Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 04 Mar 2018

Expedition details (GPF2018a-009)

Expedition Name (& Club): Cambridge University Caving Club Austria Expedition 2018 (Cambridge University Caving Club)
Destination country: Austria
Region: Loser Augst-­Eck Plateau
Lat: 47.7075 Long: 13.7987 Elevation: 1755 m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Mr Ruairidh Macleod
Total cavers: 45
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 26
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 8
UK/nonUK cavers: 40/5
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 2
Expedition dates: 7th Jul 2018 - 19th Aug 2018
Duration (days): 44
Man-days in field: 900 Man-days travelling: 135
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

The 2018 CUCC expedition will continue exploration of the Schwarzmooskogel system (SMK), one of the largest in Europe at 126.9km, with still a huge amount of potential. Priorities for exploration are: completion of leads in Tunnockschacht lower and area round underground camp Kraken (-600m); other promising leads at around -400m in Tunnockschacht (Claytons Cock-up and Champagne on Ice); remaining leads in the upper levels of Balkonhöhle in the areas of Sloppy Seconds and The Mashterpiece. The caves of Glucklich Schmetterlinghöhle (GSH) and Fisch Gesicht Höhle (FGH) are discoveries from 2017 that have a lot of potential for a significant amount of cave discovery, especially if they can be found to link into the SMK. There will also be a focus on surface leads particularly round the area of Organhöhle. One aim is also be to expand the temporary Organhöhle camp from last year to a more permanent format suitable for the potential of the surrounding area.
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

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

Funding from the GPF has hugely benefited the previous expeditions to the Loser which in turn have accomplished much in discovery and survey of new caves as well as training and inspiring many new expedition-goers. This year the plan is to increase the number on expo to 45 in total (distributed across different times, with well over half university students and younger members), an ambitious size that reflects both the great popularity of the prospect for students and the scale of discovery potential in the area. Whilst at its core the expedition remains a CUCC student-led endeavour, it has rapidly in the past few years benefited from the collaboration of many individuals from other student caving clubs. GPF funding has made such student involvement possible by providing resources and equipment that would not otherwise be available.
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.

A summary of the main objectives for the 2018 expedition are:
Tunnockschacht Lower Series - this is the deepest cave presently being explored (to a depth of ~-900m), and where a number of major leads still remain. The first objective of this year will be to follow up on all these leads and retrieve rope that has been stored from last year also. The main areas requiring continued exploration are below or around the level of camp Kraken (~-600m), as well as some mid-level (at the bottom of String Theory) and shallower (Starfish Junction) leads. Completion of these objectives and removal of the camp in the first few weeks will free up resources significantly for other exploration.
Balkonhöhle Upper Series - Pursuance of significant remaining leads at Sloppy Seconds and Galactica. Also others in the area of The Mashterpiece which was found last year.
Glucklich Schmetterlinghöhle (GSH) and Fisch Gesicht Höhle (FGH)- These caves represent arguably the most significant potential for major discovery this year, producing a large quantity of draft and also an incline in the direction of Tunnockschacht.
Organhöhle Camp and Surface leads- Creation of more permanent provisions at the Organhöhle Camp will facilitate survey and exploration of numerous surface leads reported so far as having great potential.
Other general objectives include the resurveying of Gutenmorgenhöhle for which some data has been lost, and following up some inconsistencies in the existing surveys that may require resurveying (such as an offset discovered following the connection of Tunnockschacht and Balkonhöhle). Scoping and rebolting of Eisehöhle prior to trips for Eurospeleo is also an aim.
In terms of research, this year we also plan to record some data on the possible effects of global warming upon the ice formations within caves. Many previous members have noted that the permanent ice levels appear to be receding each summer, and a simple means of quantifiably analysing this is through the use of photography, a fixed point and a ruler to allow comparisons to begin in studying effects on “permanent ice” in caves such as Tunnockschacht.
Rigorous survey and recording of the caves has remained a priority with all findings being made publically available. Training new expedition-goers also forms a key objective in securing the future of this expedition and others across the world; an emphasis on involvement and training of university students is fundamental to the expedition. This year we have 20 university students and 26 members who are younger than or will be 25. For 11 members this will be their first expedition, and for 11 others it will be their second, almost all of of whom have previously also been trained in the Loser.
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.

The CUCC expedition to Austria was established in 1976, and this represents the 42nd expedition made since then. The continual increase each year in the scope and achievements of the expeditions is testimony to this extraordinary area’s potential for the discovery of new caves. As described above, one of our aims as a student-led expedition has also been building for the long-term future of this and other expeditions by continually encouraging and training new expedition-goers. The success of this can be seen in both the number of student cavers planning to attend this year and the number of ex-student cavers who have gone on to be vital to the expedition’s continuation. We have also greatly benefited from the enthusiasm of Robert Seebacher, a prolific local caver and manager of the VHO.
Last year, with a strong group of cavers, 5.4km was surveyed, including 3.8km in SMK system, making it the 17th longest cave in the world (and fourth in Europe). We are very optimistic this year that we will continue this success.

The CUCC Austria Expo website has been continually updated to provide surveys, accounts and logbooks and reports, as well as providing considerable information about the previous by both the club and other local cave-explorers, and it remains the most comprehensive source for the individual discoveries from last year and other expeditions. It can be reached by this link:

Following the expedition last year, presentations were made at Hidden Earth and at the Royal Geographical Society, and this year we look forward also to presenting at Eurospeleo in Austria, where we will also be introducing other cavers to the Loser caves.

Here is also a selection of publications arising from previous work in the expedition:
Day, A., 2002. Cave Surveying [Cave Studies Series 11]. Buxton: British Cave Research Association. ISBN-0-900265-25-6. 40pp, A5, with diagrams and photos.
Curtis, A., Science and Surveying: Totes Gebirge, Austria 2007.
Harries, P.D.D. and Martyn, C., 1992. UBSS Totes Gebirge Expeditions 1989 & 1990. Proc. Univ. Bristol Spelaeological Soc, 19(2), pp.2M-264.

Expedition Finances


Travel plans:
Most of the people and equipment will be driven in personal cars and vans to and from the UK to the Loser Plateau (necessitating the cost of ferry-crossings or via the channel tunnel also). A few people will be travelling from elsewhere in Europe (Norway and Poland) using their own or public transport. In-country transport will be via the aforementioned personal cars or vans.
Please note that communal costs on the expedition are worked out on a per-person-per-day split rather than a per-person cost for the whole expedition, since the majority of people do not attend for the entire length of the expedition.

# from UK: 43 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £5,330 35 in cars and vans from the uk, assuming 2.5 people average per vehicle and carrying communal gear (estimated costs of fuel and ferry/tunnel for people leaving across England). 7 people flying and using public transport or rented cars to Bad Aussee.

# from outside UK: 2 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £300 2 expedition members coming from Poland (by bus and public transport) and Norway (by flight).

Travel total: £5,630 Travel p.p. from UK: £123
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £150


Total: £7,775 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £173 This cost is dependent on the amount of time individual members spend on expo, and whether at top camp or basecamp (which is also variable according to weather and other factors). The breakdown of this cost is:
Accommodation (camping and rental of huts at Gasthof Staud´nwirt, the "base camp") - £3,700
Food - £3,225
Toll road and fuel at base camp - £500
Camping consumables - £250
Permissions and fees - £100


Total: £3,948 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £88 Rope (1500m) - £1800
Hiltis (400) - £163
Tarpaulins (5) - £100
Drill bits (10) - £10
Hangers (200) - £600
Maillons (200) - £800
Carabiners (50) - £300
Thru bolts (50) - £15
Tackle bags (2) - £100
Big dry bags (2) - £60

Special 1

Total: £900 Comments:
Special 1 p.p.: £20 As described above, replacing and repairing the expedition’s electronic equipment is vital for the expedition to proceed. Replenishment of first aid kit costs has also been included together with this cost. A breakdown of this is:
Drill battery necessities - £250 (2x refurbishments - £70; 7 balancing/cut-off circuits - £80; 5-slot charger - £100)
Solar Panels for power generation - £200
Replacement car batteries - £200
Containers for electronics - £100
First aid kit replenishment costs - £150

Special 2

Total: £2,200 Comments:
Special 2 p.p.: £49 CaveLink System. 2 CaveLink units at £973.51 (€1100) each, plus a GSM module and Peli cases. We have proposed purchasing this spread over two years; if we are successful then this would significantly help our budget.
We would be extremely grateful if you would consider awarding an exceptional one-off grant to allow us to facilitate these more ambitious aims this year. A CaveLink system will not only be of be of benefit to the increased number involved in this expedition, but we would also ensure
Exped Total: £20,453 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £452
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £479
Mean Exped cost per person: £454

Other Funding

Total: £150 Comments:
The expedition often receives sponsorship or discounts from food and equipment manufacturers, which will hopefully reduce the overall costs.
Total shortfall: £20,303 Mean shortfall per person: £451

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: Dr Rebecca Lawson
Affiliation: RRCPC, CUCC

Reason: Rebecca Lawson is a hugely active and well-respected expedition-goer from the uk and has taken part in cave exploration expeditions across the world. A long history with CUCC has provided many years of familiarity with the Loser Plateau and SMK cave system.

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Dr Chris Densham
Affiliation: OUCC

Reason: Chris Densham also possesses significant experience of cave exploration, discovery, survey and research across the world, and has championed student caving in his participation at events such as CHECC. His extensive familiarity with the CUCC expedition and Totes Gebirge region also makes him an ideal candidate to judge the suitability of this year’s proposals.

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: Ruairidh Macleod