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Further Exploration and a New Indian Length Record

 

Tony Jarratt
Photos by Mark Brown

“They wound this way and that, far down into the secret depths of the cave, made another mark, and branched off in search of novelties to tell the upper world about.”
Mark Twain – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

The Caving Team

Austria: Peter Ludwig (LVHOO)

Denmark: Louise Korsgaard, Torben Redder (DSS}

Meghalaya: Brian Kharpran Daly (MAA / GSG), Shelley and Lindsay Diengdoh, Babhar Kupar “Dale” Mawlong (MAA), Raplang Shangpliang (Shnongrim)

Switzerland: Thomas Arbenz (SNT)

Ireland: Des McNally (UCDCPC)

U.K:      Annie Audsley (BEC / GSG), Simon Brooks (OCC / GSG), Mark Brown (SUSS / GSG), Tony Boycott (UBSS / BEC / GSG), Imogen Furlong (SUSS), Roger Galloway (GSG), Matt Hutson (GSG), Tony Jarratt (BEC / GSG), Kate Janossy (GSG), Neil Pacey (RRCPC), Dave Hodgson (GSG), Hugh Penney (GUPA / GSG / RRCPC), Derek Pettiglio (GSG), Henry Rockliff (SUSS), Fraser Simpson (GSG), Jayne Stead (GSG), Fiona Ware (GSG), Terry Whitaker (NCC)

The Support Team

Adison “Adi” Thaba, Bung Diengdoh (organizers), Myrkassim Swer (chef), Vinod Sunor, Alam “Munna” Khan, Zobeda Khatoon, Roma Sutradhar, Sansun Lyngdoh, Raju Sunar (cooking team and “swally wallahs”), David Kimberly Patkyntein (driver / organizer), Sharkes Kharsyntiew, Teiborlang Khongwir (Sumo and jeep drivers), S.D.Diengdoh (bus driver), Jonathon Wanniang, Shemborlang Lyngdoh (bus driver’s assistants)

The Local Guides Team

Gripbyman Dkhar (Semmasi), Evermore Sukhlain, Moonlight Patlong, Menda Syih, Carlyn Phyrngap, Shor “Pa Heh” Pajuh, Kores (all Shnongrim), Ekna Sukhlain (Moolasngi) and many other helpful locals all along the Ridge and beyond.

The Media Team

David Laitphlang (PCN presenter and party animal), Andrew Kharpor, Deimaia L. Siangshai, Markin Marbaniang, Marlon Blein (Meghalaya), Pradeep Gogoi (Assam)

The Shillong Party Team

Bill Richmond, Col. Fairweather Mylliemngap, Maureen, Dabbie, Rose and the other Ladies of Shillong, Phong Kupar “Teddy” and Ksan Kupar “Ronnie” Mawlong, Gregory Diengdoh, Gareth, Patrick, Alan, Dennis, etc.    

The Expedition

Abstracted from the official expedition diary with additions from the writer’s personal log and assorted nonsense thrown in for good luck. Apologies for the tedium but the BB and GSG Bulletin are about the only places where these trips get recorded. Earlier reports which give a background to work on the Ridge can be found in BB 516, 519 and 522 and GSG Bulletins Fourth Series Vol 1 Nos 4 and 5 and Vol 2 Nos 2 and 4. Also the Meghalaya Adventurers’ Association soft bound history and overview of Meghalayan caving – available from both BEC and GSG libraries. A separate article on the exploration of Krem Labbit (Khaidong) will hopefully be written by Annie Audsley on her return from Pakistan. 

This year’s expedition to the magnificent caving regions of the NE Indian state of Meghalaya concentrated on several systems within the Nongkhlieh Elaka (district) including some old favourites like Krem Liat Prah and Krem Umthloo and the four major new finds of Krem Umsohtung, Krem Tyrtong Ryngkoo, Krem Labbit (Khaidong) and Krem Labbit (Moolasngi). Many smaller sites were explored and documented and many more remain for future visits. The main team were again based in bamboo accommodation and tents on the Shnongrim Ridge with a satellite team spending a few days at the inspection bungalow in the nearby village of Semmasi. 15.5 km of passage was explored and surveyed resulting in the creation of a new record for India’s longest cave. This honour now goes to Krem Liat Prah, at present 22km in length and just beating the 21km Krem Umlawan / Kotsati system in nearby Lumshnong. Next year this cave should easily be extended to 30-35 kms and if luck and some very necky theories are on our side a length of 100 kms may be possible. Due to increasing conservation issues a press team were already luckily on hand to record the event and it is hoped that this distinction will assist in the protection of the Ridge and its vulnerable world-class cave systems, unique underground fauna and important subterranean watercourses.

February 5th saw the first batch of expeditionaries reach the capital, Shillong, where preparations for the fieldwork got underway and on the 7th the faithful school bus delivered them to the Ridge.

Next day Des, Neil, Henry and the writer commenced a long and frustrating session of “pot bashing” in the Lum Manar area where Krem Kya 1, 2 & 3 and Krem Siat Kriah 1 & 2 all became too tight at around  –15m and the nearby Krem Shnong Moo required digging to reach open passage.

Thomas continued with his surface mapping and recce project aided by Jayne, Brian, Terry and Raplang. This was to keep him fully occupied for the next three weeks and he only managed one caving trip but his dedicated devotion to this cartographic masterpiece earned him the team’s grateful thanks and a bottle of the finest Glenlivet.

Mark, Annie and Peter surveyed previously undescended pitches in the old favourite Krem Shyien Khlieh (nee Shynrong Labbit) and did further work in this system the following day.

On the 9th the boulder dig in Shnong Moo was passed and 35.5m of cave surveyed, via a tight vertical squeeze – the Nasty Little Twat - to too tight passages and a boulder choke. This was combined with more recce in the area guided by Shnongrim cow boy, Evermore, who pointed out 11 new sites!

 

Evermore and the writer ponder over the day’s prospecting with the aid of a freshly cut banana (tree)

 

Many of these were dropped on the 10th – Krem Kya 4 to a mud floor at  -40m, Krem Um Manong 2, where Imo pushed a tight, wet passage to an impasse at -35m, Krem Tyrtong Warim to -23m, Krem Pastor 6 to  -6m, Krem Pastor 5 to  -10m and Krem Pastor 1 – the most promising – which finished at  -35m. Locals reported bottoming this vertical shaft using bamboo rope and a man-riding basket to butcher an aberrant cow, which had taken the long drop.

Krem Poh Um Manong 1, 2 and 3 all ended after short pitches but Krem Um Manong 1 was found to be ongoing.

Mark returned to the long ignored village of Lelad where he relocated several sites and found other promising areas – notably Krem Umsohtung (later to become affectionately referred to as “ Toilet Cave” due to its location in the middle of the village and the noisome effluvia therein!).

Mark, Peter and Imo were looking for a project on the 11th so your scribe gave them a “hot tip” which he had been meaning to investigate for the last three years. Krem Labbit (Khaidong) had been briefly looked at by Martin “Lump” Groves in 2002 but not pushed. A local woodcutter had once told the writer that it was a big cave but no one knew just how big it was to become. Our three heroes (well, two heroes and a heroine) were about to find out in the next few days. Today Imo rigged until she ran out of rope and battery power

Over on the other side of the Ridge the “pot bashers” carried on down a series of short pitches in Um Manong 1 until they ran out of gear at a deep pot.

 

Krem Labbit: Annie in the main pitch

On the12th Imo returned to Labbit (Khaidong) with Henry and the pair dropped the pitch into a large chamber from where they surveyed 253m of ongoing streamway. They were followed by the surveying team of Mark, Des and Annie who followed a large fossil tunnel from the chamber and surveyed 279m in all.

The pot in Um Manong 1 was dropped for 30m to reach a large and inspiring canyon passage but Neil, Terry and the writer were disappointed when it soon ended in choked rifts (a promising dig) and inaccessible high levels. This is one for the future.

They continued their fruitless quest for an easy way down into the fabled Krem Synrang Ngap extensions somewhere below next day, finding a couple of promising pots and sending Jayne down Krem Warkhla 3 which became too tight at  –12m.

Tom and Peter continued mapping and investigated Krem Lyngtah, a small resurgence cave.

Labbit (Khaidong) had by now become the place to be seen. Imo, Henry and newly landed Viking, Torben continued the downstream survey, being somewhat intimidated by great multitudes of surprised labbits (bats). Another 648m was added to the length of this rapidly expanding cave and on the following day another 995m was mapped in enormous, mud-floored, fossil phreatic tunnels which became even bigger as the teams progressed – stunned by what was being revealed.

 

Krem Labbit – The Big Choke

 

Krem Labbit ‘Agoraphobia’

The “Toilet Team” of Mark, Fraser and Derek surveyed 228m of Yorkshire style pitches in Umsohtung while down at flood plain level 193m was clocked up in Krem Lyngtah. Also at this altitude a through cave of 256m, Krem Khuiang, was surveyed by Hugh, Tony and Jane – mainly because it was near the only tea shop for miles!

The stolid, but rapidly becoming pissed off, “pot bashers” bottomed Krem Bir 2 at  -35m, Um Manong 3 at  -15m and Krem Warkhla 1 at  -19m but Krem Warkhla 2 still had hopes. Your scribe had squeezed down into a loose chamber with a boulder and mud floor hanging over a deep pot and today an easier entrance was dug to reach this point but the big pot was not rigged due to fear of major collapse of the floor, walls and ceiling. A Neil was called for…

Krem Umsohtung continued dropping steeply on the 15th when Mark and his team eventually intersected a small streamway.

Back at Warkhla 2 the prescribed Neil was dispatched through the horror story to rig  the big pitch. This shat out at  -30m. Thoroughly discouraged the team decided to abandon their fruitless search and rig Krem Synrang Ngap in preparation for long, sporting and possibly overnight pushing trips to the two downstream chokes. Asking directions from Moonlight Patlong, a local wood cutter, they were shown a deep, banana tree-covered pot just off the main track which your scribe knew was definitely not Ngap. It turned out to be previously unseen despite our having passed it many times over the last few years. With a heartfelt “Sod it!” Neil commenced rigging while his Mendip colleague slept in the sun, thankful not to be a hard Northerner. At  -50m he passed a very tight squeeze to another strongly draughting pot and had some entertainment reversing it. This pot was later found to be Krem Tyrtong Ryngkoo. (Tyrtong – an ancient Pnar word for “summit” and Ryngkoo – a local bird that keeps silent on the approach of people.). Needless to say Ngap never got visited this year as at last the “pot bashers” had got lucky!

 

Tyrtong Ryngkoo – looking up the entrance pitch

Meanwhile the “Labbiters” clocked up another 627m of streamways and 790m of fossil tunnels – an incredible amount but made easier by the fortuitous possession by Torben of a Disto laser measurer.

Krem Poh Lumthymmai, NE of Labbit, was bottomed at  -14m and Krem Lyngtah pushed to a probably passable but highly dangerous choke.

With plenty of going cave in three separate major systems the frantic explorers were in for a shock that evening and for the next 48 hours as a mini-monsoon hit the camp. Bamboo huts and tents leaked copiously and streams flowed through the dining area while awesome thunderstorms and massive hailstones added to the fun. As all were soaked on the outside equilibrium was gained by getting soaked on the inside as sorrows were drowned along with sleeping bags. The kitchen tent also suffered badly but the cooks worked wonders in the atrocious conditions. The highlight of the day was when top chef Swer apologised profusely for the lack of “desert”. The rain also encouraged the abhorrent Tiger leeches, which this year had staked a claim on the campsite. Several of the team got “leeched” and the nasty little bastards were regularly evicted from tents and sleeping bags.

Luckily the morning of the 17th proved fine and the dishevelled ones dried out themselves and their kit and set off underground or on surface recces.

 

Neil Pacey in the squeeze

Tyrtong Ryngkoo, being too difficult to remember or pronounce, was soon bastardised to “Turtle Wrinkle”, or, as exploration progressed downwards in tight and horribly loose pitches, “Krem Grim”. Neil did a superb job of rigging this collector’s item especially as the pitches were now as wet as those of the Dales due to the storm run-off. Your scribe used his digging prowess to enlarge the squeeze while Neil dropped several pitches to run out of rope at a c.30m pot.

A photography and bolting trip to Shyien Khlieh was also done today and a team of seven set off for continuing surveying in the incredible horizontal maze of Krem Tyngheng at Semmasi. The waterproof roof of the snug I.B. had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Saturday 18th February saw four “Labbiters” pushing some 30m into the Mother and Father of all Boulder Chokes and taking photographs while another three dropped Kneewrecker Pot 2 in an attempt at a connection. Hugh, Kate and the Danes bagged another 352m of upstream inlet.

Desperate for an “easy day” Des, Neil and the writer opted for a working tourist trip in Krem Liat Prah where Neil bolted a traverse in the far SE corner of this 15km+ system in an attempt to reach a possible sump bypass. The climb was a success but the 69m long, flat out crawl (in a cave where a light aeroplane could be flown!) ended at an impassable choke. This at least partially proved your scribe’s theory of cave development to the SE and on the remote chance of confirming it some fluorescein was dumped into the surprisingly fast flowing stream below the climb.

The Krem Tyngheng team surveyed 296m and, more importantly, secured a supply of beer in Semmasi – previously thought to be a dry village. They were also informed that the locals believe the cave to extend to the Kopili River, many kilometres to the NE, on the Assam border.

 

Krem Labbit Fossil Passage

Next day much surface recce, mapping and data input was undertaken with the persistent Labbit enthusiasts adding 101m of fossil passage and 265m of crawling side passage to the score. The latter was to prove both very important and also to prove that it is essential to push Meghalayan crawls and squeezes, even in huge cave systems.

At Lelad, Umsohtung yielded another 401m and the “Wrinkled Turtles” at last got their just rewards as they abseiled through the ceiling of a huge, active trunk passage at 100m depth. They surveyed 200m upstream and were relieved not to have to kiss any more frogs as they had found a princess at last! (It soon dawned on them what an ugly princess they were landed with but, as was pointed out, the baby of Neil and your scribe was hardly likely to be a stunner. Cheeky bastards). At the base of the pitch the huge Moonlight Chamber was found and named in honour of our friendly wood cutter.

The Semmasi team added 614m to their exceptionally complicated survey of Tyngheng where only frustratingly short legs could be measured due to the frequency of intersections. Over their stay they lost valuable exploration time by having to re-draw over 3km of cave due to the laxity of a previous expedition member. Another problem with this system was that every lead they tried to finish off resulted in more junctions and many more ways on! The end of this system has still not been reached and it may be extremely extensive.

Torben, Louise (practicing her newly acquired English obscenities) and Peter were back in the Labbit crawl on the 20th, surveying another 250m. Nearby Roger, Henry and Imo were dodging falling trees in a daylight shaft connected to Kneewrecker Pot 2. On the surface above, and blissfully unaware of those below, the locals continued with their deforestation! This cave ended in an impassable downstream boulder choke before a connection with Labbit could be made.

Shelley, being young, slim and fit, was conned by Neil and the writer to join the “Turtle Wrinklies” as they surveyed upstream in the huge, muddy and boulder-floored Evermore Passage, named after their keen young guide. After 223m of hard going a waist deep pool was reached and a retreat made. Shelley’s little legs made it, for her, harder going still and a badly strained back acquired on the way out resulted in 100m of vertical agony as she manfully struggled up the grim pitches to freedom and a late meal. Both Shelley and Neil were actually very lucky to be getting out at all as earlier in the trip a large rock flake had peeled off the wall when your scribe used it as a handhold. Too heavy to grasp it had just begun the 20m drop to the two unsuspecting cavers directly below when it miraculously wedged itself between two tiny outcrops which halted its probably fatal trajectory. A mere pebble rattled on down to accompany the hoarse, strangled cry of “BELOW”. This was not the only close call in this very dicey pitch series as large rocks had plummeted down on earlier trips. One of the lower pitches sports a protruding rock buttress – the Mercy Seat – over which one climbs and on which one sits before the abseil. Miraculously it was still in place when we finally deserted the cave!

 

Neil Pacey at the Mercy Seat

In Krem Shyien Khlieh Mark and Annie passed a duck (they were told not to eat it… groan) to discover some 200m of interesting inlet ending at an aven with “Cappadocian” style mud pillars.

280m was added to the Tyngheng labyrinth where a bamboo maypole was used to gain access to two high level passages and another entrance.

On the 21st various surface recces were undertaken and some downstream surveying in Tyrtong Ryngkoo led to a large boulder choke where an inlet stream may be that from Krem Synrang Ngap 1st downstream choke. A way through the other side of this was found to reach the ongoing main stream at a deep water section in a large phreatic gallery.

Next day Des, Fiona and Hugh revisited a cave found earlier in the week, Krem Wah Um Bloh, where rising water curtailed exploration. The discoverers developed a tradition of entertaining hitch-hikes back to camp, once with local “likely lads” in a pimped up Maruti jeep where translations were made by mobile phone to the driver’s English speaking mate miles away and twice in bone-shaking Shaktiman trucks.

Another 156m was added to Labbit by Imo, Annie and Louise on a “girly” trip where they were gobsmacked on reaching the remote entrance to find themselves reluctant TV stars! Another 513m were added by Simon, Dave and Torben, including a new streamway.

“Toileteers” Mark, Roger and Matt added 660m to Umsohtung and took photographs. They were rewarded with tea and betel nut at a house in Lelad village.

In Liat Prah a new 11m bit was surveyed after a bolt climb by Peter into a well decorated but choked roof tube.

 

The huge decorated passage before the upstream choke.

Upstream in Tyrtong Ryngkoo things initially looked great but after 250m of immense and superbly decorated trunk passage the inevitable Meghalayan boulder choke was reached. This was pushed for some 50m but thoughts of getting lost forever and having to eat Henry prompted a retreat. If this active streamway is actually the continuation of the Synrang Labbit / Synrang Ngap combined streams then pushing a connection would be easier from the far side, though there may, in fact, be two chokes with open streamway between. Later, during a hilarious discussion on naming the cave features, a superb faceted stalagmite in the extensions was landed forever with the title of The Glitteris. On a later trip Mark was unable to find this – enough said.

The 23rd February saw the bamboo maypole in use again in Tyngheng but to little avail.

Further work in Labbit, including digging, failed to yield a link with the adjacent Krem Shrieh but 74m was found elsewhere and a strongly draughting crawl found heading towards Krem Chuni.

“Team Toilet” were back in the bowels of Krem Umsohtung where a free-climb led to the large and muddy, and 79m long, Village Shitter Passage. A bolt climb gained 26m to a high aven and 206m was surveyed downstream where Terry, Matt and Derek crawled into a larger main streamway.

Kate, Annie and Henry got what they thought to be the short straw by continuing the survey of the long crawl in Labbit, the Khaidong Metro. After 30m they were suddenly amazed to find “23” Tippexed on a rock lip. Soon after they were romping down an immense breakdown tunnel (The Grand Trunk Road) but didn’t have a clue which cave they had connected with. Back at camp the jubilant trio were informed by your scribe that it was he who had written “23” above a hole dug out from above in 2004 in the Shnongrim Subway of Krem Um Im 6, itself being one of the most westerly arms of the Krem Liat Prah system. This passage had been another “hot tip” but getting people to push a grotty, loose crawl in a remote corner of a 15km cave was not easy. If it had been pursued when found the 6km of enormous fossil galleries of Labbit would have been discovered from the inside but survey trips would have been a nightmare – and no easy climb out to surface. The dug hole would have been suicidal to excavate from below so this was a great stroke of fortune for today’s connectors who had now extended Liat Prah just enough to claim the record of India’s longest cave from Krem Umlawan / Kotsati. Celebrations continued (as usual) into the wee small hours.

Another 380m was added to Umsohtung but the main downstream passage ended in a choke.

Krem Gerald Hubmayr, named after a late friend of Peter, also ended at a choke after 65m.

Throughout all the excitement Fraser had been plugging away with his video footage and today he assisted the TV crew to film Henry and Brian in the entrance series of Krem Labbit (Lum Dait Khung) – this being the nearest accessible cave passage (and with the potential to one day become part of the Shnongrim Meghasystem!). He also spent much time documenting the destructive quarrying and mining operations at both Lumshnong and to the NW of the Ridge. This was a soul-destroying experience.

 

More of the huge decorated passage before the upstream choke

24th February and the “Turtled Wrinklets” were back downstream in Tyrtong Ryngkoo. After a fine but sadly short section of chest deep canal a boulder slope led to a four way chamber. The streamway was followed to the prophesied massive boulder choke and two of the other leads closed down. The fourth led up a steep mud and rock slope into a huge, flat ceilinged chamber with an awkward climb at the end to a smaller, choked chamber. 450m surveyed.

Hugh, Des, Peter and Terry surveyed 64m in Krem Wah Um Bloh to a choke and wrote the place off.

Imo and Derek got another 120m in Labbit, mainly in small stuff leading off the immense mud-floored gallery of Disto Inferno.

The Semmasi team surveyed 522m in the complex wet series of Tyngheng named Tipee Toe Canals, leaving two swimming leads.

Saturday 25th saw an important photographic team in Labbit where yet another team materialised after dropping the 50m deep Krem Chuni and pushing the calcite-lined squeeze looked at earlier from the Labbit side.

Your scribe led Imo and Neil on a working tourist trip to his “baby” – Krem Umthloo. With oncoming senility as an excuse he just got away with it when this became a major and lengthy epic involving cold swims (with one lifejacket between three!) and failure to find their goal in the most northerly corner of the system. As a consolation prize Imo did a magnificent push through a squalid, tight duck (marked as a sump on the survey) into 79m of walking passage. On reflection this was a belter of a trip and, if nothing else, inspired Imo and Neil to return to this truly fantastic system in the future where well over 100 leads remain to be explored and where the possibility with a link to the potentially huge Krem Synrang Labbit system to the north is definitely on the cards.

Over at Semmasi Simon, Kate and Dale surveyed damp leads off Tipee Toe Canals and dry leads off Fossil River Series in Krem Tyngheng. Tony, Dave and Matt got the swimming stuff until they got cold. 655m surveyed in total.

Next day a photo / choke-busting trip was undertaken in Tyrtong Ryngkoo but the choke won.

Imo and your scribe snook off to Krem Chuni where they amazingly survived Peter’s acrobatic mid-air deviation 50m above the deck and set to work chiselling the tight connection passage to enable mere mortals to pass. Imo then took the writer on a delightful four hour stroll through the roofed underground desert comprising much of this stupendous cave. He was deeply impressed. Samples of cave fauna were taken and on leaving via the entrance pitches of Krem Labbit some derigging was done. Also in Chuni were Peter, Annie and Derek who surveyed 131m.

Over in the Moolasngi village area, on the other side of the Ridge, Brian, Hugh, Des and Terry were guided by local man Ekna to ten new pots located below a large collection of ancient standing stones and burial chambers. One of these Krem Labbit (Moolasngi) 3 (confused yet?) was estimated at 50 m deep and had rising condensation wafting out.

Fed up with Tyngheng the Semmasi team borrowed a Shaktiman and went for a jolly to the remote villages of Pala and Kseh. Strangely enough they found the impressive entrance of… you guessed…Krem Labbit. Another promising cave here was Krem Bliat. They all then returned to the Ridge camp in preparation for the end of the expedition. Carlyn provided a good supply of the excellent local rice beer to spice up the celebrations.

The final, longed for trip in Tyrtong Ryngkoo took place next day when Mark and Neil took photos and derigged the cave. No tears were shed when Neil abandoned his baby.

A large team of “Toileteers” did a last trip in Umsohtung, took photos, surveyed 214m and left the place with at least three ongoing leads.

 

Krem Umsohtung, Upstream.

The writer, Fraser, Imo, Brian, Dave, Raplang and Sharkes (Jeep) accompanied by Menda (motorbike) travelled to Daistong village with the MAA dinghy – or to be strictly correct half of it (a long story). This was carted down to the flood plain and inserted in the flooded passage of Krem Khangbru. Thence ensued a couple of hours of atrocious seamanship and ribald hilarity as lifejacketed would-be explorers attempted to navigate the good ship Titanic under the rapidly lowering ceiling. Eventually a sump was discerned 38m in and the whole circus wandered round to the nearby sink cave, Krem Ksar 1. Here a foul, stagnant pool was jam-packed with rotten bamboo and logs and no place for the fragile vessel so Dave was inserted, as he was the only mug with a wetsuit.

More hilarity followed as he fought his way to a sump some 50m in. He was also volunteered to check out the two adjacent grotty caves of Krem Ksar 2 & 3. A total of 172m was surveyed including some unroofed cave passage.

In Krem Chuni Annie, Derek and Roger surveyed 66m of crawl and derigged the cave.

On the 28th February eleven of the team left to attend Shelley’s engagement ceremony in Shillong leaving the stragglers to derig Krem Labbit (Khaidong), wash ropes and pack up. Henry, Terry and the writer took this last chance for glory and went to drop Krem Labbit (Moolasngi) 3, the supposed 50m shaft. To make the survey easy the 50m tape was taken along. Henry set off down this impressive pot rigging as he went and communicating by walkie-talkie. At 50m down he still couldn’t see the bottom and needed more rope so asked Terry to join him. Not being a technical SRT aficionado Terry attempted the first re-belay, decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and came out. A rope was lowered and Henry soon reported that he had dropped into a major trunk passage. The writer decided to join him and Terry kindly walked back to camp to change the pick up time from 6pm to 8pm. The huge shaft turned out to be 92m deep and the passage below bored off to the NW, towards Krem Liat Prah! This superb 6m diameter phreatic tunnel, The Sound of Silence, was a surveyor’s dream, especially with the fortuitous 50m tape. The jubilant ones soon clocked up around 500m when the noise of a stream was heard ahead. Henry made a facetious comment about finding green-dyed water and clambered down a scree slope for a look. Your scribe was overjoyed to hear his spluttered and apologetic mumblings as the bright green stream lapped around his wellies! Eureka! They had proven that the Video Passage stream in Liat Prah flowed beneath the Ridge to emerge almost certainly at the beautiful resurgence cave of Krem Rubong and your scribe was well chuffed that his hitherto scorned theory was correct. With several open leads they stopped the survey and rushed back to the pitch to investigate the “downstream” borehole. This soon reached a short pitch, which was traversed over to a maze of phreatic canyons and the reappearance of the emerald stream. The presence of bats and an echo indicating huge but inaccessible passage above convinced them that they had another princess, and this one was a real beauty. Having run out of time they surveyed back up the mighty entrance shaft with Henry derigging as he went. With 650m in the bag and enough open leads to warrant three survey teams next year they were the smuggest buggers on the Ridge and only ten minutes late for their lift back to the celebratory beer supplies and congratulations of the remaining expeditionaries.

The camp was dismantled next day and all headed back to Shnongrim via the Nartiang standing stones.

On the 2nd March equipment sorting and shopping filled the day before the traditional party, this year at the Pinewood Hotel with beer sponsored by Mohan Meakin brewery, courtesy of the press. A post-party party at Robin Laloo’s house continued until the early hours and three of the “Turtle Wrinklies” ended up swigging illicitly bought whisky in the back streets of Shillong with an unknown headcase at 3.30am! A memorable occasion (if only they could remember it).

Next day it was all over and the team scattered across the world in search of more adventures or back to earn enough to return to Cave Explorers’ Valhalla in eleven months time. Once again the visitors’ grateful thanks go to Brian, Maureen and family and the redoubtable Meghalayan Adventurers for their fantastic input to this truly satisfying expedition. Kublai.

 

High level passage, Krem Um Im 6, Meghalaya. Part of the central section of the Krem Liat Prah system – India’s longest cave. Drawn by Jrat from a photograph by Simon Brooks.

 

Caving in the Abode of the Clouds – Meghalaya 2006

 

Krem Labbit Pitch

Caving Team

Austria: Peter Ludwig (PL),

UK: Annie Audsley (AA), Simon Brooks (SJB), Mark Brown (MWB),Tony Boycott (ATB), Imogen Furlong (IF), Roger Galloway (RG), Dave Hodgson (DH), Kate Janossy (KJ), Tony “J.Rat” Jarratt (AJR) Neil Pacey NP, Hugh Penney (HP), Derek Pettiglio (DP), Henry Rockcliff (HR), Fraser Simpson (FS), Jayne Stead (JS), Fiona Ware (FW), Terence Whitaker (TMW)

Ireland: Des McNally (DMc)

Switzerland: Thomas Arbenz (TA),

Denmark: Louise Korsgaard (LK), Torben Redder (TR)

India: Brian Kharpran Daly (BKD), Shelley Diengdoh (SD), Lindsay Diengdoh (LD), Dale Mawlong (DM), Raplang Shangpliang (RS).

Support Team

David Kimberly Patkyntein, (Driver/Organiser), Alam (Munna) Khan (Cook),

S.D. Diengdoh (bus driver), Jonathon Wanniang (drivers mate), Shemborlang Lyndoh (drivers mate). Myrkassim Swer (cook), Vinod Sunor, Adison Thabah, Bung Diengdoh, Zobeda Khatoon, Roma Sutradhar, Sansun Lyngdoh, Raju Sunar, Teiborlang Khongwir.

Guides/Informants

Evermore Sukhlain, Moonlight Patlong, Carlyn Phyrngap, Shor “Pa Heh” Pajuh, Menda Syih, Kores, Gripbymon Dkhar (Semassi), Ekna Sukhlain (Moolasgni).

Press

David Laitphlang, Andrew Kharpor, Deimaia L. Siangshai, Markin Marbaniang, Marlon Blein.

Diary

 

Sunday 5th February

Mark, Annie, J.Rat, Peter, Thomas, Des, Imogen, Jayne and Henry arrived in Shillong via Gauhati. Some of the group stayed at Brian and Maureens’, others at the Centrepoint hotel.

Monday 6th February

Neil arrived at 10am from Gauhati.

Gear was organized at Brian and Maureens’ house, shopping carried out and preparations made in Shillong. The Centrepoint bar provided an acclimatisation venue until the early hours.

Tuesday 7th February

Terry arrived at 1.30am from Gauhati.

After a prompt start (bus departed at 11am!) the team travelled from Shillong to the ridge camp in the school bus. A briefing was carried out and the team settled in around the fire.

Wednesday 8th February

Thomas carried out a survey workshop in the morning.

J.Rat, Des, Neil and Henry went to Lum Manar hill fort, then dropped five shafts nearby; (Krem Kya 1, 2 and 3, Krem Siat Kriah 1 and 2) each ending in tight rifts after ca. 15m depth. A sixth shaft, Krem Shnong Moo was left ongoing.

Thomas, Jayne, Brian, Terry and Raplang went to the crest of the ridge and walked along towards the SW, past Lelad and Tagnub, to the watershed at the end of the ridge. Sixty one GPS readings were taken for the map, including the road from beyond Leilad. Two potential areas for recce were spotted. 5.6km were walked.

Mark, Annie and Peter successfully relocated Krem Shyein Khlieh (formerly Shynrong Labbit 2001) from the registry details. They failed to find the main underground pitch, but in the process dropped and surveyed a series of undescended pitches ending at a too tight crawl.

Imogen was ill and remained in camp.

Thursday 9th February

Mark and Annie returned to Krem Shyein Khlieh rigged a high level traverse and found that it had been surveyed. They then found and rigged the pitch to the main streamway. They investigated J.Rat’s duck, near the base of the pitch. It was left ongoing with low airspace and light draught (towards the main stream passage). They also looked at couple of potential side passage leads. Cave left rigged.

Henry and Terry went back to Krem Shnong Moo, where the boulder was removed and the cave was explored through three short pitches to a boulder choke. All leads ended too tight.

Imogen, Des and Peter remained on the surface (through illness) and constructed a sauna.

Thomas, Brian and Jayne returned to the crest of the ridge, to continue surface surveying. They walked along towards the NE, past Nongthymme then Moolasngi then Lumthari, to the Litein teashop at the end of the ridge. 62 GPS readings were taken for the map. No new potential areas for recce were spotted. 6km were walked.

J.Rat and Neil followed Evermore around Lum Manar hill fort. Located 10 cave entrances and one possible blocked entrance. One shaft was guessed to be 50m. GPS and digital photos taken for all locations. They then went to Krem Shnong Moo to survey 35.5m.

Friday 10th February

Imogen, Henry, Neil, Des, Annie, J.Rat, Terry, Jayne and Peter returned to the Lum Manar hill fort area to drop the cave entrances located the day before.

Imogen, Annie and Peter dropped Krem Kya 4 to an approximate depth of 40m. Shaft ends in mud floor. Krem Um Manong 2 was dropped to a depth of 35m, where Imogen explored a low tight and wet passage at the bottom until it became too tight. The water was full of cave shrimp, both white and coloured and there was a light draught out.

Neil, Des and Henry went to Krem Tyrtong Warim, which dropped to depth of 23m completed. Then they went to Krem Pastor 6, a 6m climb down to blind alcoves at the bottom. Next they went to Krem Pastor 5, which was 10m deep completed. Krem Pastor was dropped 35m, bones were observed at the bottom of a side shaft, no way on was found.

J.Rat, Terry and Jayne went with Evermore to Krem Poh Um Manong 1,2,3; all completed after short pitches. They then went to a new cave entrance Krem Um Manong 1. This is an ongoing perennial stream cave in boulder pitches.

Mark went to Lelad village and approximately traversed the upper limestone boundary on the west side of the ridge. He relocated Krem PaulusLelad caveKrem Umsohtung, and Krem Niakrong and identified seven other sites of speleological interest. Krem Umsohtung was found to have a strong outward moist warm draught, as did Moonrise cave (Krem Mihbnai).

Thomas and Brian walked down from Tagnub to the valley floor. They GPS surveyed the  road from Krem Umsngad to Tagnub and the southwest end of the Litein valley and walked back to camp. They were also informed of Krem Lyngtah in the area.

Saturday 11th February

Mark, Peter and Imogen went to Krem Labbit (Khaidong), which Imogen rigged until she ran out of drill battery power and rope.

Jayne, Henry, Annie, Des remained in camp with illness, Annie processed some data during the day.

J.Rat, Terry and Neil returned to Krem Um Manong 1, continued rigging down short boulder pitches and reached a ten-metre pitch onto a boulder bridge with large drops continuing. 26m was surveyed.

Thomas, Brian and Raplang made an early start, drove down to the Litein river, beyond the tea shop. Then they walked along the base of the ridge slope, GPSing and noted a number of new resurgences. They followed the Shaktiman track coming down from Shnongrim and walked back to camp (7 hours). Another cave was pointed out by Raplang, one third of the way up from the valley, called Krem Sohsylle (previously explored).

Sunday 12th February

Imogen and Henry completed rigging Krem Labbit (Khaidong) and dropped into a chamber at the bottom. They surveyed along the main stream passage at the bottom. Stream passage ongoing. 253m surveyed.

Mark, Des and Annie surveyed Krem Labbit (Kaidong) from the entrance to the chamber at the bottom. Des found a large fossil passage leading out of the chamber. Passage ongoing. 279m surveyed.

J.Rat, Terry and Neil returned to Krem Um Manong 1 and completed rigging down to a canyon passage, via a broken 30m pitch. High level passages were observed which need bolting up to. The cave currently ends with choked rifts in floor, needs digging, which is possible. Draughting out. Cave derigged. 81m surveyed.

Torben and Louise arrived in camp.

Jayne and Peter stayed in camp through illness. Jayne mended some team member’s clothing.

Thomas stayed in camp and worked on the area map.

Monday 13th February

Mark and Annie went to Krem Mihbnai, near Lelad village. They rigged an entrance pitch and then a 70m pitch and found the bottom choked with boulders. No way on could be found despite a strong draft. The cave was derigged. 87m surveyed.

Terry, J.Rat and Jayne went back to Krem Um Manong 1 and retrieved tackle. They then went to Krem Bir 2.The rift entrance could not be fully descended by ladders. A drill battery was lost down the pitch. They then went to Krem Warkhla 2 where J.Rat squeezed through a short laddered rift into a boulder chamber with a massive shaft in the floor. Ongoing lead. They then went to Krem Warkhla 3. Jayne descended a tight rift of 12m, which led to a small pretty chamber with no way on.

Thomas and Peter drove from Shnongrim to the Litein Valley and followed the ridge for 20km. They looked at a valley resurgence Krem Lyngtah, which started as a small 1.5m high passage and progressed to a passage with waist deep water. Probably going.

Imogen, Torben and Henry returned to Krem Labbit (Khaidong) and continued surveying downstream in a NE direction. Many bats were observed. There were also lots of fish of various sizes, including white fish (up to 20 cm). The lead was ongoing. 648m surveyed.

Louise, Neil and Des remained in camp ill.

The rest of the team arrived at 7pm from Shillong and another briefing was held.

Tuesday 14th February

Thomas held another surveying workshop in the morning.

Mark, Fraser and Derek went to Krem Umsohtung at Lelad and rigged a series of short pitches down to a narrow winding rift. Two more short drops led to the head of a canyon where they ran out of rope. 228m were surveyed back to the entrance.

Imogen, Simon, Roger, Torben, Dave, Annie and Lyndsay went to Krem Labbit (Khaidong).

Imogen, Simon, Roger and Lyndsay continued to push and survey downstream to a boulder choke. They found two ongoing leads; a fossil passage leading off at the top of the choke and the stream passage at the bottom going small but strongly draughting. The team also took photographs going in and out. 105m surveyed.

Torben, Dave and Annie went to Krem Labbit (Khaidong)  and surveyed the fossil series from the bottom of “Down with the Thloo”. This was a good size passage continuing with one side passage lead. The main passage intersected a streamway via a steep mud bank. There were three main ways on. A large colony of bats was observed.890m surveyed.

Peter, Kate and Matt went to Krem Lyngtah and surveyed 193m in a resurgence cave involving chest deep wading. Still ongoing.

Hugh, Jayne and Tony B. went to Krem Khuiang and surveyed 256m in a through trip.

J.Rat, Neil, Terry and Henry went to Krem Bir 2, where Henry rigged 35m to a mud filled rift. Neil and Terry were shown Krem Um Manong 3, which choked after a 15m drop and short passage. They then failed to find J.Rat and Henry so returned to camp.

J.Rat and Henry went on to Krem Warkhla 2 where they dug an easier entrance and examined the top of a large shaft. Suspect boulders drove them to the adjacent Krem Warkhla 1 where Henry dropped a 19m pitch into a calcited chamber with no leads.

Thomas, Brian and Shelley walked approx 20km around the North West side of the ridge base. They observed many new coalmines and quarrying operations in the area. Krem Bam Khnai (a protected site) was seen to be in the process of being destroyed by five new coal shafts.

Des, Fiona and Louise remained in camp recovering from illness.

Wednesday 15th February

Mark, Shelley and Hugh went to Krem Umsohtung where Mark continued rigging down several pitches and Hugh and Shelley surveyed behind. They finally intersected what appears to be a horizontal small streamway with upstream and downstream leads and a good draught. 152m surveyed

Neil and J.Rat went back to Krem Warkhla 2 and descended 14m to a 30m blind pot. They then went to Krem Tyrtong Ryngkoo where Neil descended down through a tight rift 50m. The cave is ongoing with a good draught.

Three teams returned to Krem Labbit (Khaidong). Annie, Derek and Lyndsay went back to the new streamway and surveyed up and downstream to constrictions in both directions. 335m surveyed.

Imogen, Roger and Dave continued surveying downstream to a sump pool and then up an inlet, which ended in a rift climb requiring bolting. 292m surveyed.

Terry, Torben and Louise continued in the fossil passage to a large boulder choke, which appeared promising and could be pushed. They then pushed an active inlet off the fossil passage, which is ongoing. 790m surveyed.

Fraser, Raplan, Peter and Des went to the Krang area down from the camp and identified pots that had already been dropped. They then finished off the sauna.

Henry and Simon went to Krem Pol Lumthymme and descended the pot to a depth of around 14m where a too-tight constriction was met. 18m of passage surveyed. They then went spot-holing and took GPS readings on two nearby sites, Pol Lumthymme Doline and Lyntan Thiew both of which offered limited prospects.

Tony B and Jayne went to Lost World doline and confirmed that there is no passable underground connection between Um Im 5 and Um Im 6 and also that the Um Im 6 entrance is the lowest point in the doline.

Thomas stayed in camp and worked on the surface map. Brian stayed in camp to work on his report.

Kate, Matt and Fiona returned to Krem Lyngtah and surveyed to a boulder collapse/aven(?), there is a possible way on but they considered it too dangerous. 186m surveyed.

Thursday 16th February

After a night of extremely heavy rain (4 or 5”) during which the camp roof proved to be not totally watertight (!) everyone and everything was wet; the day was spent huddling in the dining area and adding tarpaulins to the roof. The sauna tarps also had to be redeployed.  The rain continued throughout the day but spirits remained high, while beer stocks fell dramatically.

Friday 17th February

There was more rain, lightning and even hail on Thursday night but the reinforced camp fared much better and Friday dawned dry and reasonably bright.  Gear was laid out to dry and teams left on the following trips:

Brian and Fraser started from Litein teashop and walked round to the base of the ridge documenting the destruction of Shnongrim Karst areas by indiscriminate illegal mining. At the request of Brian, Fraser took film and still photos of the devastation.

Kate, Derek and Hugh went partway down Krem Umsohtung on a photo trip.

J.Rat and Neil went to Krem Tyrtong Ryngkoo, over the ridge from Krem Bir.  They GPS’d the entrance and marked it on the map.  They continued rigging past the previous limit and down two more pitches to a wet boulder choke and a squeeze through boulders to the head of a 30m pitch.

Terry, Torben and Louise went on a surface recce around Krem Pohjingtep and located a small subsidiary sink. They searched various closed depressions and found Field Pot, an open shaft. They followed a stream downhill and noted some minor karst features. A fissure cave was noted halfway up the escarpment on their return.

Annie, Mark and Henry went down Shyien Khlieh and Henry bolted up an aven at the end of Use Dipper at Night; he reached a big ledge about 10m up but the aven carried on up at least 40m.  They took some photos in the main passage, and then rigged the connection to the parallel streamway; once there they investigated the downstream sump/boulder choke, but found no way on.

Roger, Tom and Peter went round from the cement factory on a surface survey covering about 5km, continuing Tom’s survey of the ridge.

Imogen remained in camp with tiredness.

Semassi - Simon, Dave, Fiona, Matt, Tony B, Jayne and Lyndsay set off Semasi to stay in the IB for a few days and continue the exploration of Krem Tyngheng.  Late afternoon all went into Nummalite Boulevard where passage details were drawn in and photos taken. In the evening the group were accommodated at IB with food arranged in the village.

Saturday 18th February

Mark, Annie, Peter and Henry went down Krem Labbit (Khaidong) and investigated the mother and father of all boulder chokes. No way through could be found, although they pushed approximately 30m into it. They then returned to the entrance, taking photos along the way.

Roger, Imogen and Derek went to Kneewrecker 2, some small passages that broke into a canyon and series of short pitches. They dropped into the lovin’ it, labbit passage and surveyed out. 163m surveyed.

Torben, Louise, Hugh and Kate went to the upstream passage in Krem Labbit (Khaidong) and continued surveying the upstream inlet. They were stopped by a muddy climb and calcite blockage. 352m surveyed.

Des, J.Rat and Neil went into Liat Prah to the end of video passage. They bolted and climbed about 5m into a 60m draughting sandy crawl, ending at a solid boulder choke. Dye was put in the stream.

Terry remained in camp drawing surveys. Fraser remained in camp ill. 

Semassi; Simon Lyndsay and Matt went into downstream wet series where they drew passage detail along old survey and surveyed 68m of new passage.

Tony B, Dave and Fiona went to chocolate passage to explore un-pushed leads and surveyed 228m.

Raplang remained in Semassi securing beer supplies, transport opportunities and locations of previously unknown caves.

Jayne returned to camp not feeling well.

Sunday 19th February

 

Peter, Annie, and Hugh went looking for a reported sinkhole in the Wah Sapoh area and ended up bashing through thick jungle lapiaz eventually finding a 20m deep pot with a stream crossing the bottom: Krem Gerald Hubmayr. They also found a sink once out of the jungle, Parrot Sink.

Mark and Des spent the day in camp entering a spectacular amount of data and drawing up surveys.

Tom and Brian completed their survey of the base of the ridge with the section around Umthe.

Henry, Roger, Imogen, Torben, Louise and Derek went to Krem Labbit (Khaidong).

Henry and Roger pushed the back of the choke below the big pitch, looking for upstream passage, but the choke was impassable. Henry then went to downstream, where he bolted into two high level passages.  One didn’t go and the other went into a bat-filled boulder choke (Labbit choke), which remains unpushed.  He then met up with Roger and Imogen. 101m surveyed.

Torben, Louise and Derek went to the fossil passage in and looked at two side passages on the left (as you go in), pushing one near the big stal column 350m from the pitch; this yielded 265m which was surveyed, and is still going.  The other is about 200m further on and still needs pushing (a wet crawl!)

Terry, Kate and Shelley went to Krem Umsohtung and pushed upstream as far as a wet 5m climb. then they went from a small chamber in the streamway up a boulder slope through a mud crawl to a chamber with a draughting aven just round the corner; another possible lead goes off here but is not brilliant.  401m surveyed.

J.Rat, Neil and Fraser continued rigging and surveying Krem Tyrtong Ryngkoo to intersect a huge active stream passage at about 100m depth. They surveyed a couple of hundred metres upstream and were delighted not to have to kiss any more frogs!

Semassi; Simon, Lyndsay and Matt returned to the leads in the downstream wet section of Krem Tyngeng where they surveyed 430m with many leads remaining.

Tony B, Dave, Jayne and Fiona returned to chocolate passage where they finished remaining leads before going to dry section to continue surveying 184m.

Lyndsay, Dave and Simon videoed the main streamway.

Monday 20th February

Torben, Louise and Peter went to Krem Labbit (Khaidong) and pushed the crawl near the big stal in the fossil passage, surveyed c250m, still going.

Roger, Henry and Imogen went back to Kneewrecker 2 to bolt into the daylight shaft, where locals accidentally started dropping trees down on them. The shaft had a flat gravel bottom with no leads (c40m deep). They continued to the downstream boulder choke and found no way on.

Tom remained in camp and continued work on the area map and surveys.

Kate, Hugh and Des spent the day organizing all the first aid kits for underground and camps.

J.Rat, Neil and Shelley went to Krem Tyrtong Ryngkoo and surveyed upstream for 223m. On the way out Shelley suffered back problems, which delayed their exit.

Terry, Brian and Derek and Fraser were dropped off at the Letein teashop and walked to Sumer. They were given information on the location of several caves. They recce’d the area and Derek spotted one resurgence.

Mark and Annie went to Krem Shyein Khlieh and explored the limit of the parallel upstream passage (Yvo’s boring passage). The end was found to be a too tight rift. A nearby side passage was pushed through a duck into ca. 200m of interesting inlet, ending at an impressive aven with Cappadoccian style mud pillars. They derigged the cave.

Semassi; Tony B, Matt, Jayne and Fiona remained on the surface and failed to relocated entrance to Krem Kdong Semassi

Simon, Lyndsay and Dave collected a bamboo maypole from the cave entrance and went to the high level passage nearby, where access was gained to 240m of fine passage. This led to a new entrance. The maypole was carried to another high level passage where 40m was surveyed.

That afternoon all returned to the Shnongrim camp.

 

Krem Shyein Khlieh

Tuesday 21st February

Mark, Thomas, Peter and Torben went to Wah Shikar area. They looked for a cave nearby reported by Raplang, without finding anything other than a rising stream. A local man showing them to another flooded rift in the Iawe direction. They then went up the climb in Wah Shikar to the 2005 extensions but found the short wet section sumped. Mark dug through boulders above to get through but they were stopped by extra mud fill at the former flat out mud crawl. They therefore excited, helping Torben with video en route.

Hugh, Des, and Fiona went to Wah Sapoh area. Whilst looking around for a sink entrance, they followed a dry streambed upstream and some locals showed them to an entrance – Krem Wah Um Bloh. They then hitched back from Lelad in a “pimped up” Maruti.

Jrat, Neil, Fraser and Imogen went down Krem Tyrtong Ryngkoo and surveyed downstream. A boulder choke in a large boulder filled chamber was passed into a swimming phreatic passage continuing.

Simon, Dave, Louise, Terry, Matt and Derek went to Krem Umsohtung. Simon, Dave, and Louise investigated the climb at the upstream end of the cave.  This was free climbed to reach a larger and very muddy passage (named the ‘Village Shitter Passage’) where 79m of passage were surveyed to reach a calcite impasse. They then went to the aven at the end of the Boulder Chamber side passage, which was climbed using bolts by Dave to reach a short inlet passage ending in a high aven. 26m of passage surveyed. Terry, Matt and Derek pushed downstream and after lots of crawling reached main stream ( Master Cave!) passage/main drain. 206m surveyed.

Kate, Annie and Henry went to the crawl in Krem Labbit (Khaidong) and after c30m they found survey stations and connected with Krem Umim 6, via the previously explored Shnongrim Subway (dug open from above in 2004).

Tony B and Jayne remained in camp kit fettling.

Wednesday 22nd February

Tony B and Jayne went to re-GPS Krem Ticha, the resurgence for Umthloo, and we now have an accurate GPS position.  It took them three hours to get there through the jungle but only an hour and a quarter to get back on the Shaktiman track.

Des, Fiona and Hugh went back to Krem Wah Um Bloh, rigging down the wet ‘Pimp my Maruti’ pitch and gained a dry parallel shaft. The water in the already very wet entrance rose during the trip and they came out before getting to the bottom of the pitch. Today’s hitchhike back was on two Shaktimans.

Imogen, Annie and Louise had a girly trip in the entrance series of Krem Labbit (Khaidong) and found another pitch which probably drops into the main chamber. They also surveyed an inlet, which led to another entrance, approximately 20m from the original one; 156m were surveyed in all. On emerging, Annie was surprised to find herself being filmed for TV by the press who had come up from Shillong with Brian for the night; but she has settled into stardom quite well.

Terry drew up surveys in camp and then took the film crew and newspaper reporters to Krem Labbit (Khaidong).

Simon, Dave and Torben descended Krem Labbit (Khaidong) and, working from the base of the main pitch, explored and surveyed several unpushed leads along the fossil passage.  513m were surveyed, including a new streamway

Mark, Roger and Matt went to Krem Umsohtung and surveyed upstream in the main passage, to a choke where a calcite climb may yield a way on. They then surveyed a side passage loop, took some photos and exited the cave 660m surveyed.  They were invited into a house in Lelad for tea and betelnut before returning to camp.

Peter and Kate went down Snowman’s Pot into Krem Liat Prah; Peter bolted up a climb next to some beautiful red flowstone into a small tube decorated with calcite but only 11m long.

Jrat, Neil and Henry went down Krem Tyrtong Ryngkoo and surveyed the downstream continuation for 250m into a very large boulder choke; this was pushed for 50m or so.  Another trip is needed to complete the survey and investigate the choke further.

A bottle of whisky was given to Thomas for his hard work on the data and a party went on late into to the night with the whole team and press.

Thursday 23rd February 2006

The Semassi team departed. Tony B, Simon, Dave and Kate went to Krem Tngheng and using the bamboo maypole left in the cave, they explored the remaining high level side passages in the main river passage. These all proved very short. They then went to the fossil river series where Tony B, Dave and Kate surveyed 69m in the high rift passage and Simon added passage detail to the previous years survey skeleton.

Imogen, Annie, Louise, Torben, Derek and Lyndsay went back to Krem Labbit (Khaidong). A voice connection was made from the pitchhead found the previous day (above the main pitch) and the main chamber. A new rift passage was also discovered but not explored. The team then went to the far end of the cave. Imogen Annie and Louise spent 45mins digging a muddy crawl that was heading towards Krem Shreih. The crawl, however, was too difficult to dig and less than 1m progress was made, before being abandoned. Imogen, Annie and Derek then went to push downstream in the new streamway. This was pushed 74m through two collapses and a duck to a third collapse which was unstable and could not be pushed.

Louise, Torban and Lyndsay hammered the far end of QuickMud passage into a passage, which choked again in calcite. This was draughting strongly and would require chiseling. The passage was heading towards the undescended shaft of Krem Chuni.

Mark, Roger and Terry went downstream in Krem Umsohtung, which choked after 200m. They then climbed the calcite above the upstream main passage choke, but found no way on. They then completed some side passage loops. 380m surveyed.

Jrat and Neil remained in camp, drawing up and resting.

Matt, Jayne and Des remained in camp recovering from various ailments.

Hugh, Fiona and Peter went to Krem Gerald Hubmayr, which descended 17m to around 30m of well-decorated passage, ending at a choke. 65m surveyed. 

Fraser accompanied the Shillong film crew to Shnongrim, where they met the headman and went to the Durba. They then collected Henry and Brian from the camp and went to Krem Labbit for some filming. The filmcrew then returned to Shillong in the late afternoon with Thomas.

Friday 24th February

Jrat, Neil, Roger and Mark pushed and surveyed downstream in Krem Tyrtong Ryngkoo into a small chamber with four ways on. The first followed the streamway to a choke. The second led to a large chamber ending in breakdown. Both the third and fourth choked. They surveyed 450m.

Hugh, Des, Peter and Terry went down Krem Wah Um Bloh and finished rigging the parallel shaft, now wet (named Shaktiman surfing). At the bottom the stream sinks through a boulder choke which was followed for 30m until no way on could be found. The cave was then derigged. 64m surveyed.

Henry and Annie went to Kneewrecker2 and derigged. Annie then spent the afternoon drawing up survey, while Henry washed ropes.

Fraser, Fiona Brian and Jayne went first to Ladrymbai to drop off Torban and Louise, who were leaving. They then went to Lumshnong to document the Limestone Quarrying and the caves Krem Kharasniang, Krem Um Lawan and Krem Um Kseh at risk from this activity. They then returned to Ladrymbai to collect David and the food.

Imogen and Derek returned to Krem Labbit (Khaidong). They surveyed Henry’s high level bat chamber phreatic tube to a boulder collapse with no way on; they then derigged the bolt climb. They then went and pushed a crawl off Disto Inferno, which went for 60m to breakdown. After this, they pushed an upstream inlet, which ended in a 10m duck, which Imogen went through into a boulder choke which draughts. This was not pushed further and is potentially ongoing. 120m surveyed in total.

Semassi, (Krem Tngheng): Simon, Tony B, Dave, Dale and Kate surveyed 522m in the complex wet series named the TipeeToe Canals. Two major swimming leads were left open. Matt walked down from the ridge, left his gear at the I.B. and joined the teams in the cave. He then spent the afternoon bug collecting.

Saturday 25th February

Mark, Terry, Henry, Roger and Fraser did some photography in Krem Labbit (Khaidong). They investigated the last remaining side passage in the upstream, which went to a very small duck after less than 40m.

Peter, Annie and Derek rigged Krem Chuni near Khaidong and after an interesting 50m calcite lined pitch, enlarged a calcite squeeze to connect with Krem Labbit (Khaidong).

Brian, Des, Fiona and Hugh went to the Letein teashop and were shown two new sites to the north. They arranged a guide from Moulasgni for the following day.

Jrat, Imogen and Neil went into Umthloo and pushed a low crawl to gain some walking passage. 79m surveyed.

Jayne remained in camp resting her back injury.

Semassi, (Krem Tngheng): Simon, Kate and Dale surveyed some drier leads off the TipeeToe Canals after which they moved to the fossil river series, where passage detail was added to the old skeletons. They then surveyed some of the leads in the fossil river series before running out of time. 379m surveyed with over 30 unpushed leads remaining.

Tony B, Dave and Matt pushed the swimming leads in the TipeeToe Canals until coldness forced a retreat. 276m surveyed.

Sunday 26th February

Mark, Fraser, Roger and Henry went upstream in Krem Tyrtong Ryngkoo where they pushed the boulder choke without finding any way through. Henry enlarged some calcite squeezes with a similar lack of success. The team then took some photos on the way out.

Jrat and Imogen descended Krem Chuni and went through the connection to Krem Labbit (Khaidong) where they collected some biological samples and derigged the main pitch in Labbit on the way out.

Peter, Annie and Derek descended Krem Chuni and surveyed from the Krem Labbit (Khaidong) connection up a blind calcite climb. They left a crawling passage ongoing and surveyed the pitch. 131m surveyed.

Brian, Hugh, Des and Terry went to Moolasgni on the eastern flank of the ridge, north of the tea shop. With their guide, Ekna, they went past a circle of monoliths/fort to a valley to the north, where they located ten sites, including another Krem Labbit. The third shaft to Labbit was c50m deep with mist blowing out. They then took some photos at Krem Labbit (Shnongrim) for Brian’s report.

Jayne and Fiona remained in camp.

Semassi: The team managed to borrow a Shaktiman from the 2004 headman, Bgind Paslein, and accompanied by the Semassi guide Gripbymon Dkhar drove to the villages of Pala and Kseh on reconnaissance. The impressive entrance of Krem Labbit (for a change) was visited along with Krem Bliat, both look to have excellent prospects. They returned to Semassi and then walked back up to the ridge to the waiting jeep.

Monday 27th February

Mark and Neil took some photos in the entrance series of Krem Tyrtong Ryngkoo then derigged the cave.

Matt, Henry, Terry, Simon, Hugh, Peter, Kate and Fiona went down Krem Umsohtung.

Matt, Henry and Terry surveyed the cross rift in the crab passage, upstream led beyond a wet section to ongoing inlet, downstream was also left ongoing. 230m surveyed.

Simon, Hugh and Peter took photographs in the crab passage and downstream main passage.

Kate and Fiona pushed an upstream side passage left ongoing in walking size. 191m surveyed.

The cave was derigged.

Jrat, Fraser, Brian, Imogen and Dave went to Krem Ksar and Krem Khangbru, where they played with the boat, did some video and surveyed 172m.

Annie, Derek and Roger went down Krem Chuni and finished the crawl. They surveyed 66m and derigged the cave.

Tony, Des and Jayne remained in camp.

Tuesday 28th February

Mark, Simon, Annie, Roger, Imogen, Peter, Fiona, Tony B, Jayne, Brian and Dale returned to Shillong in two sumos. Despite some traffic jams they were back in time for Shelley and Maxwell’s engagement ceremony and the following party.

Jrat, Terry and Henry went to Krem Labbit 3 (Moolasgni) and dropped a 90m open shaft into a large streamway. They surveyed 650m leaving ten open leads. They also identified the green dye thought to be coming from video passage in Liat Prah. The cave is thought to head for Krem Rubong.

Terry returned to camp to delay the pickup, giving the surveyors extra time.

Des and Dave derigged Krem Labbit (Khaidong).

Hugh and Raplang went to a new shaft near the camp and GPS’d it.

Matt, Neil, Kate, Derek remained in camp washing ropes and packing up.

Wednesday 1st March

Peter, Annie, Roger and Fiona went on a sightseeing tour to Cherrapunjee and Laitkynsew whilst the other people in Shillong sorted gear and data.

The remaining team on the ridge broke camp and travelled back to Shillong, via the Nartiang monuments.

Thursday 2nd March

The team sorted and catalogued equipment, and bought souvenirs in Shillong. There followed a party hosted by the Tourist board at the Pinewood Hotel, with beer sponsored by Mohan Meakins. An afterparty at Robin Laloo’s house continued until the early hours.

Friday 3rd March

Terry left for Cherrapunjee with Dennis.

The main team travelled to Gauhati by Sumo, where Imogen, Neil and Henry left for further traveling and the main group flew to Calcutta. 

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