Caving: C33 - Dachstein, Austria 2000

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I Don't Want To Push It - It Might Go!! - The exploration of C33
By Mike Alderton

I had just returned from a three day trip in G5 and settling down with a few beers started looking forward to a couple of days of rest and recovery - but Joel C and Tim F had other ideas. Waiting until I was well lubricated with wine and beers they proceeded to tell tales of a promising cave left at the head of a 15m pitch, bound to drop into Hirlatz and only 1/4 of an hours walk from the Wiesberghaus! This is how their log book write up actually went.

Anyway I had been convinced it was going to break through and persuaded Tim L and Peter Hubner to join me on this exploration.

Armed with survey kit, rigging gear, SRT kit and 50m of discarded climbing rope we reached the present survey limit. Peter was not impressed by the tortuous passage we had now entered and headed back to the surface just before Buffalo Breech.

From this point the passage started to get quite committing, with desperately tight squeezes, sharp corners and no possibility of tuning around for about an hour - a real delight for us Mendip cavers.

We reached the pitch found by Joel and Tim and I soon descended it, dropping into a steeply sloping chamber in beautiful white limestone with fluted cascades in the floor - Awesome, virgin passage to explore!

Within no time, Tim was down the pitch and off we headed along a typical Dachstein meander, but easy going and peppered with easily climbable cascades. We threw ourselves along the passage, barely able to take it all in, until instead of breaking out over an unfathomable pitch the cave deteriorated to more desperately tight twisting passage. With our hearts rapidly sinking we followed this for a while until leaving the remainder of the climbing rope we headed back out. Our progress was speeded up after noting the clean washed nature of the floor, wall and roof - this place must flood like a beast when it rains

The return was uneventful, cold and slow, but when we had passed Buffalo Breech, smiles returned to our faces - we were finally going to escape from this incredible cave. Climbing up the 40' pitch, through the entrance meanders, up the entrance climb and we were out, heading back to the Weisberghaus where our companions were waiting with a crate of Zipfers.

After a few of these, Tim wrote in the logbook

The Hirlatz survey shows that C33 has all chances of dropping straight into the master system, so for next years expedition we are looking for young, flexible, skinny young cavers with a limitless supply of oversuits. Are you interested?

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