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