Sunday 22 December 2013

Side Splitting Fun In Cwm Dwr

Carl sent out an email to the club with a hit list of caves, so when he asked for a trip on the Sunday I thought we'd offer him Cwm Dwr, as because of weather it was about the only viable option on his list.

Arriving a mere 20 minutes late a tired looking Carl arrived and in traditional caving style went straight for the kettle.
Carl had apparently only chosen Cwm Dwr because it is gated and he wants to get in as many difficult access caves as he can this year…..not because he was aware of it's long entrance crawl, awkward boulder choke or sometimes wet / tight passageway.

Oblivious of the pleasures to come he exclaimed, "Well the sooner we get in the cave the sooner we can get back out!" …you gotta love his enthusiasm.

The entrance pipe was flowing nicely and ensured you got a good trickle down the back going in. Carl seemed to enjoy this and was in good spirits as we made our way down an awkward climb and on to the crawls.
Popping out in to Cwm Dwr Jamma we paused to catch our breath…..Carl asking if we had to do all that bloody crawling to get out again ;)
We were soon through the passage and on to the choke where again Carl got a good taste of what Cwm Dwr is all about slithering and contorting through wet slippery boulders and then on in to Big Shacks. At this point Brendan offered up an alternative entrance to the system so we turned right, heading toward the upper Piccadilly end of the cave via a route that would miss out the main route and Smithy altogether. Again getting in to some restricted crawling we made our way through 'till we popped out out under some pretty formations. I recognised them but still couldn't orientate myself 'till Brendan pointed out that I had gone in to the crawl from this end on a previous trip. Chuffed that we had found a completely new alternative route in, we continued on to our first objective, the very pretty Tapioca formations.
I popped my ribs through the squeeze in to the area before getting my belt caught. I couldn't reverse and couldn't go forward so decided on a tactic of brute force pushing forward so hard that I began to exit the squeeze, but unfortunately my belt and over suit stayed put….doing an incredible Hulk impression I had split the shoulders of my suit before my belt broke free and the rest followed. Carl also enjoyed the snug calcite, though with far more grace than myself and Brendan barely noticed it!
The reward was worth the effort though and we stopped for a couple of pictures before heading on through the cave to see what kind of level the stream way had risen to at the confluence. Pausing again to take a few pictures we began to wonder what the time was. Carl noticed my camera had a time and date display and although it wasn't something I had set, the date was correct, so we assumed the time to also be. With only an hour left to beat our call out, we made our back with Carl enjoying the crawls almost as much as on the way in.
Upon our exit Jess looked a little confused as it turned out my camera time wasn't correct after all and we had exited a good hour and a half ahead of schedule! doh :)
Carl pausing to admire some formations

Carl posing at the Confluence

Saturday 21 December 2013

OFD2 - Deja Rue - Been Here Before?

A seriously wet weekend meant that we were restricted as to where we could cave, and with Jess being the Duty Officer at SWCC it was just Mark and myself that headed up to Top Entrance to go and have an explore of the complex Deja Rue area of the cave. We headed into the cave quickly following Cross Rift to Midnight Passage and then heading up and past the turning to the Skyhook Pitch. A short climb down led us to a passage with an ascending boulder slope, where a body sized hole leads into a boulder floored chamber. Heading straight ahead of this chamber we found ourselves in a tall passage with a stream running in the floor. After a short distance the stream enters from the right and we continue in a dry passage ahead. Soon we are crawling through Hayden's Dig to enter the impressive Deja Rue. This vaulted passage gently meanders as it descends and is followed until it becomes sandy floored and the ceiling height lowers to enter a silted sump. Just before the sump is a small inlet passage where a flat out crawl leads past a couple of dead ends to enter a small chamber with a pile of old bang wire and multiple ways off. This is the start of a very complex area we headed off down one of the exits to the chamber and followed a maze of passages, at each junction selecting a route onward that took our fancy. Eventually en exclamation came from ahead "Come this way I've found a chamber with loads of ways off and a pile of bang wire". Arriving in the chamber it is pointed out that this is the same chamber as at the start of the circuit. We head off again now to take in each of the passages that we missed on the first circuit. We complete additional circuits until we arrive back at a familiar passage. Here we find the end of a bang wire, "lets follow the bag wire, it will take us back to the start" I exclaim, then to realise the error in my plan as we had approached this from the other end. With all passages we found explored, apart from going up the pitches that we would have to come back to with kit, we decided to head back.

Deja Rue - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2
Deja Rue - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2

Deja Rue - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2
Deja Rue - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2

Deja Rue - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2
Deja Rue - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2

Deja Rue - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2
Deja Rue - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2

A very complex area that was well worth a visit. We will return sometime with SRT kit to ascend the pitches to reach Merthyr Vale and the higher level passages.

Present: Mark Burkey and Brendan Marris

Saturday 7 December 2013

A trip to Neil Moss Chamber Peak Cavern

After having to divert because of a road closure Jess and I arrived quarter of an hour late at Mr Grimes place to find him sitting in the car waiting. 
Fortunately it was a clear run and we made good time to the Chapel arriving at 9.05 to find Ben and Loz already there and waiting.
We headed off at around 10 to a very festive looking show cave entrance and were soon sliding our way down toward Five Arches and on through the Mucky Ducks to the start of Pickerings passage.
We made short work of the crawl before sliding over the block and on through the ‘Eye Hole’ slot and slippery rope climbs.
A final chilly, waist deep pool, and we had arrived in Neil Moss Chamber.
Jess looking good as ever as she navigates the 'Eye Hole'
Loz at the stunning calcite formations in Neil Moss Chamber
The team in front of the tube where Neil Moss is Entombed
Ben and I continued on with me getting firmly wedged as usual. Ben slipped through with ease and checked out the final chamber to see if it was worth me fighting my way through, but (fortunately) there were no rewards worthy of the efforts and bruised ribs, so we re-joined the group to take a few pictures. I managed to persuade Ben and Loz to hang around in the pool at the bottom of the chamber for a final picture before heading back.  
Some people just don't know how to suffer for my art…..Ben stop shaking you're making it hard to focus!
The challenges all seemed easier on the return and we were soon heading off to Surprise View and down the ladder to check out Buxton water Sump. Andy then led Ben and Loz toward Lake Passage whilst Jess and I took a couple more pictures before stomping along the stream way to catch up with the others. Missing the climb up we were at Boulder Hall before we released we had gone too far and about faced.
This time Andy spotted the way to the passage but was most disappointed when the sump turned out to be a rather spacious duck!
With all our objectives completed we headed out for a well-deserved cuppa and chat with the locals. 
A great day out, many thanks to Andy for leading it.

Jess in a very low main stream way

Present: Andy Grimes, Loz Appleby, Ben Marklew, Jessica Burkey & Mark Burkey

Sunday 1 December 2013

Llygad Llwchwr – A cave of spiders, water, and two left feet.

I had decided to take a little more responsibility for leading trips and so had offered to take Becca and Amy into Llygad Llwchwr and Llygad LLwchwr Two. The trip attracted an unexpected amount of interest from other members and the group size grew to 8.
The day started in a less than ideal fashion with me showing up to Amy’s 20 minutes late after spending a considerable length of time thoroughly lost driving in circles around Spaghetti Junction due to a motorway closure. Ben also arrived 20 minutes late but as he pulled up at the same time as me, he considered himself to be on time! We met the rest of the group in Llandeilo at 10am sharp for breakfast and before we knew it we had navigated our way to the caves outside of Trapp, and we were changed ready to go.
We first climbed down the scaffold shaft into LLygad Llwchwr Two for a little poke around and to show everyone the impressive formations. Mark stopped to take a few photos then we headed back out.

Ben admiring formations in Llygad Llwchwr Two

On the way to Llygad Llwchwr we stopped for the mandatory posing photo in front of the ‘Caving is a dangerous activity’ sign. 

Everybody flew up the entrance climb, avoiding the spiders, and along to the First River Chamber which was the initial stop on the list. After a little splash around we continued back out and along the passage, past the Column, and through a duck into the maze. We followed some rift and crawling passages to find ourselves at a perfectly smooth slide of rock ending in a muddy puddle. Eight successive cries of ‘weeeeeeeeee’ followed by a splash were heard as we all came down, leading to a nice tidal wave effect as our feet hit the water which soaked the person ahead. After a brief visit to the third river chamber we continued along to the fourth river chamber. It was here that we were perching on ledges avoiding the central deep section of water when Ben lost his footing leading to a domino effect knocking into Andy, Amy and then Becca. The girls managed to keep their balance but Ben and Andy got a thorough soaking. Upon clambering back out of the deep water Ben grabbed hold of the dive rope which happened to be tucked behind my knees, catapulting me into the water as well. Satisfied that Ben had soaked enough of the team we headed back on ourselves and to the second river chamber. Natural belays were used to rig a ladder and lifeline and we popped down into the water. Amy, Loz, Becca, Mark, and I swam down the river to view the very pretty formations in the roof. It was during the swim back up river that Becca announced that she had lost her right wellie, although wasn’t too sure when exactly it happened as her feet were so numb with cold she didn’t feel it slip off! We gave up looking for the lost wellie in the deep water after a matter of minutes as everybody was getting rather cold. However a similar misfortune must have fallen upon a previous unwary caver as we had earlier spotted a lone wellie perched on the side of the second river chamber. In slight disbelief of the luck of it, we went to retrieve the stray homeless wellie. Unfortunately not only was it a left foot wellie but it was also 3 sizes too big leading to a very comical walk back out of the cave.
 left the cave with huge smiles on their faces. It was a day of much laughter and a very successful trip all round.
Loz and Andy at the Entrance
Amy Descending in to the second river chamber

Present: Andy Grimes, Chloe Burney, Ben Marklew, Becca Kirkpatrick, Amy Sawyer, Jessica Burkey, Loz Appleby & Mark Burkey

Trip report by Chloe Burney