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1986 Austrian Expedition Report For Ian Dear Memorial Fund

It was 31st July and we were due to leave between 5.30 - 6.00 pm but we were still re-packing the car for about the third or fourth time at five past six.  We had a bit of trouble with tying down the cover for the 'Lads Away' roof rack; it had a tendency to cover up the front windscreen. I was travelling in Trebor’s car with Trebor, Gonzo and Steve.  We eventually got going, a bit behind schedule, only to stop at a kebab house and off-license for a pit stop.  We were followed along the M4 by Clive Gardener (off in search of the Holy Grail somewhere, little did he know it, had he followed us he would have found something equally as sacred 'STIEGL').

On our scenic route to Folkestone we managed to arrive late for the ferry.  Luckily due to the usual summer industrial dispute the ferry had not yet left.  It was a calm crossing; we managed to find the bar.  It was named the Wessex Bar (must have been because you got a free cup of tea there).  We left a BEC sticker behind the bar and partook of some of their stronger refreshment.

We continued on our long journey to the Wiesberghaus.  We eventually arrived in Hallstatt between 12.30 and 1.00 on the early morning of the 2nd, after the 1000 driven miles which was only interrupted by a short break, a yop and a scenic tour 4 times around a one way system in a German city.

We drove around Hallstatt looking for the others who should have arrived earlier that day.  We set out by looking for a pub with two British cars parked outside, then a camp site with them in.  But we had no luck.  Little did we know they had parked in the Police car park and were in the divers bar, pissed and buying drinks for the whole pub.  Meanwhile, we hadn't been able to find them at a camp site open at that time of night, so we slept on park benches on a beach by the Hallstattersee. We were up at the break of dawn before the park attendant came round at 6.30.

We ordered a full breakfast of croissant etc and got horseradish and ham rolls and a bottle of Stiegl.  We ate breakfast outside a Hotel on the edge of the “see”, the weather was hot and the place was superb.  We met the others in the village while stocking up on fresh food.  We retired under the shade of the umbrellas at the divers bar and decided on our plan of action.

Blitz and company were to go up the mountain straight away to see Robert and Laura about getting our kit up on the materialseilbahn.  While the rest of us loaded it up, then some went up the mountain before it got dark leaving J’rat, Tim, Andy and me to stay and finish loading the next morning, forcing us to go to a party in Obertraun which we had been invited to by members of the local caving club, it was their annual Forest Festival.  We went with six of the local cavers out of which one of them drinks.  It was a really good night.  There was a drunken tank driver swinging around, 30 feet up in the beams of the beer tent and people generally acting like we do in the Belfry.


I got roped into doing a Morris dance on stage to music from the Umpa band and got free beer the rest of the night.  There was a disco afterwards.  The next day we finished loading the materialseilbahn and went up the mountain by the passenger selbahn via Eishohlen.  There's an amazing 3D survey of the Mammothohle and Eishohle systems.  We arrived at the Wiesberghaus in the early evening and were greeted by Robert and Laura and had a drink with them and spent that night around a fire outside with bottles of Stiegle and Bratwurst. Tomma Dave and Pete (NCC) arrived that night.

In the morning I went over to the Titians carrying rope for Gonzo, Steve, Blitz and Duncan then went prospecting for caves all over the place with Tim and Andy.  Started several digs then went down HI C33 Miztendorfer Hohlen, a cave which is still going explored to a tight double bend and a flake in the way.   Looks like the cave floods with the first drop of drizzle. Tim and I discovered Marmutsnitenhohlen in a cliff face so named for obvious reasons - Asshohlen was found then almost collapsed on top of Dave.  It wasn't pushed because of the way it moves in its own draught.

We had a barrel of stiegl kindly brought for us by Herbert the sailor who due to a misunderstanding unloaded our kit off the seilbahn at bottom of the mountain, about half an hour after we loaded it.  Trebor had lost his clothes somewhere in the transporting up the mountain and was stuck with only a T-shirt and a pair of yellow shorts for the whole Expedition. At the bar large amounts of drink were consumed and an Austria melodeon player provided the music for me in another Morris dance, ending up with more free drinks.  Extract from the log about 4.30 am ­"Snablet demonstrated the traditional art of Morris Vomiting, retching all night to the accompaniment of bells".

The next day we suffered from tremendous hangovers not helped by Robert dishing out Garlic schnapps as a hangover cure.  Wiesberghohlen was discovered on the 6th (pointed out by Robert).  This was the only cave to go any major distance in the first week.  250 m deep 600 long at its last push.  Also in the first week Titan Schacht (C.38) was pushed to - 150 m deep and ended. Blitz, Steve and I spent a day going down a hole in the C.38 area.

There were three caves of interest; one was a small canyon - but it way in the same type of fault as C.19 and draughts well.  The second was a shaft at the bottom of a massive rift, it used to be full of snow put the heat had melted it, and we could throw stones down at least one hundred feet.  We couldn't descend because there were no natural belays and we didn't have any bolts. The third was a large shaft that we did descend.  We also found another entrance to Titian Schacht.

The next day Blitz pointed out C66 so we pushed it.  The only good thing about it was that it was so close to the Weisberghaus you could send people back for bottles of Stiegl while putting bolts in.  It ended in a tight bouldery choke in a 40 foot high moon milked covered rif.  Wies Alm hohlen as it's now known (formally Jager Hohle) was found half way through our stay by Chris Fry of the Croydon and SWCC.  The Welsh? (most of which were from London area), mad!  I pushed the cave to the 2nd pitch and ran into difficulty and we were asked if we'd like to help rig the pitch so we jumped at the chance and pushed it to 5th and Surveyer followed along a couple of pitches behind.  That's where they stay (at the third pitch) until someone took over from the Wessex - (who included lengths of rope protectors in the survey???)

Over the next week all our efforts were cantered on Wies Alm Hohle while the MUSS were off finding interesting depths of cave as well, they had now joined us on the Dachstein, they found Orllan Hohle (pity - we could have done with that rope down Wies Alm Hohle). Also in the same area the Austrians found a large cave 260 m or so breaking into an active stream needing digging.

During the second week we had a lot of problems with thunder and lightning storms, forcing us to spend a lot of time in the Wiesberghaus (Oh shame!).  I got friendly with Roberts daughter Sandy, we drank the Wiesberghaus dry, an outstanding feat if you’ve ever seen the amount of beer he keeps there. The rest of the expedition party had turned up at the beginning of that week.  Our two weeks stay was too short by we all had a superb time.  We left Wies Alm Hohle at the 21st pitch, Dany, Alan and the Yorkys continued on to the top of the 25th pitch finding a 250 ft 23rd pitch.

Pete (Snablet) MacNab