As Andy drove us toward North Wales on Saturday morning he asked how much further than the lake the walk in to Croesor was, to which I replied......what lake?...so we knew that the trip could be interesting, we just didn't realise how interesting it would become!
Aside from only a minor navigational blip, the walk to Croesor was straight forward. Andy struggled a little with the steep sections and sat himself down at one point declaring he would go no further! After a little persuasion, promising him the mine was only over the next rise, we had him back on his way and were soon kitting up ready for our adventure.
Our first problem came at the bottom of the first pitch where I couldn't for the life of me remember where the second pitch was and a 20 minute scout around the chamber ensued before Mel spotted the rope coiled at the top of the pitch. Andy and I glanced at each other knowing that if it was coiled there was likely a problem and, after checking, found there was indeed a cut in the rope that had been isolated with an alpine. We had brought a 30m rope that could be used to drag people out of the water if needed, but if we were to continue it would mean using the rope in situ.
After re-checking the rope I was happy enough with the condition to use it and do a mid rope change over to pass the knot. After doing this I saw the last party had obviously ignored the mid section rope protection and could see where the rope was going to rub, so shouted up to Andy and Mel that after passing the knot they would need to remove and then replace the protection as they went past it.
Mel was next and managed to get herself hung up as her foot loop turned out to be just a little too long which in turn left her hand jumar just out of her reach. Cursing like a navvy she finally managed to free herself and came smoothly down.
Andy was next and as we watched his light come in to view a sizable piece of slate hit the floor beside us, so we quickly backed off. As we did Andy shouted "Below!" and another piece came down hitting Mel in the hand! Nothing looked to be broken, there seemed to be no swelling so Mel decided to push on.
There were no further issues as we took on the zip wire, traverses and bridges (even with half of the last bridge of death now gone!) and we were soon at the last abseil. Andy and I pulled the boats across and Andy descended first, moving backward to allow room for Mel next and sat in a nice pool of water :) Mel was next and half way down the pitch her hand spasmed and let go of the thin 9mm rope for just a second and plummeted the final 10 feet to land half in / half out of the boat! After this last scare the final prussik and exit went smoothly and we were soon in the sun making our way back to the car, happy we had managed to take on the dangerous trip, with the only fatality being Andy's kit bag which had commited Hara-Kiri between the first two absiels!
Present: Andy Grimes, Mel Wakeman & Mark Burkey