A Review of the 2011-2012 Caving Season

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At the end of the 2010-2011 caving season review I commented that "the outlook for the 2011-2012 season appears to be quiet as regards to expeditions". As it turned out I was wrong in this prediction and many new caves have been explored and surveyed over the past 12 months.
 
Starting with some good news I am not aware of any caving fatalities or rescues. If there were any rescues the victims have successful kept this out of the news.
 
Last October saw the worst flooding in 50 years hit central Thailand and Bangkok. Ironically all this water caused a diving expedition by Alex Fletcher to be cancelled as it was not possible to courier his diving equipment from Southern Thailand to the north.
 
John Gosset of the l'Equipe Spéléo de Bruxelles explored several caves in Loei and Nong Bua Lam Phu in mid-November. This trip is reported in the ESB blog.

Just before Christmas Mark Tringham managed a solo trip into the unsurveyed Tham Thawada in Krabi, confirming the potential of this attractive cave.
 
In January 2012 Phil Collett and Martin Ellis of the Shepton Mallet CC had a Grand Tour of the Peninsular, visiting caves in Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Surat Thani. The highlights of this trip were Tham Racha Phuttha in Phang Nga and Tham Pha Sri Thamma Sokarat in Nakhon Si Thammarat where Page Ashwell conducted a guided tour of this magnificent stream cave. Many other smaller caves were recorded and surveyed.
 
More members of the Shepton Mallet CC and various guests arrived in February for the third expedition to Ban Mani Phruk in Nan. Tham Pha Phueng was extended to a depth of -388 m and a length of 3,596 m. Several other smaller caves and shafts were explored, but none were deeper than 89 m or longer than 300 m. However, on the last day a local guide pointed out the entrances of several caves and a return is planned in 2014 to explore these leads.
 
Following the Nan expedition Phil Collett, Scott Hall and Martin Ellis continued caving in Chaiyaphum, Khon Kaen, Lampang and Chiang Mai. Of the many caves surveyed perhaps the most interesting was a cave near the Myanmar, to the north of Chiang Dao, which was left with the passage ongoing and heading towards border which was about 750 m away.
 
In March Helmut Steiner was in Surat Thani collecting various bugs while Alex Thoma continued with his project of documenting the caves around Lopburi.
 
The Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures crew held their annual expedition up to Doi Ang Khang in early April to continue the exploration of Tham Chang Nga Chang and other potholes nearby. This area has great potential and should keep this team busy for years.
 
Also in April 2012, Craig Werger and a couple of other technical divers from Ban's Technical Diving travelled north from Ko Tao to Loei where they investigated a flooded cave, Tham Nam Pu. Over 300 m of line was laid and a return is planned in 2013 to continue exploration. The expedition report can be found here and here.
 
From the TAG region of the USA a team of cavers visited Thailand in May and June. Starting in the north they, along with Angela Morgan, visited some known caves near Soppong in Mae Hong Son. They then moved south to join Page Ashwell in Nakhon Si Thammarat. The two main explorations were in Tham Hong (length ~1 km and depth over 100 m) and Tham Pha Sri Thamma Sokarat where several waterfalls were climbed (total length extended to 2.9 km).
 
In June 2012 Jake Brodie-Stedman and colleagues from the Burneside Subterranean Beaver Hunting Association had a trip into Tham Pha Phueng in Nan. Due to the risk of flooding at this time of year they only managed to visit the inlet passages below the P7. The trip report is here. Also in June Vern Unsworth of the Red Rose Cave & Pothole Club investigated Tham Luang and nearby caves in Chiang Rai.
 
At the end of August Page Ashwell continued his solo exploration of Tham Pha Sri Thamma Sokarat finding a  further 900 m taking the total lenghth of 3.8 km. Martin Ellis joined forces with Ken Aaron of the Auckland Speleo Group for a weekend documenting various caves in Saraburi and Nakhon Ratchasima.

Only one new volume in The Caves of Thailand series was published in 2012 - Volume 8: Phuket and Phang Nga.