2012 Expedition

Introduction

The 2012 expedition was a major undertaking involving 2 film trips in Son Doong and a 2 month full on expedition. Hanoi University was again excellent in their support.

 

We had excellent help especially from the National Park under Mr Thanh. The whole community around Phong Nha village and Son Trach villages were very supportive to all our team members.

We have now filmed with National Geographical, NHK Japan, BBC, VTV4, Quang Binh TV and Tokyo TV in Son Doong which has helped promote the Ke Bang massif to many parts of the world. This year’s filming with Vietnamese TV and Tokyo TV will continue to promote the amazing Ke Bang National Park and the caves. This project also helps the local people in obtaining a reasonable wage as porters and guides.

The National Geographic magazine article about Hang Son Doong and the caves of the Ke Bang Massif was a great success. The story and pictures won numerous awards for both the magazine as well as the website. This is an excellent advertisement for Vietnam and especially Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.

Phong Nha Village 1990

 

In 2012 we had no problems with permissions with the great help of many people. We have now been working in the National Park now for over 22 years so we have a good relationship which is important in Vietnam.

The first thing we had to do this year was to take the National Park people and the forestry people and members of Quang Binh committee and a Vietnam film crew down Hang Son Doong. This was a real eye opener for many of these people and helped them understand the conservation issues and just what would be required if ever this cave is open to the public. At the moment no one is allowed into Hang Son Doong or indeed to the entrances. No one has been into the cave without our team accompanying them.
 
No tourists are allowed to go even to the entrances. This is strictly controlled and although websites promote tours to the biggest cave in the world these are all utter lies!! Maybe one day Son Doong will be a tourist cave but at the moment it would require major investment to produce what would be a mind boggling show cave. I would love to see the cave kept in its present condition but understand the realities that may force this to change.

Our next task was to accurately GPS a number of caves we discovered pre GPS days. This was interesting because we now have a digital map of all our caves which will assist us in the future in the search for caves. We have a greater understanding of the hydrology of the area but there are still many unanswered questions.

The actual main caving expedition was a great success. We all had a really fantastic time especially the jungle adventures with our guides and porters. We discovered over 21km of excellent and varied caves in our 8 week expedition.

With the help of Hanoi University, we had a member of the University with us in one of our groups in the jungle. This is a great learning experience for many of these students. Mr. Bac, Mr. Hanh, and Mr. Phuong have all played an important role in the success of the expedition.

During the first 4 weeks of the expedition we had 8 members in the team but the last 4 weeks of the expedition we had 11 members in the team. This gave us the opportunity to send 2 or 3 teams into the jungle to search for caves. All team members had long jungle stints on this expedition. Many of the new caves involved long walks up to 3 days away. With the aid of modern medicine the team just about managed to return home in one piece, though a few younger bodies next trip may help.

We didn’t manage to find the master cave to the Chay River resurgence but we opened a new area in the search for this elusive system. We have left numerous new caves and our guides are actively going out to the jungles in searching for caves. We may have to change our approach to time out in the jungle on future trips. To really spend maximum time in the area a base camp in the jungle 3 days walk in, stocked by porters for up to 15 days would be a possible solution.

We owe a huge thank you to the men of the Phong Nha village who act as guides and porters for all our team. Without their considerable assistance our success would have not been possible. The highlight of any caving adventure is who is on the trip and the local lads are always nothing short of brilliant.

Phong Nha village 2009

I would like to thank all team members for their considerable hard work both before and during the expedition. Exploration of new caves in the park is not generally easy nowadays and this last expedition was possibly the toughest of the last 22 years.

We also discovered some pottery in a cave which is now thought to be up to 2,500 year old. The Vietnamese archeologists are pretty excited about this find and we hope to return to take them into the cave.

We plan to return in 2013 for filming but maybe a quick recce. The next main expedition will be 2014 for 6 weeks.

Howard Limbert

Summary of 2012 Expedition Quang Binh

 

This 10 week expedition included the assistance of the team in taking down Hang Son Doong two film crews from Vietnam TV. One Quang Binh TV, and the other VTV4. Also on this trip members of the Quang Binh committee, National Park and forestry people were present. This gave the people in the province an insight into the wonderful Hang Son Doong for the first time.

The main part of the expedition set about its work in early March and up to date has surveyed and explored over 20km of new cave passage. A total of 43 new caves have been discovered all within Quang Bing province, the vast majority in Bo Trach district. Using the invaluable assistance of local guides we have been able to discover many fascinating new discoveries.

The longest cave discovered to date is in the Xuong valley where a great deal of new cave is present. This is a difficult area to access and involves very long walks into the jungle for up to 9 days. This cave Hang Ky is over 4km long. Another cave called Hang Va was discovered off the new Ho Chi Minh highway from Khe Van bridge. This cave is 1.7k long and has some excellent and possibly unique stalagmite formations which are extremely beautiful. A lot of publicity in the National press about this cave has increased the awareness of the expedition and the amazing caves that are present in the Ke Bang massif.

The Phong Nha system will be now over 75k long, the longest in Vietnam and the Hang Vom system will be over 43k long, the second longest in Vietnam.

Much work remains to be done in the Ke Bang massif and future expeditions will I am sure yield more success. This trip has been an excellent expedition and in conjunction with Hanoi University of Science has been one of our most rewarding in the last 22 years.

The final 2 weeks of our expedition we will lead a Japanese filming team into Hang Son Doong to make a film which we hope will promote to many people the beauty of the Quang Binh province and which in turn will lead to more tourists visiting the World Heritage site.

A complete list of caves and all photographs and surveys will be available for the Peoples Committee and the National Park and Forestry departments after the expedition. We are hoping in conjunction with Hanoi University of Science to produce a book about the caves of Quang Binh in the near future.

 

The Phong Nha Cave System Overview

The Phong Nha system starts about 40 kilometres south of Phong Nha Cave. Near to the Vietnam/Lao border a series of streams and rivers enter the limestone.

Heading east from the village a few small streams are noted. These all enter the limestone and find their way into Hang Khe Ry. The entrance to Hang Khe Ry is a large dry entrance. A large dry passage continues and soon leads to the main streamway. This cave forms a major part of the Phong Nha system.

It is almost 19 kilometres long and eventually emerges in a small valley beyond Hang En.

To the east of Hang Khe Ry, Hang Khe Thi is reached. This river joins Hang Khe Ry several kilometres into the system. The final sink to the east is Hang Khe Tien. This has only been explored for about 500m, but the water is believed to eventually connect with Hang En. This area should be checked out in future expeditions

Hang En is the next major cave in the system. A large river enters and flows through Hang En before joining with the water from Hang Khe Ry. Upstream of Hang En, a few short caves Hang Vu Ca Tau, Hang Khanh and Hang Hong form part of the system. Water from these caves joins the river leading to Hang En. Upstream from Hang En, Hang Lanh was explored in 2001. This stream cave was 3.7k long.

Hang En has one of the largest sections of cave passage in the system. At one point the passage is 190 wide and at least 100m high. The cave is very spectacular.

 
 
Exiting from Hang En, you enter an enclosed valley. The water from Hang En and Hang Khe Ry combine, and disappear underground in a mass of enormous boulders. Attempts to pass the boulder choke have so far been unsuccessful. There are a number of high level caves above Hang En and Hang Khe Ry.
 
Hang Long, Hang Phong, Hang Doi, Hang 1987, Hang 1989, Hang 1990 and Hang Ho Nui are all very well developed caves, but are not connected with the current drainage of the Phong Nha system. Often well decorated most of them end in calcite blockages.
 
In 2009 a very important discovery was made near the final choke of the Hang En River and the Khe Ry River. Above the final choke an entrance to a cave called Hang Son Doong (Mountain River Cave) was discovered and explored for 8.5k. This cave is huge with passage over 200m high and in places over 175m wide. This is the largest known passage in the world as yet discovered.
 
The whole of the water from Hang En and Khe Ry combines to form Hang Son Doong. The river passage sumps and is heading towards Hang Thung where the water resurges. The gap is about 700m. The main phreatic passage is a huge tunnel for nearly 5km which exits via the Great wall of Vietnam.
 
 
The next cave in the sequence is Hang Thung. This cave was explored in 1994. The water from Hang En and Khe Ry passes through Hang Son Doong before it is found in the 3 kilometre section of Hang Thung. The water emerges from Hang Thung in the beautiful Thoong valley, and continues to Hang Tra An. In 2007, the caves of Hang Tron and Nightmare Shaft were unexplored which helped us understand another small section in this very large cave system.
 
In 2012 Hang Hoa and Hang Hung were explored near the river valley of Hung Thoong. More caves have been mentioned in this region and is well worth another visit. Also the valley behind Tra An was briefly checked in 1992 and 2 caves were found. This valley is again worth another look with experienced jungle guides. The exploration of these caves completes the link between Hang Thung and Hang Tra Ang. Hang Tra Ang was first surveyed in 1992. It is about 600m long, ending in a sump.
 
In 2001, the team explored Hang Nuoc Nut. A dry entrance leads into a very well decorated cave and a large stream passage. 2.2k long the water emerges at Ma Da and flows above ground to join the Tra Ang river.
 
Hang Va discovered in 2012 is probably fed by the Khe Oum stream which sinks higher up the Nuoc Nut river bed. It is presumed to join Nuoc Nut where the main inlet enters the cave via a sump. Also in Hang Va a small inlet is met which is thought to be from Passchendaele passage in Hang Son Doong.
 
 
In 2012 another feeder to this system was discovered called Hang 21. This is likely to lead to Hang 18 where both the upstream and downstream sumps were dived for 50m the upstream descending at -9m the downstream ascending to -3m. The area left of road 20 has potential for major discoveries especially from the supposed stream sink area around km 27 on road 20.
 
The large river from Tra An flows on the surface for 4km until it enters the Phong Nha cave. The water disappears into a large jumble of loose rocks and tree trunks. The water enters in lots of places and we have been unable to find a way into the top end of Hang Phong Nha.
 
Above this area is the entrance to Hang 11. This small stream cave was finished in 2009 and must connect in some way to the Phong Nha system. Diving will be the only possible way into Phong Nha Cave from Hang 11. However, the sump is perched and still 1km from the nearest point to Phong Nha cave.
 
At the bottom of the road 20, 3-4 kilometres before Phong Nha village, there are a number of small caves on the edge of the limestone. Hang Duc contains a small stream, and was explored for 1.3 kilometres. It ends in a large sump pool at the down stream end. This may also feed into the Phong Nha system.
 
Hang Phong Nha is 8.3 kilometres long. It has long sections of deep water passed by swimming, some sections of wading and walking along sand banks, and nearer to its exit some well decorated dry sections of cave. The first full exploration and survey of the cave was completed in 1992. In 2003, whilst working on the entrance to Phong Nha, the locals uncovered a dry entrance some 100m above the river entrance, Phong Nha Kho is a large dry well decorated section of cave 980m long which ends in a 10m pitch down to a lower level and a final calcite choke. This cave has now been opened up to tourism.
 
To the West of Hang Phong Nha lies the Hang Toi system, comprising Hang Toi, Hang E and Hang Hung Thoc. Hang Hung Thoc lies near kilometre 14 on road 20 and is 450m long. It is in an area which obviously floods in the rainy season. The entrance is very close to the end of Hang E. Water flows through Hang E which is 740m long, resurges and enters Hang Toi which is over 5 kilometres long, and is a very large impressive cave. It is believed that the Hang Toi system is formed by flood overflow from the Phong Nha system. When water levels are high, the choked upstream end of Phong Nha cannot take all the water, which is believed to overflow to the Hang Hung Thoc area where there are many places for water to sink.
The total length of the Phong Nha cave system is now over 79k.
 
Howard Limbert
 

 

End of Expedition Reports

Caves Surveyed

Cave NameGPS EastingGPS NorthingAltitudeLengthDepthLocation
Lo Do 637159 1941007 109 317.0 8.0 Phong Na
Dan 637719 1941064 30 36.4 0.0 PN
Hung 3 635241 1935423 314 115.0 19.0 PN
Hang Va 2 636804 1933898 99 1686.0 14.0 PN
Hang Ky 625064 1928100 577 248.0 55.0 Vom
Hang Hai Cua 625891 1928893 465 575.0 127.0 V
Hang Gio 625767 1927487 263 513.0 44.0 V
Hang Trau 626695 1928741 319 186.0 67.0 V
Hang Cay Chay NK NK NK 91.0 38.0 V
Hang Nghia 624045 1929905 628 222.0 103.0 V
Hang Nam 623872 1930425 739 452.0 68.0 V
Hang Nuoc En 639681 1927897 192 450.0 5.0 PN
Thuong valley sink 628883 1940796 459 382.0 55.0 Nuoc Moc
Thuong valley shaft 629282 1940153 523 68.0 68.0 NM
Hang Cao 622659 1943100 750 310.0 55.0 NM
Hang Ming 634994 1938744 50 406.0 27.0 PN
Hang Ho Ky 638227 1930078 514 235.0 93.0 PN
Hang Khe Cung 614827 1936602 749 734.0 95.0 NM
Hang 28 631530 1928201 517 384.0 126.0 PN
Hang 35 629700 1925680 392 1387.0 111.0 V
Hang Hoa Huong 634087 1927228 445 1034.0 62.0 PN
Shaft 30 631399 1927468 468 0.0 80.0 PN
Floodsink 30 632568 1927149 311 20.0 15.0 PN
Hang Uoi (Gibbon) 612956 1966266 234 310.0 9.0 Minh Hoa
Hang Kim 615461 1964853 137 829.0 -20.9 MH
Hang Kim (exit) 614885 1964892 As above As above As above MH
Dong Hoan My 636684 1935140 111 588.0 31.0 PN
Hang Ha Hai 616275 1936021 842 1247.0 182.0 NM
Vuc Ky 615998 1936700 880 3460.0 312.6 NM
Cave Name GPS Easting GPS Northing Altitude Length Depth Location
Hung Ton(wet) 614425 1964933 172 495.1 26.0 MH
Hung Ton. 614796 1964874 As above As above As above MH
Hang 21 631201 1931228 321 1024.0 116.0 PN
Hang Leech2 632311 1923250 636 150.0 30.0 PN
Hang Leech1 632338 1923287 604 30.0 15.0 PN
Hang Cua Nho 632409 1923606 650 924.2 85.2 PN
Hang Cua Nho (Exit) 632513 1924462 665 As above As above PN
Tim Khi 632468 1923129 593 52.4 50.4 PN
Hang Hung 632329 1923302 647 174.0 5.7 PN
Flood sink near foot&mouth 633563 1922136 348 10.0 10.0 PN
Hang Nao 636641 1935406 131 35.0 20.0 MH
Hang Song Oxalis 613900 1965300 172 297.0 15.0 MH
Tu Lan inlet 615335 1964727 125 139.0   MH
Vuc Boom 618248 1933708 797 285.0 232.0 NM
Vuc Em Boom 618350 1933626 759 0.0 50+ NM
Hang K27 631026 1928452 502 45.0 113.0 V
Two Frogs cave 626374 1928253 289 150.0 10.0 V
Hang Hoa 635663 1932864 450 377.0 27.0 PN
Hang Hung KR 634165 1933571 162 473.0 61.0 PN
Hang Son Doong 637258 1929750 250 60.4 4.0 PN
Ca Chien inlet HSD 637258 1929750 250 412.0 34.0 PN
Greysnake 633376 1939252 142 110.0 2.0 V
             
      Total 21528.5    

Medical Report

This year's trip had more than its fair share of medical ailments. We owe a big thank you to John Burton who made himself available at all hours for telephone advice. We would also like to thank Nick Howlett for his help in getting the medical kit together. In order of appearance, the complaints were as follows:

Insect bites mainly on the feet and ankles to which one person reacted badly. This resulted in blisters which swelled and burst and led to possible infected bites. Treatment, keeping bites clean, antihistamines and thicker socks.

Colds were passed around and led to a severe chest infection in one caver and a couple of the Vietnamese. The team member then damaged a rib cartilage with extreme coughing fits. This was very painful. Treatment rest and painkillers as required. He was out of action for several days.

A sore foot, thought to be a sprain, but potentially gout. Treated with Voltarol and paracetamol. Painful for several days.

One caver reacted badly to mosquito bites, resulting in a swollen face and also swollen hand. Treated with antihistamines.

One caver had a chipped Ulna after a fall with some muscle damage. X-rays from Dong Hoi hospital were sent back to England to John Burton for examination and advice. Treated with Co-Codamol and Voltarol Still recovering from muscle damage.

One caver developed an extremely swollen red leg, from groin to knee. Cause unknown. There was evidence of infection. Treated with Flucloxacillin and Erythromycin, which resolved the problem in a few days.

Some mild cases of diarrhoea lasting a day or so were resolved without treatment. Several cavers in the Xuong Valley developed more serious diarrhoea and vomiting. The water supply in this area is very dubious, and possibly the storage of fresh meat was not at its best. Further trips will need to look more closely at improved hygiene measures to avoid a repeat performance.

A small slip resulted in a very painful knee which was thought to be possible cruciate ligament damage. Very painful for several days. Treated with Voltarol, Co-codamol and paracetamol. Has taken 6 weeks to mend. Most likely a torn muscle on the knee.

One of the Japanese film crew fell on his shin whilst in Hang Son Doong, and his lower leg swelled to almost double the size in a couple of hours. 2 small marks made us worry about a snake bite, but luckily this was not the case. Within a few hours the swelling decreased and he was able to make his own way out after a days rest. Severe bruising appeared a day later.

Luckily nothing too severe, but the remoteness of the caving areas makes all medical problems a bigger issue. Walking out for 2 days with severe diarrhoea and vomiting or any of the other ailments is not an easy task!!

Various ailments which the team brought with them resulted in a regular queue at Son Trach pharmacy to stock up on Voltarol and antihistamines.

Ian Watson & Deb Limbert

Gear Reviews

Keela Trousers – Fast Drying, Lightweight, Comfortable and Hardwearing. A useful thigh pocket for carrying essentials: wine gums; iodine; salt for leech dissuasion; survey book; pencils; and survey kit.

Keela ADS T-Shirts and long sleeve thermals – Fast drying, Wicking and Odour free. Perfect. Keela kindly donated a large number of the t shirts to the expedition to present to guides and team members.

5Ten Canyoneers - These boots are comfortable and lightweight. Equally at home in the jungle and in the caves, with excellent grip on rock; both wet and dry. My first choice for caving in the biggest caves

Steripen – Quick, Clean, Odour and Taste Free water. An excellent chemical free alternative to iodine. They were particularly useful for the longer expeditions when water had to be taken from pools and streams.

Hope 3000lm light – Bright, Brilliant and very hot to hold after a while.

SpanSet Fall Arrest Harnesses – Easy to don and adjust which was useful when fitting inexperienced people on the filming trips. Provided safety and Comfort to the wearer when hauled or lowered on pitches. The only minor drawback, the ease of donning and adjustment requires the wearer to step into the leg loops; an inconvenience when the floor is very muddy.

Adam Spillane

LONGEST CAVES OF VIETNAM

CAVE NAME

PROVINCE

LENGTH

YEAR

EXPLORATION

Hang Khe Rhy

Quang Binh

18,920

1997/1999

British

Hang Vom

Quang Binh

15,760

1992/1994/09

British

Hang Son Doong

Quang Binh

8,573

2009/10

British

Hang Co Ban

Son La

8,500

1994/1998

British/French/Italian

Hang Phong Nha

Quang Binh

8.329

1990/1992/2010

British

Nguom Ban San

Lang Son

5,416

2001/2003

British

Nguom Sap

Cao Bang

5,379

1997/1999

British

Hang Toi

Quang Binh

5,258

1990/1992

British

Hang Cha Lo

Quang Binh

4,483

2007

British

Hang Duat

Quang Binh

3,927

1994

British

Hang Lanh

Quang Binh

3,753

2001

British

Ban Ngam

Cao Bang

3,600

1995

French/Italian

VucKy

Quang Binh

3,460

2012

British

Hang Thung

Quang Binh

3,351

1994

British

Nguom Nam Lao

Cao Bang

3,360

2001

British

Ki Lu

Cao Bang

3,353

2003

British

Hang Ca-Be

Lang Son

3,342

1992

British

Nguom Pac Bo

Cao Bang

3,248

1997

British

Hang Over

Quang Binh

3,244

1997

British

Pac Lung

Cao Bang

3,109

2001

British

Bo Luong

Lang Son

3,094

2003

British

Hang Nuoc

Hoa Binh

3,075

2003

British

Bo Nhon

Lang Son

3,057

2003

British

Hang Ken

Quang Binh

3.018

2010

British

 

DEEPEST CAVES OF VIETNAM

CAVE NAME

PROVINCE

DEPTH

YEAR

EXPLORATION

Basta Noodles

Ha Giang

-528

1996

Italian

Hang Son Doong

Quang Binh

-449

2009/10

British

Hang Ong

Ha Giang

-341

2004

Belgian

Xa Lung 2

Ha Giang

-340

2004

Belgian

Hang Ha Lau

Quang Binh

-331

2009/10

British

Vuc Ky

Quang Binh

-313

2012

British

Mu Cai Shaft

Cao Bang

-300

1995

Italian

Pa Ca 1

Ha Giang

-293

2004

Belgian

Cam Thon

Cao Bang

-288

1999/2001

British

Lung Chinh

Ha Giang

-247

2004

Belgian

Hang Vuc Tang

Quang Binh

-244

2009/10

British

Hang Vuc Tang

Quang Binh

-232

2009

British

Ta Chinh

Son La

-184

1997

Belgian

Hang Ha Hai

Quang Binh

-182

2012

British

 

Cave volumes

Hang Son Doong 38.5 million cubic metres
Han En 7.3 million cubic metres
Khe Ry 32 million cubic metres
Hang Vom 11.8 million cubic metres

Vietnam 2012: The Descent of Son Doodle by W.H. Bowman–Long

Although discovered as recently as 2009 Son Doodle was soon established as the world's biggest controversy. Expeditions were mounted year on year and month on month to film in Son Doodle and to try and break the holy grail of speleological world records – the record for the maximum number of people in a single underground camp. Son Doodle is totally invisible from the Ho Chi Minh highway, yet such are its mystical properties, that; by standing on the barrier at the side of the road and holding your camera above your head; a picture may be taken of the jungle of the Ke Bang massif. Son Doodle is 150ft above sea level, 40000 and a half feet long, and bigger than Odsal stadium.

The objectives of the 2012 expedition were; a new world record and a first traverse of the cave by a film star.
A team was assembled capable of performing this incredible and therefore unimaginable feat. The team of Yoshida – a cameraman with climbing experience, Takashi – a director with drinking expertise. How At – an up and coming chat show natural. Hugh Grant – an established filmstar. Generator Man – a cook and world's strongest man contender. The caving porters - a selection picked at random from Chief Biscuit Eater, Watto, Dep, Leg End, Dun Can, Adam the girl, and Sweeny. The final team was chosen; only by the continually changing expedition dates.
This team could not have achieved these objectives without the porters, led by Khanh, Ky and Nguyen. Supported by: a five man lighting team; sound team; camera team; geologist; stumbling team; forestry team; and someone on a lead; 5 porters carrying generators; 6 carrying fuel; 7 carrying sleeping equipment; 8 carrying food; 9 carrying cameras; and 10 carrying equipment for the remainder of the porters. A boy carried equipment for these last 10 and his own equipment.
After a long time, all of the equipment and all of the people were loaded into all of the vehicles. 40 minutes later we arrived at the road head. The people were counted and the bags were counted then all of the superfluous equipment was consumed or abandoned until the numbers matched, and the loads were heavy enough.
Progress started initially slow but was soon moderated to a crawl. After what seemed like hours the team arrived at the first water stop. Here bottles could be filled, caps dunked, and stars soaked. We then arrived at our first food stop, rice wine and lizard to fill our food and drink requirements.
As it started to rain, we ran for a location where being trapped by flood water was much more likely. This would make the film, more exciting, more deadly, more boring; depending on personal opinion and absence of knowledge and experience. The first campsite is one of the world's finest; air conditioning, soft sand, plentiful water, snakes and high ceilings. Here the boy was taken ill.
The following morning the boy was no better, an evacuation must commence. Loads were redistributed to make them heavier, and the weather looked worse. A choice was made to hurry to Son Doodle, some still thought that footage of flooding would be exciting. It was putting the expedition objectives at risk. One more push and we would be safe, trapped if necessary, but able to film and out of danger. Finally we made camp at the level playing fields.
The following days were spent battling fog and fumes as clouds waxed and waned; the filming hampered by climatic conditions and tardiness. Early mornings were cooler and clearer, but alas they came much too early each and every day. The porters became bored, playing cards with ever greater volume; this makes the game more competitive. The louder you shout and the harder you slap down your cards, the better your hand. Then on to feats of strength and feats of balance. People went missing, search parties were tasked, people arrived; until at last we set off to the land of the dinosaurs, traversing precipices while the porters unerringly found; safer, longer, faster routes. Arriving at Beach Camp, via a thorough soaking in a thunderstorm the last phase of the expedition was at hand. A world record set for underground camping, preparations made for a safe, staged exit from the cave, and a plan to scale the last major obstacle, the Great Wall. Would Passchendaele live up to its name? Or would it be a gentle paddle through the darkness? Or as it turned out, a slither along the trench, a quick dunking, and a slide and sink in thixotropic mud at the base of the wall. Some climbed the wall, most were dragged; the only casualty, an errant ladder which rolled – and dived into the pool and disappeared.
So it was that Son Doodle received its first traverse by film stars, and its first and last traverse by makeup bag and electric razor, which had somehow inveigled themselves into the necessary, from the superfluous. So ended Vietnam 2012, and so began preparations for the return in 2013.

 
Team Members
 
Dr Anette Becher
Mike Bottomley
Russ Brooks
Howard Clarke
Martin Colledge
Martin Holroyd
Howard Limbert
Deb Limbert
Andy McKenzie
Peter McNab
Mick Nunwick
Gareth Sewell
Jonathan Sims
Adam Spillane
Ian Watson
Acknowledgements
 
Keela
Lyon Equipment
Hope Technology
5.10 Boots
Vietnam Airlines
John Burton
Toshiba
Peter Ward/Span Set
Inglesport
John Atkinson City Learning Centre
Phoenix Survey & Safety Equipment
Thanh Dat Hotel
Oxalis Adventures
Hanoi University of Science
 
Nguyen Hieu
Vu Le Phuong
Dang Kinh Bac
Nguyen Duc Hanh
Vu Van Phai
Vu Anh Tai
Tran Ngoc An
Phan Duy Nga
Mr Dzung
  
Oxalis Team
Nguyen Chau
Le Dzung
Phan Van Thin
Phong Nha Village
 
Ho Khanh
Ho Bang Nguyen
Ho Xuan Ky
Ho Van An
Tran Van Phuong
Hoang Xuan Nghia
Nguyen Van Hung
Ngo Phong
Ngo Ky
Ngo Tang
Ngo Son
Mr Hai
Mr Quang

  

 

Special Thanks to Quang Binh Peoples' Committee,
Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park and Forestry Department.

 

Sunbeams

SPECIAL THANKS TO ALL OUR SPONSORS FOR 2012

Keela
Lyon Equipment
Hope Technology
5.10 Boots
Vietnam Airlines
Toshiba
Peter Ward/Span Set
Inglesport
John Atkinson City Learning Centre
Phoenix Survey & Safety Equipment
Thanh Dat Hotel
Oxalis Adventures

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