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NGUOM NA LUNG

This was a resurgence cave previously visited by Paul and John on the ‘97 expedition. On this visit a large river was issuing from the boulders, but lack of equipment and time meant the cave remained unexplored. Paul referred to it as unfinished business and was keen to return with a team happy in water! Having been before Paul and our driver were able to find the parking spot with little difficulty and thus we had no English speaking Vietnamese with us .

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From a col above the village of Canh Nghieu a path gently descends into the valley below until a bridge crosses the resurging river, on this visit the resurgence was dry, making the wetsuits seem an overkill. No obvious way on could be found on an initial look.Martin headed off up the hillside above to look for another entrance leaving the others in the choke. 100 metres above, Martin located a large entrance shaft with a passage below.With some trepidation he freeclimbed down an exposed route into the cave.A downstream passage led back to the resurgence whilst the upstream passage led to a featureless 5 metre climb with a larger passage above.Happy that the entrance choke could now be by-passed a return was made.Meanwhile Anette had forced a way through the choke dropping into a narrow streamway.Anette’s route was unanimously chosen on hearing of the exposed shaft.

The way through involved a climb through boulders on the right-hand side of the entrance dropping back down into the river.An easy stretch of river passage was followed to the base of the shaft previously descended by Martin.The upstream climb thwarted all attempts to scale it.The only way on involved a difficult route at stream level to a boulder choke.The team split up to look for a way on, confident a large passage must exist above. Martin and Paul climbed up high and simultaneously popped their heads into a vast passage.The way on was of impressive proportions and the 50 metre legs followed.Unfortunately our glee was short lived as the passage dropped steeply down to stream level with a narrow canal leading off.After a combination of swimming and climbs over sumped sections a terminal looking sump was reached.Martin made an awkward climb up into the rift above, stopping at the start of an exposed traverse with silt covered walls.Beyond the passage looked to be opening out into something bigger, but without equipment the temptation was resisted.

On our return to the jeep, two stern faced soldiers greeted us with a request to see our permits and passports, both of which were back at base.We were then asked to accompany the soldiers to their camp on the Chinese border.The next hour was spent entertaining a village drunk or so we thought until we were taken into a building.We were then joined by our ‘drunk’ dressed in military uniform and obviously the camp commander.After insisting Martin took up smoking and Anette was his wife the Commander interviewed us and our driver who obviously did the business as after another hour and numerous cups of green tea we were free!What another great Vietnam caving experience!

Martin Holroyd

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