Saturday 16 March 2013

Prokofiev Series - following the footsteps of Peter and the Wolff

Although the Prokofiev Series lies only a few metres from Timo's Table on the trade routes in OFD Top Entrance, it is rarely visited. Very tight squeezes, an intimidating traverse and an exposed 7m free-climb will put off most people from visiting this area, as it had ourselves on two previous occasions.

With water levels too high to do the Farr Sump Extensions in Peak Cavern we diverted to South Wales to attempt the Longer Crawl in Dan Yr Ogof. We found water levels here too high to get into DYO and so resorted to back-up plan C, the return to the Prokofiev Series.

After 30 minutes in the cave we had reached Timo's Table and prepared for the misery to commence. The first obstacle is a tight eyehole squeeze in a rift which was made more difficult with the amount of tackle that we were carrying. This led to some holes in the floor and then to the start of a very intimidating traverse along a rift. The rift is over 7m deep and although wide enough to pass through at the top level, it tapers in gradually lower down. With few foot holds available, a combination of friction, willpower and bottom wedging manoeuvres are needed to reach the other end. One false move or slip would result in sliding down in the rift and having no hand or footholds to get yourself out. With Mark across Graham went next taking the end of the rope with him so a Tyrolean could be set up to ferry the tackle bags and photographic boxes. This went like clockwork and with all the gear across the rest of the group then came across with Brendan loosing faith in friction half way and Keith muttering words that sounded like sheer panic as he fought his way across with two video cameras.

From the end of the traverse sandy floored rift passages were then followed towards the sound of a stream to find a small chamber with water entering via a shower inlet.

Jessica - before the climb - Prokofiev Series.

Graham - before the climb - Prokofiev Series.

From this chamber a short climb led to a passage with a small stream in that was followed to another small chamber and then to the bottom of a further chamber. Here a narrow slot in the far wall led up to a passage some 7m off the floor. Mark took it upon himself to lead this bold climb with Jessica belaying. Partway up a dodgy old hanger in the wall provided a psychological belay and allow Mark to bridge past a wide section with no hand holds and make the final move into the passage. Once in the passage, the tackle was hauled up and a ladder rigged for the rest of the party.

Jessica belays Graham on the climb - Prokofiev Series.

A short section of passage now led to a point where it opened out to a rift dropping into Five Mile Chamber. Lack of slings led to some ingenious but disconcerting rigging from where we descended the 10m ladder to land in the lower end of the chamber. Some photos and video were taken in the passage before we made our return.

Graham and Jessica at the ladder pitch - Five Mile Chamber - Prokofiev Series.

Keith at the far end of Five Mile Chamber - Prokofiev Series.

The way out went smoothly until the traverse gobbled up Jessica, we all thought she was a goner, but Mark stepped in and hauled her out of the rift by her belay belt.

Present: Jessica Harding, Mark Burkey, Keith Edwards, Graham Smith and Brendan Marris

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