The latest news from China:
Wet weather in San Wang Dong
May 4, 2008 A small team pushed leads in San Wang Dong this past weekend. We'd been planning on pushing an undescended shaft in Dr Scholls which is underneath the tiankeng southern end of Shi Wang Tiankeng, but we had to give it a pass as the route to the pitch (Gobstopper) starts as a crawl at the edge of the normally dry lake at the bottom of the tiankeng which was awash with flood waters.
On the upside, all of the water in the cave helped us refind Intermittent - a lead off the northern side of The Finger in San Wang Dong which we'd spotted in 2002 or 2003 and totally failed to relocate on previous trips. It went as about 100 meters of stream passage to the base of an aven about 200m below a known surface shaft.
The muddy surface water flowing through Intermittent probably goes to Bisto. We also noticed that the gypsum crystals that appeared at the end of Sea of Tranquility during the winter dry season have now completely vanished.
Two caves surveyed on Huolu 2008
February 5, 2008
Unseasonably snowy weather which prevented the team from going to Er Wang Dong as planned. Instead we went to Huolu and pushed 48H-H12-195 Miao Lin Ba (aka Dead Pig Cave) to 700m long. The strong (and blisteringly cold) draught was a result of a second entrance. Two days later we returned to the same village (Xu Jia Cun) and were taken on a rather long stroll down the road to Ya Kou Dong, a well decorated fossil fragment that is only a few kilometers away from San Qiao. Although Ya Kou Dong ended, we saw a lot of interesting depressions along the way. The area definitely looks "cavey".
Miao Keng connected to Qikeng Dong
September 26, 2007 The Tianxing 2007 expedition has connected Miao Keng to Losing My Religion in Qikeng Dong. The Tianxing Dongxuexitong (Tianxing System) which consists of QIkeng, Lanmu Shu, Liu Chi Aokou, and now Miao Keng totals about 22km long and 983m deep.
Pushing continues from camp at Whitewalls in Lanmu Shu. The water in Qikeng is up to about 300m asl due to the high levels of water in the Furong Jiang reservoir, so things are a bit soggy in the lower reaches of the system.
While Duncan Collis and Rich Gerrish were at camp, they pushed a tall, swimming rift above Momentary Lapse of Reason. It's ongoing, and they didn't get as far north as the old Momentary Lapse of Reason survey. Interestingly, Rich found a bolting kit, hangers, maillons, and krabs which were abandoned during the 2002 expedition.
Phil and Jeff just got back from camp. They pushed the inlet at 4pm is the New Dawn to an aven. Leads around the Mausoleum went to boulders. They also pushed a lead near camp to Walking with Jellyfish.
Wulong inscribed as World Heritage site
August 15, 2007 Wulong has been inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites. The protected properties in Wulong include parts of Tianxing, San Qiao, and Houping. Hong Meigui has been caving in these areas since 2001, and our cave maps and other data were used as part of Wulong's application. The application materials were the result of a lot of hard work by many people, including Prof. Zhu, Chen Weihai, and Zhang Hai from the Guilin Karst Institute, and a number of HMG members who gave up expedition time to polish PowerPoint presentations, record voice-overs, correct English text, give interviews, etc.
It's great to see such a positive outcome for the area, and we hope that the listing brings sensitive economic development and protection for the area's karst resources.
Resurgence in Tongzi
January 31, 2007 Today Dunks and George found our first Tongzhi cave. They located a spring to the southwest of the town. It is penetrable, but has no draught. They placed dye receptors for a background check. The flow is estimated as 20 l/s (no actual measurements were taken). Curiously, water flows out of the cave, goes upstream for 5m along the surface stream bed, and sinks in boulders.
While walking down the valley below Tongzhi towards the spring they passed at least half a dozen entrances (up to 20mx10m). They didn't have time to look in the entrances or gps them, so we've got some definite leads to look forward to for Houping 2.
No Qikeng Dong to Dongba Dong connection yet
October 19, 2006 With a camp established in Lanmu Shu Dong near to the Qikeng Dong streamway, the Tian Xing 2006 expedition took the opportunity to go downstream to try for the elusive connection to Dongba Dong at Momentary Lapse of Reason. On the final pushing camp of the expedition, Duncan and Rob rigged down the 60m Dragon's Mouth pitch in the main streamway and made their way to Momentary Lapse. Here they found static pools which were about 8m higher than in 2002, sumping both the swimming duck and the crawl in Momentary Lapse. However, the raised water levels gave a leg-up on climbs into an upper level which bypassed the two sumps, enabling them to reach the pushing front. Here they rigged a traverse and then dropped a small pitch, expecting to land in Dongba. At the bottom the passage continued for some 60m to a 30m-long pool which was sumped at the end, the draught going up a climb that needs bolts. None of this corresponded to Duncan's recollection of Naked Desire (the passage they'd been hoping to connect to), but there was a good chance that Naked Desire lay on the other side of the climb. They were just about to unpack the bolting kit when the cave suddenly made two deep, ominous booming noises. Unsure of the source of the booms, they beat a retreat.
Over 200m deep in Zuan Yan Keng
October 17, 2006 In Zuan Yan Keng the bad rock made progress difficult, but with long thru bolts the Tian Xing 2006 expedition was able to get down to about -250m, rigging pitches in mudstone which were named "Squalorite", "Mudstone", "Grimstone", etc. The survey ended at -209m, 2011m long, but a final ~50m pitch "Crappy Crapola Crapstone" was rigged which drops through the mudstone layer to a band of better rock. Prospects look good for a return.
983m deep in China
October 15, 2006 Exciting news from the Tianxing 2006 expedition - a few days ago Duncan and Marcel Nawrot, pushing from camp at -630m in Lanmu Shu Dong, connected to Qikeng Dong. With last year's Lanmu Shu to Liuchi Aokou Xia Dong connection this forms a 19,024m long system which is 983m deep from the LCAKX entrance to Qikeng's terminal sump.
The connection was made by rigging down Octave Aven, but instead of going to the Dismal Ending dig, Rob bolted a route down the other 'trouser leg' of the shaft. This landed on a boulder slope with the very muddy Trousers Rift going off. Trousers dropped a further 110m to a surprisingly complex network of fossil passages 10-30m above the active level in Lanmu Shu. Dunks and Marcel established a cosy camp here and then pushed on to Qikeng, connecting to the muddy side-lead near where Keep the Faith meets the Qikeng main streamway. In total they surveyed over 600m at that level, and more leads remain for the next camp.
Wulong World Heritage Application
September 16, 2006 Wulong is applying for inscription on the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites as part of the South China Karst serial application. The nominated properties in Wulong are Houping, Tianxing, and San Qiao - all three of which are Hong Meigui caving areas.
Voting on the first three site of Wulong, Libo, and Shilin will take place during summer 2007.
New system in Houping
September 1, 2006 In Houping a new area of exploration has opened up with the discovery of Dao Tuo Dong to the east of Houping town, the opposite direction to San Wang Dong and Er Wang Dong. Dao Tuo Dong has several large entrances which lead to 50m-wide breakdown trunk passage and a network of smaller active passages. The Houping 2006-3 expedition pushed it to 3587m long, 150m deep. It has numerous good leads and a return is planned for May 2007.