Monday 28 January 2013

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2 - Lost in the Labyrinth

After two weeks of snow the trip down to Wales proved uneventful until at the top of the hill to the Caving Club a group of cars and a minibus were found stuck in the snow. I spun my car around and parked at Toby's before trudging through the wet snow to the Caving Club. The planned trip into Danny was called off and so we headed into OFD 2 to test out Mark's new flashguns and slaves and have some route finding practice too.
We headed to Big Chamber and then on to the top of Arete Chamber and Bagpipe Chamber taking in all the possible route options. We then headed to Cairn Chamber for a few photos before looking at the route to Column Hall and then headed into the Labyrinth.

Jess in Cairn Chamber

Jess and Mark in Cairn Chamber

A leisurely journey through the maze of passages was taken exploring all the side routes as we went including the way into the bottom of Arete Chamber. Towards the end of our route we went along Northern Canyon to the boulder choke and inspected the route over the bolders in preparation for a future trip. Eventually we were out of the Labyrinth and heading up Salubrious Passage. A short detour to the bottom end of Gnome Passage on the way out was taken for Mark to have some practice taking photos of some large passage with his new set up. I am sure Mark will post some of his photos here shortly.

Mark viewing formations at the end of the Labyrinth.

Present: Jessica Harding, Mark Burkey and Brendan Marris

Sunday 27 January 2013

A Weekends Play in OFD II & Cwm Dwr

Having played in top entrance and the Labyrinth we exited in to a very windy and wet Saturday evening. After a hot shower and warm meal we discussed options for Sunday and came up with a route finding day in Cwm dwr.

Sunday morning we gathered our kit and were soon plodding over a wet quarry to the entrance. The sewer pipe had a flow of water running in and ensured we got a little damp right from the start.
We were quickly through the crawls and popping out a very wet exit in to Cwm Dwr Jama where we re-grouped.
Half way down the passage, after exploring all possible routes off, Brendan announced he had lost a contact lens. After 5 minutes spent searching we eventually gave up. This proved an interesting handicap at times as it left him with quite a blind spot only being able to see out of the one eye!
At the boulder choke although there was evidence of recent flooding through the choke, the water levels were fine to continue and we were soon at the Smithy and heading through to an upper series.
Having passed a couple of awkward climbs I decided it was time to test my new toys once more and was horrified to find the container which held my new flash guns had at some point cracked and let in water so was unable to use them on this trip (fortunately after a couple of days in the airing cupboard they are now fully functional and a new peli case is on order ;)
After an hour of poking around every possible route in the higher series I came across a very short traverse which led back down toward the Maypole. Still baffled as to where exactly we had been looking down upon we begun a search of the lower passageway until we found a cascade Brendan had previously photographed Jess at on an earlier trip and realised this was the passageway we had been looking down upon.
Poking around all routes Brendan and I found that two of the climbs up intersected and continued on through an awkward squeeze to a very well decorated chamber, which again Brendan realised he had visited a couple of years ago with Keith. We spent a while exploring before deciding that we'd better re-group with Jess who had gone off to look down some lower level passage.
Checking the time Brendan was shocked to see we only had an hour before our call out, so at full steam we headed out, making it back to the hut with only a few minutes to spare......that is until Brendan found out his watch was set an hour fast!

Pictures below from our Saturday trip in to top.

Jess admiring formations en route through the Labyrinth

Rare chance to see the man behind the lens in Gnome Passage

Present: Jessica Harding, Mark Burkey & Brendan(One eye)Marris

Wednesday 16 January 2013

P - 8

Taking advantage of a mid week day off, Jess and I decided we’d have a jaunt in the peaks. We’d done P8 a couple of times, but had never rigged the high level bits and thought we’d go have a play in anticipation of a possible novice SRT trip in the future.
Rolling out of bed in to a -3 start to the day I have to admit the thought of staying in a nice warm house with an endless supply of tea & coffee did seem rather appealing to us…….then the children got up and we couldn’t wait to get out!
After paying our trespass fee and changing, Jess and I romped over the snow covered fields toward P8. Arriving there we found the entrance completely frozen. Water was still pouring in but under the flowing water was a thick sheet of ice, so we decided to rig a hand line in to the entrance. After a swift ice cold dunking we set off down the passage toward Idiots Leap. Jess spotted a couple of potential climbs up and upon exploring, we found Flats and Boney pitch heads. Rigging Flats we quickly made our way down and carried on toward the first pitch. Here I climbed up to take a look at the high level pitches before sliding back down to carry on with our objective, the traverse around the first pitch. With this done we went across the high level route to Mud hall and down for a quick look at the sump before coming back via Gour passage and reversing the route to exited in to a very chilly -6 night sky. Great fun, an entirely different cave when SRT’d.

Pressent: Mark Burkey & Jessica Harding

Sunday 6 January 2013

SRT Training Day

Mike kindly arranged for the use of the training facilities at Total Access so that Dudley cavers of all abilities could learn and practice SRT skills. A good mix of us turned up, ranging from those trying out their shiny new Christmas presents, to those who had to scrape the rust off their kit before putting it on.

While Mike and Emma helped the less experienced ones to master the basic SRT skills, Bartek set up various problems for the more experienced to overcome, such as passing knots and awkward traverses, and we also got to practice some rescue scenarios.


By the end of the day everyone was zipping up and down the ropes like ferrets up a trouser-leg. It was a fantastic opportunity to practice SRT in the (fairly) warm and dry and everyone now seems really keen to put new skills to use in the next cave!

Those present: Mike Clayton, Emma Porter, Bartek Biela, Paulina Biela, Dominik Mokrzecki (and wife), Richard (and wife), Jeremy,  Chloe Burney, Graham Smith, John Smith, Adrian Stanley, Dea Wilkins, Ian Millward, Phil Lester, Mark Burkey, Jessica Harding

Saturday 5 January 2013

Giants Hole 2013

After meeting at Morrison in Buxton Chloe, Jess and I headed off for a Giants hole round trip. We had a couple of goals in mind for this, firstly as a novice trip for Chloe, and secondly for me to finally put to rest the Vice and concrete the route finding in my head. 
All went smoothly and we were soon past Garland’s pot and flying down the Crab Walk to the Vice. Jess popped through first with me following. Chloe didn’t much like the wet head first approach and wound up spinning around and slipping through feet first. To put my demons to rest I popped through another couple of times before sliding down Razors Edge and continuing on.
At the fixed ladder the water was flowing well and if anyone wasn’t already thoroughly cold and soaked, they certainly were after this!
At the first climb an extra hand line was rigged to assist Chloe up and we were soon stomping up the 2nd climb and crawling through the Giants Windpipe. Water levels weren’t too high and you only had to dunk an ear in the water for a few feet of it J
For anyone who doesn’t know, Chloe originally joined the club as ‘she couldn’t find anything that scared her enough’ ..…I think it’s fair to say the traverses over the crab walk definitely fit the bill for her. With our hand line again in use and me wedged below her in the rift, Chloe picked her way across the traverses to the squeeze through the calcite formations and back down to the crab walk.  Although a little tired Chloe managed the ladder pitch back up without issue and all that was left was to be entertained by a Stag Party who were struggling around the tight oxbow in the passage down from Sump 1 and make our way back out in to the cold to quickly wipe the mud off ourselves and change in to something warm. Turning the car around I managed to get it stuck on the wet mud, fortunately Jess and Chloe came to the rescue, pushing as I reversed off the mud, spraying them with it as I went. I promise I hardly laughed at all and was very grateful for the assistance! ;)

Jess showing how it's done at the Vice

Chloe on the traverses

Jess on the fixed ladder pitch

Present Chloe Burney, Jessica Harding & Mark (3 times under the Vice) Burkey