Yunnan 2005 Expedition Logbook

Logbook:

7th July 2005 - 17th July 2005: Yangshuo Adventures

Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens

Ben climbing in Yangshuo

Ben and Alys fly from London City amongst the panic of the underground/bus bombings on the 7th July 2005. Flight to Zurich. 3 Hours in Zurich - went into town to get some food. Flight to Hong Kong. Met by Erin at 5pm 8/7/05. Took train into Hong Kong and met Oliver for a drink and went out for a meal with him and his wife. Took the Star Ferry across to Kowloon and then train/bus/taxi to Rich Gerrish's flat. Stayed up till 5:30am drinking and chatting about Yunnan. Got up at 8 am when the cleaner arrived - yay!

Took bus and train to Shenzhen and the border to China. Went by taxi to do a dodgy passport deal and then took the overnight sleeper bus - with real beds - to Yangshuo arriving at 4:30am. Duncan was still in the pub!

Spent a fantastic week in Yangshuo rock climbing on amazing karst pinnacles and sweating in the heat! Drinking beer in the Karst Cafe! Having a real Russian BBQ! Getting lifts on the back of motorbikes (3 of us and no helmets). Even doing some caving - survey practice and training. Getting and sorting kit at Erin and Duncan's flat. Chatting up the China Climb boys to get a good deal on rock boots. Swimming in the warm river. Riding bikes to explore Moonhill and the beach.

Packing up kit and taking a bus to Guilin and then the 22 hour train to Kunming - in the luxury of soft sleeper - clean white sheets and the ability to switch off the trashy music!. I left most of the train journey as I had been up to until 3am ish and multi pitch rock climbing all day before!! Easy journey.

Flight cost 510GBP return London - Hong Kong

16th July 2005: Journey to China Heathrow-Paris-Canton-Kunming

Lou Dugan, Rich Bayfield, Maxine Bateman, James Bruton, Jon Wichett, Ruth Kerry

At the airport

Booking on ebookers our flights cost 640GBP - cheap because of two transfers. Arrived at Heathrow at 6:30am to enjoy my last late and Danish. All arrived on-time, except Rich Beer from SUCC who was unable to travel due to ill health. Everything went according to plan and nothing funny happened! No delays or hiccups until Canton - I shall let one of the others write about the taxman cheat + lost luggage

17th July 2005: Lost luggage in Canton

Maxine Bateman, Jon Wichett, Rich Bayfield

Kunming

Arrived in Canton [Guangzhou] to find that 3 bags did not get put on the plane, mine, Rich's and Jon's. We spoke to the lost luggage people and filled in a form each. We had to move quickly as we had an internal flight to get to Kunming, we each received a complementary toiletries set. Because we were short of time and didn't know where the next check in desk was we accepted help from a man who looked official. We were all under the impression that in China the airport tax was not included in the flight tickets and that it was to be paid at the check in desk. He looked at our tickets and said that it was Y100 each, we thought for tax and tried asking this. He then took us upstairs to our check in desk and left us. We had just paid the man Y600 to show us where to go as tax is included in flights now. We boarded and flight to Kunming was fine. We still had three bags We rung the lost bag desk the next day and were told our bags were flying from Paris to Beijing and then to Kunming and were going to arrive at 3pm on ???? flight number. We went and bought bus tickets for Y142 each to Zhongdian. Rich Jon and myself went to the airport for 3 and found that the flight wasn't going to arrive until 4pm. We waited (I slept) and then we managed to convince the guard that we were here for our bags and he let us into the luggage arrivals. We watched the carousel go round and again no bags for us :( We went to speak to Kunming lost bag people and they managed after ages to find out from Beijing our bags had gone to Canton. The man managed to have our bags flown to Kunming to arrive at 10pm, but this meant we would miss the sleeper bus that left at 7pm. we rushed to tell the others that we were missing the bus, grab our hand luggage and say goodbye. We re-booked into hotel and went back to airport booked flight for Y610 to Zhongdian at 6:40am the next day. Collected our bags at 10pm Hurray and [article finishes]

17th July 2005: Arriving Kunming

Lou Dugan

Arrived Kunming late morning. Took my first squat loo at the airport. The others looked at the luggage reclaim longingly hoping that their bags might just turn up.

From the airport we walked across the carpark at the front and waited at the bus stop for the number 67 bus to take us to a cheap hotel - KUNHU HOTEL - situated in the cheap clothes district it's easy to find as you pass the railway station - a impressive modern new building with steps and large concreted area at front (if you travel under the only footbridge you have gone too far. Hotel cost Y75 for a double ensuite (also cheaper but not recommended due to toilets). Breakfast incl.

18th July 2005: Team meets in Kunming

Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Lou Dugan, James Bruton, Maxine Bateman, Steve Whitlock, Rich Bayfield, Ruth Kerry, Jon Wichett

Sign in bus station

All got up early to go and help Ben and AM with the kit at the station. Then traipsing all the kit back through Kunming to the hotel we start to look at the plan for the day. One good advice: WITH LOTS OF KIT TAKE TAXI FROM BUS STATION TO HOTEL NOT EXPENSIVE AND VERY EASY DON'T PAY TOO MUCH THOUGH. We then experienced our first chinese breakfast of noodles. The we went to see what was happening with the bags. They said 3pm!? So we went to the bus station bought our sleeper bus tickets Y150 each then went group and personal shopping. Some people then went to Lou Hong's to get more gear and I went to guard the kit. We then packed the kit up and went to the station to meet the others. They don't understand bread van so we got taxis instead lots, even more kit now! Don't walk it kills (JB SW). We then found that the others were getting the plane so had 3 spare non-refundable seats. We need them though with lots of kit bear in mind may not all fit in hold extra seats maybe needed. Then we left about an hour late but no change from England.

19th July 2005: Eventually Arrive in Zhongdian

Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Lou Dugan, James Bruton, Maxine Bateman, Steve Whitlock, Rich Bayfield, Ruth Kerry, Jon Wichett

Equipment going on the sleeper bus

The sleeper bus took 18 hours due to 3 breakdowns and crash. DON'T BE TIGHT FOR TIME! The bus was great if at the back and get window seat does not smell as much. I found it very peaceful and chilled out experience. You get to see loads of countryside and you can sleep too.

When we got to Zhongdian we waited for the others to meet us. We the got all the kit in a breadvan Y20 bit expensive locals pay a lot less. the we all walked to the roundabout right out of bus station to get to roundabout. We then got the green number 3 bus Y1 to the guest house and sorted all the kit out into the store and checked none was missing. We chilled out for the rest of the day and chilled out shopping.

"IT'S NOT A HOLIDAY, IT'S AN EXPEDITION"

19th July 2005: Ideas of places to explore

Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Steve Whitlock

We are all having some secret herbal extracts (Tou Tong Pian) to help us think clearly.

* GR 605708 620740 about 4000m
4 resurgences leading to what seems to become a dry valley
-further north another resurgence leading into poss. dry valley

20th July 2005: Walk around Napa Hai

Jon Wichett, Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Steve Whitlock

Wading across Napa Hai

After a breakfast of baozi and noodles we packed up ready for the long walk through Zhongdian and around Napa Hai. Took oversuits, wellies,helmets,lamp,survey kit +26m rope.

We wandered through town taking a few wrong turns on the pretence of a shortcut. The town was busy with tibetan people at the fruit and veg market. I love the ladies headdresses and hope to buy one. We got through town and found a track heading across marsh to hills that we wanted to look at the bottom of. The Tibetan farmhouses are impressive made out of mud and very high over two stories. Also very highly decorated. It looks like the family lives upstairs and the livestock below. we chatted to some Tibetan women.

Halfway across we decided to take a shortcut across the marsh- very funny when we came to knee deep streams - I put my wellies on. I even got to meet my first yak - and scared it! Once across we looked at a few cave mouths but nothing exciting. So we continued on but the weather was more unsettled so we were invited in by some Tibetan builders - scarily to the upstairs room by a slippy plank. Once it eased we continued.

Cave visited + survey- see back F1 [C3-341] +F2 yak bone cave [C3-342]
47R 0562471 3079569 EPE8m alt3300m
small entrances alcoves

Around a bluff we saw a survey station and a landrover outside a Tibetan house - made of wood and set into an overhang of a limestone cliff. Some ladies appeared and we tried to ask them if we could look at the caves by their house but as it was pouring with rain they wanted us to go inside. We did. An amazing place. The main living room had a central fire with drying racks above where yaks cheese was being smoked. Around were five low benches. At one end was a sleeping platform and the other behind the fence were the animals. In front of the fences was a work surface

Tibetan House Cave 3256m 47R 0562690 3030812 EPE12m F3 [C3-123]

I chatted to the girls and mother and said that I liked their headdresses so I was honoured and they put one on my head plaiting my hair properly. Jon took some photos and I told them I was 25, called Alys, a teacher and had a sister 23, student. I had to explain that the boys were my friends not boyfriends or husband!. I found out the girls were 17 and 23. We were given enleavened bread and then lovely- like french set yoghurt with toffee crystals. Then yaks milk cheese and toffee and yaks butter tea which is surprisingly good. We all chatted and marvelled at our experience but we had nothing to give in exchange apart from a 2p piece and some tofu.

Just before we left the girls grabbed me and ran out of the house to an alcove/cave. We clambered up and beckoned for me to follow which I did. She got to a precarious place and banged her chest and then got me to copy. I think it was some kind of ritual - shew drew a character in the dirt before we climbed up. It felt spiritual. All I could do was hug her in return. I wish I knew what was going on.

We all wandered off and found a few poor entrances. (F4,F5,F6) [C3-122, C3-343,C3-344]

Then about 5km away we saw a white scar- as we got closer we saw it was a waterfall. As we got closer we got more excited. A big resurgence! Ben climbed up dodgily in a rope harness, semi-static rope and very exposed.It went about 100m - we all went up and had a look but soon to be dark so left the rope and headed back

C3-118 GPS 47R 0560898 3083794 alt 3272m (F7)

We decided to make a short cut across Napa Hai to the road! Haha silly mistake as marsh and shallow lake full of crap and hospital waste - quite amusing/endurance test. Wore my wellies and got blisters on my ankle bones. It smelt horrible. We got to the road and hitched to Zhongdian free! Magical day.

20th July 2005: Walk behind MRG

Lou Dugan, James Bruton, Maxine Bateman, Rich Bayfield, Ruth Kerry

Rich Bayfield prospecting near Napa Hai

Started to walk to the base of the hill to find as many possible resurgence/caves as possible. We found a number of resurgences ref: [C3-348, no gps given] all these come from water just bubbling up or just coming out of the bank. So we proceeded up to the ridge to see what else we could find. This meant going up then down then up then down. No signs of anything yet. Ruth found one sink hole which was clogged up but was logged as ref: [C3-349, no gps given]. We ate lunch here then went up, down, up then around the side in a pattern to see what could be found yet again nothing was found! So we came back down down the muddy scree run behind the temple and back to the guesthouse. All in all a day which looked filled with hope collapsed into nothing. One area not checked was directly under the shangrila sign on the mountain

21st July 2005: Start Trek to the Resurgences (Area 1)

Lou Dugan, James Bruton, Maxine Bateman, Rich Bayfield, Steve Whitlock

Outside Horse Dong (C3-350)

A noodle breakfast followed by last min supplies from establishments on the roundabout, Zhongdian. Thumbing a lift took a long time due to our appearance - lots of kit. Bread van came to the rescue, we all piled in and kicked the drivers mate out. The water in Napa Hai as well as being smelly was v.low so our driver was able to take us over a causeway right to our pass into hanging valley (map ref: FIXME) Maxine was saved at the pass by two Tibetans who loaded her kit onto an already heavily laden pony. I refused stubborn as always - real hard slog but amazing views between the showers of Zhongdian and Napa Hai. The hanging valley turned out to be a very pleasant place. Lots of pasture on a gentle incline towards big stuff at the back. Using our phrase cards (thanks Erin) we asked our two pony men about dong potential. The businessman of the two said nothing, the other pointed to a rocky outcrop in the SE valley side (GPS FIXME) C3-350]. I shall let one of the others write the cave up.

We continued up the valley following very worn yak tracks with the familiar log groove up the middle. About halfway we were invited into a yak herders hut on out RH side. I helped a young lad churn milk into butter + cheese and we all had steaming bowls of yak butter tea with flour to add so we could make dough balls with our hands. We observed many sinks on our journey up the valley but were strapped for time to investigate as our purpose was to make it to the resurgence area. We set up camp at the top of the valley in an area where the herders were storing wood. This was well away from any huts and the wood provided a good cooking platform, although no water supply - slop was made from fresh veg from Zhongdian market (from the MRG get off at the second stop after the roundabout). I made sure I dried my feet before hitting the sack

21st July 2005: Organise Kit

Jon Wichett, Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Ruth Kerry

Veg at market

After an "English" breakfast we set about the mammoth task of organising kit and food for 13 people for 5-6 days at the resurgences.

Food

  • big bag rice (from market)
  • super noodles,
  • tibetan cheese,
  • veg (market),
  • loo roll,
  • orange powder,
  • tea/coffee,
  • meat? electric sausage,
  • dried fruit/biscuits,
  • tofu,
  • stock,
  • chillies,
  • peanuts.

Kit

  • big pans,
  • pressure cooker,
  • 2 big tarpaulins,
  • gas canisters? (did not buy),
  • petrol + containers [later we bought 10kg plastic ones that leaked so we borrowed the jerrycan from the Milk River],
  • string,
  • lighters,
  • chopsticks,
  • antiseptic wash,
  • road map,
  • washing up liquid,
  • washing up bowls,
  • 8mm SDS drill bits.

Kit from store

  • 200m rope
  • 2 x survey kits,
  • expedition log book,
  • stove,
  • rechargeable batteries,
  • hangers/slings,
  • First Aid Kit,
  • 2 bags personal caving kit.

Transport - after long discussion in broken Chinese with family running MRGH found out that none of their friends would take us in their taxis to the resurgences! Even with local tourist map thought take a whole day at least top get there (2 hours!) Eventually got a jeep owner who stays at MRGH to agree to take us for Y400 for the day.

22nd July 2005: Arrive at resurgences

Lou Dugan, James Bruton, Maxine Bateman, Rich Bayfield, Steve Whitlock

Alcoves

Our day started at the top of hanging valley with more noodles (at that altitude about 4 packs between 5 of us) and green tea. We continued on the same yak track that brought us into the valley to take us straight onto the lowest pass out onto never ending valley/long straight valley SEE MAP REF FIXME. We were passed by many pairs of yaks ringed at the nose, pulling huge trunks and being put off by our bright coats! The path was very muddy with water flowing between different path levels to help the yaks pull wood. As we continued over the pass the trees became jungle like, as huge strands of light green moss hung from their branches. From the top we turned left across more pleasant yak tracks into never going to fucking end valley. At first our journey was v pleasant, we could see lots of high alcoves to our right in the cliffs, beautiful woodland scenery and a few more huts. We continued along good tracks for about two hours stopping only to find alcoves or a stream that we were unable to source. At this time it was mid - late afternoon and RB had informed us that it was a bit over 5km straight line to the resurgence (camp). Quite happy we continued to amble through Chinese stingers with black spots and thorny things and fallen trees and streams and non-existent paths until the reality hit us! we were stuck in a gorge with 1000m sides and full of undergrowth - it was the ideal man trap! Tired from plodding we were offered rest in Daisy's field. Like us Daisy (the fat cow) was also trapped in never ending valley and had long been forgotten about by the herding community. Lonely, Daisy came wandering up to us in her grassy glade and welcomed our company if not our confectionary. After leaving Daisy our pain continued as darkness fell (normally dark by 9) and SW suggested that we set up camp soon if not now. Not looking forward to camping on the stoney path or thorny undergrowth I donned my caving hat (tikka had long given up the ghost) and led our party into a sporting night walk on the promise we would strike camp at the next available site. This turned out to be a stoney boulder field 100m upstream from the resurgence and the only suitable camping ground for miles, After extensive clearing we pitched our tents and slept on empty stomachs, too tired to cook. Morning revealed that we had woken up in Paradise! Bird song, buzzy things, lizards and a resurgence you could film a herbal essences advert from - gallons of water bubbling from beneath a sheer cliff and then turning into nothing but white water probably 8m wide!

If I could offer any advice to cavers wishing to repeat this journey I would recommend camping at the very top of never ending valley after the pass from hanging valley where there's green pasture next to a herder's hut. Make an early start as never ending valley really does go on forever. Unless you want to be eaten alive take DEET because I was eaten alive!.... and don't be put off, should the need ever arise on the search for finding new cave, never ending valley's sheer walls and infinite length will make you feel insignificant in the best possible way.

22nd July 2005: Survey Waterfall Cave C3-118

Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Jon Wichett, Ruth Kerry, Steve Whitlock

Surveying in C3-118

We walked to the junction at the end of our road before the roundabout and hailed a taxi for 10km which we bartered for 20Y. It is actually 11km to the start oft the track around Napa Hai but we got to pay 20Y. There was a lot more water than 20th July but the causeway was still visible. We did not take any shortcuts this time. Ha ha!

When we got to the cave [C3-118] the waterfall had doubled in size so that the rope we left in-situ was covered in water. Ben + Jon went in first while Ruth + I changed with a fan club of local Tibetan men. Once inside the first part of the cave is large dry passageway. We began surveying: Ben book, Alys instruments, Ruth + Jon on tape. The dry passageway drops to the water level and a waist deep pot. The main streamway comes down and cuts down to shoot down the waterfall. The water was running pretty fast so I found a way to climb round the side onto a rock bridge over the main streamway. The rock is quite chossy + loose.

From the rock bridge we did one more leg up the streamway to the start of the chamber in front of the canal. Steve went about 50m up the streamway on 20th July but on 22nd when Ben jumped in it almost washed him away so it was decided to be wise and not survey any further in current water levels. 46m surveyed. Jon went up a side passage which headed back toward the entrance rock face.

Ben derigged the cave and we chatted to locals. Walked back to the road logging a few other sinks [C3-109, C3-108, C3-117, C3-345, C3-346, C3-347]. Got taxi back to MRG for 25Y. Began sorting kit to take to resurgences.

23rd July 2005: Transport kit to Resurgences

Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Jon Wichett, Ruth Kerry, Simon Froude

Camping near the resurgences

As we began packing stuff to take to resurgences Simon, Martell + Katie arrive by 9am (lucky things not a nightmare bus trip). We had a chat about the expeditions progress so far a looked at logistics. Jon went into town to get the veggies - don't ask him what a courgette looks like. We all had hot chocolate and after a long wait egg fried rice (not that flash the food at MRG). We got all food and kit out of the store and piled it up and checked we had enough survey/rigging kit. Then loaded up the landrover. Simon came with us so we got to the correct place!

The 4x4 trip was impressive going over a pass t about 3500m - lots of impressive limestone scenery + few cave mouths. Once we got lower the road followed the Yangtze - amazing so full and flowing even through it is near its source. Lots of exciting wire river crossing sites - looks fun! Then we took the 4x4 up a very exciting track to the hydroelectric plant and the resurgences much to the annoyance of the jeep's owner - it's for show + not to be used in anger! Scary drive as in places the scree had slipped onto the road and it had had to be dug out!

Once at the Hydro-Plan we carried all the kit to the campsite about 500m upstream. Lovely spot at the bottom of the long straight valley. We took lots of arty shots for MacPac with the tent and some local Tibetans. Ben set up a complicated contraption to hang tacklebags of food up in the trees to avoid a pig raid! The sun was shining and the air very dry so we washed ourselves (and clothes we were wearing) in the ice cold, refreshing resurgence water.

We cooked tea - a lovely veggie slop (aubergines, tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, carrot, courgette, chilli, "swede" we think don't ask Jon). Then added stock and put it in the pressure cooker. We cooked rice + ate it with tofu, peanuts, electric sausage. Yum yum!

Then we built a fire and chatted. No alcohol but a packet of M+Ms or Skittles each - so exciting to have a treat!!!

23rd July 2005: Arrive in Zhongdian

Martell Linsdell, Simon Froude, Katie Froude

Travels in Jeep to Resurgences area with group.

24th July 2005: Survey around resurgences area

Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Lou Dugan, James Bruton, Maxine Bateman, Steve Whitlock, Jon Wichett, Rich Bayfield

Track near resurgences

We spit into groups (Ben, Steve, James, Maxine, Lou + I) + Rich + Jon. We decided to follow the high level path from the Hydro dam around the edge of the mountain. It was impressive track - lots of alpine scenery; big mountains + remote villages + view of the massive brown pumping Yangtze. The rock is very friable and has lots of fault lines leading to a few "al-caves" [C3-351, C3-352] but no real systems. The track had been quarried away to pipe water from the resurgences but it had slumped in various places making it very sketchy as we wondered if helmets would have been a good idea! We took the track down to the road and to our delight found a shop selling COLD BEER! We settled down in the sun! We texted Simon to say "NO CAVE" and to arrange a pick up for tomorrow. He instructed us to wait a couple of hours to find out if he could sort it out for us. So we had ice lollies and Lou had some fried rice and chatted to the locals in a slightly intoxicated state! Simon replied asking if we could arrange getting back ourselves.

I had a brainwave as I am fluent in Mandarin now (ha ha!) that the local man who drove the breavan had returned and maybe he would take us to Shangrala! So once more I had worked out tomorrow "Ming tian" I asked if he would take us tomorrow at 12! I offered 300Y but he said 150??!! Anyway he offered to take us up the hill and he knew where we were camping - new travels fast - for 40Y.

Fingers crossed he comes tomorrow! Lovely evening - cooked veggie slop + drank token extra beer round the camp fire - very lazy!

Caves found:

  • YG1 Alcoves (2 of them) [C3-351]
  • YG2 Lou's Perch [C3-352]

24th July 2005 - 25th July 2005: Activities in Zhongdian

Martell Linsdell, Katie Froude, Ruth Kerry, Simon Froude

Organize food for 13 for 2 days to take to resurgences.

At point of purchase to get tickets to travel to resurgences with food receive text saying team returning to MRG.

25th July 2005

Martell Linsdell, Katie Froude, Ruth Kerry

Aclimatisation walk behind monastry: cave recce, lift by military. 3800m achieved.

25th July 2005

Martell Linsdell, Katie Froude, Ruth Kerry

Ruth and Martell

Martell, Ruth and I caught the bus to the monastry and walked up the valley behind. As the valley narrowed we saw an obvious entrance [C3-353] next to the main path (594 857). It was 50m up from the path at an angle of 45°from the top of the quarry. It was to the left of the path in line with a spring resurgence [C3-354] on the path. We were unable to get to the entrance because the local quarry workers were throwing stones at us.

20 min further up the path was another quarry face across the valley. (700, 867) We could see a number of possible entrances [C3-355] but didn't walk up to them.

We continued along the track and over into the next valley. Here there were more limestone outcrops and the whole area looked more promising. We scrambled up to a boulder with holes in at (689 887) [C3-401] . The vegetation was dense and prickly. Above the boulder was a line of more promising looking outcrop of limestone which we didn't have time to explore.

We walked along the track out to the main road back to Zhongdian. About 1km down the road we were picked up by a military van which took us back to the centre of Zhongdian for free. Initially we weren't sure where they were taking us or what they were going to do with us but it was all ok in the end.

25th July 2005: Return to Zhongdian

Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Jon Wichett, Steve Whitlock

Walk out from resurgences camp

We put our bags in the breadvan and walked down th track to the road. Amazingly after one unlucky try we got picked up by the public bus to Shangrali! 20Y each bargain.

26th July 2005: Area 1

Martell Linsdell, Katie Froude, Jon Wichett, Simon Froude, Lou Dugan, James Bruton, Maxine Bateman

Walk in to Napa Hai + up to valley above. Set up camp.

26th July 2005 - 27th July 2005: C3-338

Jon Wichett, Lou Dugan

After an unfortunate run in with two taxi drivers our group departed on food 2-3km earlier than our previous start point for hanging valley above Napa Hai. We also had to walk around the flooded causeway as the lake was a lot higher. This may explain our findings later in the stream sink [C3-338] as the sump had drained revealing more passage. The weather before 27th when the stream sink was dropped was a lot drier! This time in hanging valley we were able to source a water supply. Behind the first village on the right heading up the valley we were shown a well dug by locals and were given permission to use it in return for a bag of dried fruit and some sweets for the children.

On the 27th whilst the others went caving/prospecting JW + I scoured the right side of the valley looking up the valley from camp and also searched many of the depressions on the valley floor. Apart from two other purpose built wells nothing was found.

26th July 2005: Area 2

Alys Mendus, Ruth Kerry, Steve Whitlock

Ruth on the steep log-rolling track

Ruth, Steve and I packed our bags - day sacks with tent, sleeping bag, food and change of clothes. We took #3 bus into town and then got a taxi across the lower part of Napa Hai by the airport. We got dropped in a big village that will rent out horses. We walked around the edge of airport to the foot of a steep path. Off we set - about 500m of ascent up a steep muddy path. SW and AM stopped and looked at a "shadow" just of the path which ended up as an alcove.

Once on more steady path we continued checking the map and taking GPS readings regularly. Then we did the last steep cliff - very steep to just under 4000m - accidentally up the log rolling track! We later found the path we should have taken! We had a well earnt rest on a pile of logs. We followed the track down to a deserted village which looked like a great place to camp. We put up our tenst and had a snack.

We went down the hill to about 3900m to the stream to pump some water and to look for any cave evidence for tomorrow. We followed the stream up finding tiny resurgences [C3-357, C3-358] (recorded in back of logbook) and lots of wild strawberries. Then as it was getting late we headed back to the track through forest scrub at 4003m.

Returned to camp for veggie slop! Beautiful clear night - good view of mountains all around and bright stars. Took some staged Macpac photos!

26th July 2005

Ben Stevens, Rich Bayfield

Communicating

Prospecting new area which looked good on map, and is in pink [Triassic] limestone on geological map.

Left Milk River about 11am, caught bus into town, then taxi to beginning of walk up.

550m of vertical slogging brought us to a Tibetan village. We were encourage by being told of deep shafts with water sinking in them and managed to get 3 locals to take us to this wonderhole [C3-382]. Lots of horns on heads and drawing their hands across their throats eventually led us to the conclusion that the slight depression was our wonderhole filled in due to a yak falling down it.

Lots of blind shakeholes and choked stream sources/sinks led us to a camp at 3855m.

26th July 2005 - 28th July 2005: Area 3

Ben Stevens, Rich Bayfield

Wildflowers

Rich and myself caught taxi past airport then started walking . Steep ascent lead after a couple of hours to area 3 @ 3800-4050m.

First village we visited had villagers who pointed to running water on our phrase sheets, made long dropping motions and big cave signs. We almost didn't go to see the cave, instead returning for rope etc. Luckily common sense prevailed an we were shown a mound of earth, covering the cave that a yak had fallen down ! [C3-382]

This village lies near an area of huge depressions actually marked on the maps. Sadly there is no accessible cave here.

We camped up the valley near one of the springs [C3-384], another stream and a sink (within 50m!) We were awoken by yak bells the next morning and went further to the west. Again choked stream sinks [C3-385] and no cave. Higher area appears to be a gritstone cap to the (shattered) limestone that isn't marked on the geological maps.

27th July 2005: Area 1

Martell Linsdell, Katie Froude

FIXME HOW MANY CAVES DESCRIBED HERE?

Valley stream sink [C3-338] depression discovered by earlier team

Side inlet to stream
slit entrance rt of stream

27th July 2005: Depression above Napa Hai

Martell Linsdell, Katie Froude

Katie at one of the C3-338 entrances

FIXME WHAT CAVE IS THIS??? C3-338?

KF,ML 01

Large cliff face of pink/grey limestone with huge skyward pointing flake to left.

Scramble down loose boulder slope 3 cliff foot entrances. dropped rock descends 20-30' onto mud/shale floor.

Temperature noticeably lower. Slight draught from entrances.

Situated right had end of obvious limestone cliff on lefthand side of valley.

KF ML had been following stream to found cave by early group.

cliff depression 50' up from stream behind huge split block 30' x 15' x 15' scramble up.

Needs careful bolting onto scattered but large rocks and rope descent.

KF,ML 02

3m high slit.

Mud filled bottom.

Slit continues into for 7m. ½m wide. mud slope slopes up to smaller gap - would need mud removing to proceed. travels in direction of deer depression KF,ML 01.

27th July 2005

Simon Froude, James Bruton, Maxine Bateman

Tibetan woman

We went up the valley to try and locate any caves in the area. This was along walk up in sunlight (remember suntan lotion). Upon stopping for lunch asked locals (by use of sheet) were there any caves. They took us to a 6m shaft Ref: SPF101 [C3-380] which without a rope was not descended. We then walked up to the rock face at the top of the valley to find anything that may be there. locals told of cave over top of hill but not as yet has go to find it. River at end of valley comes out of ground and sinks lower down the valley again just gradually into dirt.

27th July 2005: 'Tibanti' Village (above Napa Hai)

Simon Froude, James Bruton, Maxine Bateman

Simon and James

recce walk up valley from village at GR 585, 850 above Nappa hai? valley runs N from GR 580, 860. Walked up path along valley floor. sides of valley heavily wooded so little recceing done away from path. locals showed location of SPF101 [C3-380] also two separate locals indicated cave somewhere around GR 585, 875 but could not find it. Stream at head of valley sinks slowly along lower reaches - could not identify exact area.

27th July 2005: Area 2

Alys Mendus, Ruth Kerry, Steve Whitlock

Joerg-Ma and Alys near the peak

Walked upstream from camp at deserted village, levelling off at 4000m. Found several smallish sinks [C3-359, C3-360] then came across a village, this time inhabited. We pitched our tents about 500m from the village, so as to avoid the piggys, then went and said hello. There was a group of women all sat out of the back of one of the huts and two of them came out and spoke to us. One was an older woman who was about to wash her hair offered us cha, and the other a girl of 15 called Jorge-Ma who spoke some Mandarin. She pointed us in the direction of caves so off we went, quickly to be side-tracked by another load of sinks [C3-361]. Seeing that we silly westerners weren't going to find the caves by ourselves, Jorge-Ma followed us up and showed us the way. She led us up a mountain (4367m) from which we had a fantastic viewpoint across the valley to Shangri-la and far beyond. Jorge-Ma pointed out some caves about 5km away in what we know as Cave Dale. It seems that those are the only caves nearby that the locals know about. We shared some banana chips then Jorge-Ma stayed to tend her yaks (Nen in tibetan).

Went back to camp, made some more veggie slop. Went to bed at 6 as it had started raining.

28th July 2005: Area 1

Martell Linsdell, Maxine Bateman, James Bruton

Maxine in C3-338

Further investigation of stream sink [C3-338]. descend middle entrance in depression (descend to sump week before) Further 65m of passage to 20m pitch (not descended) discovered 'J' bend passage.

Martell's Observatory (top of pitch) left + right inlet to stream investigated potential surface dig.

*danger of flooding*

MB, JB: Photography trip down stream sink.

28th July 2005: Recce Trip: The Napa Hai Feeder Cave

Martell Linsdell, James Bruton

James in C3-338

Following recounting the findings of Katie + Martell's recce of the river sink at the Above Napa Hai Valley we were finding difference in the description of a large sump with no other entrances.

Whereas KF, ML had found the large sink depression with 3 entrances and to the left had found the stream flowing into the cliff face at a rate of 3 cumecs (approx) just flowing and not backing up. Also to the left of this was a log choked muddy gully sitting 3' above the water level but had obviously drained part of the large water that had backed up. Judging by the size of the trunks the suction of the flow draining such large logs to the sink was great. On inspection this at the time looked blocked.

In discussion, because our description had differed so much to the first groups reconnaissance on their walk over to the resurgences James and Martell elected to look again at the cave with helmets, lights + overalls.

James had been on the first trip and Martell the second. It was immediately obvious that the water level was 3m lower than James's visit - the groups had not ever been/seen the left bank.

On second inspection, the entrance 3m to the left of the stream (facing) was choked with logs, branches and leaves but within a few minutes poking with a stick and pulling away of logs we could see clean passage beyond that had a slit/gravel floor.

With gloves + proper gear 20 mins work would probably clear a passage to enter the stream to its left side.

Crossing the river to the right of the stream a second dry gully led to a choke which was blocked by a huge tree trunk 1m diameter x 2m long. By rocking, rolling and James hauling the trunk out of the way a small entrance was created which draughted.

Again half an hours clearing might clear a way into the right hand side of the stream passage.

As the water level had been much lower (The past three days were relatively dry with no rain storms) James and Martell then went to check the sink depression central entrance - to the limit of the that had stopped the previous group's trip into the cave.

The sump was approx. 50m into the cave originally.

Both commented in the entrance gallery how like the Mendips it was. However this time there was no water evident.

J and M could continue through sharp flaked passage way down, climbing up and over into easily passable passage way climbing into a 'U' bend with a small outlet to the right. Then climb up

The rock was a grey limestone but with sharp rocks of a different material locked into it, which made for positive if occasionally sharp + painful climbing. A short thruchy climb up led to a head of a pitch on very sharp edged holds.

The observatory. (found by Martell - because James stayed down to be able to provide footholds on the steep slope for her to climb the slope.

Sat 20m up in a lousy gallery of clean rock. The gallery width was 15m and approx 60m length could be seen. the ceiling was high up above.

We stopped as the observatory pitch is over hanging, would need careful rigging (there was a sharp edged thread belay point at head of the pitch and the drop down was over hanging. It was not clear whether the forward flake was attached to the main rock or not - so care was needed.

Throwing pebbles down to the left the pebble fell + clattered for some time indicating probably further descent to the left is possible.

We turned around to exit the cave absolutely + later to find another 65m of passage a further 20m descent. Totalling possibly 115m of cave with 35m of descent so far.

On exit, reflection on logistics of this cave began to emerge.

The passage we had found was not water worn but had been sumped.

We were caving beneath the river level, and the catchment area to feed this sink is huge.

The water was highly reactive.

On quick inspection we could not seen any obvious high points to retreat to in event of flooding. and the 'U' bend would probably fill completely to depth of 10m. The passage was easily navigable but was a vertical slot shape of passage ascending or descending over sharp edges.

Visibility would be non existant as the river water was brown with silt.

Further pushing of the cave would need continued good weather and a fast moving efficient rigging team, perhaps followed by a survey team as windows to survey this cave is probably limited.

Rope protection from the sharp rock would be imperative.

It had been through that this cave system connects with the Waterfall Cave [C3-118] down at the lake which had been entered for 30m, meaning 100m(?) of vertical descent.

Except at the observatory water could not be heard. We were beneath and further into the mountain than the stream passage so perhaps this passage descends deeper than the Napa lake level.

Above ground observations of the weather would be required + somehow some form of warning system (a buzzer) that led beyond the U Bend might prevent entrapment on the wrong side of the sump.

Also possible are some higher level pitches to descend directly down into the high ceiling gallery so further recceing on the forest slopes above the sink might be useful.

This seems, al be it with a dangerous potential of sumping, to be the start of a complex, interesting and very live system.

28th July 2005

Simon Froude, Katie Froude, Lou Dugan, Jon Wichett

Walk to locate poss. cave somewhere around GR 572, 834 from village at GR 585, 850 above Nappa hai? approached direct from valley floor which led to bamboo forest. would be better to approach from line of electricity pylons running over col at GR 570, 835. locals at huts at this col also indicated poss . of cave higher up hill.

28th July 2005: Area 2: Thursday

Alys Mendus, Ruth Kerry, Steve Whitlock

Leaf hats

As we were finishing breakfast a Tibetan lady from the village came and talked to us, and to give us cheese. Alys nattered with her for a bit then we set off. We had to hide the cheese in the forest as it wouldn't survive the trip down. Very unfortunate as it was the nicest cheese we've tasted so far.

A psychotic yak followed ma all the way up the hill. We walked back around and down past a large 150m sink [C3-399], then down 'Cheddar Gorge'. We saw a couple of alcoves [C3-362, C3-363, C3-364] but no proper caves. The most significant was already marked with an arrow at the entrance [C3-365, C3-366]. SW made us hats made out of leaves, they were great until the wind started blowing!

29th July 2005: Hugh Arrives

Hugh Penney

Took train overnight from Ha'noi to Lao Cai in Vietnam. Taxi to border and walked across to Hekou on the Chinese side. First impressions: China smells of piss!

Turned out only to be the customs hall. A pain in the arse of a man sidled up to me outside and suggested 'his' bus to Kunming. I wanted to check the train wasn't going first - seems to be (semi) permanently out of service. My new 'friend' then took me to the bus stn, insisting I had to bay 90Y + 60Y for my bag. Bus stn people said no charge for bag. 'Friend' accompanied me to 'his' cafe where he offere me a coffee for 30Y. Didn't accept. Eventually managed to shave him off but he rejoined me at the bus saying if I was polite I'd pay something for my bag which was already on bus. (HP thinks: "if I wasn't polite I'd tell you to fuck off") 12 hour horror bus ride ensues. Arrive KM late that evening and stay in Camellia Hotel (you would too after that introduction to China!) Next day got bus to Dali. Next day to Lijiang. Following day to Zhongdian where Rich + Ben had now got back from their area. Took bus to near MRGH, then helpful locals took me back to roundabout then called taxi which took me there for 20Y! Hard to argue in Chinese when you don't know the real price but should at least have told him to fuck off.

* NB having MRGH written in Chinese would have been really useful - maybe next yr?

29th July 2005

Lou Dugan, James Bruton, Maxine Bateman, Rich Bayfield

Monastery

Visit old town/monastry worth a look (can seem to barter more in old town) (DON'T GET RIPPED OFF!)

29th July 2005

Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Hugh Penney, Jon Wichett, Steve Whitlock

View from monastery

Visit to monastery. Watch out for the little girls dressed as tarts with their blow dried goats!

29th July 2005: Organising the horses

Martell Linsdell, Simon Froude

Daisy of MRG no longer works there but stays there occasionally when she isn't staying with her friend, but we bumped into her at MRG + she offered to help with any aspect of the expedition: using the new proprietor's mobile ML phoned Daisy + arranged to meet here to book the horse transport up to Dawa's. After phoning Daisy from Zhongdian we managed to meet; but she pointed out that the horse people's phone number was in last year's notebook. We returned to MRG and looked through last years log pages + got two numbers: neither worked, so we met up with Daisy again, got a taxi + S.F., MJL + Daisy went to the horse village: we found a dozen kids + no horse man who was not home. The taxi man was also involved now in negotiations so he wrote out a note saying we were the group from last year and wanted 4 horses for 2 days (12 rucsacs, rope, fuel, food etc) or 7 horses for one day. The note was handed to the oldest looking child + we left not expecting results.

That evening the expedition met with maps, ideas + plans + had come to a compromise solution just as Daisy came in to say that it was all sorted! Back to plan A.

The plan was Martell wake Daisy at 8.30 AM with a cup of chai - she would phone for 4 taxi's from the previous taxi man's taxi firm to transport us to 'Zenugga' village to meet the horses.

Food for 5 days was split into 2 day portions and kit marked as essential up the hill first then kit for second day horse transportation. By 11 AM the expedition set off up the hill with 4 horses + the first round of kit. 2 horses came up on day two, + two/one more on day three.

30th July 2005: The trek up to Dawa's

Martell Linsdell, Rich Bayfield, Katie Froude, Jon Wichett, Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Lou Dugan, Hugh Penney, James Bruton, Maxine Bateman, Simon Froude

Rainy weather at horse village

Busy morning packing kit + getting last minute items eg petrol.*. Martell generously stayed at Milk River while we devoured tray loads of baozi at the baozi bar in town.

4 taxis arrive at MRGH and take us to the horse village, nearly colliding en route. The rain sets in as we stand in the horse village and the horses are loaded. A small crowd assembles to see what's going on; this includes an old and very wrinkled lady with a baby on her back who was snacking snuff (presumably). Much amusement as she decides Lou could do with some and shoves some up her (Lou's) nose. Lou looks a bit surprised...

The rain eased off a bit and the rest of the day passed in heavy showers with intermittent OK spells. Quite a slog though but we all made it in 5-6 hours to Dawa's.

Petrol: we bought 2 x '10kg' containers (10 litre) - plastic - for petrol but they were already leaking by the time we got back to MRGH on the bus. Not wanting to see a horse go 'woof' we borrowed a 25L jerrycan from MRGH and decanted the fuel (a bit leaky but much better than plastic).

Food at camp:
bkfast per person:

  • 2 x instant noodles (but we only ate 1 each mostly)
  • 2 x sea mild
supper:
  • veg slop
  • + rice (OK once we realised you must wash it, then 1 rice: 2 water.)
  • or 'spoog-style' big noodles (waste of time. they turn into wallpaper paste).

A yak butter bought bought from Dawa improved the food considerably.

*Paraffin doesn't seem to exist in Zhongdian, we even went to the airport to beg some aircraft fuel: worked once in Chile but China seems a little more inflexible on these things...

31st July 2005: Recce South of Dawa's

Martell Linsdell, Simon Froude

Hobbit Hole sink

To 'Hobbit Hole Depression' + Mount Doom limestone outcrop. Re-locate Hobbit Hole Sink [C3-51] (discovered '04 by SPF)

Simon + Tel returned to the end of the valley south of Dawa's where on the previous year they had sighted a tall limestone outcrop with cave entrances + a sink taking a lot of water. Walk to end of valley + cross col at end to drop down to a depression that drains into a cliff face. Water level was higher than previous (2m deep) fed by active stream, (.25 cubic metre per second) to the left side of the cliff face (facing) was a side inlet which by pulling a few boulder revealed a rock walled passage - needs returning to to make into passable passage. Further recce-ing above cliff revealed area of potential interest - sinks, clints, grikes, but no shafts/entrances - one observation is that some of the wider grikes had been filled, possibly by yak herders to keep their stock safe, in discussion this possibility was confirmed by a discussion Ben + Alys had in Zhongdian with a yak herder.

31st July 2005

Ruth Kerry, Alys Mendus, Katie Froude, Hugh Penney

Sitting out the rain

Ruth, Hugh, Alys and I walked up to the limestone area north(ish) of the camp at Dawa's. We spent the day looking in the lower area above the tree line. We found a number of shake holes [C3-373] which were unlikely to go without significant amount of effort. Ruth found an entrance [C3-369] which continued for a reasonable distance (couple of body lengths) and was worth going back to look at again. We walked round to craggy peak and back down to camp. A few of the holes we found are worth going back to especially the filled alcove at the base of the cliff. With digging this entrance could go [C3-368].

31st July 2005

James Bruton, Maxine Bateman, Rich Bayfield

C3-215

We set off to find a cave that was logged last year but not dropped [C3-223] and to see if any other caves were in the area. we could only look because no kit was arriving till that day. We know the gps said 1.2km away but don't believe it. We walked up the path round the front of the peak and then across a scree slope. seeing what looked like dark hole we split up. Max went down and up and me and Rich went up the valley to see the hole which was just black rock. We then continued around the front of one peak called Fingers then up between Fingers and the next peak called half moon. We dropped down and up the valley to find the coordinates.Rich was ahead and scouted about ½ a mile radius but didn't find anything. Yet me and Max found a 6m shaft with snow at the bottom (C3-215). With it starting to rain we decided to make a quick exit of the mountain straight down the valley. WARNING very slippery when wet and quite vertical. We gradually made our way back down to the valley floor to meet up with the river by the campsite which we then followed back up.

31st July 2005: C3-378

Jon Wichett, Rich Bayfield, Steve Whitlock

Waking up to the inevitable mid-morning mist outside (+ inside the tent due to Ben's sleeping habits) we congregated for breakfast at about 9am - long after Dawas day had begun. Everyone seemed keen to head over to the limestone cliffs right by the campsite, but I was motivated to reach the far peaks (realistically just the base) that are on a bearing ~310° from the campsite + around 4km. Rich said there could be potential + it wasn't explored vastly last year - even more importantly I was hoping to get some good photos. I set off at about 11am with peanuts + Oreo's + 1 litre of water, my original plan was to stick to a high level as the woods aren't very dense + the paths run straight, but my interest was soon diverted to masses of limestone cliffs the other side of the streamway shortly after the peaks the others were exploring. I crossed down + over the streamway about 2km from camp + was simply scouting the base of the face for entrances. I followed a crack in the cliffs + very luckily found an entrance [C3-378] that didn't seem to have potential but there was a draft. It's an easy 5m up from the fracture + you have to actually stick your head in to see the cave. I took a light + camera + could see a passage around ¾m high sloping down at a slight angle for around 8m + then the view disappears. I didn't want to go in by myself in case of a rockfall or simply getting stuck. I took photos of the area, a GPS (0553189, UTM 3072552) + left some cairns leading up from the streamway. I carried on down the stream which I wouldn't advise as there are plenty of fallen trees blocking the whole passage so there's lots of ducking + climbing. The woods became a bit more dense with steep pulp hills to climb up, as it was beginning to rain heavily I decided to turn around just before the base of the peaks - there seemed to be potential at the very top of the ranges but I found nothing of interest at the base. I decided to head back up to the campsite by the stream just so I could have another browse at the limestone but this proved to be a longer, slippery, harder route up than finding a higher level path. The GPS only seemed to work at higher levels simply because of the tree tops lowering over you. Passing the limestone that is 2½ km away from campsite I noticed lots of drafting holes but nothing that seemed possible to push.

1st August 2005: Monday

Katie Froude, Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Martell Linsdell, Simon Froude

Camp

KF, AM, BS, MJL Return to Hobbit Hole Sink: [C3-51] Top Sink. Dam building + pulse flooding.

SPF, MJL

  • Dam building
  • Investigate side entrance to Hobbit Hole Sink: [C3-51]
  • Recce valley to left of sink

MJL01 'Yak Pot' 6m x 3m x approx 5m deep ice plug [C3-376]

MJL02 3m deep to mud floor [C3-377]

MJL,SPF03 8 sec stone vertical descent [C3-50]

1st August 2005

Katie Froude, Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens

Looking out the Dragon's Arse

Ben, Katie and I went down Dragon Valley after Simon arrived at Top Sink [C3-51] . Dragon Valley is a steep limestone cliff face to SW of the sink which had lots of holes in it. The cliff is at the top of very steep scree so a bit scary - put our helmets on. Ben kept out the way as his helmet hadn't arrived yet and a rock rushed past his head. We recorded a few poor openings ([not] in back of logbook) and then found Dragon's Arse [C3-52] GPS - an impressive entrance; lots of swallows and water loving plants at the entrance. Had a quick look and plan to return to survey it.

1st August 2005: Widgets Wookey C3-378

Jon Wichett, Hugh Penney

Widgets Wookey DAWJWI (SUCC GPS) 0553189 UTM3072552, Accuracy 17m, elev: 3923m.

To Ben's delight I set my alarm to 7am to get to the cave entrance I found the pervious day for exploration + survey with Hugh who kindly volunteered. I wanted to get up early so we could be back in time to meet the horses who were carrying our gear up as not everything could be taken at once up the 'hill'. (horses were due to arrive at 12:30pm) We didn't manage to leave till about 9am but it's only an hour walk away. We had noodles + sea mild for breakfast, took some vacuum packed biscuits + water and set off. We had helmets, oversuit + survey kit + took a high level path for around 2km before heading down to the stream way to find my cairns. The weather was refreshing (~20°) + we got to the cave [C3-378] for 10am. Since Hugh was there I dived into the cave + as suspected it choked after about 10 meters after a slightly steeper slope. I tried moving a few rocks but it soon became apparent that the cave wasn't going to go. We took some brief measurements with a sling + headed out to make some sketches. Hugh wasn't feeling fantastic so we took a slow walk back getting to a higher pathway as soon as possible + it proved to be a much easier route back. As Hugh hadn't stopped traveling for weeks (was previously in Vietnam) we decided to have a rest day to enjoy the sun, catch up on diaries, learn Mandarin + collect fire wood. Simon was still hanging around when we got back at midday in case we didn't come back in time - he then went to meet the others at the dig by the sink [C3-51]. While Hugh was resting in his tent I had Dawa's son come up to me + soon we were playing noughts + crosses, + a few other games. A rainstorm came in quickly around 3pm so all 3 of us took cover in Hugh's tent + he was keen to show Dawa's son postcards from home + try at his new language skills. When the rain stopped we went to prepare dinner (5pm - other groups call-outs for 6pm) by cutting up 2 aubergines, 2 ginger, 3 carrots, 3 courgettes, 2 peppers, 2 onions, + a few other bits. We were discussing how helpful some oil or fat would be to cook, especially for the rice - so we went to Dawa's + bought some yak butter for 50 kuai + put plenty in everything - however we weren't going to say anything to the group unless they had it, although hiding the obviously yellow butter coloured oil water in the rice pot. It turned out to make a huge difference for the better + was by no doubt the best meal yet. The night was a joyful one with the Yunnan 2005 olympics including caver tossing, welling throwing, yum ti tummying + many other dangerous + confusing games that Dawa loved (He thinks westerners are all like us).

1st August 2005: Hobbit Hole Sink (C3-51)

Martell Linsdell, Katie Froude, Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Simon Froude

Katie building the dam

KF, MJL, B, A walked back over to the sink, now known as Hobbit Hole [C3-51] as the cliff face looks like the entrance into Mount Doom as in Tolkien. Simon was due to follow after the arrival of the last horse delivery service. On arrival at the sink the water was clear and lower than the day before. The side inlet was free of water. 4 of us set to damming the stream to lower the water further; using rocks, Bernie's bag + mud + plants we managed to lower the water enough to identify the main sink hole. On Simon's arrival the dam was broken + quick the sink filled + the side inlet + water to about 2m deep.

Putting on overalls, fleece, gloves, + helmet which she had brought up from Dawa's camp, MJL investigated the side inlet; removing stones, branches. There was a solid wall to the right hand side but the remaining was mud + loose fill. The passage closed down almost immediately but the water flowed under the rock to the right. As to be expected further upslope there is a body sized entrance, gravel + mud filled sloping upwards. After 2m there is an upward direction space but it was not explored further. (The cliff top is 20' above) Could be investigated further...

KF, A, B went off to investigate front vertical face (north facing) of Mount Doom. After damming + flooding Hobbit Hole Sink [C3-51].

MJL + SPF went to the side of the limestone outcrop + descended a beautiful Derbyshire-Dales-esque valley of alpine flowers, rhodies and limestone. Whilst SPF investigated one side of the valley MJL descended the valley bottom by just 100m to discover a shaft, vertical 6m x 3m but plugged by ice/snow 5m down (MJL101 ) [C3-376]. On the far corner of the wall. evidence of water descended and it appears at the level of the snow another possible side passage. 'Yak Pot' was photographed + GPS, and plans to descend it the next day.

Simon then climbed the opposite hill + by the means of semaphore directed Martell to 2 further shafts close by: (MJL102) [C3-377], (MJL, SPF103) [C50]

MJL102 [C3-377] was ½m wide 2m long + descended 3m to a floor - needs further investigation.

Simon then directed her to (MJL,SPF103) [C3-50]: a small vertical shaft, 15m up from valley bottom. 5m x 1m entrance, stones fall, rattling for 8 secs: needs descent.

Further closer investigation of this valley may be fruitful. Also the valley leads down to a view of another interesting tall outcrop with several cave entrances + dark areas on both faces seen...

Rig off naturals to left side. 5m descent to ice plug, traverse ice to far side. ? descent down by ice/side inlet.

1st August 2005

Lou Dugan, James Bruton, Maxine Bateman, Rich Bayfield, Ruth Kerry

Maxine in C3-369

Following the disappointment of not locating C3-233 we decided to drop 4 known caves in an attempt to find something of comparable potential. The first cave C3-369 was one that Ruth located the day before. The entrance sloped steeply downward to a loose choke of rocks. Ruth descended first, reported the passage and pitch beyond the choke and followed this by frenzied digging. Maxine, James + Lou joined in creating a chain of rock removers. After 5 mins the digging team decided that the passage was still impassible meaning that I was going to have to join in the fun.

The dig was just about passable following the removal of a few key stones and I managed to push my way through to the top of a tight 5m pitch and further passage ahead.

The first pitch being too tight to descend I crossed over and managed to knock part of the roof onto my head (I have a dent in my helmet to prove it!) Beyond this lay a 5m rift pitch and very unstable boulder choke. The descent of this rift proved entertaining as every step resulted in a small landslide of rocks, threatening to block any attempt of exiting the rift again. At the bottom lay a blocked chamber with a large inlet to just below the surface, effectively the end of cave 1, 3 to go!

Cave 2 - C3-307 was found towards the top of the first limestone summit. The shaft appeared to be about 5m deep and was found by Chris Jewell and I last year. James was to get the 1st descent of this shaft and was disappointed to find that the shaft was completely blocked 5m from the surface. 2 down 2 to go!

The next cave on the list was C3-203 found by Maxine and James whilst we were trying to locate C3-223 the day before. This entrance involved a 6m shaft with a snow plug at the bottom. Due to the barren location, this cave proved tricky to rig (nearest bunda ½ mile away!) As a result the SRT needed a certain amount of TLC therefore meaning it was my turn for the first descent. This cave was in fact a vertical alcove and descending the shaft revealed nothing further. 3 down, 1 left to go!

FIXME IS THIS D3-203 or Z203???I

The final cave to drop, C3-215 was logged last year and remained undescended. It was described as a 20m deep shaft to a snow plug. The reason it remained undescended was probably because the walk-in involved about 300m of height gain above 4000m and approx 200m height gain on the return [Ed: C3-215 was bottomed by Collis and Atkinson in 2004 and incorrectly recorded as undescended]

If any cave was going to go, this was going to be the one! Ruth + Maxine sat this one out as myself, Lou and James went to locate the entrance. In comparison to the other caves, the entrance was huge and commanded massive respect. Being in the middle of a scree slope and the shaft being hourglass shaped, the SRT varied between scary + terrifying, my turn to descend first again! I dropped on to the iceplug 15m below the surface and found out that the iceplug was decidedly unstable, with black spaces below. Traversing down the plug, I got to a 2nd pitch descending away at a 60° slope into the blackness, going cave! I could go no further without a bolt (at least).

GOING CAVE FOR TOMORROW!

2nd August 2005: C3-215, deepest cave or yet another crapped out shaft?

Jon Wichett, James Bruton, Rich Bayfield

Rich descending C3-215

Myself, James + Jon, all full of cave fever and armed with 106m rope, bolting kit and an armful of slings, charged (crawled) up the mountains to bring glory to the expedition. Jon, unfortunately, reawakened an old martial arts injury on the first rise, leaving myself and James to bag all the glory ourselves (as well as the kit Jon was carrying!). 1½ hours later, absolutely knackered, myself + James arrived at TDCINTW. I quickly descended the first pitch and started smacking home a bolt to allow further exploration. Unfortunately I did not take much notice of my stance, tiptoeing on the edge of the iceplug and found putting in the bolt harder than the walk up!

After 30mins and many jibes from James, the bolt was in, pitch rigged and exploration could continue. The second pitch revealed a massive chamber sloping at 45°, almost 7m wide and up to 15m high. There was a significant inlet on the right (impassible) but the main cave appeared to terminate at the end of the snowfield. Continuing to the bottom of the chamber the cave ended in a huge choke of boulders which would require days (months) of digging. Myself and James surveyed out hoping the others would return with better news.

2nd August 2005: MJL02 (C3-377)

Lou Dugan, Martell Linsdell, Simon Froude

First found by Martell + Simon's party on the 1st, I returned with them and was given the opportunity to descend it the next day. 3m shaft [C3-377] teardrop shaped from above descended on a lifeline.

Bottom was full of small boulders and decaying matter that smelt strongly of acrylic nails (whilst wet) - don't ask!!

Small cracks at either end at the bottom. one big enough for me to pull some rocks out and shove my head into (I'm quite a narrow person). Opened up into a T-shaped junction that was far too tight to turn into without hauling huge amounts of crap to the top of the pitch. Got a feeling that the back wall of the T-junct. may form part of a rift that was totally choked. Not worth returning to - v. tight + far too much digging. It would be horrible.

2nd August 2005: Shaft Bashing Day from Dawa's

Martell Linsdell, Simon Froude, Lou Dugan

On the day following the discovery of Yak Pot [C3-376], 3m shaft [C3-377], + 8 sec stone drop shaft [C3-50] SF, LD MJL returned to descend + prospect the three shafts found.

First we sent Lou down the 3m shaft on a lifeline to look at MJL01 [Ed: MJL02?] [C3-377],. Following Lou's investigation, rigged the ice plugged shaft [C3-376] from the corner off naturals of rock. Martell descended (5m) SRT to the ice plug + walked across the surface of the ice plug. Global warming might improve the prospects of this shaft. In the far corner what looked like a side passage proved blind. Re rigging in the tallest corner to make the pitch 10m would make the rope hang directly over a slanting ice passage. This was not investigated further at the time.

We moved on to rig MJL03 [C3-50] the body sized hole 30' up from valley bottom which had an amazing 8 sec stone drop. Used rhodie as a thread belay and a natural rock belay. Simon descended 10m but the shaft descended sloping forward causing need for deviation to be fixed; bolting proved difficult as rock was like flint + sheared off ¾'s in. We were onto our callout time decided to re-attempt descent the next day.

Very promising area.

2nd August 2005: Survey Dragon's Arse C3-52

Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Katie Froude, Hugh Penney

Ben up the Dragon's Arse

Up late for our campsite - 9.30/10ish! So after our lovely bowl of noodles and granny food (seamild) we got sorted to return to the cave found yesterday "Dragon's Arse" [ C3-52]. All took oversuits, bolts, SRT Kits and 20m rope. We went the usual way up the valley via the first village and instead of climbing up to the col we went down a valley to the right which had a good path until a clearing where we made an exciting path contouring round the hanging valley where the crag and cave were.

Ben did the book and I attempted to guess the instruments correctly. Hugh and Katie did the tape. We managed to survey an extra 47m and 45m out of the cave mouth to a GPS point. Ben and Hugh took some classy photos which the silhouettes of the cave mouth.

The top chamber was much cooler and draughting but as there had been some rock fall digging was needed ... Another lead would be to bolt across mossy ledge and up the other side.

We walked back to the campsite via Top Sink [ C3-51] by 6pm.

3rd August 2005

Jon Wichett, Rich Bayfield

As I had a rest day the previous day I went up the hill around 1½km from Dawas to get reception on my phone (2nd hill East of the site) + noticed some interesting shake holes with drafts the other side so went down to take a look + there seemed to be good potential. After talking to the group Simon informed me there were 2 undropped shafts in the same area, so myself, Katie, Rich, Ben + Alys were going to go to a shakehole C3-379 I thought to be diggable + then onto the undropped shafts. Although it's an easy path all the way to the shoulder of the mobile reception hill I managed to lead everyone through the scenic route + they were not best pleased. Katie felt exhausted (ill) so went back + because of the time Alys + Ben went straight to the shafts + Rich + I went to the dig [C3-378]. (Rich Bayfield GPS 706 0555947 UTM3071753, accuracy 11m, elev: 4039m)

We got to the dig + it began to drizzle with rain - straight away we could rip boulders away with no effort + a 2½m shaft becomes wider. It wasn't quite wide enough to fit through so we got a hammer + started smashing the rock away about a metre into the shaft where it narrows at. Rich wasn't feeling great so had a rest while I tried to fit through the shaft. After about an hour I decided to look for another entrance so pulled boulders from the top edge of the shakehole to discover a range of passages with potential, although boulders were tumbling all over the place in + at the passage. the weather wasn't helping but I was determined to get through the shaft. As Rich was deteriorating it was getting cold we headed back without success passing a series of seemingly connected shake holes on the way.

3rd August 2005: SRT on Phone Signal Hill!

Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens

Alys down the Lion's Pit

Everyone was knackered and the torrential rain over our tents did not spur anyone into getting up early. The noise of yaks was getting a bit iritating and a bit disconcerting that they were so close to the tents. We got up and decided the aim for the day was to drop a few shafts spotted but not descended last year. Jon had found a dig so offered to guide Ben, Rich, Katie and I to it and then we could go on to the shafts. Jon is crap with directions and got us very lost and it was pouting down - no one was amused! Katie was knackered so returned to camp ('Tel, James, and Lou were there). Ben and I left the others and headed to the first GPS point [SPF06 C3-299] A cave with a 2m shaft into a short entrances passageway - going 10m uphill to a terminal chamber with flowstone. Did a basic Grade 2 survey - in back logbook.

It was still pouring with rain so we sat in the KISU and ate biscuits then headed to the other GPS point, 2 small pots. The limestone was too friable to place bolts which was a shame as Ben was going to show me how to place them - Ben rigged a rope off a dodgy rhododendron bush and I abbed down to explore the wider pot. A passage went off to join the other pot which was narrow and dark - Lion's Pit Pot [SPF07 C3-297 and C3-298] . No other continuing passage. I prussiked out.

It was still raining so we headed up onto the ridge of "Phone Signal Hill" about 4200m to send/receive texts! Then we returned through thick undergrowth to camp by 5pm.

4th August 2005: Descent from Dawas

Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Hugh Penney, Rich Bayfield, Lou Dugan, Ruth Kerry, Katie Froude, Simon Froude, Martell Linsdell, Maxine Bateman, James Bruton

Horses

We all got up and thankfully it wasn't raining. We had a leisurely breakfast and were all a bit surprised when the horses turned up at 10 instead of midday. We all packed up in about an hour whilst the horsemen went for tea at Dawa's. We loaded the heavy stuff onto the 4 horses and we each carried down one lighter(ish) bag. We gave our spare food to Dawa.

We stayed mostly together on the way back down and arrived back at the horse house roughly 3hrs after we set off from Dawa's.

Once we were down we unloaded the horses. The horseman after a lot of effort we through we'd organised that the leader of the horsemen would take our bags back to Milk river and he'd ring for some taxis to take us. He left with James and the bags on a trailer and that was it. We resigned to the fact that there weren't any taxis coming and set off along the road to Zhongdian. Very few vehicles came past but we tried to hitch on all of them. We'd nearly reached the main road into Zhongdian when 2 bread vans came past and stopped. The first charged us 15Y and the second, with no seats, took us for free. Everyone was desperate for something so we split into 2: an eating party + a washing party. The eating lot went to Noah's and everyone else came back and washed. We eventually regrouped at the eating place by the roundabout and everyone was fed and reasonably happy. It's hard to organise eating so we split up because we're such a big group. After the meal we came back to the guesthouse and had beer + sweeties + stuff. We all went to bed pretty early just because we were all tired.

5th August 2005: Rest Day

Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Hugh Penney, Rich Bayfield, Lou Dugan, Ruth Kerry, Katie Froude, Simon Froude, Martell Linsdell, Maxine Bateman, James Bruton

Wild plants

Everyone had a rest day and just done there own things worth having We all needed it in the end.

6th August 2005: Kit to camp at hidden valley

Maxine Bateman, James Bruton

Making yak butter tea

We got Daisy to organise taxis for us to get to the base of the hidden valley for 30Y each. We had a slight problem getting the photos for the children only make sure it is on cd not card because not all shops can do the cards. So we started our walk around the edge of the causeway. This is borring just on hard stone path. We then started to walk up the path for the 3rd time though from being at altitude this was a lot easier. we flew up the path to the top. Then down to the camp site. It started raining just as we got to camp and one of the yak herders invited us in so we went in had tea, cheese, and dough. then as the rain stopped we went back out to sort out kit. Then me, rich and jon went to the cave [C3-338] to see how high the water level was. This seemed high so we through the next day maybe a wash out. We then went back and had slop over the fire. Do not put electric sausage straight in because it goes very mushy and does not taste as good. Due to the quantity of gear we had to take, Alys, Ben , and Hugh kindly took all the kit up i.e. food and fuel which meant bags were not quite as heavy.

7th August 2005

Alys Mendus, Ben Stevens, Hugh Penney, Lou Dugan

Mushroom market

Knackered and raining so decided against going to Waterfall Cave. Stayed in town + did work on logbook + putting data on computer. Daisy took us shopping + to a local restaurant for tea.

7th August 2005

Katie Froude, Simon Froude

Scree slope

Me and Simon followed the main path out of the depression to the west. We followed the loggers path but took a left off the main path too early and climbed quickly to the top of the peak at 559 853 instead of over the col. There was no path off the other side of it so we fought down through the trees and bamboo. We ended up at the junction in (55 85) and took the track north. From here the path up was obvious and well trodden. The track led up the valley floor on a gentle slope but up all the way. As we reach the valley to we came to a steep scree slope up to the peak. Again the path up was easy to find and although steep the path was stable. At the top were a number of cols each of which led down to a few huts by a pac-man shaped lake marked on the map at (522 887). The col at 4300m sent us into the clouds so visibility was poor. We walked further along the path and pitched our tent in a depression at (516 895). It was cold, wet and misty so after a quick look at the area we got in our tent. We noticed that the area was draining into a sink C3-400 marked on the map at (518-895 by FIXME INSERT SYMBOL. When stood close to the sink you can hear there is air in the sink so in drier weather it may be accessible.

8th August 2005

Katie Froude, Simon Froude

Katie at a sink

We woke up and the cloud hadn't lifted. We gave up on trying to get the stove to light and went to have a look round the area. There seems to be a shale band running along where most the entrances are. Visibility was very poor so it was hard to get a proper feel for the area. However, it would definitely be worth going up there again as the rock was good and in the hour we spent looking we found a few entrances. If we were to camp there again another place such as further down the valley would be more suitable as we picked the coldest, least sheltered spot in the whole of China to pitch our tent. Also, a different fuel or something would have been good so that we could have hot drinks. The walk up took us around 7 hours at a reasonable walking pace. On the way back we were conscious of our callout time so we virtually ran the whole way back. Because it was downhill it only took us 3½ hours on the way back.

If we were to walk up again I would take the route we took on the way up. Although we gained unnecessary height the path was better. The lower path over the col was hard to walk down since it had been severely gullied by the local logging industry. The whole walk was pleasant with lots to look at and water available most the way up.

7th August 2005: C3-338

James Bruton, Rich Bayfield, Jon Wichett, Ruth Kerry

Jon in C3-338

We went back to the cave which had been descended twice before to push it and drop the pitch if low enough. Due to the fact it had been raining we thought it maybe sumped but looking at the water level it looked quite low. So hoping no sump we proceeded in. And yes NO WATER!! So I proceeded to the pitch to show the others the rest of the cave. It was decided me and Jon would push the cave while Rich and Ruth kept an eye on the weather/water level and also surveyed the cave to the sump. Descending first using SRT we decided it was only a 10m pitch. This would be perfect for a ladder to be used. Settling to the bottom, I found that when looking back up the pitch to my left was another 6m pitch yet to the right was boulders. as I did not have no extra rope on me I decided to look right till Jon came down with more. Going down I kept climbing down large boulders. this appeared to go under the pitch, well round to the back of the pitch. working my round I realised the floor was large boulder with about 1/2 inch of mud on top. looking between the rock you can see small amounts of water under there. BECAREFULL the floor is loose while jon was faffing at the top of the rig standing on one small rock it moved about 5 which caused a chain reaction. so more below moved. In this chamber you had about a 5m high roof and also around the pitch to the left because it comes around the bottom. waiting till jon caught up I then proceeded through the hole in the floor. He revealed another 5m pitch which is semi handline semi SRT. BECAREFUL WHERE RIGGING EVEN LARGE ROCKS ARE LOOSE. Going down this you then proceed down a long passage with a small streamway running underneath. This then forms a duck/sump which was as far as we went because there looked to be a lock of floor. So turning around we came back out taking pictures of the cave as we came. After this me and Ruth sat at top while Rich and Jon went back down. I then decided to look up a side passage before the sump where there had been a duck we had not ventured into before. We thought this was a hanging pond yet when I got up there was nothing. there was a further 5m drop compared to last time and just silt at the bottom then under a small crawl this appears out of the entrance to the right of the main entrance. then sitting back outside it started to rain so we shouted for the others to get out.

7th August 2005: Napa Hai camp

James Bruton, Rich Bayfield, Jon Wichett, Ruth Kerry

Picture taken on borrowed camera

Came back from a good day's caving (finally!) to find out that our stuff has been gone through by local kids. Two of the local men) who we later found out were Noarw and Chan) came over with two of our camera; my disposable and Jon's digital. The rest of my film had been used (over 20 pics) and there were several videos on Jons. We still had one camera missing. RB's. We went looking for the 2 guys to explain (they had also invited us for tea), but the old guy from the day before (who looks like he's out of the league of gentlemen!) saw us first and called us in for tea. We had to explain about the missing camera but they didn't understand. The youngest kid (7/8) was there looking very guilty! The older brother (10) was missing. We drank tea, chatted, then made to leave. RB was visibly not v. well so was made to sit first with his bare back to the fire then his bare front! We then went to Noarw's hut, much more of a bachelor's pad! V smokey with no natural light, Noarw even had a sparkly bong.

The truck driver who had seen Maxine, James + Jon crossing the causeway was called Tanchoo, and he wrote the Tibetan for Shangri-la, Napa and Tibanti (the name of the village we were staying at) down for me. It looks something like:

Turns out that Chan (?) has been caving before, but never again as the rope broke! This was about 55km away. Tanchoo said that Chan was a lama and indicated a praying motion - true/false?!? The hut was crowded with seven locals. They gave us pepsi, then served us dinner into the same bowl! (Later they tried to give yak butter tea, again into the same bowl). We had rice with a dish of fried peppers, onion, potato and bacon. Very good. We think that Noarw tried to explain what had happened in a round about way to the old man (father of the brothers) what had happened, as obviously the parents had not been involved beforehand. As we were eating dinner, a screaming kid was dragged over to outside the hut and all the locals left us and went outside. It sounded like the whole village was shouting at the kid. Later they came back and the teenage boy who'd been with us came in with this face covered in tears, and his mother spat at him. We were told that one of the bigger kids had taken the third camera then gone off with the log pulling yaks down the hill, where he had stayed over-night. Tomorrow we should get it back. RK, JW + JB then made excuses + left. RB had left earlier (when RB got back there had been another group of older kids about to go into JB's tent (previously un-touched). They quickly scarpered!)

8th August 2005

Ruth Kerry

Ruth and Tibetan woman

RB, JW + JB went to drop a shaft. RK (me) stayed back to guard the tents, after what had happened yesterday! We got our camera back in the morning, + chatted with locals. Taught some of the kids + Chan to play shithead, + suduku. In return was given some more Tibetan writing + a picture of a Tibetan man doing a funny dance. It was good not to leave Tibanti on a bad note after last night. Gave away our excess food + petrol + said good bye.

8th August 2005: Camp Cave (Jon's YMCA) SPF101 (Simon's GPS) [C3-380]

James Bruton, Rich Bayfield, Jon Wichett

Jon descending YMCA cave

It was the last day of the expedition at the Napa Hai campsite + me, James, Rich were to descend an undescended shaft that the locals had shown us. Ruth was staying to 'protect' the tents after our cameras had gone on an adventure with the local boys the night before (not necessarily stolen - we got them all back). We had a visit from the villagers in the morning who were interested in our SRT gear + helmets - one of whom had fallen off a rope in a cave before + sworn never to go caving again. We set off before midday + wanted to be back by 3pm as Simon + Katie were returning + we wanted to get down before dark. The shaft was about 4km away along a yak track that is particularly shitty. We squelched through the 'mud' (a euphemism you will tell yourself if you're not a hard-core fan of yak poo) with James charging ahead due to the distinct advantage of his terminator poles for balance while the 2 of us were slipping + sliding all over the place. I was trying to keep ourselves entertained with lateral thinking puzzles but it wasn't going down too well. The cave is only about 25m off the trail so is easy to get to + drops to what looks like a 7m drop. After singing 'in the jungle' to the theme of 'in the navy' while 'rigging' + 're-rigging' + 'modifying' + 'backing-up' + 'backing up the back-up' the pitch I went down first with a 26m pitch - after 7m you hit a crappy pulp floor + can straight away see the drop goes further. I didn't want to go down as it was a very muddy + loose floor cave so sent Rich down - also I was just wearing a tanktop after being inspired by the film 'the Descent' where fit women cave in tight tanktops. He created a rebelay to avoid rub + I went down the second pitch with led into blocked up rifts. The total pitch was around 23m so is not a bad drop but is unfortunately blocked up. I prusiked (how'd you speel that) up get James' camera-descended down to give it to Rich, + back up so he can take photos of my ass. Once up James informed us he backed up our back-up to our back-up as the tree was hanging by its roots, + then we discovered the double figure of 8 had been tied slightly wrong - but we lived to tell the tale. We headed back down with the sun shining + packed up camp giving all our food to the locals + eventually managing to show them petrol + the dangers of it. Unfortunately we couldn't easily hitch by the causeway but breasts are definitely a big help!