The latest news from China:

Da Keng pushed to -765m

October 11, 2004 During a recent three day underground camp Da Keng,already the second deepest cave in China, was pushed to a depth of 765m, or almost a hundred metres deeper than its 2003 limit, The depth was gained in short pitches and climbs along over a kilometre of new passage. Interestingly this new passage runs north-northwest, paralleling Losing My Religion in Qikeng Dong, and heading into a blank area of limestone.

Houping expedition tops 5km

June 2, 2004 The Houping 2004 expedition has wrapped up with over 5km surveyed in 14 caving trips totaling 282 man hours underground. This bringing the survey total for the area to 26.5km. The two major caves in the area, Er Wang Dong and San Wang Dong are now 11,233m and 9,913m long respectively.

Breakthrough in Feng Dong

May 27, 2004 The Houping 2004 expedition had a pleasant surprise when a day's digging in Feng Dong led to strongly drafting passage that steadily increased in size from crawling to 15m wide, 20m tall passage with the largest streamway thus far seen in the area. The cave was left ongoing after 600m of survey, heading north away from the presumed resurgence and parallel to Er Wang Dong and San Wang Dong, the two major caves in the area.

Artifact in Er Wang Dong

May 22, 2004 In addition to the usual nitrate pits and torch embers, several interesting signs that the locals have been using the caves for many years have been found in the caves in the Houping area.

While surveying an obscure side passage that at first appeared virgin in Er Wang Dong, Duncan Collis and Rob Garrett found a long abandoned sandal made of woven plant fibres. It was perfectly preserved, but of a style that no one has used in Houping for many years. The dusty floor of the passage had faint traces of footprints almost completely obliterated by the dust resettling over a long period of time.

Further down the valley, the impressive entrance to Ma Wan Dong is fortified with a wall of large stones. Inside the cave there are the remains of windy corridors which were presumably used for defense.

Ying Tao Wan Dong goes to -177m

April 13, 2004 The Zhangjiajie 2004 expedition concentrated on entrances on the Tian Men Shan plateau. Most of the shafts were blind, but the most promising, Yingtao Wan Dong , went down a number of drippy pitches and past two rats' nests to a strongly draughting squeeze at -112m that was hammered open. When most of the members of the expedition fell ill, Ying Tao Wan Dong was derigged, but for the last push of the expedition it was rerigged and the survey continued beyond the squeeze. It went down 2 more shafts of thinly interbedded limestone and mudstone, finally ending at -177m in a too low crawl in water.

100m cliff descent to Zhushi Dong

April 4, 2004
Dave abseiling into Zhushi Dong
Early in the Zhangjiajie 2004 expedition Gui Dong was pushed beyond its 2003 limit to a boulder choke in line with Zhushi Dong's entrance in the cliffs which ring Tian Men Shan. Dave Barrett rigged an airy 100m+ descent from the top of the plateau to reach the entrance, which unfortunately proved blind.

Big resurgence in northern Yunnan

January 30, 2004 Following a suggestion by geologist Pete Talling, members of the Hong Meigui Yunnan Resurgences 2004 expedition went to check for resurgences in a valley to the east of the Jinsha River. Within a hundred metres of Pete's pencil mark on the map, they found two large resurgences, with a combined output of over 7 cumecs, and this in the dry season. The name of the valley is Ji Ren Shui, which very roughly translates as Lucky Benevolent Water; with limestone mountains rising over 2000m above the resurgences, it's hoped that the name is a good omen!

Shui Lian Dong pushed to grim conclusion

January 28, 2004 Continuing exploration of Shui Lian Dong begun by Yunnan 2003, the Yunnan Resurgences 2004 expedition took advantage of dry winter weather to push the resurgence upstream. After only 500m the stream split into small inlets which went to 3 sumps. The only option left to the team of dry cavers was climbing an aven, which duly led to heaps of thigh-deep guano and no way on.

Italian expedition to Fengshan

December 22, 2003 Today four cavers from Italy's Centro Ibleo di Ricerche Speleo-Idrogeologiche, led by Rosario Ruggieri, arrived in Guilin for an expedition to Fengshan County in northern Guangxi, near Leye and Nandan. This is the fourth time the group has come to China to cave with the Guilin Karst Insitute. Previous expedition sites include Sichuan (1993); Xingyi, Guizhou (1997); and Tibet and Nandan, Guangxi (2001). The current expedition will run from 22 December 2003 to 6 January 2004.

International China Caves Conference in London

December 19, 2003 Friday September 24 to Sunday October 3 2004

The UK-based China Caves Project is organising a major event at The Royal Geographical Society, London, to bring together those with a passion for caves and China.

The main focus of the Friday evening, September 24, will be a highly illustrated lecture outlining the work carried out by the China Caves Project over the past 22 years and more recently the Hong Meigui Club. It will include an introduction and build-up that will also refer to previous trips such as Mulu in Malaysia and conclude by talking about further work in China and other places such as Myanmar (Burma). In addition to conventional photography, there will be a series of 3-D pictures and the first screening of a new China Caves film.

Afterwards, there will be a reception with buffet. Invited guests will include members of all the British expeditions carried out over that period, friends and expedition sponsors as well as anybody interested in caves, in China, or both.

On the Saturday there will be a series of lectures to share the wealth of information that has been gathered in China by many groups, not only the China Caves Project. It is an opportunity to share information and coordinate research efforts in China. Although some lectures will present scientific results, the majority will be aimed at exploration and surveying.

There will be a number of Chinese cavers present and it is hoped that the event will also attract participants from other parts of the world.

In conjunction with the national caving bodies of Great Britain, there will be a programme of trips during the following week that will take in the major karst areas of the United Kingdom. These trips will be tailored to suit individual requirements and vary from some of the more difficult caves of South Wales and Yorkshire through to surface strolls looking at the limestone scenery.

The following weekend - Friday, October 1 to Sunday, October 3 - will be the National Caving Conference, "Hidden Earth", this year based at the excellent Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal in the Lake District. It is hoped that some of the participants from The Royal Geographical Society event will also present papers at this occasion.

Accommodation will be provided at reasonable cost for the whole period, from Friday September 24 through to Monday October 4. It is envisaged there will be no charge for admission to the Royal Geographical Society and the financial emphasis during the ten day period will be value for money.

This is an opportunity for interested parties from both Britain and abroad to have a China/Cave-related week in Great Britain. If you are interested in attending the event or participating in the Saturday lecture please contact Andy Eavis in writing at either andy [at] andyeavis [dot] com or Tidesreach, Redcliff Road, Hessle, East Yorkshire, United Kingdom, HU13 0HA. Alternatively you can contact Andy by telephone on 44 1482 648658 or fax 44 1482 647892.

Andy Eavis 19.12.03

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