Sunday, 1 September 2013

Tight Cave Larger Caver - the 10 Box challenge

As many of Keith's Youtube fans will know, Mark has attempted the Daren Cilau entrance crawl in the past, only to get turned back at the Vice. A couple of trips into Daren via Cnwc (Price's Dig) proved more successful, enabling us to view the amazing formations, but the entrance crawl remained unconquered...

Chloe had been angling for an easy Sunday caving trip that wouldn't leave her covered with bruises (she's going to be a bridesmaid), so Mark decided that the Daren entrance crawl, 550 m of crawling over stones, thrutching through rifts and over boulders and several tight squeezes would fit the bill exactly! Determined to make it to the end this time, and figuring that the 'squeezy' bits in the crawl may be a matter of technique, he roped Andy in as our guide for the day.

With more than a little trepidation the 4 of us met up at the car park and were at the entrance just after 10am. Daren Cilau has a series of emergency telephone boxes (not the sort you put coins in) which we planned to count on our way in, so that we could check our progress. Box 10 was our goal, and Box 0 was just by the entrance. And we're off!

The crawl as far as the Vice was deceptively easy, and the Vice itself definitely a matter of technique; with Andy leading the way (ON YOUR LEFT SIDE!! ON YOUR RIGHT SIDE!! ONE ARM FORWARD!! ) we soon popped through. Box 1! The going got a little harder...Box 2! And yet harder...Box 3! Just when we thought we surely should be at the end...Box 4! Only half way! Then the crawl got really awkward, with many tight rifty thrutches in cold water...Box 5! And then it got even worse...Box 6! At last we got some respite as we were able to get to our feet - stooping mostly though and tight rifts, nothing too easy...Goodness knows where Box 7 was! Now we knew we were approaching the crux of the crawl; the calcite squeezes. Would we get through? Or would all our efforts be in vain and would we have to turn back?

Well...the calcite 'squeezes' turned out to be one of the easier parts of the crawl! We all slipped through with no fuss, technique definitely helping, but none of us found them tight at all. Fantastic! Box 8!

Quite happy with the 1 1/2 hours it had taken us to get in, we made our way onwards, through the  boulder choke (Box 9), and Jigsaw passage (Box 10). A quick wiggle through the Wriggle and a stomp along big passageway brought us to Big Chamber Nowhere Near The Entrance, the chosen destination for our trip.

Oh the ecstasy, the smiles and congratulations! And how quickly they faded as we realised we now had to do it all again! (Except for Mark, of course, who was bouncing like a puppy.)

The reverse trip was uneventful but arduous, especially when we got back to the Vice. Andy and Mark seemed to slip through fairly easily, but Chloe and myself found going out on our left side a lot harder than coming in on our right side. With a lot of heavy breathing and a few squeaks we finally both got through, and then it was just a short crawl to the exit. We had gone a little slower on the way back and so were really starting to feel the cold when we popped out into glorious sunshine.

Mark's now planning a 'proper' trip into Daren... I may be washing my hair that day. Chloe?? Andy??...Keith??

Present: Andy G. Mark B. Jess H. Chloe B.  

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