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The Hochkönig

Wiktor Bolek
Sekcja Grotolazow Wroclaw

The Hochkönig is the highest massif in the Salburger Alps. The summit of the same name is at 2941 m high. The plateau is placed at the level of 2500 and is covered by glacier. The limestone layers are believed to be rather horizontal.
These facts make this massif not very promising for cave exploration. However three expeditions from Poland went there. The eastern slopes are the most interesting part of the whole massif. The lapiaz is well developed there. The first expedition was organised by Katowicki Klub Speologiczny in 1978. Krallenkanyon - the deepest cave at tha time in the massif was explored then. It was 178 m deep. The exploration was stopped, because it required climbing at the end of the cave. Apart from that several avens were also discovered (about 40 - 60 m deep). The first expedition organised by Sekcja Grotolazow Wrockaw took place in 1992. We explored caves in Egglaubenkar. In one of entrances discovered during a reconnaissance in 1991, we rapidly arrived at -200 m level after descending a sequence of pitch. Two horizontal corridors run at different directions at this level. The cave was marked as SG 1/1 and no other name was given so far. A very strong wind was blowing through the horizontal system, which was a very characteristic feature of this cave. In the eastern corridor, after several squeezes and 100 m long crawling we discovered a pitch P20 called Mittenfeld Alm. At the bottom a narrow horizontal passage started again. We moved forward for about 150 m. At the end it was partly filled with mud. The air flow became even more intense. It was blowing just under the ceiling. We tried to dig, but the wind was too freezing and the mud was to wet. We moved to the southern corridor. In the side pitch we descended to -284 m - the deepest point of 1992 expedition. This place was called Bottom of Three Slits. The horizontal passage at -200 m continued. We were stopped by a muddy squeeze, partly filled with water. The air flew through it just like in the nozzle. It took us a while to dig through. We called this place Grifon, which is an abbreviation of "dirty siphon". After Grifon we had a sequence of narrow corridors and pitches, which had to be traversed. Their bottoms offered no prospects for exploration. After 50 m of such terrain we arrived at next 'digthrough' - filled with dry mud and about 3 meter long. The stone thrown through it fell into an about 40 m deep pitch. This dig-through was called Rainworm (Dzdzownica). We went through it during the last assault on this expedition. We descended pitch P35, but the corridors at the bottom were too narrow. The main air stream went into an opening at the opposite wall. The expedition in 1993 was organised to explore this opening. We found there a horizontal narrow fissure, which moved us to big sloppy chimney with water flow. But unexpectedly the water fell into a siphon at -295 m. The air flew into a tube-like squeeze - 5 m long, which only one person could get through. We stopped exploration there. At the end of expedition we managed to get through squeezes at the bottom of P35 and reached the present deepest point in the cave at -303 m. During two years of exploration in the Hochkönig our Section discovered the deepest cave in the massif and a dozen of avens from 20 to 100 m deep. Further exploration at this part of Hochkönig became impossible, because a private owner of the area chased us out of his ground. Section of SG1/1, click for bigger one
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