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Hang Gio, Hang Than and Ha Lau
The team of Martin Colledge, Trevor Wailes, Helen Brooke and Adam Spillane set off east of the Chay up the same path that goes to Nuoc Lanh, a steep and unrelenting climb up to a ridge. Where Nuoc Lanh dives off right we headed left to a dry streambed, which we followed upstream to a well set camp. That afternoon we set off for Hang Gio. This cave has three entrances; the first two provide a through trip. Crossing muddy ledges with an obvious pitch continuation below, takes you between the two entrances. The third active entrance connects at the bottom of the undescended pitch. It continues as a very pleasant passage to an awkward climb down where we left it for the day.
The following morning, the cave degenerated, getting smaller as it went, with the draught disappearing and reappearing, eventually it was followed for a short way into a very loose, very sharp and very scary boulder choke. A winner in the Dales but most definitely a loser here! A quick return to camp and an unsuccessful attempt to persuade our guides to go to Ha Lau, was followed by the appearance of the as yet unknown name, Hang Than. Up a steep hill, then down the other side brought us to a cave that we were fairly sure was near the end of Hang Gio. Hang Than was approximately two hundred metres of passage, with walls and ceiling covered with calcite, the floor covered with mud leading to a mud sump. Sure enough, ten minutes saw us back at Hang Gio, then another twenty minutes back at camp.
Day three dawned bright and early, with a brisk thirty minute walk to a cave, Hang Than! Some brief arguments then ensued, and thirty minutes later we were back at camp. Take two, we set off up the hill to the top, then we kept on going up, and into a large depression on the other side, where we found Ha Lau. A high altitude sink, taking a stream in the dry season. A great place to camp and only three hours from the road (when heading towards the road). An awkward climb down at the entrance leads to a further awkward climb, and a ten metre pitch. This lands you in the bed of a stream with clean washed walls and floor. Going downstream and down dip leads past two low crawls in water to an enlargement at a breakdown chamber over thirty metres in diameter and over thirty metres high. The way on continues down dip, and downstream, until a ten metre pitch is met. Unfortunately this was the end of the day, time and equipment were both lacking. So a great lead was left for the next expedition, a high altitude, Dale’s pothole, with a stream, crawls and short pitches. Could this be the way into the Chay resurgence?