Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 01 Sep 2016

Expedition details (GPF2016b-001)

Expedition Name (& Club): Shan Plateau 2016-17 (UBSS/Red Rose/OUCC/CUCC/MUSS/BPC)
Destination country: Myanmar
Region: Southern Shan State
Lat: 21.0000 Long: 96.0000 Elevation: up to 1800 m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Prof. Pete Talling
Total cavers: 7
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 0
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 1
UK/nonUK cavers: 5/2
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 0
Expedition dates: 17th Dec 2016 - 7th Jan 2017
Duration (days): 22
Man-days in field: 126 Man-days travelling: 28
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

The Shan Plateau in Myanmar has over 400km of limestone. Our recent expeditions to the area near Ywangan have shown its great potential, with the longest (5km) and deepest (300m) caves in Myanmar. Here our aim is search for deeper caves along the edge of the escarpment, including locations that have 1,000-1,400m of depth potential. In this expedition we wish to both visit new areas and extend known caves. We will (i) map a cave near Pindaya that has been entered for 500m, and left ongoing, by a German colleague; (ii) visit a major resurgence north of Pindaya near Lawksawk, (iii) look at major sinks above the escarpment east of Pindaya, and (iv) continue exploration west of Ywangan where we found the 300m deep Ju's Gu last year. That cave was left at three undescended 50-30m pitches due to bad air. Local villages report a cave 'big enough to fit an aeroplane' nearby and we hope it could bypass the bad air, as Ju's Gu has a remarkably strong draft at the top of its main 125m pitch.
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

Please explain the aspects of the trip which make it eligible for Ghar Parau funding.

Caving and travelling in these areas is only allowed with a formal guide and driver, and thus costs tend to be high. Ghar Parau funding will make a real difference, especially for those less well off in the party, and allow them to take part in this year's trip.
Detailed description of objectives:

Give a more detailed account of the purpose of the trip, including any particular known caves you intend to visit, specific areas where you will explore for new cave, and scientific experiments you will attempt.

Objectives: The overall objective is to search for the longest and deepest caves in Myanmar, including in karstic areas with over 1 km of depth potential. This year we will combine visits to new caving areas near Pindaya and Lawksawk, with continued exploration for deep caves at the edge of the plateau to the west of Ywangan. These areas are within a days drive in Southern Shan State. They are chosen because we know we can obtain permission to cave in these parts of Myanmar, from past experience.

Detailed objectives are to:
(i) Last year we found the deepest cave in Myanmar (Ju's Gu - 300m) to the west of Ywangan, in an area with 1,400m of depth potential. This cave was left at 3 ongoing pitches that are 30-50m deep due to bad air. Local villages report there are 9 other caves nearby, including one that you can 'fit an aeroplane in'. We wish to see if these caves can provide a bypass to the bad air pitches in Ju's Gu, which has a howling draft in its upper section. This may lead to a major resurgence cave also found last year.
(ii) Survey and explore a river cave near Pindaya that was left ongoing (500m+ long) by a German colleague, and to explore the surrounding area of karst. We will also visit a series of sink and resurgences to the west of this cave, at the escarpment edge, which have up to 700m depth potential.
(iii) Visit a major river resurgence ~3 hours north of Pindaya, near Lawksawk. This major river resurgence is similar in scale to the entrance of Stone Cave, which we found in 2012 and is currently the longest cave in Myanmar.
(iv) To continue to build links with the Myanmar central and local authorities that help with future caving expedition, and access to new areas elsewhere in Myanmar.
Previous work in this area:

Give details of any previous work in this area by your own and other teams. Include references to reports and articles published on the area, and the names of any local cavers or academics with whom you have discussed the Expedition.

We have visited the Ywangan area in three previous expeditions (see those reports to Ghar Parau and to Mount Everest Foundation). They have resulted in three descent articles, and an extended report from our last 2015-16 expedition has just been published as an extended article (with surveys) in the Journal of Red Rose Pothole and Cave Club 2009-2016 (volume 11).

Together with our German and Swiss colleagues - extensive details of our work is to be found on the facebook group page - Myanmar Cave Documentation Project. We have also contributed to recent books by Michale Laumanns et al. (Berliner club) on 'Caves in Myanmar'.

Expedition Finances


Travel plans:
The expedition members fly into Yangon, and then take internal flight to Heho, which is a 6 hour drive from field area. To obtain a permit, we must have a designated vehicle, driver and guide - this is mandatory.

# from UK: 5 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £6,700 International Flight UK-Yangon £750
Flight Yangon-Heho £150
Vehicle plus driver and guide (mandatory for permit) £110/day for whole 7 person team for 20 days = £2,200

# from outside UK: 2 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £1,800 Flight US - Yangon £850
Flight Yangon-Heho £150
[vehicle plus driver and guide - included above]

Travel total: £8,500 Travel p.p. from UK: £1,340
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £900


Total: £4,200 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £600 Accommodation and subsistence £30 for 7 person for 20 days = 3,600.
This includes cheapest hostel where foreigners allowed to stay in Ywangon and Pindaya/Lawksawk - as we must stay at registered locations for our permit.


Total: £450 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £64 We have 480m of rope, and drills plus rigging gear in Myanmar. Here we seek a contribution to a meter (£450) for detecting high CO2 levels and hence bed air.
Exped Total: £13,150 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £2,004
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £1,564
Mean Exped cost per person: £1,878

Other Funding

Total: £0 Comments:
Previously we have received Mount Everest Foundation support - but no other support this year.
Total shortfall: £13,150 Mean shortfall per person: £1,878

Referees and Report

Please give the names, addresses and phone numbers of two suitably qualified people whom the Committee can contact. You should ensure that they are aware of the objectives of your trip, and that you have their permission for the Committee to contact them.

Referee 1: Mr Tony Seddon
Affiliation: NPC

Reason: Highly experienced expedition caver.

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Ms Hilary Greaves
Affiliation: OUCC

Reason: Highly experienced expedition caver.

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: Peter Talling