Friday, 1 February 2019

50K Subscribers

Earlier today I gained the 50,000th subscriber to my YouTube channel at Channels with more than 100,000 subscribers are awarded a silver wall plaque.

In January my subscribers went up by 2,448 - my largest monthly rise, if you exclude July 2018 - the Thai Rescue month. If this trend continues then I should be able to claim my award by the end of 2020. I've already reserved a space on the wall.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

A Year in the Life of a Cave Videographer 2018

The traditional annual roundup video from Caver Keith Studios. 2018 was an eventful year in which I celebrated the 10th anniversary of my first upload and had many more views than any other year, but amongst the highs there was one slight disappointment.
Filmed in Porth Yr Ogof, Agen Allwedd, Cwmorthin Slate Mine, Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, Wookey Hole, Wild Wookey, Dudley, Calf Holes, Bromsgrove and Craig A Ffynnon.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Bolting in OFD Big chamber

After being rocked gently to sleep by the horrid weather Jess and I awoke refreshed and ready to rumble.
We were designated Duty officer this morning and so begun gently with a cuppa and taking the hut fees.

Once all had paid up we begun the search for the keys to get the SWCC ladder which was surprisingly harder than expected and took almost an hour to track down. Eventually though we had everything we needed. Ladder, rope, climbing gear, drills, spits and of course camera's ready to document caverns measureless!

I should explain that on a previous visit to OFD, Roo used big chamber near the entrance to instruct a group of us how to use the 3D scanner ahead of a couple of planned trips abroad. The result of this was that he had identified a passage that he wanted to investigate and so had contacted us to see if we could help.

Loz had joined us Saturday night for the curry, but after her 40 mile run she wasn't in much of a state to cave and so we only made her carry the 8m ladder up to the entrance rather than anything strenuous!

Soon Bartek and I were making our way through to Big Chamber with a section of ladder each and after a slight mishap where the ladder took a dint after tumbling out of position, we managed to get it up and secured.

Roo went up carefully and popped a bolt in to secure the ladder to before continuing up to take a look in the passage and with a deflated look on his face reported that it didn't go and was blocked with stal :(

Bartek and I made the most of the unusual vantage point and took a couple of photo's before we de-riggged and headed back to the hut for yet another cuppa before heading home.

Let the fun begin!

Big chamber from the inlet

Trip report: Mark Burkey

Present: Paulina, Bartek, Jess, Roo and Mark

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Pant Mawr Pot

Having Promised Roo that we would give him a hand on the Sunday with a project in OFD, it meant that we would be in South Wales for the weekend so it made sense to do something local to the SWCC hut on the Saturday.
I had been hoping to get some photo's of Pant Mawr Pot a few weeks before, but plans had changed after our epic in Draenen and so we decided to give Pant Mawr another go.
To our surprise we had such a response that it would mean we would need to split in to two teams.
The walk over in was damp and the mist was thick and if it weren't for Dino's GPS we may have been wandering around the hills for hours. As it was we made good time and the walk didn't feel like long at all.
We decided to get Bartek to rig the pitch in and send down the more experienced first. This would leave myself and Jess to supervise the others down.
I knew Mel hadn't done much SRT, but didn't realise she had only ever practiced at the Mill. She was very nervous as I talked her though the getting onto the head of the pitch. Dino held the tail of the rope at the bottom, just incase, but Mel did fine and was soon as the bottom. Joe had no problems at all and followed and then came Sam.
Before getting to the cave Sam had shown me his setup in a tree outside the club and although unorthodox (Sam is an Arborist and his kit isn't quite as easy to use as the standard SRT kit) it was safe enough.
The key with Sam's set up was not to drop anything as he changed over ropes on the ledge to the free hang. Again there were no problems though and he was soon swinging around whilst Bartek took a couple of Photographs.
With myself and Jess down we stripped off our harness's and begun stomping down the stream. Although I had been there a couple of times before I had always been following either Brendan or Keith and I soon found I hadn't paid much attention.
Our objectives would be The Chapel, The Organ Loft and The Fire Hydrant. We stomped onward through the boulder chokes and down the stream and before we knew it were up to our chests in water and had a sump in front of us!
Not too disheartened as, I was always intending to photograph on the way out, we were a little more careful on the way back.
Roo spotted the Fire Hydrant and I wasn't surprised we missed it on the way in. I remembered it being an impressive jet of water, but although flowing it wasn't nearly as impressive as I recalled.
Next we found the grave yard and spent half an hour poking around for the way on before realising that the passage I swore definitely wasn't the way actually was.
I climbed the awkward climb to The Organ Loft and rigged some slings for the others and tried to get a quick shot of the flowstone, but the chamber was soon filled with stream from the amount of people in the small chamber and so I gave up. At this point we decided to split in to groups with Bartek and his camera leading one and myself and mine leading the other.
Next we went to the Sabre formation and took a photo before heading up to The Chapel to take a couple more.
We heard Bartek's group below us and shouted for him to come this way.
Whilst Bartek photographed in The Chapel the rest of us headed back to the entrance. I had packed walkie talkies in anticipation of a pitch shot and popped up the rope first whilst Jess set up the light below. Roo started up the rope and we played with photos until we heard Bartek's group approach.
Myself, Joe, Mel, Sam and Roo shivered at the top whilst Jess was passed on the message that Bartek wanted to take a pitch shot himself and so would de-rig if we wanted to head off back to the hut.
The wind had picked up and the rain lashed down. The walk back felt significantly longer and visibility was so poor that we wound up missing the track off the tram road and walked down to the club from the other rear field.
Our first group were changed and showered as the others arrived and so we headed off to reserve a table at the Indian where we all re-grouped for a good meal to end another successful day.

Roo on the entrance Pitch

The Sabre

The Chapel

The Chapel

The Organ Loft

Trip Report: Mark Burkey

Present: Paulina, Bartek, Dino, Mel, Sam, Joe, Jess, Roo and Mark

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Shatter photo trip 28th Nov 2018
We met up in the priddy good farm shop after the night before having a few pints at the Hunters for the digger awards. There was myself, Tash, Kermit, John and Bev were heading down shatter in fairy quarry,
Mark, Jess, Paulina, Mike and Keith were heading down Rhino rift. So after filling our bellies with good food and lots of coffee or pop we said our goodbyes to the other group and headed to fairy quarry and got kitted up.
Kermit then asks where Chris and Jim were as they were due to be coming down with us. Iinformed him that Jim was feeling under the weather with a bad belly so Chris was taking him home. So of we plodded to shatter a really nicely decorated cave one of the best in mendips. On the way in I went ahead a bit with John and Bev while Kermit and Tash went at a more leisurely pace so Kermit could give Tash the knowledge of the cave as they went.
We waited for the just before pillar chamber and when we had regrouped I got my camera out to start taking photos as we had agreed we would take them on the way out. The first was pillar chamber then I took one of the Angel Wing which is Kermits fave formation in the cave next is Niagra fall, which is were John and Bev left us as John had to shoot off, and Bev decided to join him. Leaving just myself Tash and Kermit in the cave much to Tash's joy as it meant she would be my model now and we all no how much she loves standing around waiting for me to take a photo, I'm still learning so sometimes it can take me a while to get a nice shot.
We carried on and every 5 mins I was stopping to look at potential photo shots but decided to try to keep it to a minimum, in the end I had took 8 photos in total which I'm happy with but I have my favourites out of them ie the balcony shot and the one with tash in the second gate. Once I had finished we exited to daylight as it was about half 2 to 3 pm when we got out and were changed heading to the pub for a drink before heading home.
All in all a good day's trip Tash got to see a pretty cave and I got to practice with my camera so win win.

 Angel wing
 Balcony chamber
 A curtain
 Second gate
 Niagra falls
 Piller chamber
 Leaning tower of piza
Leaning tower of piza again 

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Rhino Rift

Continuing our our recent trend of visiting caves new to us we decided on something a little out of the norm for the Mendips with an SRT trip in Rhino rift.

Our weekend begun in the Hunters Inn where we met up with Mike, Paulina, Tash and Kay who had spent the day In Reservoir Hole. We proceeded to sink many pints between us and eventually stumbled back to the Shepton Hut where Chris and Jim had a camp fire awaiting. After warming by the fire and chatting for a bit, not to mention pinching Kays chocolate stash, we eventually headed off to bed.

The next morning the gang headed to the Priddy farm shop whilst Jess and I made a slight divert to the Wessex to collect the key before joining them and Keith for the usual 5* breakfast experience.
(Many thanks to Mike Kushy for brining the Charter house permits to the breakfast stop for us to fill in)

We said our goodbyes to Kay and Tash who were off to Shatter cave for a photographic trip and Paulina, Mike, Keith, Jess and Myself headed off for our own adventure.

We were quickly at the cave entrance and unlocking the gate, Mike and I went on to begin the rigging whilst the others held back with Keith to play with some video. The traverse at the first pitch was quickly rigged and I began my descent to a single bolt after around 15m, as the result of a single point failure would have been too large a shock load I put in a deviation at this point and continued on to wait for Mike to bring the second bag forward at the next pitch head.
Here the first y hang swings around a corner and is quickly followed by a hanging re-belay to a rock filled ledge above the third pitch. A call came down to let us know that Keith was finished playing with video and heading out and we were soon joined by Jess.
I had begun to rig on the right hand wall, but quickly realised the better route was a traverse on the left wall to a further hanging re-belay which is soon followed by an awkward deviation. Paulina came next and spent a while figuring out the best way to tackle the deviation and was then followed by Jess. I went for a poke around and down an awkward hand line assisted climb to take a look at the continuing rift, before heading back. Mike decided he'd had enough fun for one day and so we all headed back up with me de-rigging as we went.

Entrance Traverse

2nd pitch

Back on the surface we celebrated with mince pies before heading back to return the key and home to wash rope!

Photo's Paulina Biela

Trip report: Mark Burkey

Present: Paulina, Mike, Jess, Mark and Keith

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Tatham Wife Hole

After a late night of drinking at the Marton Arms we gathered for a breakfast at Inglesport Cafe where we regrouped and were joined by Roo.
After a little retail therapy we were soon heading up past White Scar show cave and parking at the next lay-by.
Whilst kitting up I noticed Roo suddenly go driving off and wondered if he had abandoned us as he was the only one who knew the way to the cave!
The rest of us were about ready when Roo arrived back with a brand new pair of shiny wellies ;)

Everyone who had asked what we were up to over the weekend had mentioned the long walk in to Tatham Wife and they weren't wrong! We headed up past false horizon after false horizon until the landscape eventually flattened off.
Roo headed in along with Dave to begin rigging, whilst I took charge of Joe and Jess looked after Tash, followed by Kay and Loz.
It was quickly obvious that Joe was a natural and we quickly caught the rigging team. I passed responsibility of Joe over to Dave and headed back to make sure Tash was OK.
The re-belays are quite a stretch in Tatham and most are not required in dryer conditions, which these were. We had decided to put them in anyway to give the novices some practice, but they were told not to worry too much if they had trouble with them and just leave them out.
Tash was having a struggle with one particular manoeuvre and was having to kick off a wall to reach it. She refused to be beaten and i think she managed every single manoeuvre.....well done Tash!
Kay was struggling with a bad elbow and tendon problems with her feet and dropped out at the third pitch. We checked if Tash wanted to turn around and she said 'No Way!'
Loz at some point had gone ahead and as we turned a corner we were met by Roo who said he wasn't feeling too good as he'd slightly overdone it on the wine the night before. Loz elected to keep him company and escort him out so Jess and I could look after Tash.
At this point the cave changed character and we were soon crawling in water and thrutching along until we met Joe and Dave.
I took over the rigging and the five of us continued on. After the next pitch came a 30m rift which I couldn't fit through with my SRT kit on and had to pop it off, squeeze through and then pop back on :o/
At each point we kept checking that Tash was happy to carry on, but there was no stopping her. Our next obstacle was the duck. Joe and Dave, not keen on getting wet were looking at the trickier climb to bypass. I stuck my head in and decided it didn't look too bad and wallowed through.
Now Tash has always said 'she don't like water' in her caves and you could have knocked me over with a feather when she came paddling after me.
I heard Jess, Dave and Joe cursing on the other side as if Tash had done it then they could hardly refuse.
Again our merry group continued on. Here the going got a little more awkward, crawling and traversing in rifts until we reached the head of a wet pitch.
At this point Tash decided she was tired and turned around and headed back with Jess. I rigged the last pitch and Joe, Dave and myself dropped down, had a poke around, decided the idea of a canal, long duck and sump held little appeal and headed back.
Again, Jess took charge on the way up of Tash, Dave looked after Joe and I de-rigged.
We exited in good time, but with the nights drawing it was already dark when we exited in to the cold night air.
Dave navigated us back across the hillside, but if it hadn't been for the others having their headlights on in the lay-by then I'm not sure we'd have been able to drop down to the right point.
As it was the others left us a guiding light and we were soon changing, saying our goodbyes and heading home from another Dudley adventure!

Trip report: Mark Burkey

Present: Roo, Dave, Joe, Jess, Kay, Tash, Loz and Mark