How to join:
HMG Yunnan 2004 needs more members!
The ideal candidate will have several decades of caving and expedition experience, the body of a 21 year old, fluent written and spoken Mandarin, an uncanny ability to understand complex three-dimensional geological jigsaw puzzles, proficiency in breathing in the absence of oxygen, the desire to find deep cave in a relatively fresh area and a healthy sense of humour. Significant deficiencies in all but the last 2 of these may however be overlooked.
Here's what to do:
Flick through this website and the websites/reports from the 2003 and 2002 expeditions, and get a feel for what you're letting yourself in for. In particular, at the time of writing, this project (still!) involves a high proportion of surface work. We have many undescended shafts to go at in 2004, but no guarantee that any will go deep. A significant amount of our time is likely to be spent entrance-hunting (hopefully with the help of the local Tibetans) and dropping blind pits. If you want an expedition with guaranteed deep caving, you're in the wrong place. (If, on the other hand, you quite you like the thrill of the chase, you may be in exactly the right place.)
Check your diary. Expedition is 12 July to 23 August (5 weeks). You can come out for any or all of this, but as a rough rule of thumb, you probably want to have at least 3 weeks in order to make the trip worthwhile (i.e. in order to have time to travel, find the group, acclimatise, find your feet and actually do something before having to leave again). If you can't be there for the full expedition,
please try to fix it so you're there either at the start or at the end
(otherwise the expedition ends up with an even more awkward bell-shaped manpower curve).
Check your bank account. You will need to pay for your transport and personal gear, your Hong Meigui gear deposit, insurance, visa, immunisations, and personal living costs in the field.
Flights from the UK are typically UKP600-700 (including transfer to Kunming), although you may be able to find cheaper. There is a strong possibility that the expedition will be able to offer some flight subsidy. Watch the 'info for members' section; if you need instant info, ask the Treasurer for more details.
Cost of personal gear will, obviously, depend on what you already have. This part of China doesn't really need any special kit beyond the usual expedition stuff (altitude = 2000-4000m, temperature = temperate, mossies and most tropical bugs = can't take the pace).
Gear deposit. It is Hong Meigui CES policy that each expedition member contributes UKP100 of group caving equipment to the HMG stores, in return for the right to cave on HMG expeditions during a 12-month period. Gear deposits will be organised collectively by the expedition committee, in conjunction with the rest of Hong Meigui (so's we get good discounts, and useful coordinated kit). Hopefully, the expedition will be able to pay some or all of the gear deposit on your behalf - this depends on how much grant support we get, so we won't know till around March.
Living costs in the field tend to work out at about ukp3-4 per day. A bit less if you spend a lot of time up the hill and/or are stingy. A bit more if you like chocolate cake, creature comforts and taxis.
You'll also need to pay for a tourist visa (UKP30 for UK nationals), any insurance (roughly ukp50 to ukp80 for a typical "sport"/"activity" policy), and any relevant immunisations you don't already have (can be up to ukp100ish).
Finally, if you're still interested, email the expedition leader and tell 'er.