Yunnan 2003 Expedition Detailed objectives
Primary aim - Zhongdian area
To explore the surface and caves of the Zhongdian limestone mountains, with a view to exploring deep caves.
C3-1 is a large resurgence cave just above the Yangtze river, carrying a large draught and a water flow estimated at 250ls-1.
C3-4 ("Gavin's Dong") is a high-altitude cave (4221m) found in 2002. The cave has several squeezes and a very cold draught. These factors combine with the altitude to make it a fairly difficult trip, despite its current depth of only 37m. In 2002, the cave was left at a squeeze requiring digging. Back to top.
The 2002 expedition spent its last week camping just downhill from this plateau, but we were able to devote only a few person days to investigating the plateau itself, and reached only its nearest parts. Initial reconnaissance trips in this close area found several small caves and blocked stream sinks, but no significant caves further SW than C3-3 and C3-4. Yunnan 2003 will carry out a more thorough investigation of the ground briefly covered in 2002, and (by means of mobile camps if necessary) will investigate further SW. Back to top.
This area, the south section of the mountain range, contains the peak (13888ft) closest to the resurgence C3-1. Geological maps indicate that this area is also limestone, but previous expeditions have not visited it. The task begins with establishing efficient access routes to this part of the mountains, which in other areas (in the absence of high quality maps or local knowledge) has proved a nontrivial task often taking several team-days. Back to top.
Yunnan 2002 undertook a brief reconnaissance of the relevant section of the Yangtze river. C3-1 was the only resurgence issuing directly from the cliff next to the Yangtze, but large surface tributary valleys were left unexplored. Yunnan 2003 will investigate these valleys to ascertain whether, and where, some or all of this tributary water resurges from caves up the valleys. Back to top.
In addition to our primary interest in the Zhongdian area, we are keen to keep our eyes open to prospects elsewhere in Yunnan. Yunnan 2003 will investigate the following secondary areas, subject to time, manpower and logistical constraints. Back to top.
In 2002, a guide showed us two promising cave entrances near a village south of Xiaozhongdian. We believe these may connect to a resurgence in the gorge nearby, 200-300m lower. This work may be particularly appropriate as part of a training programme (if we are able to join forces with Chinese cavers with limited SRT and exploration experience) and/or an altitude acclimatisation strategy (the caves are at around 3100m altitude, compared to C3-4's 4200m, and the village offers comfortable acommodation). Back to top.
The 2002 expedition carried out a very brief reconnaissance trip passing to the west of Lugu Hu, and reported areas of interesting looking limestone. A further trip to this area is needed to carry out a more in-depth assessment and a preliminary search for entrances. Back to top.
If we are able to obtain local assistance, we will carry out a reconnaissance of part of the Nu Jiang valley. On paper, we are particularly interested in the northern section of the valley, from Fugong to Gongshan. (Experiences in 2002 suggest that reconnaissance in this particular valley without local guidance would be difficult and probably fruitless.) Back to top.
Building links and encouraging local caving
We are keen to strengthen existing links with interested Chinese parties, and to forge new links. In 2001 and 2002 we have worked with Liu Hong at the Yunnan Institute of Geography, Wang Xiao Gang of Startrekking, based in Kunming, and the tourism authorities of the Qujing and Nu Jiang prefectures. In 2003 we are particularly interested, if possible, in helping new Chinese cavers to become involved in both the sporting and exploration sides of caving, and in assisting with efforts to form a local caving club. Back to top.