The latest news from China:
Craven expedition update
April 6, 2003 During their 5 weeks in China, the Craven PC China 2003 expedition to southern Guangxi surveyed almost 22km in Jingxi and Pingguo. The caving was quite varied, with everything from muddy fossil passage to streamway and crawls to well decorated borehole.
In Wo Long Dong they mapped a large chamber with floor area of 21,000 m2.
Only a few kilometers from the Vietnam, they surveyed ~2.4km in Yin Quan Dong. Still going, this cave has good potential to cross the border underground, and there's even talk of turning it into a showcave so Chinese tourists can enjoy "international travel" without the hassle of getting a passport.
A definite highlight was the marriage of two of the expedition members in a traditional Chinese ceremony.
The team reported that Jingxi merits further investigation, while Pingguo has beautiful karst scenery with many rock arches, but no significant cave development.
Nandan expedition draws to a close
April 2, 2003 The Nandan 2003 expedition concluded with a little over 10km in the book and a strong sense that there is still much more to be found in the area. High points from the expedition included a Merlin Pitch, 94m free hang down to a daylit chamber with a 44m stal, The Magic Wand and a surprise connection between Xiniu Dong West and Jiejie Dong. In 2004 the plan is to live in Lihu, which should provide convenient access to leads which remain in Xiniu West and Jiejie, as well as the half-dozen new entrances which were GPS'd by Wayne and Denis on the last day.
Craven/China Caves Project expedition begins
March 10, 2003 14 members of the Craven CPC arrived in Guilin yesterday for a 4 week expedition to Jingxi and Pingguo, two interesting areas of river caves in southwestern Guangxi.
Nandan off to a 2km start
March 8, 2003 The Nandan 2003 expedition is off to an unexpectedly good start. The local tourism board has been incredibly generous, providing us not only with accomodation in a newly constructed mock minority village (flush toilets and hot showers!), but also a jeep and driver. The caving has been good, with two going caves and almost 2 kilometers mapped after just two days. Gan Tian Ba is a sporting 5-10m wide river cave with several short swims and even a few white fish, while the second cave has 20m wide fossil passage which has hit a similarly sized streamway. We hope that the two caves will connect and we'll be able to push the whole river system north to the Da Gou He (Big Dog River).
French Guizhou 2003 expedition begins
Earthquake damages Furong Dong showcave
February 5, 2003 Late-breaking news from Tian Xing: We've been told that the Furong Jiang dam has successfully filled to 260m ASL, but the filling triggered a magnitude 3.5 earthquake which broke a large number of speleothems in Furong Dong (one of China's premier show caves). It is now closed for tourists.
Furong Jiang dam 50m lower than expected
January 22, 2003 Last night Duncan found an online news report mentioning that the top of the Furong Jiang dam near Tian Xing will be at 310m elevation, but the normal operating water level will only be 260m ASL, with the sluice gates (ie. max food level) at 300m. Previously we'd been told that the water level was going to be 310m, but this must have been a case of Chinese whispers.
This is excellent news for the coming Tian Xing expedition because it means we're losing only 80m of depth potential, instead of 130m. In Qikeng only the Terminal passage surveyed by Taco and Matt will be flooded, and in Dongba only the river passage below Chamber of the Frog Sacred will be inaccessible. There's even a reasonable chance that we'll be able to get into upstream passage in Dongba by dropping down through a hole in The Quarry where we could hear the streamway.
Prof.Zhu Xuewen retires as head of Cave Research Department
January 15, 2003
April expedition to Chengdu
January 12, 2003 We have been invited to spend April exploring a cave in conglomerate limestone two hours southwest of Chengdu in the town of Lushan. The cave is reputed to be complex, with multiple levels of both active and fossil development. The cave owner believes that it might be the longest cave in China, so who knows? Lushan could be the next Houping. At the very least, this is a great opportunity to open up a new area for western exploration and make contacts in western Sichuan.
Cave diving in Guilin
January 2, 2003 Nicolas Le Clerc, French GUE diver from Singapore is planning a cave diving expedition to Guilin through the Guilin Karst Institute. This is exciting news since as far as we know no one else is cave diving in China. During a preliminary recce around Guilin we visited several interesting looking springs, including one that was warm enough to indicate that the water had spent quite a long time underground. Unfortunately none of the springs were passable, but there are many more sites that need to be visited.