We arrived at Chengdu (via Amsterdam and Bejing) on the 7th of November. After three days we went to Zhongdian and later to Liuji (2125m, N27d47.986m, E100d12.257d). We stayed in a small room above a shop (with everything) close to the (once a day) 'bus station'. We started our surface recce on November 14. Our first aim was to get as close as possible to the mountains lying south of our base. Two of us went along the road leading up to a pass (2860m, N27d45.631m, E100d16.182m). On our way we saw few interesting places, and because weather got worse (rain and snow) we decided to change our plans. We reached nice limestone hill (2743m. N27d43.805m, E100d15.311m) and spent night on the pass. Next day in a fog we checked area north from the pass finding few small caves (ex 3354m N27d46.207m, E100d16.791m) and later we came back to Liuji. In the same time next two went down the valley, all along the river, reaching promising canyon. Local people 'told' about big caves in the area. We decided to get to Jouli (Rouli? 2295m N27d48.670m, E100d14.909m) , and a little above in Wuoli we took guides. They led us to 'shen dong' (2884m , N27d48.507m, E100d16.229m) and later to a big cave (temporarily named 'Shen Dong Wuo Li' 3147 m N27d48.474m, E100d16.261m, entrance 30m to WE). Few days later we came back to the cave and during a camp we did surveying. There is a lot of traces of mining works inside the cave. Unsuccessfully all passages leading down are collapsed, and only in one you can feel an air draught.
On our way back we went up to the ridge above the cave (3401m, N27d48.539m, E100d16.548m). We had great view of whole area. Going down we did small research trying to find a vertical cave indicated by local people (negative).
We spent the next few days next to the river (1861m, N27d47.592m, E100d15.171m). First we took a trip to the valley at the right side of the canyon. Promising huge entrance became only a huge niche, and another holy cave with paintings and owls (2457m, N27d47.091m, E10d15,157m). Later we went inside the canyon, investigating both sides at the level of the first path (reached point 1894m, N27d47.739m, E100d15.171m). We found lots of entrances/holes, but everything was chocked with mud and round stones.
Then we decided to go again up, just above the left side of the canyon. We found very nice looking wall-break (2644m, N24d47.980m, E100d15.814m), but every cave there were collapsed after dozen meters. In the meantime we did few trips to the west, to check places seen from a bus during trip from Zhongdian. Also nothing except of wall paintings. We also make a trip to the valley (2419m, N27d50.562m, E100d12.171m), under the plateau, seen few days earlier from the ridge. We asked about the caves, but everyone talked about well known shan dongs.
After two weeks of research, a little bit disappointed we went back to Zhongdian.
1. Whole massif and caves are much older than a canyon. This massif lies at the left side of Yangtze River, next to the place of its turn. It was cut by the rivers going from west. There were a lot of places on the walls with huge formations, and also in a canyon there are well seen shafts cut 'in half'. Almost all 'entrances', up to ca. 2400asl are choked with mud and round stones.
2. There is only one stream on the surface of the right side of canyon. We think that it is possible, that some resurgences may be on the other side of the massif (nothing on this side).
3. Most of caves were only a niches and holy places with paintings. Local people told us about other places in surroundings valleys, but it is possible they look similar. We were told about vertical caves, but we couldn't find anything.
4. People are friendly but wanted money for guiding and for transport. Life (food and accommodation) was rather cheap and ok, but every day we had to get to our places. Why Liuji - it was the only place in the area with shops and place where you can see what you eat.
5. Available maps are incorrect, and our best maps ends near the first pass.
6. Whole area becomes a place of dams, road and tunnels - engineers have maps but how to talk with them?
7. No problem with police and traveling ( it's close to Zhongdian)
8. Weather was great (only two first days with snow and rain)
Conclusion: two more people and it was possible to check whole area (with plateau , other side of canyon and front of mountains to S); for the next few years it is unpromising area (there is so much to do in China), but later...
* Robert Bialkowski
* Marcel Nawrot - leader
* Piotr Sienkiewicz
all STJ KW Krakow ( Caving Section of Cracow's Mountaineering Club)
and Eva Hajduk - SSE KarakorumCommentaire(s) :