These are extracts of trip reports from the full expedition reports.


Survey YUCPC’s main find on the expedition. Initially we gave it the temporary mark X3/04 and the name X3 just stuck with us. Officially it’s marked YUCPC 01 and AB304. As for an actual name – well, who knows?

8th August. [On the trip: Mark M]
Descended large open shaft to the top of a snow plug. Andy G. had already placed two rebelays but was unwilling to descend the gap between the rock and ice in his shorts and tee-shirt! After much debate about who was going to put on the oversuit and get cold, my will power finally gave way (note - need to be stronger willed in future). The gap between the snow/ice and rock was not very inviting and my hopes that we would be able to get down were not high at first. I decended to where the snow almost came into contact with the rock and almost turned around however it seemed to get a little wider past the constriction. After five minutes kicking at the snow a reasonable sized hole had been formed and I could see that the gap between the ice and snow was much larger below. I abseiled down ad the shaft opened out and I landed on a ledge of ice and snow. By some good fortune the 40m rope ran out at this point and so I tied on the 31m rope and the ensuing knot pass was accomplished with ease. I continued descending and left the snow and ice completely behind. Eventually I ran out of rope probably at least 10m off the floor. Dropping stones seemed to indicate that the floor was yet more snow and ice. However a large black hole could be seen further to the left (west, I think). Throwing rocks down this produced a 3-4 second rattle. The sound of falling water could also be heard. The shaft probably ends in a big choke but you never know. Return with 80m rope is planned - watch this space. The exit was accomplished without too much incident however lost all feeling in my hands when prusiking next to the snow. Definitely need to wear gloves next time. (Mark M).

9th August. [On the trip: Mark M, Andy G.]
Rained for most of the morning. It cleared up in the afternoon and we decided after much faffing to go and take another look at X3. We finally left at about 4.30pm. Took the 80m rope and swapped this for the 30m and 40m ropes. Put in three bolts, though it needs some more as it rubs at the enterance as you pass the ice. Added the 40m rope at a rebelay and pressed on. I ended up some 10m off the ground (similar position as the day before, but 20-30m further down). Possible black hole to the left. In the interests of getting back to camp before it got dark we headed out at this point, but made it out just in time for the sun to set and walked back to camp in the dark. Much drinking then ensued. (Mark M).


No reports on X3 were written up after the 2007 expedition, but this was the year the survey was drawn up.


People generally seemed to be waiting for bad weather to visit X3 so as not to miss a good days prospecting, but as the bad weather never came it wasn‟t until the last week that it was visited. Thoughts of just "following the dots" to the bottom quickly disappeared when it was soon evident that snow movements relatively high in the cave and some significant amount of rust meant that many of the spits were either unusable or covered by snow... After finishing my second food run of the expo, I was keen for it not to take out another full day of exploring, and when I got back to camp it really wasn’t hard to convince Chad that X3 was a good idea! We were soon at the really impressive entrance shake hole and absolutely boiling in our PVC oversuits. Ten metres below on the snow plug however, things were a bit colder. Progress was relatively swift down to the base of the snow plug, but once there things got slightly less simple. At the 3rd single spit hang (this one at least 5mm out of the wall) we had reached the top of the big stuff with no spits to be found. I headed down as far as I was happy with, and after Chad had done the same and neither of us had seen any extra spits we decided a return with a drill was on the cards. So much for the afternoon jaunt we originally anticipated... [MS]

This time we were much more prepared, but given the state of the rock (it was hard to come across a section of wall 5cm across without a crack!) we felt like some Dales style rigging was justified at the head of what was effectively an 80m drop! 3 spits and a deviation later Chad had finally found some decent spits from 2004 and was rigging the next Y hang. The amount of snow around meant that the air temperature can’t have been much over 0°C so we were having to make sure we swapped over with the rigging and bolting. Chad prussiked back up and I headed down with the rope for the next section and before long I was standing on yet another huge snow plug. What a cave though! It reminded me of several Bar Pot Big Pitches slightly staggered from one another and was just stunning. It was made even more impressive with the knowledge that only about 10 people had ever been there before.

The way on was a narrower section of the shaft where we were expecting to find Y hand on opposite walls. Once again, though, the spits were in poor condition and miles away from the floor, so we decided to place some bolts here too. It may well be that the snow plug was smaller here than before which led to the seemingly ridiculous placements! Once again we’d need to return with the drill.

Day 3 down X3 and this time we were hoping to reach the bottom. We fairly quickly bolted a Y hang to get us down to the next snow plug, but this was where what we were seeing really seemed to deviate from the survey. We were expecting something like a 30m pitch down to the snow, but after 15m we were stood on the next snow plug. There was an obvious hole down below in the snow which had been melted by water pouring out of the snow plug above which took us down to a ledge below with one wall of rock and the rest all ice, where clearly another rebelay was needed.

After rushing out to have some lunch it was decided that since my oversuit was vaguely intact unlike Chad’s (which was nearing two-piece status) and with the amount of zero degree water falling down, I was the person least likely to get hypothermia putting in the Y hang. With all the gear organised before I went down it didn’t take nearly as long as I expected to put in the spits and within 15 minutes I was back up on the snow plug. Chad then went down to have a look further down, but the feedback wasn’t good: the ice narrowed against the rock wall and Chad had got a bit stuck. There did seem to be a continuation horizontally though...

During our last day down the cave I pushed on down the horrid ice section and managed to get myself into the horizontal section. Here the ice seemed to give way to snow, with lots of tiny holes going down about a metre or so in the floor. I was ridiculously cold by this point and everywhere I looked seemed to close down quickly so I decided to head back. This decision was certainly vindicated when as soon as my weight was back on the rope, a block of snow approximately the size of me fell from above and hit my shoulder on its way down. Definitely time to leave.

My immediate thought was that the Y hang above me was one of the first bits of ‘real’ bolting I’d done, and with the impact of the snow I was quite relieved that nothing gave way. Especially given the state of the rock. The next bit of prussiking was probably faster than I’ve ever been up a rope, and soon I was back up to where Chad was waiting having derigged to that point (I figured neither of us would be that desperate for a revisit…).

We were nearing our time limit in terms of exploration, as we only had one day left before we needed to start ferrying gear down to the car. With the plan to de-rig that afternoon, Chad decided it would be worth one more push to see what was down the opposite slope of the snow plug. He abseiled down, dragging the rope out of the hole in the ice and threw it down the other side before descending out of sight. Sitting on that snow plug just for the 15 minutes he was down was a pretty cold experience and I was just on the verge of prussiking up & down the pitch above me to keep warm when I saw his light returning. He estimated he’d been down about the same distance down the edge of the plug as I went down the hole, but the difference being he hadn’t reached a floor… Unfortunately there was a vast amount of rope rub above him, and the rope he was on had run out. With time running out though, we had to call it a day so we derigged our way to the entrance knowing that frustratingly we hadn’t managed to reach the floor...or did it just mean the may be a way on? With no one who had been to the bottom before at camp, we couldn’t work out where we were in relation to the previous visits. What was for certain, though, was that we couldn’t mark X3 with a cross. [MS]