Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 31 Dec 2018

Expedition details (GPF2019a-003)

Expedition Name (& Club): Mulu 19 (Mulu Caves Project)
Destination country: Malaysia
Region: Gunung Mulu National Park
Lat: 4.0691 Long: 114.8419 Elevation: 600 m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Mr. Ben Kent (co-leader)
Total cavers: 18
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 2
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 2
UK/nonUK cavers: 16/2
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 1
Expedition dates: 18th Apr 2019 - 12th May 2019
Duration (days): 25
Man-days in field: 414 Man-days travelling: 36
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

1) Exploration in the southern peninsula of Gunung Api, with the objective to connect the Clearwater Cave System to the Racer/Easter Cave system and Lagangs Cave.
2) Revisiting and pushing leads in the northern end of the original Clearwater at Blackrock connection.
3) Difficult aid climbing in Sarawak chamber to potentially access horizontal development.
4) Initial reconnaissance trip for cave microbiology fieldwork.
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

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

Mulu contains some of the world’s finest caves, and still offers potential for significant discoveries. This expedition aims to push some leads that haven’t been looked at for many years, and with modern lighting and climbing technology it is hoped breakthroughs can be made.
The expedition contains many experienced expedition cavers, and it also contains some younger cavers who are developing their expedition skills. This will provide a great platform to pass on knowledge and skills for future expeditions.
Over the years a very strong relationship has been developed with the Sarawak Forestry Department and the locals who support the expeditions. This will help to continue this, and to ensure the Gunung Mulu National Park is continued to be recognised internationally.
For the above reasons we think that the Mulu 19 expedition would be a great candidate for the Ghar Parau Foundation, and members would greatly appreciate any financial support given that can be provided.
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.

1) Connection of Clearwater Cave to the Racer/Easter system and Lagangs Cave. Significant progress was made on this objective in 2017, with a new chamber (Eureka Chamber) discovered and a radio connection made through an impassable sump. The easiest leads in Eureka chamber have been pushed, however there still are passages at roof level that will require aid climbing to explore.

2) Revisiting the Clearwater/Blackrock connection. In 1990 the two caves were connected, and the connection has been revisited only a handful of times in the past. On the survey there is a large empty space East of this connection, and it is hoped that a concentrated effort in this area with modern lighting and climbing technology may offer a breakthrough.

3) Edwins Long Cut. The far extremes of Clearwater in the Armistace series end abruptly with a 900m gap before Api Chamber in Whiterock Cave. When discovered in 1990, leads were left in Edwins Long Cut and it is hoped that these may offer a continuation at a higher level than the streamway, however lower than Armistace series.

4) Good Luck Cave. Two avens have been identified to be climbed, one in the streamway and one within Sarawak Chamber. These projects are likely to involve serious aid climbing but given the lack of horizontal development discovered in Good Luck Cave are thought to be promising.

5) Initial reconnaissance work for cave microbiology fieldwork. Dr Hazel Barton supported by Derek Bristol will perform initial research for a project investigating the caves of Mulu. They are of specific scientific interest given their age, and the formation of the different layers through time.
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.

There has been a massive amount of time and effort investigated in Mulu over the years, and it is mostly summarised on the project's webite : Expedition reports are referenced below and should be held in the BCRA library.

Brook D.B. & Waltham A.C. (editors) 1978
'Caves of Mulu', Royal Geographical Society, London
Eavis A.J. (complier) 1981
'Caves of Mulu '80', Royal Geographical Society, London
Eavis A.J. (complier) 1985
'Caves of Mulu '84', British Cave Research Association, UK
Fogg P. (editor) 2000
'Benerat 2000 Expedition Report', Benerat 2000
Kirby M.J. (editor) 1989
'Mulu Caves '88 Expedition Report', Cave Science, Volume 16, No 2, British Cave Research Association, UK
Kirby M.J. (editor) 1990
'Mulu Caves '89 Expedition Report', Mulu Caves '88
Kirby M.J. (editor) 1992
'Mulu Caves '91 Expedition Report', Mulu Caves '89
Kirby M.J. (editor) 1993
'Hidden Valley '93 Reconnaissance Expedition Report', Hidden Valley '93
Kirby M.J. (editor) 1998
'The Caves of the Hidden Valley', Mulu Caves '96 & '98 Expeditions Report, Mulu Caves '96 & '98
Kirby M.J. (editor) 2008
'Mulu Caves '07 Expedition Report', Mulu Caves Project
Kirby M.J. (editor) 2009
'Mulu Caves '09 Expedition Report', Mulu Caves Project
Kirby M.J. (editor) 2010
'Mulu Caves 2010 Expedition Report', Mulu Caves Project
Kirby M.J. (editor) 2011
'Mulu Caves 2011 Expedition Report', Mulu Caves Project
Meredith/Wooldridge/Lyon 1992
'Giant Caves of Borneo', Tropical Press Sdn. Bhd, Kuala Lumpar
Smart P & Willis R.G. (compilers) 1982
'Mulu', Cave Science, Volume 9, No 2, British Cave Research Association, UK
St John S 1862
'Life in the Forests of the Far East', Smith Elder & Co, London. Reprinted by the Oxford University Press, 1986.
Weight A. (editor) 1990
'Gunung Api Connection Expedition Report', Gunung Api Connection 1990
Willis R.G. (editor) 2003
'Benarat 2003 Expedition Report', Benarat 2003
Willis R.G. (editor) 2005
'Benarat 2005 Expedition Report', Benarat 2005
Willis R.G. (editor) 2012
'Mulu Caves 2012 Expedition Report', Mulu Caves 2012
Brown M.W. (editor) 2013
'Mulu Caves 2013 Expedition Report', Mulu Caves 2013
St Lawerence H (editor) 2014
'Mulu Caves 2014 Expedition Report', Mulu Caves 2014
Eavis R & Nixon D (editors) 2015
'Hidden Valley 2015 Expedition Report', Mulu Caves Project 2015
St Lawerence, H (editor) 2015
'Mulu Caves 2015 Expedition Report'
St Lawerence, H (editor) 2017
'Mulu Caves 2017 Expedition Report'
St Lawerence, H (editor) 2018
'Mulu Caves 2018 Expedition Report'

For references in cave microbiology, the reader is pointed Hazel Barton's academic page and cave science website:

Expedition Finances


Travel plans:
Flights from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpa (some may fly Manchester to KL via Abu Dhabi/Dubai).
From KL fly to Miri. This may require an overnight stop in Miri, before flying from Miri to the Mulu National Park.

# from UK: 16 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £13,600 £850 * 16

# from outside UK: 2 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £1,700 £850 * 2

Travel total: £15,300 Travel p.p. from UK: £850
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £850


Total: £3,420 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £190 Research centre ~£40 a night = £920
Food ~£2500


Total: £1,090 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £61 Medical first aid £250
5mm cord 50m £26.50
8mm alloy hangers x 30 £86
Screwgates x 42 £331.80
7mm long stainless maillons x 3(2?)0 £136.60
Petzl transport x 3 £194
Thru bolts M8 65mm x 50 £30
Thru bolts M8 90mm x 50 £35

Special 1

Total: £4,500 Comments:
Special 1 p.p.: £250 Porters £2000
Foreman £1000
Boat hire £1500

Special 2

Total: £3,200 Comments:
Special 2 p.p.: £178 Report publishing £500
Insurance £150 per person
Exped Total: £27,510 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £1,528
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £1,528
Mean Exped cost per person: £1,528

Other Funding

Total: £0 Comments:
Total shortfall: £27,510 Mean shortfall per person: £1,528

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. Tony Waltham
Affiliation: Retired University Lecturer

Reason: Mulu veteran with many years of expedition experience.

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Mr. Ben Lyon
Affiliation: Owner of caving equipment whol

Reason: Mulu veteran and knows many of the team very well.

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: Ben Kent


Mulu 19.pdf