Sunday, 10 August 2014

Successful Routefinding in OFD 2

OFD Top Entrance, Navigation Exercise Sunday 10 August 2014.
Jess had very kindly offered to ride shotgun for me on this navigation exercise and in doing so sacrificed a far more adventurous trip with Mark and Brendan & Carl, feigning 'It wasn't her favourite cave'Mark had provided a survey of the system from Top Entrance and highlighted a suitable route for me to follow. After the usual breakfast formalities at Luigis we arrived at a near empty SWCC.With the paperwork completed and us changed we set off with key to the entrance, but struggled for a while  with the lock, a goodly dose of WD40 might be efficacious!   Having secured the door from the inside we set off, the first couple of hundred yards or so were fine but l struggled with the scale of the survey, reaching some points sooner than expected and others seemed to take longer than implied. Some of the passages had obviously moved since my last visit and thereby hangs a cautionary tale. Previous trips in here had covered a variety of the popular sights and routes from different directions and it is easy to get them muddled in your mind, fortunately Jess was on hand providing the occasional hint to stop and review the situation.
Undaunted we carried on past the 'Wedding Cake' swerved around the end of 'Gnome Passage' and eventually found the 'Corkscrew' and down to the stream way in 'Salubrious Passage' where we indulged in some 'Traversing'. We turned on this occasion left to visit 'The Trident' and just beyond 'The Judge.' Retracing our steps we again followed the main passage way via 'The Crossroads' & 'Presidents Leap', into the 'Selenite Tunnels' to emerge at 'Shatter Pillar' a most aptly named landmark.Our return was a 'simple' reverse of the route in, simple it may seem but there are lessons to be learned here, main landmarks are helpful but junctions don't look the same in reverse and it pays to study them on the way in looking back as well as forward. Likewise good lamps are essential main beams can pick up the detail but miss the bigger picture, such as the Archway, a real land mark with flood but missable on main.
 We made it back to the entrance with relative ease and the occasional steer from Jess and emerged into brilliant sunshine after 4 hours underground. Having showered and indulged in the compulsory tea/coffee and cakes we observed from inside the cottages the most ferocious hail storm l have ever seen before setting off to meet Mark, Brendan & Carl at Abergavenny.So what was learnt? Well leading a trip is nowhere as easy as it looks, so my Thanks to Jess and maximum respect to her and all the experienced members of D.C.C. who give so much of their time to assist new members in becoming better cavers. There is some reconciliation work to be done with the survey, landmarks and my mental positioning of them and then probably another trip to fix them in my mind.Present Jess Burkey & Ian Millward,          

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