Wulong Media Frenzy 2002 Expedition Logbook
24 May 2002: Qikeng Cave
Matt, BrianThe previous evening we had been recognized in Wulong by reporters and officials of the Huibang corporation. The proposed we should a go to Tian Xing in their jeeps after first conducting a TV interview for Wulong TV. The interview was a fairly easy affair as these things go with a just a couple of questions about why we had come to Wulong and the value of the caves. Erin wasn't keen to have us all go to Tian Xing and it was agreed that she, Duncan, and Rob would go to Houping wihle Matt and Brian went to Tian Xigooall in the company jeeps. On landing in Tian Xing we were put up in the wooden farmhouse with vernda balcony that the 1996 expeditin had stayed at. It was good to see people I'd met before and I was quickly dragged into a farmhouse and fed with food and baijiu. Matt explored the village with Li Ming Yui (Human Resource Management Huibang) who could speak english. After a while we decided to begin rigging Qikeng Cave which had previously been explored for about 45 miutes on the last day of last year's expedition. The bolts were in place so this wasn't a long job and then it was back for lashings of beer nd reporters' questions.
25 May 2002:100m point
2 June 2002: The Big Pitch
Brian, Erin,Matt, Rob, Duncan
It became clear that Brian'd had enough festering for the time being when he appeared mere minutes after breakfast in full caving garb and then disappeared off on his own with 2 tacklesacks. Once can only speculate that he was "refocusing" energies that hadn't had, er, release in a good long while...
Underground I met Brian at the top of what he thought was a handline climb. One bolt or two was the question, and I was glad we'd opted for two when halfway down it beame apparent that it was in fact a pitch. Nevermind that the rope was a few meters short... I rerigged the top off a sling, thus lowering the pitchhead to ankleoheight and enabling Brian to get down. We'd think about getting back up later.
Down another "handline" climb (pitch) and we were met with a big 'un. Bri guessed 30 or 40m. My light was shite (as usual) ao I wasn't going to venture an opinion. Sounded like it'd be fun to rig. Brian had chivalrously declared that it was my turn to pay with the drill. so I set out ignoring basic principles of rigging in my haste to see what was at the bottom. A natural to a single, awkward bolt put me straight in the water. Luckily I was already sodden and didn't mind too much. it seemed silly to waste my only sling on such a short pitch...
But it wasn't so short after all. I rebelayed after 20m, clawing my way along the wall with a skyhook, and then discovered I'd reached the end of the rope. I called up for more and Brian came down with a 90 that was actually a 45. Doh The next rebelay was a bit more difficult. My skyhook sent me careening into the opposite wall more than once and to exert enough pressure on the dril to get it to bore into the rock I resorted to clenching it between my thighs (sometimes hanging in a harness is not entirely devid of pleasures). but there was still no sign of the floor...
Yet another rebelay and a flash of B.'s light finally revealed a large ledge. By this time the others, who'd been freezing at the top had decided to bugger off, although Rob and Matt later changed their minds. We rigged one more pitch and discussed various ways of improving the wet bits, but the day was cut short when the drill abruptly died (or more to the point wouldn't stop we couldn't switch it off.) Ah, well. The day ended with an uneventfull prussik out.
Rob, Brian and I were sitting aroound after Erin and Duncan had gonne to bed (surprise, surprise) when there was a phonecall for Brian. His wife ha been unable to change his flight back to the UK which meant he couldn't stay an etra week after all. It also meant that Brian had toleave almost immediately t catch his original fight in Hong Kong. At 6AM the next morning we were woken by his packing for the 7AM bus and where were suddenly down not ony a drill but also a team member. As per the '96 expedition Brian ran out of time before seeing the cave through.