Sunday 2 February 2014

Maskhill/Oxlow Exchange for a Major Miner!

After receiving a request from Andy Kempster for an SRT trip for his first outing with Dudley, and having found out Alum Pot was his first SRT outing, we realised we’d need something a little tastier than a normal novice trip for him. Carl, Grant and Chloe had also expressed an interest so as there would be sufficient bodies available a Maskhill/Oxlow exchange was decided upon.
Jess and I picked up Chloe on the way and met up with Andy, Carl and Grant at 9am (Carl would like a special shout out to point out they were actually 15 minutes early!)
Carl and Grant were to rig Oxlow whilst Andy, Jess Chloe and I would go in to Maskhill. As we anticipated taking longer going in Maskhill it was decided that we would set off ahead of the lads to give us a head start.
Although the weather was far kinder than our recent trips to these mines I decided to head up the hill and get the entrance pitches rigged whilst the others finished changing so there wouldn’t be too much standing around in the cold. Everyone made short work of the pitches and within a couple of hours we were heading through to the West Chamber to meet up with the lads. Unfortunately the lads had given us a bit more of a head start than I’d anticipated and we had an hour wait for them to join us.
United we set the pull through to Pilgrim’s way so I could take another look at the route to the Chamber of Horrors. Grant elected to take a break whilst we went to explore. The crawls went on quite a bit longer than I’d remembered and it was 20 minutes before we reached the flat out crawls in a very cold stream way.  Carl decided to head back to keep Grant company (probably the most intelligent of us). I headed in first and was soon at the tight s-bend. This time with helmet off I managed to get my chest around the corner only to find the passage continue to tighten. Worried that I wouldn’t be able to reverse if I got too stuck, Chloe volunteered to lead the way (well maybe ‘volunteer’ is a bit strong ;) To avoid drowning she went through on her back, but finding her nose was touching the rock roof, she too was a little nervous of getting stuck with her legs contorted around the corner. With no one smaller to send in to see if it would be do-able, or dig-able we headed back to continue the trip.
We swiftly rigged the Waterfall Chamber. Andy and myself then descended Pool Chamber before, very cold and wet, we began the long climb out.
Andy, Jess and Chloe continued with the exchange while, to help with the de-rig, I exited out Maskhill with Grant and Carl.
Grant wasn’t feeling too good on the way out, so Carl and I were left to haul out the heavy rope bags between the two of us. Even so we still managed to exit before the other group and managed to call Mr Grimes (our call out) with only minutes to spare.  Half an hour later and the other team joined us. The Oxlow pitches had proven somewhat wetter than usual, and everyone was glad to get warm and dry.
Andy had no problems with this big exchange trip, other than the fact Jess had decided to tie on a bag to his rope before he exited the head of a pitch and nearly pulled him off! Even so he seemed very happy with the trip and even eager to join us on a future outing…..the crazy fool!
Andy on the abseil traverse above Waterfall Chamber

Present: Grant Wilkes, Carl Knot, Chloe Burney, Jess Burkey, Mark Burkey and Andy Kempster

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