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