Saturday 11 December 2010

Mud Lusting in OFD 2

Caving’s a funny old game.  When you get to my age its difficult remembering when was the last time you had a young lady’s legs wrapped around your neck, so if anyone has said to me that it would happen during a caving trip to Northern Lights in OFD, I wouldn’t have believed them.  How could this possibly happen on a caving trip, do I hear you ask?
Well with three keen cavers ‘champing at the bit’ (excluding Brendan and me) and lots of ‘please, please take us caving’, eventually after several hours of faffing on the Thursday evening preceding the trip and at about eleven o’clock when everyone else had gone home we finally made the decision to tackle Northern Lights in OFD.
The problem as always when Mark is on a trip is, ‘Would he fit through the tight squeezes en route to our chosen destination?’  As it turned out Mark had no problems with even with the tightest squeezes – this time it was Jessica’s turn to mess things up!
There is a rope climb up to Mudlust Hall with an awkward manoeuvre at the top requiring one to post oneself horizontally into a slot at the top.  Mark went up first without problems. When it was Jessica’s turn I volunteered to climb up below her to offer some protection should she slip – an offer which she readily accepted.  She climbed well but found the ‘awkward manoeuvre’ at the top more than a little awkward and after a little while trying to thrutch her way into the slot realised she was tackling it at the wrong angle and said that she needed to come back down.   I tried to guide her feet to the foot holds in the rock, but without success so I grabbed her knee to prevent her falling.  After this, what happened next was like playing a vertical game of Twister and I started to think how a court case for sexual harassment might play out.
Prosecution: “Did this really require you to hold my clients knee?”
Defendant: “Yes, your honour, but she still couldn’t get her feet onto the holds.”
Prosecution: “So what happened next?”
Defendant: “She lowered herself onto my shoulder with one leg each side of my neck and to stop myself falling I held onto the rope with my left hand.”
Prosecution: “Was she then able to climb up?”
Defendant: “No your honour.  In fact she said that she needed to come further down.  She then slid down my left arm until she was sitting on my hand.”
Prosecution: “And did you immediately move your hand from this inappropriate position?”
Defendant: “No your honour.  I’m afraid it had to stay where it was as it was gripping the rope and if I had moved it we would both have fallen.”
Prosecution to the judge and jury: “I put it to you that this nothing but a thin tissue of lies and what actually occurred with nothing short of an act of gross indecency.  I urge you to bring in a verdict of guilty.”
Raucous laughter from below brought me back to reality.  Fortunately Brendan’s camera was still safely stowed away in its box and boyfriend Mark was out of sight at the top of the pitch.
Jessica had another attempt at the pitch and this time climbed up safely, and the rest of the trip was concluded without further incident.  We managed to complete all of the passages in this area of the cave and Brendan took some stunning photos in Mudlust Hall.

Mudlust Hall - Northern Lights - OFD 2
The large and well decorated Mudlust Hall

Mudlust Hall - Northern Lights - OFD 2
Another view of Mudlust Hall

The team:  Brendan Marris, Claire McElwain, Jessica Harding, Keith Edwards and Mark Burkey

Sunday 28 November 2010

But up North it's Beautiful, really Beautiful!

After last weekends foggy foray we decided this weekend it was the turn of North Wales to get trampled on and oh boy what a difference a week makes!!!  Sunday 28th had the Freelander slithering to Ogwen, Snowdonia  in temperatures of minus 150C. Y Garn was the chosen objective for the day and what a day it was!  Dad, Robert and myself had a fantastic day in glorious sunshine romping through powder snow. It was more like the Alps than Wales and made up for the early flea pit departure.  Faith restored that there is indeed a viable alternative to grovelling in cold wet mud ... cold dry snow! And this weekends car mystery ......... despite dad and Robert being in the Freelander filling it with copious quantities of hot air the ice on the inside of the side windows never melted at all, figure that!

Y Garn - the objective

On the way up

Top of Y Garn

by Graham Smith

Saturday 27 November 2010

OFD 2 to Top Waterfall

The original plan was for a trip into Wetsink with Rachel, Richard plus Dominik and Brendan. Unfortunately Rachel was suffering from a rather bad and persistent cold, so it left only Dominik and Brendan. The weather on Friday night was very snowy in the Midlands, so on Saturday morning the trip looked decidedly shakey. Setting off from Leicester in deep snow the going got better as Redditch was reached and from there we headed off south. With only two in the party we decided against a trip with tackle and so headed off to OFD for a trip up the streamway to Top Waterfall. The snow was fairly light in South Wales and we headed up the hill with a chill wind in our faces. Once in the cave we took the tourist route down to Maypole Inlet taking in the major sights as we went. We took a slightly different route on climb on the climb down Maypole Inlet that proved somewhat easier than the normal climb down. We took a short stomp downstream to the cascades before heading upstream to Top Waterfall.

Dominik on the way down the hill after the trip.

Present Dominik Mokrzecki, Brendan Marris

Saturday 20 November 2010

It's Grim Down South

A 04:30 start leaving Telford on Sat 20th was the pain endured to guarantee making the most of the daylight and sunshine to complete the Pen Y Fan horseshoe.  A first for Dad and Robert. Well we went,we conquered and we saw sod all apart from a number of other optimists amongst the mist! Probably one of the foggiest mountain days ever. Only four pics taken.........all on Pen Y Fan summit trying to penetrate the fog ! Thank god for GPS although worryingly Roberts car had moved approx 50' from when it was left in the morning! A reason to go caving instead next time?

John and Robert on the summit

by Graham Smith

Ogof Craig a Ffynnon - Too Tight to Mention

We have a reputation of going to some tight and horrid places, in the past this has meant that only a select few joined these trips, but some members have been so keen to be involved in our exploits that they have undertaken radical surgery in an effort to slim themselves and join the trips. Mark had taken a surgical route to slimming having is jaw wired up so could only eat what he could suck up a straw. Four weeks on the SlimFast Plan has seen him lose two stone, so we were ready to put him through his paces and see what we could squeeze him though. We met in Luigis for breakfast as the law of caving prescribes with full English served up with knives and forks for us, and scrambled eggs provided with a spoon for Mark. Once breakfast was consumed we were joined by Claire and after a little juggling of cars we headed up to the cave through the fog. After a little faffing with the new lock arrangement on the cave gate we were in  and making our way to the climb up to the Second Boulder Choke. We had brought ladder and lifeline to add to the chain and ropes that already adorned the climb, and after a little entanglement we were all up to the top and making our way through the the confines of the Second Boulder Choke. We scurried along to the start of Travertine Passage where we halted to take a few photos before the short jaunt to the Hall of the Mountain King.
Looking down on the start of Travertine Passage.

Claire by the section of gour pools in Travertine Passage.

Mark and Mel in Travertine Passage.

Mel in Travertine Passage.

Mark in Travertine Passage.

Keith in Travertine Passage.

It was here in the Hall of the Mountain King that we put the SlimFast Plan to the test as Keith slid along Hurricane Highway, the low calcited crawl that leads to the Severn Tunnel. Once through Keith took out the video camera to record Mark's attempt to pass through the flat out calcite squeeze. After much puffing and panting it was clear that another couple of weeks on the plan would be needed so returned to continue the video work on the way out with Keith. Claire, Mel and Brendan headed off towards the Severn Tunnel to go as far as the final boulder choke. On reaching the Fourth Boulder choke we met a group who had a close encounter with a large 1m square boulder that had dropped to the floor as they were passing through the choke. They were returning with an injured member after making sure that the boulder was not going to move further. We proceeded carefully, it was clear that this was an isolated boulder move and nothing appeared to have been undermined by its movement. We went along to the final choke before taking a detour into Helictite passage on our way back out. As we reached the climb down after the second choke we met up with the other party making their exit, derigged and made our way down to the cars to be greeted by Mark and Keith after their successful video trip.

See more Ogof Craig A Ffynnon photos here

Present: Claire McElwain, Keith Edwards, Mark Burkey, Mel Wakeman and Brendan Marris

Monday 15 November 2010

Otter Hole 40 Years On - 1970 to 2010

A small team from DCC attended the second public showing of Paul Taylor's Otter Hole Video at the Palace Cinema in Cinderford.  It was filmed last May when Dave 'Sparky' Parker went to see the formations for the very first time - 26 years after he first visited the cave and at the age of 73 .
Paul obviously has a sense of occasion as he met us suited and complete with red bowie tie.
The hour long video was taken 'as it happened' and obviously there no way of going back for a second take.  Paul has made a first class job of editing the clips together to make a video which holds the audience and tells a real story.  The showing was well attended with an audience of around 80 people - the premier attracted an audience of 120.  All proceeds from the showings have been donated to the Gloucester Cave Rescue Group.
However the surprise of the evening was that our very own Mike Clayton was a member of the caving team and was even interviewed in the cave after the tidal sump.  I'm sure he will be available for autographs.  So what's all this about him not liking Welsh caves?  Me thinks he doth protest too much!  So I'm now arranging trips for him into such Welsh classics as Ogof Cynnes and Ogof Rhyd Sych.

Attended by: Dave Bowley, Emme Porter, Mike Clayton, Bartek and Paula Biela, and Keith Edwards

Saturday 13 November 2010

No Escape From Tunnel Cave

With wet weather ruling out access to Dan Yr Ogof, attention turned to helping Richard and Shaun looking for leads in Tunnel Cave. The plan for the day was to head up to the very end of the Right Hand Branch of Tunnel Cave and look for high level and digging leads in this area of the cave. Keith and Brendan joined Richard and Shaun bringing camera and video kit to add to the digging and bolting kit carried by them. The cave is extremely dry and we only paused on our way to Steeple Aven to cool down as we overheated on our way in. Once at Steeple Aven the pace slows down somewhat as you climb up into the terribly awkward Switchback Passage. This is typical of a lot of Tunnel Cave as you traverse in a roof tube above a tight rift passage below. This continues for a good distance with a well decorated grotto and section of walking passage in the middle of it to give some respite. Eventually we drop down from the roof tube into the end of the unfortunately named "Final Chamber". At the end of this high vaulted chamber a choke is encountered in the floor that must have some digging prospects, but our route was to climb up into a tight passage and wriggle though an awkward choke. This then in turn led to a very tight wet squeeze over calcite to enter a chamber containing fine sediments, which is the current limit of exploration. Two small inlets feed a small calcited passage in the floor with no real prospect of being pursued, while in the far wall a inlet from a calcited passage showed no prospects either. The final hope was an aven in the roof which was bolted by Richard to find that this too closed down to yield no opportunities. With leads in this part of the cave ruled out we exited, taking a few photos on the way out to record this rarely visited section of the cave.

Keith near the the end of the Right Hand Series.

Richard and Shaun climbing up at the end of the Final Chamber in the Right Hand Series.

Richard bolting up the aven at the end of the Right Hand Series.

Shaun in the Final Chamber in the Right Hand Series.

Shaun in a decorated grotto in the Switchback Passage in the Right Hand Series.

Shaun in a decorated grotto in the Switchback Passage in the Right Hand Series.

Present: Keith Edwards, Brendan Marris, Richard Frost and Shaun

Sunday 24 October 2010

Ireby Fell Cavern, Yorkshire Dales

A wet, cold trip in this beautiful cave with a bit of rescue hauling practice by DCC members to assist one of the group who was tired. Exited to a stunning, clear evening with the sun setting. 

 Present: Mike, Em, Paulina, Bartek & 6 members of CPC

Saturday 16 October 2010

Dan Yr Ogof - No Man's Land

In our relentless pursuit of the most horrid place known to man, Keith and myself took up the opportunity to join a trip into No Man's Land. I had seen the entrance to this unsurveyed part of the cave, and never had the bottle to squeeze my way into it, it just looked too horrid. We joined Richard, Jon and Mike on our our way into the cave, carrying all manner of photographic gear and arrived at the body sized mud filled tube that is the entrance to this area with a little trepidation. Quickly through the tube we dropped into a flat out gravel floored bedding plane that proved a tight fit to get through, but soon we were in a quite impressive sized passage.

Keith near the start to No Man's Land.

Keith near the start to No Man's Land.

A couple of photos were taken here before we climbed up into a hole in the roof to look at the high level passages, three routes led off at this level, one passage led off to a fork with formations in one branch and a crystal pool floor in the other that prevented progress, one passage closed down into a too tight passage and the third led to the bottom of a blasted upward trending rift passage. Ascending this final passage led to a chamber with a small stream passage entering and a calcited aven above a choke at the other end. The aven was climbed by Keith to find no ways on, but at it's base a small passage could possibly be engineered to make progress. A route was followed through the calcited boulders at the bottom of the aven to and area that could be dug, but no significant draft was felt. Back in the chamber the small stream passage was followed to an ascending loose choke to break out into a small chamber with a large loose choke running down the whole side of the chamber, this would be a serious long term dig. Back in the main passage at the start of the series of passages we headed up to take a look at the choke. Near the choke Brendan and Keith looked at a bedding plane in the roof, several rocks were persuaded to move out the way before Brendan slowly inched his way in clearing a path by moving the loose boulders and zig zagging past the once that were calcited in. Eventually this led to a too tight stream inlet and the challenge was now to reverse out doing the zig zag maneuvers backwards. A good ten minutes were spent doing a very good impression of someone stuck, before an exit was made.

See more Dan Yr Ogof photos here

Present: Brendan Marris and Keith Edwards

Sunday 3 October 2010

Mark cools off in a puddle in Giants' car park

Novice Trip to Giants Hole (October 3rd 2010)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Novice trip to Giants Hole (October 3rd 2010)
Arriving at the Mill one night to be told "You two are taking Dominik (the new member) caving", we arranged to go to P8, with Heather too. The week leading up to the trip was very wet however, and the day itself was solid rain, so we decided not to attempt P8 in case of flooding but to go straight to Giants Hole. We were just getting changed when a group of novices came running back through the rain, having only got as far as the inlets where apparently the water was thigh-high. We ventured in cautiously and found that the stream was indeed fast-flowing but not quite that high - however on arrival at Garlands Pot the stream was pouring over the whole of the rigging ledge, with spray hitting the far wall; it was really impressive but the sensible decision was to turn back. We explored the East and West rift passages and a passage above Base Camp where a rope hangs down for srt, but were out of the cave within a couple of hours into the still torrential rain!
Dominik, MaBu, JeHa, HeSi

Saturday 2 October 2010

Ogof Gofan - In the firing line

Two journeys out to Pembrokeshire in failed attempts to find Ogof Gofan ensured that this time we did some real homework. Now armed with sketches and some local knowledge we felt confident that finding the cave would be a breeze. We arrived at the firing range and changed in the public car park, before walking along the coastal path past Huntsman's leap and out to Saddle Head.

Searching the cliff tops for signs of the cave below

Our instructions pointed us to the correct location, but after scrambling down the top section of the of the cliff we found to very unconvincing looking rusty of steel belays and spent a good deal of time checking all other possibilities, before deciding it was the correct spot and gingerly committed ourselves to the rusty stakes, backed up to naturals belays from the rock.

Graham rigging the pitch from the cliffs down to the cave entrance

Graham using tackle bags as rope protectors over the sharp rocks of the cliff

The limestone cliffs are incredibly sharp and our 9mm rope was very vulnerable as it ran over the ragged edge. Careful placement of tackle bags gave us a degree of protection of the rope for our descent to find the cave entrance.

Graham drops down to the cave entrance as Carol waits above

Keith Abseils into the cave entrance with the view out to sea

The pitch dropped round a corner to reveal a steeply ascending slope up to a balcony overlooking the sea. Once all in the entrance we de-kitted and made our way through the well decorated crawls passing a second entrance that provided a stunning view over Hollow Caves Bay.

The second entrance provides a dramatic view out over Hollow Caves Bay

From the balcony a short length of crawl through some low wet well decorated passage led to a tight squeeze up into the Main Chamber.

Graham and Carol in the main chamber of Ogof Gofan

Keith Edwards by the crystal pool that surrounds the massive central column

Carol Northall in the main chamber of Ogof Gofan

Keith Edwards in the main chamber of Ogof Gofan

Carol Northall in the main chamber of Ogof Gofan

Photos and video was taken in the main chamber before we made our way out of the cave and back up the cliff. Carol and Graham in their previous trips to this area had discovered a quaint little cafe in Bosherton, so we called in for the obligatory tea and scones before setting off on the long journey back.

The day was rounded off with a visit to the Olde Worlde Cafe for tea and scones

Present: Brendan Marris, Keith Edwards, Carol Northall and Graham Coates

Saturday 4 September 2010

OFD1 - A Quick Warm Up Trip

Jess and Mark were in wales looking for a caving trip before they went off try out some canyoning. Saturday morning saw Jess suffering after a poor nights sleep in the tent, so Mark and Brendan headed off down the hill to OFD 1 for a quick trip while Jessica had some recovery time. We had arranged to meet back up with Jessica at 12.30pm so it was going to be a quick trip. We headed up the streamway to Boulder Chamber and then climbed up the cascade into the Waterfall Series, heading in via the Wet Way and completing a round trip coming out the Dry Way. We then headed back to the entrance stopping to take a few photos which proved testing, with a faulty trigger flash and two out of the four flashguns not working properly.

Mark Burkey in a large sandy floored phreatic passage.

Mark Burkey at The Font formation.

Mark Burkey at The Font formation.

See more OFD1 photos here

Present: Mark Burkey and Brendan Marris

Sunday 15 August 2010

OFD 2 - The Search For Rock Formations

Following the Far North trip, a gentle days activity was called for on the Sunday. A geologist work colleague of Rachel, had asked if she might help obtain some photos of some rock formations. Some fine examples were alleged to be found in the entrance passage to OFD 2 and so we planned for a short trip into Top Entrance. We were joined by Nicky and Miles from RFDCC and so we planed for a circuitous trip in the cave taking in a few of the more popular sights. On the way into the cave we searched in vain for the formations and by the time we reached the top of the Corkscrew Climb we had given up all hope of finding them, and so laid down the camera box to rest for collection on the way out. We then went most places, Salubrious, Trident and Judge, Swamp Creek, Crossroads, Presidents Leap, Selenite Tunnel, Shatter Pillar, Lagubrious, Midnight Passage, Cross Rift and then headed back out via Edward's Shortcut and Gnome Passage.

Rachel Dearden near the rock pendants.

We then picked up the camera and headed back to the entrance, to find Jem Rowland taking photos in the entrance passage, during our brief exchange of pleasantries we notice that behind him were the rock formations that Rachel had been charged with getting photos of. A short interuption of Jem's photo session then took place while we grabbed the shots, and then it was back down to the club for tea and a slice of Rachel's Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake!

See more OFD2 photos here

Present: Brendan Marris, Rachel Dearden, Richard Dearden and Nicky and Miles from RFDCC

Saturday 14 August 2010

A Photographic Expedition to North Aven in Dan Yr Ogof

Those boys from Dudley Caving Club have figured out that if they need sherpas for caving wilderness photo shoots, then we are the bees knees. Not only are we young, strong and willing to carry large, heavy black boxes, but we also make fine models and carry pork pies to share. So, into Dan Yr Ogof we went. What a delightful cave. Within 10 minutes of the carpark, you’re up to your neck in freezing cold water and climbing awkward rifts with no footholds. After that it’s relatively plain sailing for all of a few metres before entering the long crawl which continues for about 10 km (or so it seems). Once past there, the situation improves a little.
In the large chamber after the long crawl, we decided to temporarily stash the quiche that Brendan had carried into the cave on Keith’s behalf. We decided that it would not last much longer in it’s cardboard box if it continued any further. We also figured that a snack at this point in the cave on the return journey would be most welcomed. The quiche and it’s rather crumpled box was stashed behind a rock and we continued.
We took the passage to Crystal Pool, that led into Elliptic Passage, which led to a crawl that drops you into Bakerloo Straight. From here we went through Thixotropic Passage (a little bit muddy), into the Abyss, up a ladder to trenchways, then through Go Faster (stomping walking passage), through Go slower (big stomping passage with huge boulders in the bottom) and then into Rottenstone Aven and through to the Rising. We took the rather scary chain-linked ladder up to the Windy Way, and then down the 14 m pitch onto the Great North Road.

The Great North Road - Dan Yr Ogof
Richard heading up the 14 m pitch into the Windy Way

The Great North Road carried on for a fair while until we came to Pinnacle Chamber, a place that marked the start of the part of the cave that we actually came to visit!

Pinnacle Chamber - Dan Yr Ogof
Keith in Pinnacle Chamber

We meandered through The Meanders (funnily enough whilst we were wearing Meanders) and then went through to the Mostest. These two final destinations were really quite pretty. The Meanders is a fabulous piece of stream passage with a really high roof – we took lots of complicated photos there.

The Meanders - Dan Yr Ogof
Rachel in the Meanders

The Meanders - Dan Yr Ogof
Rachel in the Meanders

The Mostest has lots of pretty formations, the best of which was probably an entire wall covered in white flowstone, below which the passage floor was a mass of creamy cauliflower-type things in the water.
We took the best part of 100 photos, ate the pork pies and then started the long journey home.

The Mostest - Dan Yr Ogof
Rachel in the Mostest

The Mostest - Dan Yr Ogof
Richard and Rachel in the Mostest

By the time we got to the quiche we were hungry and therefore, despite it having seen better days, the entire comestible was consumed. It was good – although it was not the best timing given that we were just about to start the long crawl. We made it through and out the lakes and were back at the cars by 8 pm and after 10 hours in the cave! After consuming cake (sorry no pictures), we retired to the Gwynn and ate. We even had room for dessert, how could anyone say no to one of these ….?

On the morning after, we considered opting for a sofa Sunday. It nearly happened, but unfortunately someone uttered the words let’s go and off we went. With ankles and wrists slightly damp in yesterday’s caving gear we walked up to Top Entrance of OFD and headed in for a bimble around. One point to this trip was to locate a particular rock formation that required photographing for one of my colleagues. Unfortunately I had forgotten to ask exactly where it was and I only had a conceptual description of what it looked like, along with a half an idea of where it was near from one of Brendan’s pictures! After a good 3 hrs wandering around the cave (not all in search of the rock formation) we located the rock about 100 m from the entrance. A nice trip was had and it left us suitably knackered, which meant that the weekend was probably over. Another weekend, another set of aching muscles.

Rachel Dearden

All of Brendan's DYO photos can be found here.

Sunday 1 August 2010

Little Neath River Cave - Three Rescued From A Watery Fate

We take our job very seriously in the BRO. When word came to us of three Australians lost in the vicinity of Little Neath River Cave, the team of Brendan, Keith, Rachel and myself were quickly on the scene. Little Neath River Cave, an unpleasant looking hole in the river bank with a fine collection of large spiders and a significant amount of river pouring into it. The entrance to LNRC is loads of fun, mostly flat out crawling in the river, but also featuring a constricted duck which is so narrow we had to take our helmets off, and involves being neck deep in the river. That was followed by a rather nice waterfall to slide down, and then a long section of passage with a slippery flat floor along which it was easier to let the water push you, rather than trying to walk. Shortly after this we encountered the first of the missing Australians, happily still intact, and shortly afterwards we located the other two, battered and dented but otherwise unharmed.A little further along we stopped in a shallow part of the stream where we spotted three cave fish! They seemed quite unafraid of having visitors, one even letting Rachel pick it up. Alternatively, Brendan and Keith’s new lights may have been so bright that the fish were unable to see anything at all (and were possibly also lightly grilled).
We continued into the cave and visited the other end of the sump from Bridge Cave before the charming crawl through the canal, a couple of hundred metres of hands and knees crawl in water with just headroom between the water’s surface and the roof. From there we continued down the stream passage through some impressive caverns to sump two, and then returned to check out Genesis Gallery, a pretty area with some nice formations, particularly a set of well decorated avens.On the way back we opted for dry crawling rather than wet, so took the Canal Bypass past some more nice formations and up another pretty streamway. After rejoining the stream from the entrance we retrieved the three missing Aussies and made our way back out. Rachel got a surprise on the way as one of the Aussies escaped from Brendan, but she quickly regathered it as is floated into her hand. If possible, the duck was even more fun on the way back! After exiting, we wandered upstream to where a group were camping on the river bank to return their missing property. They seemed very impressed with the speed and efficiency of the Beer Rescue Organisation and vowed to call on us again if they lost a pack of Fosters again! Keith took video at various points, and has produced this classic memento of the trip:

Present: Keith Edwards, Rachel Dearden, Richard Dearden and Brendan Marris

Bridge Cave - A Quick Photo Trip

Our primary aim for the day was to do some video with the new Scurion lights in Little Neath River Cave, but we first took a little excursion into Bridge Cave to take some photos for the South Wales Caves website. A quick crawl through cobble floored phreatic tubes took us to the boulder choke, where on the far side it has been re-engineered following some movement in the past. From there we dropped into the streamway and then entered the large trunk passage. We had a look at the Rock Bridge and also the sump before taking a set of photos, a few minutes of video and then headed out.

Rachel Dearden in a section of the impressive Main Stream Passage.

Keith Edwards and Rachel Dearden in a section of the impressive Main Stream Passage.

Richard and Rachel Dearden in a section of the impressive Main Stream Passage.

Rachel Dearden below the impressive rock bridge.

Richard Dearden in the entrance streamway.

Present: Keith Edwards, Rachel Dearden, Richard Dearden and Brendan Marris

Sunday 25 July 2010

Yorkshire Dales - a bit of SRT

Not knowing the area at all but advised by Emma, we decided that Sell Gill is the right choice for us as it is easy to find. The dead sheep in the middle of the Pennine Way next to one of the cave entrances made the decision for us which route we going to take. Wind blowing towards the Wet Route made the smell impossible to bear, so the only choice was the Fossil Route, located downwind (of the rotting corpse). Paulina, me and Rich got changed by the cave. Monika who was going to take a walk up the Pennine Way, but headed back to the car parked in Horton in Ribblesdale as it started to drizzle. We quickly reached the darkness above the 2nd pitch.A large number of P-bolts on both sides of the passage was slightly confusing, so in the excitement of the moment the more obvious one seemed to be the one on the right. After reaching the Y-hang I realised it would have been much easier on the left hand side of the passage, which was behind me now, so I stuck to my own strategy (and let the others struggle behind me :-). The rest of re-belying went according to the survey. Richard, bored with waiting for the third and last pitch to be rigged, tried to assemble his own sheep out of the numerous bones he found while Paulina was looking for fossils.

Straight in the face, that's bright

Richard descending 3rd pitch of the Dry / Fossil Route

We've left our SRT kits on the bottom of the 3rd pitch and went exploring light-weight. Bearing in minds Emma's story about flash flood during her last visit in the cave we were anxious passing through the partially flooded tight passage and crawling towards the next big chamber. We ended our journey at the top of another 6-8 meters pitch, as we had no more rope, and made our way back to the surface.

We've had no caving plans for Sunday, but we visited the White Scar show cave, a treat for Monika. From there we drove back to Clapham and went for a walk to Gaping Gill 105m deep entrance pitch and investigated some shake holes on the way.

Gaping Gill

The Team: Bartek & Paulina Biela, Richard & Monika Wilkes