Sunday, 18 April 2010

Invasion of the Peli Cases - Ogof Y Daren Cilau

Daren Cilau has a fearsome reputation due to the long tight entrance crawl which puts off a lot of people from visiting. In actual fact, although there are a few squeezes in it, and you do get a little wet lying in the small streamway, the crawl can be completed in a reasonable time, and beyond lies an immense system to explore. The plan for the day was to enter via the crawl, take some photos of the formations in Epocalypse passage and then exit via Price's Dig (Ogof Cnwc). We had previously attempted to visit the formations via Price's Dig, soon after the connection had been made, and knew that this route is no quick alternative to visiting via the main entrance, and so had an expectation of a reasonable trip. 
The day started with our obligatory breakfast in Luigi's Cafe before heading up to Whitewalls to change and set off for Daren Cilau. Out popped Keith's Peli case containing the video camera an lighting, not to be outdone, Brendan takes out his larger Peli case with the stills camera in. At this point we are both trumped by Richard with his super size case containing camera in an underwater housing and underwater flash unit. Once at the cave, the first challenge of the day was to negotiate the entrance series with the camera boxes. Taking a steady pace, we made our way with no incidents, and the dry weather had ensured that we avoided the unpleasant dousing at the "Trickle in the Ear" squeeze.
Rachel finally at the end of the Entrance Crawl.

Keith in Jigsaw Passage that leads to The Big Chamber...

A couple of photos were taken on route to the Big Chamber Nowhere Near the Entrance, where we signed in and made our way up the boulder slope to the low arch that leads to the start of Epocalyspe Passage. Easy progress was made viewing the many selenite crystals and needles as we went along. Soon we arrived at the White Company formations, the camera boxes were broken open and the passage illuminated with a multitude of flashes, until mutiny broke out amongst the models and we progressed to the spectacular Urchin Oxbow.

Rachel viewing the White Company formations.

Rachel Viewing the White Company formations.

Urchin Oxbow is a fantastically scalloped passage with some of the finest clusters of aragonite needle clusters in the cave and makes an interesting detour on a trip into the cave. We spent some time taking photos of the passage and the formations, before making our way towards Antler Passage and the helictite formations that lend their name to the passage.

Rachel near the end of Urchin Oxbow.

An "arty" photo of Rachel in Urchin Oxbow.

Rachel in Urchin Oxbow.

From the start of Antler Passage a climb up and then another down leads to an area with a great view of the Antler formations. Photos were taken before we packed the camera gear away for good and started the journey up Antler Passage to Busman's Holiday, Price's Prophecy and the connection to Ogof Cnwc.

Richard viewing the Antler helictite formations.

Antler Passage is quite taxing to progress along as every hundred metres or so, you encounter a pile of rock that has peeled away from the wall, which you have to climb up, go over the top and then climb down at the other side. The first of these muddy climbs is quite tricky and now has an impressive home made rope ladder on it, that takes you up to a traverse at roof level that leads to "Man in the Roof" and also then drops back into Antler Passage. Climbing up and down becomes quite monotonous, some of the climbs are quite exposed and the muddy handlines are not as much help as they could be. Eventually the climb up into a boulder choke leads into Busman's Holiday, some large boulder strewn passages, connected by an unpleasant flat out crawl over mud and rocks. This marks the end to the unpleasant part of the trip as you now head to Price's Prophecy and the connection to Ogof Cnwc. A dug out bypass to the original sump brings you out half way up a scaffolded shaft, which can be climbed to reach a hands an knees muddy crawl. Soon you meet  a small calcited chamber at the top of which is a flat crawl that leads to the logbook and to the gated entrance.

Antler Passage is quite unpleasant, the original entrance for all its faults is the most direct, most pleasant and fastest way in and out of the system.

More photos of Ogof Daren Cilau can be seen here

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

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