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

Sunday 18 July 2010

OFD II - The Key to a Wet Weekend Trip

The weather had been wet all week and on Sunday morning we woke to find Penwyllt enveloped in a cloud and persistent drizzle. Digging had been ruled out the day before and a streamway trip was going to be off the cards. As we had a number of new members who had not been into Top Entrance before we decided to take two parties to have a look at the standard sights, but to also converge at Northern Canyon and to have a look at this route. Faffing over, we changed and headed up the hill, through the cloud, mist and drizzle, to arrive at the entrance soaked to the skin. The last thing we needed was for a certain member of the team to have forgotten the key to the cave, so there we sat in the wet as he took the walk of shame back to the club.

Paulina Biela in the passage alongside Big Chamber Near The Entrance.

People who had not been to the Mini Columns, took a look at them, while others followed a maze of passage to Shale Chamber and then on to the Sand Crawls into Gnome Passage. From Gnome Passage, one group headed via Edwards shortcut to Shatter Pillar. The second group headed to Shatter Pillar via Salubrious, Crossroads and Presidents Leap. Once at Shatter Pillar, groups went off to take photos in Selenite Tunnel, before heading to Northern Canyon.

Heather Simpson in Selenite Tunnel

Heather Simpson in Selenite Tunnel

Steve Wallis in Selenite Tunnel.

Northern Canyon is an impressive tall rift passage was followed for some distance until a large boulder choke forced a series of high climbs to pass it.  At this point we decided the best option was to return and make our exit via Salubrious.

Both groups as we exited the cave.

Group 1 Keith Edwards, Bartek Biela, Paulina Biela, Richard Wilkes, Jessica Harding and Mark Burkey
Group 2 Brendan Marris, Derek Robertson, Steve Wallis and Heather Simpson

Saturday 17 July 2010

Cwm Dwr Two - A Caving Spectacle

Having arrived at South Wales Caving Club for our dig weekend, only to find that the week's rain had completely filled the Brickworks Dig, we had to hastily change our plans. Splitting into two groups, one party set off to OFD II, while the second party decided to use the pumping equipment we had brought for the dig to open the sump into Cwm Dwr Two. Despite it's close proximity to the South Wales Caving Club, Cwm Dwr Two is a rarely visited cave. We set up the generator on the surface in the quarry and ran cable down to the sump and installed one of our pumps, connecting it to the in-situ rubber hose that runs from the sump to drop down the pitch beyond. The roof of the sump has been modified, so a minute airspace exists, and as we lay in the water connecting the pump you could feel the enticing draught from the cave beyond. After setting up the pumping gear we returned to the surface to collect camera equipment to photograph the passages up to the sump while it was draining. Due to the weather the sump was filling at a rate very close to what we could pump it out, so it took nearly an hour to drain it. Back on the surface to pack away the gear before heading into the cave, Brendan trod on Keith's glasses that were resting on the concrete plinth by the side of the entrance. After donning the specs for comedy effect Keith then managed to twist back the Poundland specials back into something resembling their previous state.

Steve Wallis in the chamber at the bottom of the fixed entrance ladder.

Steve Wallis in entrance series to the cave.

Steve Wallis in the crawl that leads to the first sump.

Crawling through the drained sump we headed to a junction where we met a stream coming in from the right and then proceeded to head downstream to the left where we soon arrived at the head of the pitch. A single ladder took us to the bottom of Default Chamber, where we had a quick look a sump and a dig at the top of the chamber to the right. The way on was then to follow the stream passage ducking under the spray of the water coming down the pitch as we entered the meandering Maine Streamway. The passage started as a walk, with odd climbs up and down to progress before the passage became more rift like, and progress was then by traversing and following the tube in the top of the passage. When we arrived at the last section of streamway we could again drop into the stream where it was followed until the roof gradually dropped in height towards water level as we met the downstream sump.

Derek Robertson traversing in the roof of the rift passage.

Derek Robertson in the lower stream passage.

Steve Wallis in lower stream passage.

The Video

Present: Steve Wallis, Keith Edwards, Derek Robertson and Brendan Marris

Monday 5 July 2010

Ogof Fawr & Some Familiar Faces

I had bumped into Carol and Graham a couple of weeks ago at SWCC and we agreed to meet up for a trip a couple of weeks later. On the Saturday I was tied up with a trip into DYO and they went off to look for Ogof Gofan in Pembrokeshire.
On Sunday we headed off for an early trip so we could all get back at a reasonable time. We parked up at Cwm Cadlan and headed across the moor to Ogof Fawr, where a large stream disappears into a very large shakehole. Since my last visit a new dry entrance has been dug, and we took advantage of the shorter dry route into the cave.

Carol in the lower main chamber on top of the collapsed boulders.

Once in the cave we headed down picking up the stream and heading into the Lower Main Chamber where we took a few photos before heading along the main passage. We stopped off at a set of formations that you have to traverse past as you head into the cave. 

Carol traversing past formations in the main passage.

Graham in the main passage.

Further into the cave we made a detour to photograph a pretty dried up crystal pool in one of the side passages. From here we progressed a little further, but our early departure meant we missed going to the bitter end of the cave.

A dried up crystal pool in a side passage off the main route.

Carol and Graham on their way out of the cave.

Once out of the cave we found that the hill was now covered in a thick mist and we headed back to the cars through the drizzle, taking a rather longer route than we did on the way to the cave due to the lack of visibility.

Present: Brendan Marris, Carol Northall, Graham Coates