Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 31 Aug 2018

Expedition details (GPF2018b-002)

Expedition Name (& Club): Houping Winter 2018 (Hong Mei Gui)
Destination country: China
Region: Houping, Wulong
Lat: 29.5853 Long: 108.0000 Elevation: 1338 m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Mr. Laura Benn
Total cavers: 7
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 1
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 3
UK/nonUK cavers: 6/1
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 0
Expedition dates: 17th Dec 2018 - 11th Jan 2019
Duration (days): 26
Man-days in field: 154 Man-days travelling: 28
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

The main objective is to push a number of leads in the Sanwandong and Erwandong area to find new passage, with a possibility of forming a connection between the two systems. The caves are currently 72.7 km and 45.7 km respectfully; a connection would make the resulting system the 2nd longest in China.
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

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

N.B. Philip Rowsell, while being the main organiser of this expedition, does not wish to be included in any grant aid that might be given to this Expedition due to his involvement with the Ghar Parau Foundation. Ms Laura Benn is applying to the GPF as the Expedition leader of the UK contingent of this expedition.

We believe that additional grant aid will help to establish a larger UK contingency going forward. As the area has continually provided interesting and worthwhile leads, it would be beneficial to encourage more cavers to help in covering several different objectives. Due to the distance required to travel to the area and the expedition equipment needed for lengthy camps and numerous bolting projects, any grant aid would be welcome in helping with group costs, thereby making the expedition more financially accessible.
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.

Topdog - (Primary Objective)
A 110m bolt climb at Running Dog in Sanwandong has resulted in the discovery of a new drainage area heading to the west of the system, consisting of 4 distinct levels. The system has been pushed for over 6.5km and is now very close to both the 127 valley and Tongzi. An expedition last winter (not GPF applied) pushed 127 to a conclusion and disappointingly no connection to Topdog was made. The current end of Topdog is 300m below the 127 valley floor. If it crossed the 127 valley, the passage would head into another mountainous area of which little cave information is known.

This expedition plans to return to the far end of the Topdog area, currently ending in a large chamber from which no way on was found. Interestingly, there is a porcupine skeleton in this chamber, indicating an additional entrance/shaft must be within the near vicinity. The main objective of this expedition is to bolt climb 50m to hopefully regain the main rift passage of the drainage area. From the original 110m bolt climb, the passages are completely dry with no water. It is 3 hours from this point to the pushing front, making this 50m climb in the far chamber quite a logistical and arduous task. The bolt climb is 2 hours from Tombsweeper camp and a further 4 hours from the Sandong entrance. This will be pushed by a series of 4 day underground camps.

There are also a number of other leads in Topdog, particularly a number of large rifts that need to be dropped to see if they access known lower levels of the system. Currently no active river has been found in this area.

48H-H12-365 Yanzidong - (Primary Objective)
This was a new discovery last year, a cave over the Topdog area pushed to a depth of 275m and length 585m. The cave picked up a major streamway which is believed to be the Queen of the Nile streamway (proximities of surveys), located near Tombsweeper camp. There are two leads of great interest; 1) at the bottom of the cave where a strongly drafting passage was left wide open, or 2) atraverse across the main pitch "Honey monster" to obvious passage. The latter has potential to pick up significant old fossil development again as indicated by the overall drainage plan.

Sphinxter - (Secondary Objective)
This is an aven located near Tombsweeper camp in an interesting area; the aven has been climbed for 200m and looks like it has another 100m to go, which would be a new world record! However, the bolting conditions are now abysmal, with pealing of 6 inches of mud and rotten rock required to try and place bolts in poor rock conditions. An over-hang is about 10m away above after which the rock conditions look to improve.

Right Homohorizontalis (Connection lead - Secondary Objective)
Last winter this passage was pushed to several bolt climbs and was left at an additional 20m fairly wet climb. This passage was drafting strongly and is below Magician’s nightmare; this is currently thought to be a good candidate to find the elusive connection.

The laughter of Baimai (Connection lead - Possible Objective)
Last winter, an expedition to the north of Erwandong pushed a passage "Kungfu fighting" to a large drafting lake. A short bolt climb across the lake was completed to reveal another lake with a large roar beyond an obvious lowering of the roof. This lake was partially swam across until a strong current was found and a hasty retreat was made. This second lake is actually a resurgence pool and is part of the main Mawandong river (the first time it has been found in the system). A trip to continue across the lake and determine the nature of the roaring sound (probably a small water fall) is desired, as more importantly the source of the draft should be located. As this passage will most certainly sump very shortly (survey data), this draft could indicate an additional entrance or passage. Plans are also being made at a different time to dive the sump

There are also countless other leads in the system that may be pushed dependant on time and weather conditions.
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.

Hong Meigui CES 2005 Expedition to Houping, China by Becka Lawson, Julian Todd. RRCPC Newsletter Vol 42 (2) Nov 2005: 12-17 Article about the Houping 2005 expedition

Following in T'Owd Man's footsteps by Erin Lynch. Descent (185) Aug/Sept 2005: 24-25 International News item about the Houping 2005 expedition

Many more km in Houping by Erin Lynch. Descent (180) Oct/Nov 2004: 30
International News item about the Houping 2004 expedition

Expedition Finances


Travel plans:
The group will fly from UK to Chongqing in China where they will be met by Phil Rowsell at the airport. They will proceed to Sigongli Bus station on the metro, take the bus to Wulong and then van to Tongzi where the HMG caving hut is located. The expedition will be based in Tongzi with camping underground as necessary. The return via the same route

# from UK: 6 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £4,604 UK flights to Chongqing
£547 * 6 Pax = Total = £3282
£160 * 6 pax =£1200
Chongqing to HMG Hut at Tongzi, Wulong
Bus to Wulong =Y60 * 6 pax
Van to Tongzi = Y30 * 6 pax

Grand total = £3404

# from outside UK: 1 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £70 Phil will meet the Group at Chongqing Airport and travel with them to the HMG caving Hut in Houping, Retuning to Chengdu when the exped has finished.
Chengdu to Chongqing
Train from Chengdu to Chongqing (Ret=) Y154 * 1 pax
Taxis, underground etc. = Y50* 1 pax

Chongqing to HMG Hut at Tongzi, Wulong
Bus to Wulong =Y60 * 1 pax
Van to Tongzi = Y30 * 1 pax
Total = Y294 (one way) = Y588 Return

Travel total: £4,674 Travel p.p. from UK: £767
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £70


Total: £1,440 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £206 When in Tongzi,
Accommodation: Club Hut Free
Meals Y75 p.p/p.d. = Y75 * 7 * 21

Additional £200 will be spent on cave food (e.g. Snickers, Compressed Biscuits etc).


Total: £525 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £75 All gear costs are covered by the HMG Yearly Exped Fee

Exped fee £ 75 * 7 Pax

Special 1

Total: £250 Comments:
Special 1 p.p.: £36 Depending on leads pushed transport will be required by local driver from HMG hut to caving area. Estimated on previous experience to be £250 for the Expedition
Exped Total: £6,889 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £1,083
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £386
Mean Exped cost per person: £984

Other Funding

Total: £0 Comments:
No other sources of funding have been sort.
Total shortfall: £6,889 Mean shortfall per person: £984

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. Duncan Collis
Affiliation: Hong Mei Gui Member

Reason: One of the main people involved in the pushing of the Sanwandong/Erwandong systems and the caves in the Houping area

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Mr. Paul Swire
Affiliation: Red Rose member

Reason: Been to Houping on numerous occasions and knows the cave system and some of the leads.

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: Laura Benn