Benarat 2005 Expedition

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The Benarat 2005 Expedition to Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak in Malaysia took place between September 8 and October 7, 2005. The expedition was the latest in a series of Anglo-Sarawak cooperative activities which commenced in 1977. Sixteen UK based cavers were in the field for varying periods of time, together with a number of officers from the Gunung Mulu National Park.

Objectives[edit]

The expedition was one of a series of explorations in Gunung Benarat and the northern end of Gunung Api. At the end of the 2003 expedition, a series of promising underground leads remained outstanding in the Benarat Caves and the discovery of Whiterock Cave (Gua Batu Putih), close to Blackrock Cave, offered new hopes of major extensions in Gunung Api.

The expedition primary objectives in Gunung Benarat were to

  • prove the connection of the Blue Moonlight Bay Cave and the Terikan Cave systems through the sumps which separated the components of this system.
  • make the connection from Cobweb Cave to adjacent systems
  • access the remaining high level entrance to the east of Tiger Cave, via a climb up the Benarat Cliffs.
  • carry out further exploration of Sakai's Cave (last explored in 1984).

In Gunung Api to

  • explore Whiterock Cave
  • locate and explore Canopy Cave
  • locate new entrances in the northern slopes of Gunung Api.

Outcomes[edit]

Gunung Benarat[edit]

Blue Moonlight Bay and Terikan Connections[edit]

The sumps separating Terikan East/Terikan West and Terikan East/Terikan Rising were dived successfully, creating a single system of 32.573 km. The upstream sump in Blue Moonlight Bay was dived to -53m. The sump is a vertical shaft which was circled at -6m and -20m depth with no obvious leads off at these levels. The sump continues vertically downward.

High level entrance[edit]

The climb to the high level entrance was started but abandoned after approximately 80m. At 60m the climbers found a new draughting cave entrance and this immediately became the focus of attention. This system named Moon Cave or Gua Bulan in Malay, consists of a main passage heading straight along the strike. It was explored over a number of visits to a total length of 6.635 km to a concluding boulder ramp with no draught. All exploration was carried out on the single level and a number of outstanding leads remain in the form of upward and downward trending ramps.

Exploration of Whiterock Cave[edit]

Substantial extensions were made to Whiterock Cave. A further 17.261 km of passage was explored, bringing the total to 20.968 km. Whiterock is a multi-level system, providing a key to the cave formation at the northern end of Gunung Api. Its upper levels consist of large passages, partially blocked with sediment, including extensive deposits of rotted cobbles reminiscent of similar deposits in Clearwater Cave and indicative of great age. The cave includes the Api Chamber, approximately 300x200m in dimension with a surveyed circumference of 900m. Two connections were established to Blackrock Cave, via the Eagle Ramp and Firecracker. The inclusion of Whiterock brings the total length of the Clearwater System to over 130 km (precise details to be confirmed). The Racer Entrance to Blackrock was relocated and a GPS position was fixed. Whiterock was not fully explored and a number of leads remained outstanding.

Location and examination of Canopy Cave[edit]

Canopy Cave was relocated and it was confirmed that there was no open passage.

Location of new entrances in the northern slopes of Gunung Api[edit]

A number of small entrances were located. None of those were considered promising and they were not pushed. GPS coordinates were fixed for future reference.

Surveying[edit]

All explored passage was surveyed to the accepted standards. Data was entered into the Survex programme and processed to produce field surveys.

External links[edit]