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The lower entrance to Lamprechtsofen The lower entrance to Lamprechtsofen,
photo by W. W. Wisniewski

Map of Salzburg Alps

- Polish exploration
of the second*
deepest cave
in the world

Andrzej Ciszewski
Krakowski Klub taternictwa Jaskiniowego

The year 1991 was for us the closure of 17-year long epoch in exploration of Lamprechtsofen. For many years the exploration was conducted during winter expeditions through the entrance situated near the bottom of the Salzach valley. Several branches reached elevations of about 1050 m. Meanwhile, during successive summer expeditions we searched in Nebelsbergkar for a possible upper entrance to the system, prospecting systematically successive fragments of the cirque surface, and exploring tens of big and small caves. In 1985 we managed to pass through the repeatedly attempted ice plug in N-132. We got quite fast then into an old vast gallery with a strong draught. Numerous deep pitches were gaping in its bottom. Advancing beneath the roof of the gallery we reached a chamber from which a series of active pitches descended to a narrow fissure at the depth of -560 m. Many leads were left on the way waiting for their turn. During the following winter expeditions to Lampo, and summer ones to N-132, christened Verlorenenwegh6hle (Lost Way Cave) the explored parts of both caves were becoming closer and closer to each other and finally their surveys began to overlap within the limits of horizontal error. In 1991 we again tackled the collapse that did not give up during the earlier expedition. It was situated at the bottom of 110 m pitch and was considered as of extremely dangerous nature. The reality was beyond our expectations and common sense. During three successive missions from a bivouac at -270 m we managed to pass it after serious demolition works. It extended vertically for some 160 m and led to the final series of Lampo, explored by us. 1484 m of vertical distance and the world's biggest traverse. This was a conclusion of a psychologically extremely important stage of the massif exploration. Also important was that we managed to pass a zone considered impenetrable for geological reasons. After a one year break we came back to the Leoganger Steinberge with the aim of pursuing the exploration even if it would not bring any achievements. One must not forget that the explored entrances lied at over 2150 m of altitude, where caves usually end soon after their entrances in snow plugs, inaccessible fissures or boulder chocks. Our first goal was Vogelschacht (-774 m) lying west of N-132, explored by Group Vulcain of Lyon. The analysis of the situation in Lampo and the relief at the floor of the cirque led me to suppose that this cave should lead to the main stream draining this part of the massif, known as the Bear River, which we have met several times in Lampo, but all the times it was closed by sumps on both ends. The only chance was thus to try bypass over the young inaccessible water course. A traverse over the 137 m deep shaft in Vogelschacht at the depth of about -440 m led to a true caving Eldorado, a system of vast chambers and galleries, some of witch still remain unexplored. In one of the passages we encountered a strong draught which has led us to a great vertical fissure. We were then nearly 1500 m away horizontally and no more than 300 m vertically from Lampo and the connection seemed to be on the verge of possibility. The subsequent expeditions encountered greater and greater difficulties connected with the tens of traverses over successive pitches which required rigging with hundreds of metres of ropes. As result a bivouac became necessary to enable effective exploration at the limits of the new series. The traverse of one kilometer of the fissure required about 1200 m of rope. Going for a successive expedition in 1995 we thought, based on the surveys, that the connection is within our reach. So it was. After several days of straggling in omnipresent mud we managed to abseil a nearly 100 m deep shaft to the Fortuna Geschmeck series in Lampo which had been explored from below. So after 21 years we succeeded in materialiazing the dream than seem impossible. Lamprechtsofen with its 1532 m vertical extent and about 42 km length was the second deepest cave system in world.

* this article is from 1997
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