went. Photographers just kept ahead of the rigging party. Derigged back to base of Pootastic + left one full tacklesack, all rest of rope taken out of cave. Tiring trip, but enjoyed the through trip.

TU: 20.5 hrs

9th October 2005: Lan Mu Shu - Photo + Derig Trip

Erin Lynch, Neil Pacey, Imogen Furlong, Duncan Collis

Taking photos in the streamway

After numerous changes of plan, we finally got underground at 9:45. On the way down I was struck by how photogenic some of the pitches were, particularly Y, Y, Y Oh Y, and I wished I'd had my camera handy when I saw Neil looking down Jugglers - the top of the pitch has excellent black rock with veining , and from the second-to-last rebelay you can look down on lovely thick bands of light and dark rock which form a sort of bulls-eye. Unfortunately you'd need bulbs + additional rigging to photograph it.

Duncan joined us at the traverse leading to Wallowing in Glory and we were all down at the bottom by 1:30. We took photos for an hour and then Phil + Carmel turned up for a group shot. While the boys went off to play with boulders, team fem took photos downstream + then up the inlet.

Imogen nearly led us up the wrong inlet, but a game of catch-the-cavefish with Carmel's glove kept us busy until the others arrived with tales of falling boulders.

Set on the right course, Duncan, Imogen + I went up the proper inlet + soon arrived at a sump, which turned out to be no such thing. Walking passage beckoned, and we stomped along it for a bit, surveying a muddy side passage to a 50m+ aven with a double-barrelled echo. Beyond the junction, the stream passage degenerated a bit, passing an enticing 5m bolt climb + ending at a 12m pitch up. Dunks spotted a squalid lead which may head to the top of the bolt climb, but we were all too tired to push it.

Back to the big rock at the end of Wallowing in Glory for a spot of tea, waiting for news from the others. As luck would have it, our walking passage was not the lead we'd been meant to push. That will have to wait for another time as the others finished all their leads + we had to derig, leaving the bottom at 9:20pm.

Imo + I took loads of photos on the way out. I was most impressed that my camera + flashes survived the wet conditions + I didn't drop them down any pitches.

Out for 5:30am and a nice sunrise as we ate breakfast.

TU: 20 hrs

9th October 2005: Dabao Dong

Paul Windle, Rob Garrett, David Foxton

Paul thrashing through the undergrowth

Armed with a vision of a sunny grass bank leading down to a slot in nice white limestone we set off. A short walk of about an hour and we reached the cave. The reality was a jungle filled cone leading down to a slot in mudstone. We set up the rope and I set off down. The rope spilled out of the bag and snagged round branches. The hammer got entangled in thorns and the drill got knotted in vines. After 2 hours of jungle bashing I still had not reached the lip so I retreated. The rope was set up in a different place and once again I set off. Reaching the lip I tapped the rock which emitted dull thuds as the layers of mud stone were sent downwards by the chipping hammer. A small area of not so bad rock was found but in failing daylight it was decided to retreat and return with bigger bolts some time in the future. Escaped from the jungle just in time as darkness fell quickly. And back for tea.

10th October 2005: Derig Pootastic

Rob Garrett, Paul Windle, David Foxton

Stop bobbins after the derig

A nice easy trip. I set off first and went down to the bottom of Pootastic to pick up a very heavy tacklebag. Halfway back up the tether broke so I had to go back down. However, I finally derigged all to the top about the time the others arrived.

Our foray into the traverse over Pootastic into "walking passage" degenerated into narrow crawling after about 5m. When Paul started hammering chert knobbles with a lump of rock Dave and I called time. We called it Sandbag.

The journey out was efficient being briefly punctuated by a rope cleaning break then out for sunshine and a mini-sesh in front of the Pharm.

TU: 6 hrs

11th October 2005: Surface Exploration

Phil Rowsell, David Foxton

Phil going down the hole

Day off so headed up to hole spotted with Erin when off to LCAKX (18/09/05 cave no 48H-I12-128). Rigging drop with ladder when local tells us connects with another cave on hill. Get him to show us cave on top of hill, shaft ~8m deep + apparent continuation. GPS entrance cave no 48H-I12-131. Head back + drop pitch. 4-5m drop to mud floor. Small hole heading off. Diggable, but not worth it. Headed out.

11th October 2005: Rob + Carmel go bolting aka 'Nice Sunset'

Rob Garrett, Carmel Ramwell

A nice easy trip as I'm lazy and Carmel was a bit battered and bruised from her previous trip. Leaving behind a fine sunny day we also left a couple of bottles of beer at the entrance.

A pleasant trip down to Change of Scale and a few metres downstream to our objective: a short climb up to 5m wide black space. The climb is accessed via a 3m boulder pile. 1m of choss gains a shelf ascending slightly to the left where the floor falls away. A 1/2m thick band of good limestone is followed by a further metre of choss and then a muddy choss slope upwards.

The left hand edge of the shelf looked quite promising so using Carmel's knee as a foothold I grasped a good handhold and started to move up onto the ledge. This promptly gave way under my foot leaving me swinging free from my handhold a la Harold Lloyd on the clock face. A hasty retreat and then it was time for plan B. This involved Carmel ascending on the right and belly crawling along the ledge with me spotting from below.

The problem with plan B became apparent when the only way to sit up on the ledge rendered hand bolting impossible. If only we'd brought a drill...

Hmm, time for plan C. This involved me bridging up on the right. Reaching to full stretch I could just reach some better rock to place a bolt. Having solved the problem of freeing two hands from the climb I commenced bolting. However, I soon despaired of the task as the good rock was just too hard to access meaningfully.

Plan D: Free climb. I'd already discovered that I could bridge up a little higher although this involved coming out from under an overhang. Further investigation revealed a handhold on the chossy slope. If this held the climb would be easy. If it failed I positioned Carmel away from the immediate drop zone but with instructions to try to stop me from disappearing further down the boulder slope.

So, committed to the handhold, I was a bit nonplussed to find how little assistance I would receive from the upwards slope. In rather pressing need of a left handhold I opted for a large slab of choss. To my mild consternation this promptly began to slide downwards. "Oh, I say" I said. If the slab were to drop off the somewhat precarious edge it would shortly thereafter take away my leg and rather handy foothold precipitating a serious downturn in the climb. Fortunately it stopped short of the edge. I didn't know how short as I wasn't in a position to look. With my right hand tiring fast I switched to a forearm brace using the pointy handhold to get good friction. With stability regained I was ready to scoot up and over... "Oh dear" I said as I discovered my cows' tails had hooked on the lip of the climb preventing upward progress, "that's a mite unfortunate." Scrabbling in mud with my left hand I jiggled around until I was at last free to continue.

The climb complete it was time to explore, Carmel following with the assistance of a rope. Onwards into the unknown... 20m up to a wall of breakdown, a small inlet going another 20m. Most uninspiring and time to head out. Oh well, at least as Carmel said, we were out in time for a nice sunset (and those beers!).

TU: 6 hrs

11th October 2005: LCAKX Pink Pancakes

Imogen Furlong, Paul Windle

Paul and I returned to the upstream climb in LCAKX with a hand bolting kit and a few bits of rope, it took quite a while to put one bolt in so I was pretty pleased that that was all we'd needed. The easiest climb was up into a rift - I belayed Paul up and we traversed round a corner and over the top of the water spout - really nice little traverse. The streamway continued to an aven and had some rather nice flowstone which looked like pancakes. The lead was killed, was what had been expected, and we left.

Interestingly earlier in the trip Paul had misunderstood a rather large fart of mine as being "rope free". Didn't realise the echo was so loud.

TU: 8 hrs

12th October 2005: Too Shitty to Push

Phil Rowsell, Neil Pacey, David Foxton

David on Lense Lickers, the pitch at the start of Too Shitty

Dave's last trip before heading home. Both of us keen to see what was in store after the last pushing trip. Paul's lurgy was hitting everyone so made trip even worse. Easyish trip down to the start of Too Shitty, then bag shuffle along the rift. Not too bad after first section, but pick up 2nd bag after 10m pitch to manhandle to front, which made things a bit more awkward. Rig pre-drilled holes + drop 9m pitch to ledge + drop 25m pitch to chamber. Push along muddy but faster rift for short distance to head of additional pitch. Good reverb here, + coined the name Stinkfoot. Nice 35m hang to shelf + 7m pitch to floor of wide rift chamber. Sorted gear while the lads went and explored the rift. Tight and full of popcorn was the word. Finished fettling + went for a look. Dave had bailed but passed Neil taking a lower route. Got named Welcome to the Dachstein. Finally broke out into wider rift +10m pitch shortly afterwards. Head back + learn route through rift as 3D. Quick discussion what to do, head through with drill, 40m + 1 SRT kit to drop pitch. A bit of a battle, but eventually through. Rig easy "Y" hang pitch + Neil drop pitch. More rift but easy. Play pass the SRT kit up + down pitch + 3 of us continue along rift. Only short distance before stumped by an additional 10m pitch. No gear left. Drill holes as battery power left. Survey out. Fun for a while in Dachstein rift, but less so as people got tired. Rift claimed both nail varnishes + nearly all the tape! All glad when back at pitches. Taking drill through not much fun, but business as usual. All thankful rift between pitches relatively short + roomy. Finish survey + head on out. Tiring trip + double whammy survey showed another complete "U" turn away from Qi Keng + heading into blackness. Doesn't look like the connection is on. Bummer especially after all the hard work. Good caving though.

TU: 20 hrs

13th October 2005: Cat Nap

Carmel Ramwell, Rob Garrett

Carmel checking out the cave

Went to check out hole that Paul + I had come across the previous day. Excavated a path thro the vegetation to drop onto a floor. Checked out first climb whilst attached to rope, but discovered 2nd climb. Rob offered to be a human belay at top of 1st climb so I could down 2nd. Proddled about in small, shitty stuff before feeling too uncomfortable in the chossy loose stuff. Exited. Job done.

13th October 2005: Up the Wrong Inlet

Erin Lynch, Imogen Furlong

Imogen on Zhuan Yan Keng entrance pitch

We set off to survey the inlet Neil + Paul had found on their way out of Zhan Yan Keng the other day. On our way in we got distracted by the maze-like nature of the entrance series + decided to survey up an inlet with tadpoles instead. It had an abundance of cave life, most notably the tadpoles, a spider web, and over a dozen bead-like objects dangling from short (3cm) hair-thin strings. We assume the last ones must be non-glowing glow worms in an infant stage.

The inlet itself was a bit muddy + wet with an unfortunate flat-out bit in water. We left it ongoing with a draft + came out in time to get a van down the hill for a 9-person pissup + bbq in Wulong on David's last night.

TU: 5 hrs

13th October 2005: ZYK fossil pitches

Duncan Collis, Paul Windle

Rubbish inlet in Zhuan Yan Keng

After nipping in to LMS to fetch my SRT kit, followed Paul into ZYK to push the pitches at the end of the fossil series. By the time I got underground, Paul + the drill had about a 45 minute head-start. The cave is certainly rather more complicated than the old CCP survey suggests, with many inlets and oxbows, and possibly as many as three separate streams.

Following my nose down the most obvious route, I was surprised to end up at a 10m pitch in the streamway. No rope, no Paul. Where had he gone?

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing I entered a fossil passage at roof level, which I followed for several hundred metres, eventually reaching the head of a pitch Paul had just rigged.

We descended via an eyehole and a couple of ledges to a small, muddy horizontal passage, with a traverse over a hole at the start followed by sections of crawling where the upper part of the passage is too narrow. Shortly after a climb down, the head of the undescended pitch left by CCP was reached; the walls are heavily banded with mudstone, but by placing long-ish through-bolts in the biggest bits of limestone we could find, a tri-hang was rigged for a ~20m pitch. At the bottom, the way on is a muddy crawl with part of the skull of a large carnivore calcited into it.

Beyond here is an aven with a stream entering. The air smells very fresh and there's lots of domestic waste (tin mugs, shoes, plastic bags, etc.) and a live frog. The way on is a crawl in the stream.

TU: 4 hrs

15th October 2005: LMS

Carmel Ramwell, Paul Windle, Phil Rowsell

No wonder the crolls were slipping

Headed to base of 50m pitch to inspect way on through boulder choke. By the time Paul + I arrived, Phil had re-rigged drop to boulder choke and inspected lead Rob suggested - it was a goer. Paul went thru with drill + rope. 2 Y-hangs later we were at the base of a 25m pitch with a rift heading off. At boulder choke we could hear water but not at the base of the pitch. This was picked up again at end of rift. Phil went to the end of a rift at the head of the pitch, which we think heads back round to the boulder choke rift. After a last bit of surveying, Phil shot out of the cave leaving Paul + I to plod out. Paul yo-yoed up + down the ropes cursing his croll + we eventually returned a good few hours after Phil.

TU: 8 hrs

15th October 2005: ZYK 'Oxbows and Inlets'

Neil Pacey, Rob Garrett

A particularly late start after I'd polished off a crossword puzzle. The initial lack of enthusiasm soon disappeared when I discovered conditions were actually more pleasant underground, with lots of nice friendly rift passage.

Our first inlet soon ended. The next, reached via a short friable climb, rapidly hit a watershed. This slowly enlarged until a large inlet was found and followed, named DD passage for a remarkable formation.

Back downstream and it soon transpired that we had just completed a lengthy oxbow. Then back out for a slightly late tea.

TU: 4 hrs

16th October 2005: ZYK

Neil Pacey, Paul Windle, Imogen Furlong

Sculpted walls in Zhuan Yan Keng

The main objectives were (1) Drop the 10m pitch at the end of the streamway and (2) Continue surveying down the pitches at the end of the high level passage. We set off at a respectable time (still morning) and made efficient progress down to the head of the pitch in the streamway. Paul rigged the pitch while myself and Imo continued the survey downstream to the head of the pitch. Dropped the pitch into a reasonable sized chamber and finished off the survey.

The way out of the chamber was a miserable sized rift passage. Paul had a go at pushing it first but it soon got too tight. I had a go with just a bally and a ticka, but the way ahead closes down after 15m or so. The way on is at stream level where it seems to enlarge. Unable to get down through a hole in the floor (too tight), the only way to make progress here would be either chemical persuasion or maybe lumphammering.

Continued surveying at the end of the high level route. Surveyed down the 2nd pitch to the head of the third pitch. Noticed a howling draught at the top of this pitch, it also sounds quite wet down there! Returned back without incident. Good trip, looking forward to finding out what goes on at the bottom of the next pitch.

TU: 8 hrs

17th October 2005: ZYK

Duncan Collis, Rob Garrett

A late (5pm) start to go and push downstream from the inlet after the fossil pitches. The anticipated low crawl in the stream turned out to be nothing of the sort, about 1m high with a ledge on the high side of the passage to rest the upper body on and keep dry. After a short distance the stream dropped down a climb; Rob went down to follow the stream while I tried the triangular crawl at roof-level - the stream went through a very narrow section, and the upper route proved better. Care must be taken on the traverse over the climb, as the mudstone breaks easily - Rob slashed his hand when a hold failed as he climbed back up.

Back in the streamway we continued downstream to an annoying 2 or 3 metre pitch into a considerably larger passage some 4 or 5m wide, with another stream flowing from left to right (north).

Having no rigging kit, we left the survey here. On the way out, Rob nearly took a cropper when a large mudstone ledge gave way beneath him on another traverse over a hole. Unfortunately there's nothing much to put bolts in other than chossy mudstone, so it'll be difficult to protect the traverse in future. Out at about 10pm to find a fresh, human turd lying by the entrance.

TU: 5 hrs

17th October 2005: Dachstein/Too Shitty

Carmel Ramwell, Phil Rowsell

Carmel after the trip

Although still feeling shit from the lurgy, a job had to be done so we set off at the reasonable hour of 10am to get it over + done with. As, at this point, Carmel only had a handbag + Phil the heavy bag we reached Welcome to the Dachstein in 3 hours. At this point Carmel picked up a 70m rope + we decided we would take the surveying kit just in case it was easy going + the others were a while behind. Fortunately, due to the medicinal properties of the cave air (anecdotal evidence on numerous occasions) we were feeling more normal + we were through the Dachstein to the pushing point within the hour. The passage that followed was far more pleasant - a series of little pitches (4 x ~7m) down rifts breaking out into larger passage in between with formations. Another pitch dropped us into a bouldery chamber + a larger (12m) pitch dropped us back into proper rift passage. This was followed for 30+m to the head of an undescended pitch - no gear left. As the passage was easy going we surveyed in which turned out to be fortunate as we were already beating a retreat when we met the others coming down. A scenic route back through the Dachstein added to the arduous return to the surface. Good trip.

TU: 17.5 hrs

17th October 2005: Derig of Dachstein and Too Shitty

Imogen Furlong, Neil Pacey, Paul Windle

Neil and Imo after the derig

Left the village for the cave a good hour after Phil + Carmel. Paul had spent the best part of the morning re-sewing patches onto the elbows of his Warmbac. I was not in a very positive frame of mind and was last down the pitches. At the first rebelay on Comedy of Errors loads of shit fell on top of my head - was happy to be clipped into a bolt when it happened but caused me to be a bit shaken and slightly jittery. When I reached the bottom of the pitch Neil was laughing because I had a pile of mud that had stuck to my helmet on impact. Another couple of pitches and we were into Too Shitty. It was good to see the cave beyond where I'd got to with Chris and I found it interesting that the nature of the rift changes from really tight to wider and more muddy and then into all the oversuit ripping popcorn. Some really cool helictites around in the passage too - although the arduous nature of the rift isn't the best environment in which to admire them. Met up with Phil and Carmel returning from pushing and surveying and we turned round to start the derigging. So then it was back through the rift, this time collecting weight along the way. Moving up through the levels in the rift Paul, Neil and I used good teamwork with the bags and it was about 9:30pm when we reached Stinkfoot. We ate a meal of preprepared rice which gave us the fuel to get to the end of the Too Shitty section. There was a point, after a squeeze, where I felt depleted of reserves and I sat down and ate a Snickers bar, silently sniffling to myself - taking the bag of rope through that last section was highly draining. Then we were at the pitches. Paul went on ahead and I helped Neil derig to the base of the first 50m freehang. There we set about untying the knots and sorting the ropes for Rob and Duncan's push the following day. In my tired state it seemed to take ages and I had to force myself to keep moving and not fall asleep (like I had done on previous occasions). Paul had already sorted the rope from his bag and headed out taking a couple of short lengths. I decided to make a move out - but I couldn't see the rope. I knew I was tired and I had a look around but - it was gone! "I swear the rope was just there" I said to Neil. We just looked at each other, visions of a long wait on a bed of rope came to mind. Part of me feeling grateful to not have to prusik - most of me thinking "how cold?". Neil was yelling up to Paul and fortunately he could hear us from Comedy of Errors and he came back down and as if by magic the rope reappeared! Then it was just a haul out. The entrance crawl took me an hour. It was a good trip, but physically demanding. We were out of the cave to see first light.

TU: 23 hrs

19th October 2005: ZYK

Neil Pacey, Paul Windle

Neil on the 4m pitch into the streamway

Not the most efficient start, we waited till after lunch, then festered a bit more, then decided to go underground at around 4:00pm. The aim of the trip was to continue where Rob + Duncan had left the cave, 4m undescended pitch into a large streamway! Tidied up a few odds + sods on the way down, rigged a bolt deviation on the top of the third pitch (the one with the awkward take-off) and dropped a short pitch from the top of the muddy ramp up. This bypasses the muddy crawl + keeps the "Buffalo Bones" from being trashed. Failed to find the survey station at the top of the next short drop, also failed to notice that this was an easy freeclimb, rigged it as a pitch expecting to be in new passage. Then reached the top of a 5 metre drop overlooking a huge stream passage. Also noticed a big red dot and a number painted on the rock. Finally rigged the pitch after placing 3 bolts in a band of very thin limestone, most of the walls consist of mudstone. Dropped the pitch into a very nice open stream passage. Surveyed upstream first. We soon reached an aven with the stream cascading down into a large splashpool. This looks like it might be freeclimbable in average/low water conditions. After crossing a pool back in the main streamway the passage upstream soon degenerated into a miserable looking inlet. We left this unpushed and decided to concentrate on the main downstream continuation of the cave. Surveyed some nice long legs (44m) and was making good progress in this Lancaster Hole sized stream passage. We soon reached our first obstacle a deep looking pool. Both me + Paul are hydrophobes so we did a 5 bolt traverse round the left hand wall of the pool. We rigged this with the only rope we had available (50m). Continuing on we soon reached another pool, again we passed this by climbing onto ledges and dropping a small pitch (4.7m). More pools and combined tactics, one pool was over bollock deep but we were determined to explore and survey as much as possible. We finally reached another deep looking pool, which would require more bolts and ropes. So we called it a day and exited the cave, both pretty knackered. The entrance pitch was considerably miserable, prussiking up liquid pigshit! Returned back, cold and wet but very, very happy. Excellent trip. We had no sense of time and was very surprised to find it was nearly 7.00am. Joined Rob + Imo who had stayed up the night drinking!

TU: 14 hrs

19th October 2005: To the Sound of Water

Rob Garrett, Duncan Collis

A steady trip in with most of the gear already in the cave, having been stowed after the Too Shitty retreat. The new pitch through boulders was a little loose at the top and then into the popcorny rift below. Our lead was a climb down through the rift to a tight pitchhead and an estimated 60m pitch. Sandy, grainy limestone made for poor rock but a Y-hang backup was secured. The pitchhead was easily widened and a classing Y-hang had me down to a ledge 10m below. I could see that the shaft got quite bit.

A bolt deviation later and I reached a lip where the shaft belled out. A rebelay got me down to another lip that belled out. Eschewing the possibility of swinging out into a much wider shaft, instead I dropped down a 10m diameter trouser leg. A little way down, however, the walls disappeared and I was hanging in space. Another 20m down and my 70m rope ran out. Fortunately I'd brought a spare 40m as back-up on this "60m" pitch. A little knot pass in big black space and I thought I heard the end of the rope hit the floor. 40m down and I discovered it didn't - I could just see the floor somewhere below me.

Out of rope it was time to head back up. The drill was out of battery power and we'd failed to reach the floor. Duncan was cold after 3 hours of shivering at the bottom. I'd not even found the source of the water which disappeared off down an independent trouser leg shaft . An interesting place most unlike it's neighbor - Too Shitty. Chris had been right.

TU: 12 hrs

19th October 2005: LCAKX Derig

Phil Rowsell, Carmel Ramwell

Phil Rowsell in Change of Scale

Wanted an easyish trip so headed into LCAKX to derig, as days numbered now. Had been quite wet so would be interesting to see water levels. Quite nice at cave entrance as warm air blowing out. A good leisurely bumble down the cave, stark contrast to our last trip. Did a bit of a look around which was good. Fascinating section through Dysentery. Last couple of pitches were a bit wet. Had been told to leave the connection rigged so didn't have to drop into main river. Headed on out derigging as went. Only two tackle sacks so easy money. Nice relaxing fun trip.

TU: 6.5 hrs

20th October 2005: A Pocket full of peanuts

Imogen Furlong, Neil Pacey, Rob Garrett

Taking heed from Rob and Duncan's past experience in last years logbook write up "The Perils of Prospecting"(in which Rob and Duncan got very very drunk on local hospitality), when we went for scout about looking for a new entrance to people who go down cave, we were cautious about accepting the hospitality of a local farmer. Neil and I were also curious about it and wanted the experience, so Rob came along for the crack. The Farmer, a friendly guy, invited us into his Kitchen, where he was cooking up some peanuts, inside their shells. The kitchen was small with two fires, made up within what looked like a block of mudbrick. He was roasting the peanuts in a huge wok on top and he called to his son to fetch some more wood. His son took the twigs and branches and put them in the fire. At the end of the roasting time, his son put his hands into the fire and systematically removed the charcoal and unburnt wood. putting it out in a pile of dust on the floor. Nothing was wasted in this household. The peanuts were placed between us and we ate, they tasted really good. The BaiJiu appeared and we all had to drink - from bowls. The farmer got drunk easily and became animated making long speeches.....that non of us could understand. It was starting to get dark and we needed to leave, Neil and I had a big pushing trip in people who go down the next day and I wanted to get a good nights sleep. The farmer was keen for us to stay and eat a meal (and drink more BaiJiu).. We decided to make our escape and got up to go making our excuses about lack of light and meals having been prepared back at the village. Now, the farmer insisted we took some peanuts, thrusting great handfuls into our hands and pushing peanuts into our pockets. Both of Robs pockets had holes in, making his impossible for the poor man to fill. We started to walk away from the peanut frenzy. The farmer was fiercely determined not to be inhospitable.

We made it back to Tian Xing. We joined the others for our standard fare of pig fat, chilli and marrow soup. After dinner - a swaying figure entered the kitchen. It was our friend the farmer, still absolutely hammered. He has followed us. He sat down. There then insued some too-ing and fro-ing as I tried to get the farmer to accept a gift of a postcard of Wales and he refused to take it. YangLi and her husband told us they thought the farmer possibly a little affected in the head! After a little while of this, we made our way down to the caving quarters and joined the rest of our party. A few moments later the figure of the farmer appeared outside the door - peering in through the window, but we kept the door shut. After a while he drifted off.....so that is what happens if you decline an invitation to stay, eat and get merry. Beware the perils of prospecting!

21st October 2005: Lan Mu Shu - Sound of Water

Phil Rowsell, Carmel Ramwell

Rob + Duncan had had a good pushing trip down the boulder pitch + found a 80m pitch with 60m+ free hang to big pot, but no water. Water sound on far right presumed down parallel shaft. Rob indicated possible ledge to traverse across. Headed down with Carmel armed with enough rope to get to base level + 20+ thru's. Didn't take long to get to pitch. Derigged the free hang + manage to swing along ledge to mud slope + possible shaft off to right. Could hear water clearly. Went back + got gear + with some difficulty regained slope. Throwing mud off, found 5 sec drop. Wey hey! Bolted traverse across slope cleaning off 6" layer of mud as went - great fun!!! Bombs away. Got to near end of ledge + drop over edge. Pretty chossy + not the best rock. Put two short rebelays before getting free hang, not good rock when hanging under! Dropped down into blackness + very lucky to see buttress of rock presumably separating shafts (difficult to tell as so big, light lost). Again lucky enough to swing onto buttress + access "water" shaft, with water flowing down far wall. Rig down 90m against wall in superb acoustics. Named aven Octave Aven. Finally hit floor + stand up after 4 hours of rigging - relief. Carmel spent a lot of time hanging around. Aven continued on down smaller shaft. Rig traverse + "Y" hang to drop to another shelf. Pitch heading on down, smaller shaft again, spray lashed. Run out of thru bolts so call it a day. Surveyed out. Good trip, but no connection. The lads should have a good trip next time, 30m or so undescended pitch + only 100m or so to base level.

TU: 15 hrs

21st October 2005: ZRK - The lobster pots

Neil Pacey, Paul Windle, Imogen Furlong

Neil Pacey in one of the Lobster Pots

We were all very excited before setting out on this trip. We convinced Imo to wear a wetsuit and decided to leave derigging to the next day. After the previous day's pigshit experience, we decided to improve things and place a deviation on the entrance pitch. To do this properly and get a dry hang, would require a bolt. We made do with a sling as a halfway house solution. Made good progress down to the limit of the previous days exploration. We replaced the 50m rope on the traverse over the "1st lobster pot" with a 15m rope. We left the way ahead open but with a deep pool in front. Imo swam across first and we climbed onto the ledges above. We dropped a short pitch to where Imo was standing on a ledge. We continued surveying for a 100 or so metres in good, open, wide streamway. Our next obstacle was a 5m pitch cascading down into a large splash pool. We rigged this and Paul descended onto a large ledge, unfortunately this was all in mudstone, so the next pitch presented a challenge to rig, luckily we still had a couple of medium sized through bolts. The 6m pitch dropped onto another large splash pool with a huge stal in the center of the pitch. The way on swung sharp right into a rather deep looking canal passage. By now the streamway had narrowed and contained no limestone whatsoever, formed purely in mudstone. We continued surveying for 150 metres until another short pitch was met. We rigged two short bolts and Imo used the rope as a hand line into a deep pool, before overlooking the pitch. She could see down another short 6m pitch or so cascading into another deep looking splash pool with a mudstone bridge climb up at the far end. We called it a day at this point, after surveying 250 metres of sporting, mudstone streamway. This brings the total length of People who go down cave to 1.7 km, the way on ahead is wide open and is purely in mudstone. To continue exploration long through bolts are required to make the pitches safe. We returned to the surface satisfied.

TU: 13 hrs

22nd October 2005: Photo + derig in Zhuan Yan Keng

Erin Lynch, Imogen Furlong, Neil Pacey

Imogen in the streamway

I came up the hill in the morning, having spent the preceeding few days living the high life on Prof Zhu's tiankeng tour. I arrived with a bad cold + a sense of dread about the upcoming photo + derig trip, but once underground things went well.

Neil wrote a description while Imo + I went ahead taking a few snaps on the way down. The rifts become increasingly gnarly + exposed (lines a good idea for next year) until we finally reached the streamway.

It was pleasant, with an estimated 0.04 cumecs flowing down it on what was a fairly wet day (the entrance pitch was soaking wet). There were several nice cascades + we went along planning the shots + then photo'd on the way back while derigging. Steam may be a problem as there was a very definite draught carrying our breath back out of the cave.

The derig was quick except for the second pitch which had to be re-descended after the tether snapped on Imo's bastard-heavy tackle sack.

We were out for 12:30.

Photo ideas for next year: all the cave life (macro), looking down 2nd pitch onto mud ramp up, layered limestone in dry part of entrance rift.

There were many places where back-lit shots would have nicely shown off the texture of the wet rock in the streamway, but my slave units weren't working well enough for that.

TU: 8 hrs

22nd October 2005: Dismal Ending/LMS Derig

Rob Garrett, Duncan Collis

Duncan after the derig

Carmel + Phil had left the route below the boulder pitch ongoing and looking highly likely to get close to Qikeng. They'd reached the bottom of a big shaft and left another shaft of ~40m for us, with only about 100m to drop to reaach the level of the main streamway.

A nice, quick trip in because we didn't have much to carry, and then we started pushing. The cave went down a fine pitch series, much like some of the pitches in the original route to the bottom. The water was mostly fairly well-behaved (we could easily avoid it), but on the final short pitch it sprayed all over the place and we got drenched.

At the bottom, it looked like we might be going to hit a sump as there was lots of mud around and the stream flowed into a small horizontal passage, but there seemed to be a draught, and indeed 20m or so of stoopng and crawling reached a point where the water flowed off into a flat-out passage 1/3 full of semi-liquid mud which would have to be excavated to make progress. The draugth was drawn into this unappealing passage, but we weren't as we knew we still had to survey our new find and to derig over 400m of pitches on our way out.

Survey went smootly apart from Rob dropping the book down the bottom pitch just after he'd derigged it, necessitating a re-rig, and the paella went smoothly until the final rope ont he final haul up Comedy of Errors, where a knot jammed and Rob had to descend a few metres to free it.

We met Neil + Phil about 100m from the entrance on their way in, and informed them that we'd managed to derig all the way to the top of Comedy of Errors - they seemed happy to hear this, but not so happy as we were to reach the surface a few minutes later after 22.5 hours underground.

TU: 22.5 hrs

23rd October 2005: Final derig of LMS

Erin Lynch, Phil Rowsell, Imogen Furlong, Neil Pacey

Drying rope after the derig

We met Rob + Duncan on the path to LMS and were thrilled to hear that they'd derigged all the way to the top of Comedy of Errors. Well done! Imo + I bombed down the pitches and found Phil + Neil washing the ropes in the streamway. I grabbed a bag + some metal and headed out. Prussiking up the pitches so laden gave our crolls a final bit of wear - what a lot of kit has been knackered this year! Everything went really smoothly. Imo +_ I took a tackle sack each through the crawl and then Imo went back to help the lads while I went for bag-carrying reinforcements in the form of Paul + Carmel. "Pig masters" Phil + Neil surfaced just before 4pm along with 2 piglets and the big sow - 180m of wet 10mm in a Troll Mulu bag.

While we were derigging Paul + Carmel washed most of the rope + rigging gear. Four days of steady rain meant there was plenty of water both in the village for washing and underground. LMS had a surface stream going into it, and combined with the inlet at the top of Cats and Dogs it made for a rather damp trip. After the prussik up Imo looked like a Petzl advert - all shiny clean gear.

Following the derig we had the obligatory piss-up to say farewell to Paul + Carmel who were heading home the next day.

TU: 4/6 hrs

26th October 2005: Hotpot!!

Erin Lynch, Duncan Collis, Neil Pacey, Imogen Furlong, Phil Rowsell, Rob Garrett

Detackling the Pharm: van full of gear

9am truck from Tian Xing to Wulong (250Y) followed by a few hours of gear sorting and then a 1pm bus to Chongqing. We arrived in time for showers (ask for 24 hr hot water on 4th floor) and a van for 30Y to Jiefang Bei. Duncan + I searched for hotpot while the others shopped.

We found a fantastic place near the McDonalds, on 51 street (wu yi lu). The stick selection was great and the beers were cold.

Shortly after we'd started tucking in, four young-looking Chinese with what could only be described as 80's big hair wandered in. Hairdressers or fashion victims we joked. While we were chomping through rabbit ears (not very nice!) and smoky bacon, the baijiu flowed freely at their table. I struck up a conversation with one of the lads and nearly pissed myself when he said they were hairdressers from "Tony Studios". I doubt they were too steady with the scissors the next day. His mate chundered all over the restaurant and then clonked his head on a gas bottle before having his face spread along the inside of a taxi door as the two pissed-off looking girls helped him home. Ah to be 21 again.

When we returned to the hotel, we didn't do much better. Dunks, Imo + I managed to rouse the fuwuyuan on the 4th floor, but the other car load had less luck. Since Imo'd nicked his bed, Phil passed out in the hallway on the 8th floor while Neil crawled into bed with Imo and Rob went AWOL.

The next morning there were sore heads all round.