At the beginning of April a team of 10 cavers from the UK, Australia and Hong Kong fly out to commence a month long expedition in the Gunung Mulu National Park. The team will be based at the park headquarters and will concentrate its exploration and research on the Southern Hills area which borders the Melinau Paku Valley. This area contains some of Mulu’s largest caves, including Nasib Bagus (containing Sarawak Chamber), Deer Cave, and the southern end of the massive Clearwater Cave system.
The expedition was due to be led by Andy Eavis who was one of the first to visit the region during the 1978 Royal Geographical Society expedition. Andy then organised the next two follow up expeditions, including the 1980 expedition when he was instrumental in discovering what is still the largest underground chamber in the world, Sarawak Chamber. Two of Andy’s co-discoverers on that epic day, Dave Checkley and Tony White, will also be returning to Mulu on the expedition. Unfortunately Andy came down with acute malaria 10 days before departure and his participation in the trip is doubtful.
Objectives will include attempts to reach observed but unentered passages in several caves, as well as the search for new caves in ‘blank’ areas on the map. As anyone who has caved in Mulu will know, this can be a formidable undertaking given the nature of the terrain. The expedition also hopes to re-survey some poorly mapped caves, and to revisit isolated caves which should, theoretically, extend farther than they do at present. A small scientific team will also be making geological observations and measurements.
In 2010 a reconnaissance team from the Mulu Caves Project visited the area and relocated and visited caves which had not been entered for 30 years. Although no great discoveries were made, a better knowledge of the area was gained and the potential for new discoveries recognised. All the 2012 Expedition needs now is a bit of luck!
The expedition will record its progress on the trip blog, as often as possible.