Yunnan 2003 Expedition Logbook


18th July 2003: Meeting with Xiao Gang

Rich Gerrish, Hilary Greaves

Xiao Gang tells us that there are many big caves on Mout Jiaozi, near Donghcuan City (NE of Kunming), including one that people have walked into for "several hours" but not reached the end.

Dr Huang/ LH should know about this as it is very famous; local people also know.

It was discovered within the past year or so.

Bus from Kunming towards Dongchuan, but we get off before Dongchuan -- tell driver Mount Jiaozi. From dropoff point, a 2nd bus goes towards Jiaozi, until the road ends (here there is a hotel/guesthouse). Then we need to walk for 2 hours to reach the cave.

18th July 2003: First few days of expedition (advance party)

Rich Gerrish, Hilary Greaves

Rich + I arrived in Hong Kong on Tuesday evening. After sweating our way through HK + Shenzhen with 40kg of kit apiece, we eventually made it to Kunming yesterday (Thursday) morning. In plenty of time to meet Liu Hong for an almighty pissup last night. Despite having failed to sleep beyond 3am due to the oppressive heat in Shenzhen, we somehow managed to keep going till 1.30am (me by staying relatively sober so I could hold the matchsticks in place, Rich by getting so totally bladdered that he forgot how to be tired). Miraculously the hotel that Rich puked on the floor of, and off the balcony of, has welcomed us back with a smile for another night here.

Liu Hong had originally found 3 other Chinese who wanted to come with us, but one by one they dropped out till only Huang Chuxing (one of LH's colleagues) was still up for it. As LH himself won't be joining us for a week or so, and the time we had before the main party arrived was drastically reduced from the original plan, we were somewhat relieved -- having started to wonder whether we'd bitten off more than we could comfortably chew.

We intended to go to Zhongdian with Dr. Huang tonight, but the bus tickets had sold out. We go tomorrow. It was something of an eye-opener to find out from Ziao Gang that "Guli" was a leper colony -- suddenly lots of curious observations from last year fit into placee. "Inbreeding" we said...

19th July 2003 - 20th July 2003: Kunming to Zhongdian to Guli

Rich Gerrish, Hilary Greaves, Dr. Huang

We spent the day sorting out the last bits and pieces we needed before heading out and then sat in the French Cafe, drank coffee and pored over the maps and organised them into their folder.

The maps proved extremely useful showing us the extent of possible cave development in the Guli area. Many shakeholes, closed depressions and a total lack of significant surface drainage to either of the two N-S running rivers that border the area! VFI !!!

After, we met Dr. Huang and caught the sleeper bus. Some of us slept, I didn't... We arrived in Zhongdian totally fucked, at least me and Hils did.

Caught taxi (120 kwai ! [sic] robbed!) to the Guli track and walked via a circuitous pain in the arse route to the village. The welcome we received was better than we could have hoped. Our present of photographs in a frame was very well received. Hils and I were pretty choked to be back. Despite not speaking the same language we have some very good friends here and Guli village is developing an extremely special place in my heart. People, scenery, caving potential and an increasingly large set of the warmest kind of memories all adds to the feeling of peace I have here. I look forward with great anticipation to a fantastic couple of days.

20th July 2003: Guli 2: dry shaft (C4-3)

Rich Gerrish, Hilary Greaves

This cave looked bigger than Guli 1, and on the Guli 1 entrance you get an audience. I decided I wanted big cave, and Rich decided he wanted to show off, so it was fixed: 8pm, we're off to the shaft where "rocks rattle for four seconds", and it's my turn to rig, wahay!

Fantastic to be swinging around on rope again. It's been far too long. The rigging was dead easy, naturals all over the place. I dropped down for maybe 30m? 40m?? to a boulder chamber. "Hils, I need a running commentary, for personal reasons as much as for the tape!" Rich hollered down the shaft. By this point I was out of earshot, crawling down a crawl sized tube @ bottom of the shaft. I followed it for around 10m, to where a boulder partially blocked the passage, forming a squeeze. Inserting my chest into the squeeze, I could see round a LH corner to slightly larger passage, seemed to be draughting outward slightly. No survey kit (this being a quick evening rigging trip) so left the pushing for next time...

22nd July 2003: Láng Jǔ Shūa

Helen Blyth, Gavin Lowe

Hitched a lift to about 10km south of Zhongdia, at the bottom of Lang        Shua (GR 0570682 3068536 alt 3353). Followed track through sprawling village, then out into open pasture, before some more huts. Had some lunch just beyond village at junction with logs (GR 0563786 3067372 alt 3377). We took the right branch at the junction, but left is better, as we had to do several river crossings. Turned round near some more huts at (GR 0561594 3067321 alt 3590). Walked back down tothe earlier huts, and hitched a lift on a Dong Feng; we started to climb onto the back, but the driver chucked his mates out, and told us to get in the front; then halfway back it started to rain, so we stopped to allow the other two to climb in the front. Interesting drive back, with several river crossings, hoping our sacks wouldn't fall off the back.

21st July 2003: Guli 1 C4-2 0585506 / 3036122 / 3145m

Rich Gerrish, Hilary Greaves, Dr. Huang

FANTASTIC to wake up in Guli Village followed by a dawn chorus of phelgm and mucus removal. After emptying several tissues worth of snot from our sinuses each we trotted across the courtyard to a breakfast of fried/scrambled egg, leftover rice, hot sweet milk, some pork and veggie fried mix and a bowl of Tibetan butter tea. All was quaffed ang guzzled except the Tibetan butter tea which was actually quite salty and rank.

And so to the cave with an entourage in tow. Rigging off a tree dropped straight over the rounded chossy lip in the kinda PMI IRT style many a Texan caver/pit dropper would have been proud. A short boulder slope led surprisingly to a second chossy pitch rigged from a dodgy natural and a hopefully sound bolt.

A short sloping passage dropped down from there into a chamber where the stream sank amongst boulders. An obscure tube bypassed the blockage and led to a long, awkward, catchy rift where maneuvering the hideously crap American tackle bag and all other gear was a marginal pain marginal pain in the sphincter.

Relief came in the form of a pitch which, whilst I rigged deliverately slowly, gave Hils time to teach HC how to pass a rebelay in the downwards direction. This was followed by another pitch on the order of 20m deep but due to time concerns we opted to survey out.

The potential here is awesome. A massive area with little to no surface drainage, many caves, sinks, shakes, depressions and at least one phat resurgence which accounts for far more water than that in todays cave. Possibilites here for a master cave and more classic Yorkshire style cave exploration abound. A bloody fantastic day in every respect, can't wait to return!!!

22nd July 2003: Guli 2: Survey + Derig

Rich Gerrish, Hilary Greaves

Time very short as we had to find our way to Zhongdian by evening, so we reluctantly decided not to push any further, and let Dr Huang off the hook altogether. Quick survey + derig mission.

Cave description: Guli 2. C4-3

Entrance is located in a vegetated doline. Two rock arches side by side each lead to a 4m climb down (RH climb marginally easier) to a vegetated floor, with a chamber beyond the drip-line to the right.

From the chamber, a sloping shaft drops 25m to a second chamber, 5m across with a sloping boulder floor. At the uphill end of the chamber, a rift/alcove appears to be choked. At the downhill end, a crawling passage leads round a RH 90° bend to a squeeze where the passage is partially blocked by a boulder. The passage appears to continue, round a 90° LH bend, beyond the squeeze.

Leaving Guli

We asked the manager's wife (via HC) about possibilities for a return. Barring possibility of crossed wires* she said it would be no problem for more of us (eg 6) to return, for a longer perion (eg 1-2 weeks), and that they would still be happy to cook for us (i.e. we needn't bring stoves/food/etc). Caught tractor ride to road with village guy, 30 元 bus to ZD.

* (I'm not sure we had good communication here, though)

23rd July 2003: Zhongdian Jeep recce

Hilary Greaves

Tibet cafe'. 700 元/day. Rip off!
Book evening before. Could leave 8am. Return by 10.30pm

"Diqing Chiha International Travel Service" Located on Bei min jie:

No-one in which I called round. Jeeps parked in same street.

Yak Bar. 400元/day. Woman doesn't know whether or not there are roads in the mountains that Jeep can cross. She will ask around -- call back this evening.
Phone evening before to book -- can "always" find Jeep for next day. Have road over mountain to a place with a Tibetan name. If we visit the caff she will write down the name in Tibetan for us. NB take map!

Potala cafe. Ne Jeep but friendly info (Good English). From Jinsha (INSERT CHARACTERS) village can pay 30-40元 for lift 5km further towards qián hu shān (thousand lake mountain)
[MRG bloke recons Jeep/tractor can drive up valley to ~GR 780 362 ]

Hostelling International. Owner knows bloke who knows bloke who hires jeeps. Phone 23rd 9pm for prices etc.
Nothing for ≤ 300 元

and finally...

Xiang Ba La Hotel (or main street, south of bus station)
300 元 / day
Phone: 8224984

24th July 2003 - 26th July 2003: Recceing Suggestions

One day hikes

Bit short on these. But anything that either (a) gets up onto the top somewhere to see what it's like or (b) investigates access routes and/or camping spots, is useful


  1. From road @ 722622, walk SSW for 400m to village, then follow the path onto tops @ 672600. If time, could investigate lake/sink @657601. Return via different route further south?
  2. From Xiaozhongdian, try to hitch round to 727545, walk up valley SWish to 701510, check out tops.
  3. From "jisha" (on map as INSERT CHARACTERS), walk up onto qian1hu shan1 (thousand lake mountain). If you can find jisha!! (guesthouse bloke knows it -- village).
  4. Them caves on t'road of Pete's (cushy option :) )

One night camps

  1. Check out depressions & sinks around 655545. Dunks + Hil have bagged this one.
  2. From Xiaozhongdian, walk up to ≈ 672475 & check out tops.
  3. From 722622, walk up valley to west, investigate tops around 5963.

Or anything else you can think of!

(some, but not all of these are marked in pink on the B&W master maps.)

PS GPS everything in sight!

24th July 2003: Open Letter To The Masses

Here's the plan for the next few days! Liu Hong arrives on morning of the 26th or 27th. Till then we want to get as good an idea of the mountains S/SW of Zhongdian as possible. WIth a view to setting up a ~5-man camp (with caving gear ?!?) from the ~28th.

On the evening of the 26th (late? evening for those returning from recces that day) everyone should be in Zhongdian -- then we can collate what we've found so far and plan for the next week.


  • 27th: LH, RG? catch bus/hitch to resurgence, investigate logistics.
  • 28th: ~3 others join LH, RG? @ resurgence.
  • ~31st: return from resurgence.
  • 27th/28th: Team B (remaining ~5 people) set up camp at most exciting place found on recces
  • 29th-30th: Start dropping the deepest cave in the world
  • 31st: return to ZD & make cave sping.
  • 31st: sesh!

PS. Callout procedure There is a callout page in the back of this book. Please record where you are going (even on daytrips to hills) and leave a callout time. THE CALLOUT TIME MEANS: WE WILL START A SEARCH AT THIS TIME (PROMPT) IF YOU AR NOT BACK so leave several hours between ETB & callout.

RadiosRecord whether you are taking one of the two-way radios. if you take one, then once past your callout time, turn it on as follows:

  • from the hour to ten past the hour
  • from 30 past to 40 past the hour
every hour, during daylight, until (a) you are found or (b) the batteries run out.

PPS. Miscellaneous jobs in Zhongdian, if you're feeling keen / looking for an excuse not to go recceing:

  1. Colour streams blue on B&W maps
  2. Spot likely cave features for recceing attention
  3. Bullshit
  4. Label/measure ropes, gear tape any stray HMG metalwork (red).
  5. Buy stuff*

PPPS... if you want to post a message to the "updates from the field" page of the exped website, email your text to me.

* Shopping list: Bin liners
Supply of camping food

24th July 2003: Lenik & Martin recce recce suggestion 1.

Martin Laverty, Lenik anak Saymo

Bought some bread and water in ZD then started hitching ....... until just after the super stupa beyond the airport road where we got a lift. 20 元 to bridge @ 72. From there old road leads to another bridge -- turn right just before this onto track & follow low level road past farms to another bridge over a river coming from the mountains. Cross this + take ascending right fork up 25m of alluvial fill which creates this flat terrace. At top road forks left to a stupa right to a village but route is across the pasture to either of the two ridges which have paths up & look reasonable routes of ascent into mountains. However, we didn't check because we took a wrong turning early on & a multitute of alternative paths led us astray (we were out of map boundary, unfamiliar with map symbols, GPS is diff to get etc...) and had an enjoyable time looking at flowers.
Bridge UTM: 0572261 3061941
Rock Fork UTM: 0571234 3060014

25th July 2003: A Plain & Gorgeous approach to the hills

Martin Laverty, Lenik anak Saymo

Looking across from the road the only limestone (other than the quarries) to be seen is in a steep sided valley entering the old lake/plan/meadow near the S end of the airport. The map shows a route up into the hills together with a couple of cave symbols -- so we decided to take a look. Walked from ZD & took track forking off at 45° towards the gorge, first passing farms, over the river & then alongside runway for what seemed an eternity, followed by a motorbike back to destination. This back over flowery but empty plan but out of the blank kept appearing cyclists, tractors & the odd motorbike. Another ½ hr or so revealed some low wood & tarpaulin shacks at the entrance to the gorge with a good stream. The track continues to an old quarry wher the valley would appear -- at first sight -- to end. Up on the N, prayer flags mark the entrance to Shan Ren Dong (INSERT CHARACTERS) reached by a zig-zag path up scree. This proves to be a small triangular entrance to a chamber with lots of top-shaped stone offerings, plus the odd joss stick and torn 元 note. Outside were some Tibetan characters carved into the rock.

Back in the valley, good path follows stream between cliffs or steep wooded sides in alternation of flat sections and steeper, narrower bits where path & stream merge. Route becomes more vegetated as y ou proceed and we turned round (due to time) at a place where a tributary comes in from N. The main path continues into moss-festooned pines & a good path up the tributary leads to a flat, wooded valley. From gorge entrance to our limit -- about 1½ in :50 mins out. Across the plain to ZD - 2 hr each way.

23rd July 2003 - 25th July 2003: Camping in Langstrothdale

Helen Blyth, Gavin Lowe

Gavin Lowe:

This is the factual bit; Helen will add detail below. Hitched to GP 0570682 3068536, alt 3353m. Camped at 0560811 3067722, alt 3639m. The valley splits at roughly 0560012 3068077, alt 3609m. If you are on tthe south side of the river, you are forced up the tributary, and the path eventually craps out (this is what happened to us). It's better to be on the north side (bridge about 100m east of where we camped), and to follow the river to junction at 0559947 3068371 alt 3683m. Go left here and continue to river crossing at 0559780 3068467 alt 3998m(?). Continue to junction just after 0559566 3068459 alt alt 3966m, and go left. Follow up past 0559097 3068217 alt 3973m and picturesque lake. Continued up to large bowl at 0558343 3067308 alt 3913m (I don't believe most of the earlier altitudes). This bowl has three streams which join up and sink (C3-26). Also several subdolines which look interesting. There are occupied huts. We suggest camping in this bowl. There is also a stream sink (C3-27) (bottom of 7m cliff) at 0558372 3066502 alt 4031m and another one (C3-28 (draining from lake) at 0558685 3066758 alt 4028m, and another doline with huts at 0559153 3066616 alt 4020m.

Helen Blyth:

Gavin + I met Martin H + Pete in turn, and after spending ages not getting a hitch, we all piled into a taxi. The first part of the walk was jolly enough; nice and hot and very sociable. However, once the teams had split, it started to get rather cloudy. I was looking forward to "lunch" at our usual place -- some logs at the end of the flat section; however it soon started to pour with very wet rain, so we pressed on to camp. The walk was fairly easy , but the tracks were more like rivers and we were often in ankle-deep mud -- yum yum!

We put up the tent (still raining) and scattered our possessions around the tent to "dry". I regretted not putting my toilet paper and down sleeping bag inside something a bit more waterproof!

Gavin was a star, and soon got the "kettle" on. After a cuppa, life didn't seem so bad after all. A sumptuous meal of strange-tasting mud river noodles soon followed, as did bedtime

Well, the rain still continued to pour. It was impossible to sleep, as I was certain that at any moment I would have to leap out of the tent to dig ditches thus protecting us from a raging torrent. Sleep must have come eventually as I dreamt about swimming with my rucksack at the Waterfalls Walk, along with some surfers + Ray Duffy!!!

The following morning was dry, and we set off up the forestry tracks (streams) to the top of the hill. The walk was fairly pleasant, and I really enjoyed looking at all of the beautiful flowers.

We passed by a couple of water-meadows (very boggy), and then hacked up the hill, which was fairly hard going, due to the lack of path.

Wandering around on the top was really nice, despite the trees we found several interesting dolines, stream sinks and shakeholes, so all in all, it felt like our day was worthwhile.

After lunch, it began to persist it down which made the walk back a little tedious. However, after a few scary river crossings (slippy logs over rapids) we arrived back at the tent.

Things got better and better, as the rain stoped during the evening and I was able to sleep well. No scary dreams this time!

The new day brought glorious sunshine, and we had an efficient walk back to the road.

We were soon home (in plenty of time for tea) and the only problem was that we stank to high heaven, and the soap and clean clothes were locked in the cupboard

A very enjoyable few days.

25th July 2003: Recce of southerly shakehole area at:

Rich Gerrish, Pete Talling, Martin Hicks

"The time is 'oh six hundred hours', what does the 'oh' stand for? 'Oh my god it's early!' "

Up at stupid o'clock and out of the MRG with maximum efficiency. We had to walk into town because the buses hadn't started running yet and we doubted we would even find a food place open. A couple of places had started serving though and we quickly settled down to a breakfast of excellent bao1zi and nasty xi1fan4.

A short bus ride and we were on our feet and walking across the plain to where a steep gorge opened out onto the aluvial expanse. On the left hand end of this mouth we spotted three caves and it wasn't even 9am! One turned out to be a short mined tunnel (C3-29), another a large fossil cave (C3-30) blocked almost immediately and the third (C3-31) looked like a related large fossil entrance but was at the top of a high and unstable suicide wall of quarried choss, that we would have to leave for another day!

Up the right hand ridge we came across a short vertical cave (C3-32) in a small doline terminating at 5-10m depth (

As the gradient began to slacken we reached a line of dolines in a wooded area. At the bottom of the third or fourth doline was a low sloping cave entrance (C3-33/ Bone Cave) into a bouldery chamber containing an assorthment of disturbingly human like bones. A short passage on the right dropped down a couple of climbs on increasingly difficulty into a larger chamber. The last climb of greatest height and difficulty was tactfully left for those with ropes but a way on was thought to exist.

500m on from the cave we entered a logging village serviced by a vehicle worthy road. We asked at the village whether they knew of any caves in the area and were promptly pointed back in the direction we had come. Declining offers of food we pushed on to the ridge line gasping for oxygen up the final steep section and collapsing on the grassy knolls at the top. Here we split up into two groups. I followed the ridge line round with one radio whilst MH and PT took the other and fanned out into the centre.

After looking into several crap grassy floored dolines it began to hail, this then steadily turned into heavy rain. It was at this point I realised the radios were utter fucking absoute shitty, bollox, wank, pants, crap, poo, jizz

24th July 2003: Navigation by Blind Faith & Optimism

Duncan Collis, Hilary Greaves

Intended to go recce the area of closed depressions marked on the map W of Xiǎo Zhōng Diàn. We should have recognised an omen of impending fuckwittedness when we managed to lose each other in the middle of Zhōng Diàn. within seconds of stepping off the bus. Got a lift to Xiǎo Zhōng Diàn, and proceeded (after a big bowl of noodles) to fail to find a way across the river, eventually finding a bridge about 1km from where we'd started after a ~6km wander around. The problem was that the only copy of map sheet 8 was the master, so we were navigating from a sketched copy. Set off up a decent jeep track, and soon got up into the hills, whereupon our track degenerated into logging tracks. By now we were sure we were well onto map #7, but had difficulty reconciling what we could see, and our GPS data with the map. Oh well, push on....

Eventually got onto a good path along the top of a span of mountains, and a village appeared about where we thought the map said it ought to. Hils was confidant that another few hundred metres would lead us over a mount to a stream where we could camp ... and it was so.

Got tent pitched and a pan of water boiled just as it became fully dark. Shared a beer I'd carried up. Next morning (2003/07/25) we struck camp and slogged up the other side of the valley, over the brow to where we thought ought to be the location of the closed depressions. However it turned out to be a wide valley, the upstream end of the one we'd camped in. We wandered around for sevear k's to make sure that it really didn't match the map, noted that there was a complete dearth of karst features of any description, and then headed back down. Got back to hotel for a miserly 7 元 each.

It subsequently transpired that our lift on day 1 had dropped us several km to the south of Xiǎo Zhōng Diàn, so we spent most of the first day (all but the final 500m or so) off the edge of the map, which explains the confusions suffered.

: Lenik & Martin follow the gorge up to 4000m

Lenik anak Saymo, Martin Laverty

After slow pack & noodles & xiao pau, got a lift to the track across the meadow on a tractor trailer full of Tibetans. 2hrs flat followed by 2hrs up gorge reached a flat strawberry back with half prepared timber and a good dravel path ascending to a a scrub covered plateau. Camped on the strawberry patch by a gurgling stream & found that stove leaked petrol from fuel pipe, so ate mango, & biscuits. Rained most of night on an 'til about 10am when we started up the track to plateau. Soon came across yak herders, then a major highway for log rafts & a village of log houses, one end for animals (pigs, horses, yak, cow) one for people. There was a 20m wide closed depression nearby but no sign of caves. Carried on up good logging path up a limestone gorge onto rhododendron + pine forests & stopped at just 4000m with good views back to ZD & village. Back at village, an old lady offered us refereshment and a hot fire. we were given tea in a jam jar (transferred to a bowl for ease of drinking); cheese and sugar; and yoghurt & sugar. She also made butter (the pale yellow objects wheich Helen thought looked like Edam cheese). Back to plain in ~1 hr, when it proceeded to rain for the 2 hrs to welcome noodles in ZD.

27th July 2003 - 30th July 2003: Camp nr. shakeholes GP 6364

Pete Talling, Martin Hicks, Hilary Greaves

Sun 27th Walk in
Handy tractor ride for several km across plain to GR 679 685 (village).

We walked up the spur marked as the largest track on the map direct SQ from above village. Pete & Martin reckon this route is much easier than their previous one (i.e. path taking in GR 648 680).

Shakehole marked @ GR 653 654 contains a muddy lake and nowt else.

We camped in a small clearing, concealed from view by trees; 700m from water sources (stream one way, spring the other way); not a bad site.

Mon 28th
Today Pete & I dropped the 30m shaft (Toothpick, C3-34) Pete & Martin found a few days ago, while Martin went surface recceing.

Cave location: (see earlier)

A fairly miserable place, vaguely reminiscent of Gavin's Dong, only larger. I wasn't wearing enough as Pete had announced at camp that he had no SRT kit, so I'd assumed I was on for a solo trip (hence no surveying & no waiting around). We also had only half an SRT kit each, having later decided that one kit between two was plenty. The last time I'd used a prussik loop underground in anger, I think; I was surprised how efficient it was.

I rigged the 30m shaft and landed in a a chamber, about 5m across. Furtling around, I found a couple of potential ways on almost immeidately, the most promising of which was a ~6m climb down that looked like it wanted a rope so I summoned the reinforcements. Pete went down the climb and found a chamber. Following him my heart started to sink: two climbs up into rifts, but neither looked all that promising, and no stonking 100m pitch staring us in the face... we had promised ourselves a chocolate cake on return to town for every 50m of depth, the cave couldn't end here!

So it didn't. Having disappeared up the left-hand climb (bit scary) Pete surprised me with "I've found a pitch!" This one was about 10m down a rift to the "Terminal" Chamber...

The only way on from the bottom of the pitch was a small rift passage leading off; choked. We took turns to dig (I amused myself during Pete's turns by shifting gravel; this place was COLD), and eventually a 2m body sized vertical tube was clear, I inserted myself into it and tried to feel around with my feet for ways on. At high shin height there appeared to be an undercut, with space below; I couldn't tell how much space, as my legs didn't bend that way. With some combined tactics (Pete hauling on a rope handhold from above), I was extricated from the tbe, and tried again facing the other wall. This time, by bending my knees, I could foot-investigate the space better. My right foot found wall, 50cm or so behind the undercut; my left foot found only floor, ceiling and space ...


Elevation and cross sections

So it might go. But I was too intimidated by the prospect of trying to bend myself down around the undercut (having reversibility doubts), and Pete didn't fancy the tube itself, being a bit bigger than me. We decided this was a lead for someone harder than either of us [were f right then??], and surveyed out and derigged.

It's interesting to note that most of the cave seemed to lie in the same vertical plane. Perhaps a lead higher up (there are a a few we didn't push) could bypass the dig-lead.

Rigging guide/topo
Entrance pitch Rope climb down

Handline belay to chockstone. ~10m rope.

Rope climb up Handline, belay to calcite thread.

3rd August 2003: Guided tour/recce

Rich Gerrish, Hilary Greaves, Helen Blyth, Martin Laverty, Lenik anak Saymo, Liu Hong

The old geezer from Liu Hong's host family took us to see the "one kilometer deep" "stones rattle for one hour" "two hours away" cave, that seemed to coincide with the showcave (resurgence) manager's desciption. One out of three was vaguely accurate...

After ~2½ hours we had climbed a pass & descended via a lake to a village ina big valley, and to CAVE 1 (C3-39) We excitedly dropped stones down and waited while the flew through the silence for ...
... two seconds. Some dodgy maths later and we had decided that our 60m rope would be more appropriate than the 120m one. This was confirmed by the ruvey tape a few minutes later: 25.53m * (see CAVE 2)

We adjourned to the village for some bread, cheese & ?????iato before a boy from the village showed us 2 caves on the way back:

CAVE 3: (C3-41) Location (PTO)
A 10m shaft lands ina chamber, 5m diameter, with a sloping boulder floor. Up to the right a free climb leads to a second entrance. Down to the left a walking passage leads downhill and round a RH bend, terminating after approx. 5m in a steeply sloping downhill tube, almost fully blocked with soft mud. diggable. Tube draughts outwards slightly.

CAVE 4: (C3-42) Location (PTO) A ~60cm diameter hole on a grassy slope. Stones rattle for 6-7 seconds.

CAVE 2 (C3-40) : (Rich to write description) (also to Cave 1)

3rd August 2003

Pete Talling, Martin Hicks, Duncan Collis

10.05 Young lad from village as guide sets off at Warp factor 12 after eating yak yoghurt in friendly village. Cavers stagger off grimly in pursuit. Gov over col, past spring to shaft overlooking lake without village.

Cave A (C3-47) : 30- 35 - 40?? m vertical shaft (to chamber?) ~5 - 8m wide, could be rigged off two jammed boulders. Looks promising? at least to Pete. Deeper than toothpick cave. GPS : [47/0556689E/3066126N] Alt. 4059m.

... then over col to village with big lake [   ]. Entire village decampscomplete with toddlers on shoulders and off they go.

Cave B (C3-48): from ~300m SW of village - a cave 2-3 km bearing ~FIXME away was pointed out by villager -- all that could be seen was black dot at base of cliff. GPS of sighting point: [47/0555998E/3066832N] Alt 4022 (aka Fairy Cave).

.. then the caravan was off again, first to W of village - then contouring round hill curing NW then N into a dry limestone valley. Caves eventually found up to the left (facing up valley) ~20m above base of valley

Cave C1 (C3-49) : ~8m deep open pit. ~5m wide with snow + rubble slope heading underneath overhang at far side -- certainly big enough to enter. Almost freeclimbable down 8m pit -- but not quite. Nice spike for handline. GPS [47/0555560E/3067305N] Altitude 4096m.

Cave C2 (C3-50) : less than 100m downhill (back towards village). A similar height above valley floor. Small (~1m) wide steeply inclined tube (~70°) down which stones rattle for 2-3 secs. Small kid almost rattled down hole at one point too! GPS [47/0555566E/3067247N] Alt 4081m

followed dry valley to large arching entrance in near side oooh, ooh, ooh. Duncs starts to sprint... Aaargh -- river forms large pool that soaks away

Cave D (C3-51) : V. interesting (but does river reappear as shown on map on far side of hill? NB I think water disappears + forms CAVE!) Large pool with a flood overflow tube ~5m higher up to left, which is choked by debris a body length in. Water flows through easily moved boulders at left of pool. Moved a few boulders + water started to cut down. Needs digging but interesting lead that takes a lot of water. Also next to v. nice campsite GPS [47/055710N/3067587N] Alt 4107m.

then went down main valley to NW under v. large limestone cliff. Lots of small alcoves investigated but only small (sub body sized) ... eventually got to large cave open to front with rock bridge (1).

Cave E (C3-52) : Dunc + Pete + Turboboy scrambled up to back wall of large cave. Dunc + Boyo climb ~8m up and left. Report a going but upward lead. Gets dodgy to climb. retreat. GPS [ (1) below ]

...continue round base of large cliff

Cave F (C3-53) : at lower most point of cliff, small cave at base. Crawl into ~5m downward bodysized tube into low chamber. Choked at bottom ~20m length (almost Draenen).

...continued upwards round cliff to more alcoves. two large alcoves but no leads -- PT goes on small wild goose chase. Crawl up to 4240 col (2) below.

...head back to camp -- across area of interesting Karsty stuff GPS [ ] ... and saw a few choked but interesting dolines GPS [ ] near col nearest to campsite (4)

forgot Cave (?!) G (C3-54) : the stream by the village with the small lake sinks just below village (3)

  1. 2 caves in cliff 500m W @ 47/0555538E/3067722N Alt 4123m
    Big cave in ciff @ 47/0554982E/3067995N Alt 4090m
  2. Various blocked shelters @ 47/0554866E/3067923N Alt 4100m - ish
  3. Stream disappearing into bed @ 47/0556224E/3066892N Alt 4049m
  4. C3-55 Possible dig in doline @ 47/0557222E/3066456N Alt 4055m
  5. C3-56 Possible dig in doline @ 47/0557399E/3066268N Alt 4077m

4th August 2003: Pete & Hils Caves C1, C2 & beyond! FIXME SUBSCRIPTS

Pete Talling, Hilary Greaves

We first went to drop caves C1 & C2 from Pete's writeup (yesterday).

Cave C1 : (C3-49)

Cave C1 : (C3-49)

As Pete was down C2 digging, a couple of yak herders came past. I shouted down to them, any caves near here? Yes, they said, three up on the hill on the right, one up to the left, plus the one we'd just been down. Sounds interesting!! ...

As Pete was down the cave, I didn't want to bugger off too far, so I told the herders that and went back to wait for Pete. The herders however seemed happy to wait, and sat by the pth 100m up from us -- I only noticed after 5 minutes. Soon after, Pete emerged; he suggested I should see what I thought of his dig, so I headed underground while he followed the yak herders up the hill and out of sight.

An hour or so later I was disturbed from my joyous digging by Pete's voice: echoing down the shaft. "Lots... of... shafts, ... very... big!" Shall... I... come... up?" "YES!"

The herders had shown Pete 3 shafts; we stumbled across a 4th, plus a semi-semblance of a horizontal entrance (dig), while GPSing the first 3. (see over for coords/descriptions).

GPS coords:
C3-57: (CAVE-H) 0555701 / 3067543 / 4104m.
C3-58: (CAVE-I) 0555791 / 3067222 / 4135m.
C3-59: (CAVE-J) 0555972 / 3067517 / 4161m.
C3-60: (CAVE-K) 0556056 / 3067449 / 4168m.
C3-61: (CAVE-L) 0556027 / 3067509 / 4171m.
C3-62: (CAVE-M) 0556069 / 3067298 / 4143m.
CAVE-H etc. GPS identifiers (Rich's GPS)

Descriptions: [from Pete's Pink Book]
C3-57: Vertical rift 1m high.

29th July 2003: Shui Lian Dong/ Water Curtain Cave (The Resurgence)

Duncan Collis, Rich Gerrish, Liu Hong, Martin Laverty, Lenik anak Saymo

Caught bus to Qi Zong, 20.5 元 each. Didn't get off at resurgence as we weren't sure we were at the right place. For future reference, its about 1km after the huge tributary on teh left (when coming from N.) Resrugence is huge, about 20m above the road.

Conveniently, there's a small hotel just across the road from the resurgece, 10 元 per bed.

Began to survey the fossil entrance of the cave, which has been developed as a show cave (15w bulb every 50m). After 200m FIXME the stream, which was a raging torrent of furious white water flowing at about 3-4 cumecs. Further FIXME was impossible, so we retreated.

30th Were shown another resurgence on the south bank of the large tributary to the N of the resurgence. This was a flooded rising of about 2 cumecs, water noticeable cloudy compared with the crystal water of Shui Lian Dong.

We were told that water levels are lowest in Jan-Feb, that over 1.5km of cable was installed in the cave, and that at the end, the stream comes form 2 inlets, one deep + slow with ½ meter airspace, the other 2m wide and fast flowing

4th August 2003: C3-62

Hilary Greaves, Pete Talling

A ~ FIXME m diameter vertical shaft. Rigged from rhodadendron bushes so rope runs over moss:

Got to end of 42m rope; rocks from here free-fall for 3 secs and rattle for a further 2-3s. Lower down the shaft felt airy; hopefully not just circulation from a 2nd entrance!

4th August 2003: Blue Poppy Cave C3-47

Martin Laverty, Lenik anak Saymo, Martin Hicks, Rich Gerrish

Martin H descended the cave. First pitch is 30m to a ledge. From here another drop of 30-40m was rock drop tested. There are apparently good belays at the top of the pitch which is approx 5m in diameter. The first pitch is prone to rub point and prob needs a rebelay. Still going!

July 2003: Rich + Hils drop lots of shafts that don't go

Rich Gerrish, Hilary Greaves

X C3-62 -65m to the bottom of a blind pit, with a snowplug that appears to be sitting on a choke. Surveyed to 5b.

X Smile Cave 10m shaft, free-climbable on belay. A very short rift-like passage in one corner of the shaft chokes.

X Summit Cave A 12m narrow shaft, chokes.

8th August 2003: Stream Sink Digging C3-51

Gavin Lowe, Duncan Collis, Helen Blyth

Gav went digging at the stream sink, supervised at various times by Duncan + Helen.

A hole was opened, just above the left sink, from which an encouraging gurgling could be heard, however, the ceiling was made of mud, so futher ferreting was unappealing. The dry dig above the sinks was pushed a bit, and seemed to draught, but Gav was of the opinion that it was a breakdown feature than a solutional one.

A dam was made to divert the stream from the right hadn sink into the left one, dropping the pool at the right hand sink, enabling rocks to be removed; unfortunately the result was that the right-hand sink no longer take any water, and a pool backed up making futher digging an aqueous prospect.

9th August 2003: Blue Poppy Cave C3-47

Rich Gerrish, Gavin Lowe

Entrance pitch of 30m dropped to a ledge. From here a further descent of 20m landed in a chamber with a lot of breakdwon and boulders. A way on down a second pitch/climb gave access to a final pitch of 6m. From here a draughting ??? slot barred progress but after substantial hammering an awkward, catchy squeeze was pushed to an immature picos like stream rift that ended almost as soon as it had begun at another squeeze. Above and before this a promising hole in the ceiling revealed black space an a good echo but was far too tight to push and extremely awkward/nigh on impossible to hammer. Hilti caps desired...

Beyond the squeeze a tube in the roof led up for 3m before u bending down to an impenetrable slot. At floor level v. awkward, oversuit shredding rift led to yet antoher impenetrable continuation with a v. slight draft. On the derig/survey alternative routes were looked for but none were to be found. For a brief moment it looked fantastic before gradually descending into a pile of wank. An excellent cave with find pitches and interesting situations yet bugger all chance of going deeper...

9th August 2003: Surface recce to village INSERT CHARACTERS (yě kōng) on northern plateau

Helen Blyth, Hilary Greaves

Around a 2½ - 3 hour walk betwen camp & INSERT CHARACTERS. Area surrounding the village looks good - masses of exposed limestone. locals showed us 2 caves adn reported a further 3. We also suspect there are further caves on the mountains west of the village that we've not been told about. Could sleep/eat? in huts @ village INSERT CHARACTERS. Several days' recceing work to be had in this area. Travelling log below.

VIL3 - inhabited but no one home 3 huts on E side of stream w derelict huts on W side.

Generally negative conversations with locals here, but I get the impression it was more that they couldn't u/s why we wanted to see caves rather than that there weren't any. (Think there might be a cave up to right side of village (looking downstream) from what they said.)

Non-limestone in bog south (upstream) of village.

Limestone again beyond village.

Cave at C3-63 Ø 0555268 / 3070232 / 4075m. 3m high walk-in entrance on left, and 1m x 1m entrance on right, @ base of small cliff.

Climb 1-2m up LHS to small draughting tube. Entered part way, but requires oversuit. To the right of draughting tube is small chamber with 2? possible ways on.

To the right of entrance is a small passage sloping down (draughts), but becomes to small. A climb up connects with the aforementioned small chamber.

C3-64 . O
Location: from C3-63, walk NNW for 400m to 0555299 / 3070515 / 4069m from here look on bearing of 236° from peak, follow line of ridge down to left. Cave is visible as a small diagonal slot @ base of small section of bare cliff, surrounded by vegetation. Best apprach prob. from peak.

Conversation with Mr. Rongwei
One cave 2 hours away; over the col that's on bearing 267° from Rongwei's village INSERT CHARACTERS __ niú __ pò

Road goes over that col

No people/houses.

caves up on good looking mountain. Locals @ plateau village (INSERT CHARACTERS / yě) should know locations.

From village to INSERT CHARACTERS:

C3-65 Location 0555476 / 3073214 / 4214m. 2m diameter, ~15m ?? shaft on side of hill, N. path. (4-5 sec stone rattle)

C3-66 Location 0555926 / 3072909 / 4227m. ~200m SE of village, 20m left of path. Entrance is 1m diameter hole on grassy slope. Tube descends @ ~ 60°. Rocks rattle for 5-6 seconds. No apparent draught.

Locals @ village (INSERT CHARACTERS) [GPS "VIL6"] report 2 caves in SW direction, one to the north; all too far for them to show us this evening (already 5pm).

From the village it is possible to see two poss. caves on the steep hillside (about 60% of the way up to cliff, maybe 100m ?? higher than village) to the NW.

C3-67 . Bearing 294° from waypoint VIL6.

C3-68 . Bearing 315° from wp VIL6.

Waypoint VIL6 (village) 0555668 / 3073240 / 4194.

Mobile reception from col near C3-66: no joy.

10th August 2003: Going prospects for stream sink camp areas

  1. C3-58. Undescended shaft ~ 500m from camp. GPS coords in logbook.
  2. 7 second rattle. Undescended. Pick up beam from derelict house on walk from Snowdonia Lake.
  3. Fairy Cave. Needs handline for entrance.
  4. Get locals @ village over col (on way back to old cave) to show us more caves.

10th August 2003 - 11th August 2003: Surface recce incl. one night camp at villlage INSERT CHARACTERS (yě kōng)

Rich Gerrish, Hilary Greaves

An entertaining and productive two-day jaunt up to yě kōng village. We arrived around 1pm on the 10th and were promptly shown up to one fucking awesome cave on the spur (C3-67); then the kids showed us several more shafts futher south on the plateau (C3-68 through C3-70).

Jaunts on our own revealed more cave features (C3-71 through C3-76) Then on the afternoon of the 11th the family took us round the plateau NE of the village; allegedly in prusuit of a holy "Fairy Cave" which we never found (apparently "still an hour away" when we were turned round), but on route taking in 4 caves (C3-77 through C3-80)

A very nice expedition setup at this village.

  • Accommodation: We stayed in a disused hut. I think it was disused only because now is the end of the farming season up here, but there were derelict huts that could be repaired/tarped for exped use
  • Food: We ate with farmers, pretty basic food, exped would prob wand to bring own.
  • Guides: think the locals know of more caves than they had time to show us on this visit.
  • Water: from groundwater pool @ GPS 0555584 / 3073037 / 4200m. Lots of sediment (i.e. unsuitable for straight iodine treatment)
  • Money: We gave them 100元 for a one night stay.

10th August 2003 - 11th August 2003: Village recce INSERT CHARACTERS Travelleing log.

Hilary Greaves, Rich Gerrish


C3-67 . 15m x 10m entrance on spur, ~80m above village. 8m wide passage with boulder floor descends steeply to right for ~20m. Pit in floor needs rigging, rocks rattle for 2-3 secs. Appears to be draughting outwards, noticeable in passage 10m x10m !!!
Location 0555474 / 3073443 / 4280m.

O C3-68 . Location 0554990 / 3072320 / 4215m 10m diameter doline with 4m diameter tube beginning 6m down. Steeply descending tube visible @ 4m diameter for ~10m to snow. Passage seems to continue beyond snow.

O C3-69 . Location 0554939 / 3072378 / 4206m. ~2m diameter vertical shaft. Stones freefall for ≥ 3 sec, then rattle ~6 sec. [Rich reckons he got a 12 sec rattle...]

O C3-70 . Location 0554931 / 3072412 / 4194m. 0.5m diameter vertical hole surrounded by a few rhodadendron bushes. Stones rattle for ≥ 5 sec. until out of earshot No apparent draught.

O C3-71 . Location 0554911 / 3072406 / 4213m. Body-sized hole under cliff @ base of small doline. Appears to choke 4m in. No draught. Oversuit required to confirm death.

O C3-72 . Location 0555004 / 3072697 / 4250m. Body sized tube descends @ ~30° to horizontal for ~6m. Ends @ choke in floor. Draughting outwards slightly.

O C3-73 . Narrow rift in base of rocky doline just beneath knoll with flatish cairn opposite side of bowl to C3-72. Drafts well with holes beneath boulder floor too.

O C3-74 Choked dry stream sink. Location 0555105 / 3072991 / 4256m

X C3-75 . Location 0555314 / 3072944 / 4255m. Rock shelter. 2m long. 1m wide, 1½m high.


X C3-76 . Location 0554951 / 3074056 / 4305m. 3m deep choked rift with sky light.

O C3-77 . Location 0556003 / 3073294 / 4203m. Vertical hole on grassy knoll, covered with branches. Locals say 2m deep.

O C3-78 . Location 0556129 / 3073756 / 4283m. ~8m diameter doline with ~4m diameter vertical shaft visible. Rocks freefall for ~2secm followed by ~6 sec rattle.

X C3-79 . Location 0556212 / 3074084 / 4283m Slot under small outcrop. Choke @ end. ~3m wide, 0.5m high, 5m long. Descends for ~2m, ascends for ~3m. Breakdown entrance but solutional cave further in.

X C3-80 . Location 0556414 / 3074190 / 4257m. 15m deep shaft with 45° snowplug leading to a choke with no draft. A roof tube at the bottom is also blind.