Monday 25 November 2013

Giants Hole group one

With a large number of people from the club wanting to join this trip it was decided to split the group into two parties, Mark to lead one, and I the other, I had decided to do the round trip beings I had a novice with me.
The day started off great with  peter and myself actually finding where Amy ( now renamed as Fred) lived, so we loaded up and set off for the peaks only to be tolled 10 minuets later that Amy had forgoten her wellies , so a quick ride back to Amy's to pick up the wellies.
we made good time to the car park at giants and where pleased to find that the others had only just arrived (apart from Ben).
A quick change and my group where soon off into giants where Pete and Josh played in the upper series near the entrance while  the rest of us slowly  made our way down garlands pot and through the crabwalk,the first rope climb came and went where Amy had a  helping hand  to make life easier , the second rope climb came and Amy was given another helping hand, then I suddenly realised I was going to have a go at starting the syphon at valentines sump for Mark but had forgot - ho well not to worry he will soon realise, we had a quick look into the connection with Oxlow and Steve found out its not advisable to go in head first as its difficult to back yourself out, next came the windpipe witch gave us all a wet ear. At the traverse I had already made a decision to lower Amy down in a harness to prevent any unforeseen problems, I followed her down while Steve and Jess carried on across the traverse, then it was just a short stomp back to the ladder and out for a nice cup of tea and await the second groups exit before heading off to the pub

Present : Andy g, Steve w, Jess b, Amy s, Peter a, Josh a

Sunday 24 November 2013

Giants Hole Group 2

The day’s objective for our 3 man team was to head to valentines sump and access the condition of the syphon.
Firstly I was late (enough said already) After speaking with Mark on the phone it was agreed that Carl and Mark would head into Giants and play in the upper series above base camp chamber while I dragged my lazy ass to the car park and meet them at the head of Garlands around 11ish.
At garlands Pot I found a comfy spot, rested on the kit bags and turned off my light waiting in eagerness to start the days caving. I didn’t wait long. Mark and Carl greeted me, Carl with the obligatory array of swear words before informing me that my punishment for holding up the team was to carry the rope bag for the entire trip. I thought this fair and got on with it.
In minutes we were down Garlands and into crab walk. Mark had told Carl to lead as he was suffering a bout of man flu and could set his own pace. It didn’t take long to reach the vice and then down the bit that hurts any man…..razors edge. From there we spent a little while looking for the correct way to valentines Sump getting very damp in the process!
At the sump Mark explained how the syphon worked and then asked ‘’do you understand that’’ and I said yes (not really having a clue) his reply was ‘’good, because your off down there to get it working’’. Carl was now feeling quite cold and was looking like he needed a Horlicks.  I got in the water with a certain amount of gusto that soon turned to hate and loathing for Mark as the water got deeper! We spent around 15 minutes trying to get the syphon started. We thought at one point we had cracked it only it was short lived as any suction I had felt at the pipe end soon stopped, so it was back out of the water and bailing commenced. Mark had mentioned earlier that he thought the water backed up and within 5 or 6 buckets and that’s exactly what happened. Carl regained some colour at this point realising he wasn’t going to be going in the water I had just come out of!
It was decided we would head to the filthy five and look at the state of play of the sump from the other side. We retraced our steps to the kit which we had left a short while away before heading to Geology Pot. There were a few sporting bits of passage before reaching the abseil which I rigged. Mark went down first, Carl and I close behind. I was impressed with Geology having failed to find it on a previous trip. From here my memory doesn’t serve to well until we reached a small duck,.Carls reaction though was very memorable and frankly hilarious but he was through within seconds, although this ice cold soaking rendered him mute. We were soon at the East Canal. Mark traversed around easily and I followed with not so much ease. The sight of water had woken Carl up again and the swearing also commenced. Mark had said they don’t call this the filthy five for nothing and he was right. As I wadded through the mud to the first pitch I heard a almighty splash which echoed in the passage but was soon replaced with fits of laughter as we realised Carl had fell in whilst trying to stay dry traversing. Very funny. Mark was soon up the first pitch, wedging himself in whilst ascending as the bolts and rigging looked suspect, I followed and Carl was also soon up. The way onwards was a left turn over a small traverse to the next pitch but we were all in agreement that the rigging and state of the metalwork was at best dodgy and as we would be ascending the pitches without having the luxury of accessing the rigging and bolting or using our own pull through we decided to leave the climbs for a return trip.
After deciding we would now be heading out Carl who had put in a sterling effort so far looked somewhat relieved. It wasn’t quite over yet though. We all carefully descended the pitch back into the canal, Carl this time mastered the traverse whilst I had decided to wade. It was at this point Carl asked which way out we intended to go, Mark informing him the same way past the duck then finish the round trip over the top of crab walk and out. The duck was done with ease and we were soon at the Oxlow connection (Start of the Chamber of Horrors).  Carl had opted to wait a little further back while Mark and I went to check out this tight passage. I stood there laughing at Mark, thinking how abnormal this was squeezing into the tight entrance passage arms stretched out in front as he went on his front, feet first. I followed behind with the same technique but it wasn’t long before Mark hit the water. I told him I was more than happy to explore further, BUT on another day. We backtracked out and it was only the Windpipe and Garlands left to negotiate before we could taste fresh air once more. Carl looked like he was ready to commit murder at the entrance to the Devils Wind pipe but the water was relatively low considering  it can sump.
Mark had been vague with his exit strategy to Carl so the traverses were an unwelcomed surprise to him. It didn’t take us long though to get to Garlands and before we knew it we were out in the fresh air me refusing to ‘’have a go’’ at the tight Oxbow pointed out by Mark and Carl on the way out.
We were met by Andy and the others at the car park where we got changed and hijacked Wal’s food. We the all headed to the pub for drinks whilst Carl go off home for a lemsip!! A very enjoyable day, Cheers guys

Present: Mark Burkey, Carl Knott, Ben Marklew

Trip report by Ben Marklew

Sunday 17 November 2013

Escape From Llanelly Quarry Pot

Our plan for Sunday had been to pay a return to Draenen, but an issue with keys resulted in a last minute change of plan. Daren was going to be our substitute for Draenen, but Mark then queried how close we were to Llanelly Quarry Pot. As we had ropes and SRT kit from the previous day, it sounded like a great plan. We had only one rope, so our first task when we got to the cave was to check that at least one member of the party could make it out the entrance unaided. Mark took this task and soon he had wriggled into the cave, dropped the climb and slithered down the rift. With the obstacles done he then returned, making lots of painful sounds as he pulled himself out of the slot at the top of the climb. Knowing there was a reasonable chance that at least one of us would be able to get out we headed into the cave, with four kit bags and a camera box. Mark rigged the pitch and soon we were all down and heading towards the streamway. We first headed upstream to Ryan's Duck where Chloe 'Water Baby' Burney took the lead as we headed through this long wet section. Mark was the only one of us to make the last part of the journey to the blue sump at the end of the cave. We then returned, taking photos in the Midsummer Night's Dream Streamway. On the way back downstream Mark climbed the Totem Aven Series, and is keen to go back for for a better look in future. Back at the entrance passage we dropped the camera box and headed downstream. I have to say that this was a lot more pleasant than I had remembered and will return to take some photos at some point. We continued until the passage became very unpleasant and due to time and lack of enthusiasm we made our way out the cave. Mark headed out the entrance first, taking a rope with him and after some thrutching at the top of the climb was able to tie off the rope. Chloe made the next exit, again really not enjoying the slot at the top of the climb. This just left Brendan, four tackle bags and a camera box at the bottom of the rift! I really should have seem this coming. Mark then dropped down the entrance climb and with the rope we ferried up each tackle bag and box in a similar fashion to how we had across the traverse into the Prokofiev Series. With the tackle now out Mark reclimbed the entrance. This just left Brendan who got his hips wedged in the entrance slot and after a lot of cursing and a tug from Mark popped out.

Midsummer Night's Dream Streamway - Llanelly Quarry Pot
Mark in the Midsummer Night's Dream Streamway

Midsummer Night's Dream Streamway - Llanelly Quarry Pot
Chloe in the Midsummer Night's Dream Streamway

Midsummer Night's Dream Streamway - Llanelly Quarry Pot
Mark in the Midsummer Night's Dream Streamway

Midsummer Night's Dream Streamway - Llanelly Quarry Pot
Chloe in the Midsummer Night's Dream Streamway

We had all emerged half an hour past our call out and were glad to get back to the cars and stand down Keith. We were impressed with the downstream cave passage and am sure that we will return to take some more photos and to revisit the end of the Midsummer Nightmare Streamway.

Present: Chloe Burney, Mark Burkey and Brendan Marris

Saturday 16 November 2013

Pwll Y Gwynt - The Return

Having left one of his video cameras the wrong side of a nasty squeeze on the last trip into the cave, Keith was keen to return to take some additional footage so a video of the cave could be completed. Brendan was also keen to take a couple of additional photos and so this return trip was hatched. We had no navigational difficulties this time and we made the slow slog up the escarpment to the elusive entrance. Mark was straight in and rigged while the three remaining donned their SRT kit on the tiny ledge in front of the cave. We dropped down one by one watching giant rust flakes fly of the belay bar as we abseiled down. Finally Keith came down sporting his "Welly Cam". After Mark went back up and came back down the entrance pitch with Keith's video light we made it one by one through the squeeze to the Second Aven being videoed as we went. Our route to the Third Aven and then towards the Fourth Aven was recorded from all angles. At the Fourth Aven Chloe was videoed on the climb down where cry of "Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit" was heard in an increasingly higher pitched voice. We then spent some time in the flat out muddy crawls to take the final shots for the video.

Crawls in Pwll Y Gwynt
Chloe in the crawls in Pwll Y Gwynt

Crawls in Pwll Y Gwynt
Mark in the crawls in Pwll Y Gwynt

Squeeze in Pwll Y Gwynt
Keith eyes up the squeeze in Pwll Y Gwynt

Squeeze in Pwll Y Gwynt
Chloe Squeezes out of Pwll Y Gwynt

As we headed up the pitch we all breathed a sigh of relief as we got off the rope having seen the deterioration in the condition of the belay bar on the pitch head. Present: Keith Edwards, Chloe Burney, Mark Burkey and Brendan Marris

Saturday 9 November 2013

Ogof Gwynt Yr Eira - Cave of the raining rocks

Gwynt Yr Eira has a reputation for being very loose and so we headed down very gingerly. The start of the cave was a little more straight forward than expected and we were able to free climb down to the top of the Drop The Dead Donkey Pitches. On the first of the pitches a fixed ladder is installed halfway down the pitch and serves to make getting on the rope a little easier. The rock ledge is littered with loose rock and one by one we made our way across and down the next pitch. At the bottom of the second of the pitches Mark had an explore of some high level leads before we dropped the final pitch towards the sumps. The streamway was followed upstream before we headed to the sump and digs downstream. We headed back up the pitches to search out the Road To Nowhere, we soon found our way through to Alaska and spent some time exploring routes in The Squalors. It was here that Mark found a promising lead and after pulling out some rocks sent Jess ahead into the virgin passage. Jess reported that she was in a small chamber big enough for a couple of people, with no way off, and so she returned. We then headed back to search for the route on. At this point Mark spotted a large block of rock peeling off the roof and shouted a warning ahead to me. The rock landing on the slope above me lost a lot of its energy and rolled relatively slowly into me - a near miss. We searched what we thought was all routes and could not find the Road To Nowhere and so abandoned the cave to return to SWCC for the bonfire night celebrations.

Above Drop The Dead Donkey Pitches
Jess above Drop The Dead Donkey Pitches

A cave that we will return to with the aim of finding the route into the Road to Nowhere.

Present: Jessica Harding, Mark Burkey and Brendan Marris