I came back at home from Grind Caving Camp 2017 pretty tired but with the motivation of a thing that has been done.
After two days of washing all my equipment I asked myself if is time to go or not for this year expedition in Kreuzhohle. Beside the accumulated stress and tiredness, the financial side came in. I was fortunate to obtain a free round fly ticket from a very kind and important person that appreciate what I do. Thank you Dan !!!
Once that the ticket became true, there wasn't any other "reasons" to stay. I went for the call of the abyss in the Austrian land.
The forecast in the area was the reason for getting a second caving suit to have with me during this tour. So I went with 2 pieces of Aventure Verticale Holloch comfort with me. Also, two sets of caving gloves was a must.
The story starts on 23th of September at 6:30 when the plane that I was in took off. In two hours I arrived in Munich. My main backpack was 23,7 kg. The hand luggage didn't exceeded 5 kg so all was set.
Till 11 a.m. when Petr came to pick me with his car, I enjoyed a last junk food before going on "caloric bombs".
We went to salute our guests where we spend the first night and then we had a walk between the "toy houses" of this beautiful village.
In the evening the rest of the team arrived: Oli, Mark and Tom.
Slowly getting in the mood in the "Cafe Dankl" restaurant, we ended our dinner with a delicious desert. At the Peyerl guesthouse we had a last schnapps before going to sleep.
Sunday, 24th of September.
7:30 a.m.: breakfast
8:30 a.m.: finish the backpack
9:00 a.m.: start to Hochtall parking lot
9:30 a.m.: start on the trail to the hut.
.... I mean, German style.
The weight of my backpack reached 25 kilograms, so I arrived in 4 full hours up, at von Schmidt Zabierow hut.
During the night, the problems with my back (lots of disc protrusions) activated and I had to call in my best friend, "Ketonal" - a very strong pain killer. We slept in the hut because was almost empty inside.
The next morning, a full size breakfast and lots of coffee. The empty backpack became again a full backpack with personal gear and other stuff.
And we started to climb again to the entrance of the cave on the footsteps of the previous day.
We started to get ready for the underground journey. There was incredible amount of snow in the entrance that was hard to recognize the place. The place was tight also for getting the traditionally picture with our team before entering into the dark.
I picket the short stick :), so I went in first with 2 kit bags. I helped the others hanging 2 more kit bags on the traverse line that is rigged before the main shaft head.
Then, the entrance shaft of 93 meters started to eat me in the dark. The real caving begun.
The ritual of pushing and pulling our kit bags started. We are doing this from so long that it became something almost mechanical. With a lot of teamwork we didn't feel the time passing and the effort. After 3 hours we were in the old bivouac, at -175m deep. A small break with hot water and chocolate was reconfortable. Then we push further.
The next part of the cave is more vertical oriented so the kit bags were most of the time hanging on our harnesses. Oli also took some picture while my GoPro Hero was filming everything from the helmet. We reached finally the last shaft before the big hall after 6 hours of descending. The "young" team consisting of Tom, Mark and Petr came closer and closer until we could hear them. They also stopped to take pictures.
Me and Oli arrived in Hall I of The Ruins at -420m and started to prepare some hot water for tea and coffee. I set up my bedroom situated under a huge rock stuck between walls and took off my caving suit. I put over undersuit my fleece and my synthetic down jacket, gloves and helmet cap. Wasn't that cold, dressed like this.
Mark had to find a spot for his bed because was the first time when a team of 5 came here. We put everything in order in our kitchen and sorted the meals. Everything was counted. I started to cook a caloric bomb. Carbohydrates are the everyday meal. Add anything you can find. For example, this time I wrote down what I used: 2 tomato soups, 1 chicken soup, 2 ready pasta pockets, half box of fried onions, a box of Philadelphia cheese, 100 ml of cream, one box of meat balls. Mix and boil all that stuff till the water evaporate. The result is something really tasty. After that we drink 3 cups of tea each of us. And at the end we have "the cherry from the cake": one cup of Aptonia recovery drink (a kind of hot chocolate) that is really yummy.
We had dinner and went to sleep. Each with it's own dream. Together with a goal: going deeper.
So, the teams were Oli and Mark for main pitch, Nieahamawasser; and Petr Tom and myself for the west meander that last year caught everyone attention.
Over the first night the stones that represents "the bed" got randomly rearranged so I had to play some "tetris" with them to repair the sleeping surface. Having the mp3 player with me is cool. Next time I can add some audiobooks. But anyways, sleeping while listening some nice notes is relaxing.
In the morning, Petr was first to hear the wake up signal from Oliver. Is hard to get out from the sleeping bag. Is the only comfortable thing in these expeditions.
In the morning, tea and coffee. Oli forgot that we had about 200 Nescafe pockets in the bivouac already so, we bring in 100 more :).
The usual breakfast is milk powder with musli. 3 cups of tea, dry salami, cheese, bread and butter.
The plan for the first day was to...go deeper. It's always like this. Go deep. We worked in the same segments that we did last year: Oli and Mark went to Mighty Darkness, where they stopped at "Halle Der Traume" (Dream Hall), while Tom, Petr and myself went to West Meander where we left a shaft unexplored.
First, we descended from Hall V the 27 meter pitch that was a question mark from last year. Petr went first and I was drawing the sketch for the final map. Tom marked the visa with the special "tool", nail polish. The pitch continues through a deep crack. Throwing stone didn't make us find an answer because the rock were rolling down about 6 seconds !!!
Me surveyed the base of the pitch and went back up in Hall V to continue on the main way of the cave. We rigged with bolts the descent from Hall VI to Hall VII and from Hall VII to West Meander entrance. In the floor there was an accesible window in another floor but we moved on to reach the big pitch at the end of the meander. Petr went first. Me and Tom had to survey the whole passage. Doing this I noticed 2 more windows in the floor of the meander that can lead to another floor. I came just in time at the pitch head just to hear that the rope isn't long enough to finish the rigging of this new shaft. End of the exploration for that day. On the way back to bivouac I went in the eastern corner of Hall VI to see what's there. There was another shaft, of course. So, I connected the survey from last year with a point in this pitch head. Just to have it on the map for future explorations. For now, we will concentrate on the main crack.
- How was it, what did you find ?
We show each other what we surveyed, the pictures and start to tell the stories. Meanwhile, the water is boiling and I start another "menu" consisting of pasta with cheese, meat, soup, cream, Philadelphia... . I only change the taste depending on what soup or ready pasta I use. Tomato soup are the best for taste in my oppinion. Then is the cow soup. Usually the dumplings soup I make separately. This way we have 2 meals. Soup and pasta. Then the desert: recovery drink with chocolates. Then, the best moment - entering in the sleeping bag. A last cigarette for me and some wishes for the next day.
The next day, the ritual is repeating.
- Is eight o'clock, wake up !
At 8:30 I dare to get out from my sleeping bag.
On the floor of Western Shaft:
To be continued....
The new passage surveyed by me, Petr and Tom:
Next thing to do is to draw the details from sketches.