Saturday 13 September 2014

Led Astray In Daren Cilau

After a slight false start, with me leading the group out the car park in the direction of Cnwc and not Daren, I got a quick direction check from Mark and then found the start to the notorious entrance crawl.

I reached the section I recalled to be the ‘Vice’ and reported this to the others, though I thought I must be mistaken as it didn’t seem to present a challenge to any of us, only when I got to call box 3 did it confirm that we had passed the vice, much to the disappointment of Daz, Becca and Mel.

My willing victims proficiently wriggled after me and we got to the cascade in 1hr 17mins.

Dropping down in to Jigsaw Passage, I was glad I’d pre read the description “caution” it said, this was one of the accurate pieces of info it provided, there was a slide down on to a slippy boulder, miss it and end up on the calcite slope a few feet lower with repositioned ribs. Everyone chose to use the boulder and exercised good team work curiously guiding the next one down.

On we went through Jigsaw Passage to the random tight spot “The Wriggle” in the massive walking passage and continued to “Big Chamber Nowhere Near The Entrance”, where Mark took us on a quick excursion to find “5 Ways Junction". With “5 Ways” located, Mark went for a further nose while we headed back to Big Chamber, Mark soon rejoined us an off we went down Epocalypse Passage.

And now some rewards for our efforts crawling, Pretties (particularly for Chloe who had just done a straight in and out the entrance crawl on her previous trip). Daz and Becca cooed appreciatively at each formation, Daz literally head over heels about the latter sections of White Company, he couldn’t take his eyes off them to see the slight depression in the floor in front of him which he went A over T into. Mark happy snapped with his shiny new camera and got some cracking shots.

A check with chief time keeper Mel revealed we’d spent a bit too long admiring this 1st lot of pretties, with more to see and cave to cover we tried to pick up the pace. Passing the other end of Urchin Oxbow and on past the Kitchen, up the boulders, down the boulders via the hole (for those still craving a squeeze) or the step down on to a pile of stones. We did a quick run down in to Urchin Oxbow, with flash guns at the ready, Mark took a few more shots, his catch phrase “this will be the last one” being repeated 3 shots before the actual final pic.

Onward to Antler Passage and more pretties, but aware we were up against the clock we didn’t dwell too long. Everyone expertly tackled the numerous up and down climbs overs boulders as well as the climbs up the ladder pitches, where my forearms got a good workout pulling the muddy rope through the figure 8.

It took longer than I remember to reach Busman’s Holiday, more pretties but with little time to our call out we pressed on, my main goal was not to miss the turn in to Prices. Successfully found we headed in to crawly passage which I think Daz, Becca and Mel had been missing since the entrance crawl, to Daz’s delight there was more cold water to go through. Up the scaffold and down the mini slide (plank), Daz, Becca and myself converged at junction, with Mel just behind, we realised Mark and Chloe were not in tow. Mel informed us they were playing in the sump, knowing our call out was due and we were nearly out, I wanted to get to continue to ensure a search party wasn’t on the way.

I conferred with the others about which of the passages to take, deciding the passage with most insects lining the wall was the way out and Daz wanting a decision cos he was getting bitten, I ducked down the turning on the right and a few meters a head saw daylight around the door frame, yay, just the door and we were out!

I tried to pull back the bolt to release the door but found this difficult lying on my front, my 1st proper lead and I fall at the final hurdle, no! I shifted my weight to get a better grip and tried again but still no luck and managed to trap my finger between the bolt and the mech. Deja vu as last time I was in this cave I had reshaped the adjacent finger, so slightly panicked I called Daz to help! He valiantly came to the rescue and freed my finger, the two of us then tried to open the door, looking at the bolt it was well clear of the frame and the door should open.

We tried again and this time, with little force, the door opened and we found Brendan on the other side, I was pleased to see a familiar face and to know that a full rescue wasn’t on the way despite us being a few minutes past our call out. Brendan then revealed he had had to hold the door closed with both hands to prevent Daz and I from opening it! Ha, ha very funny..

Mark and Chloe emerged just after the rest of us, seeming very pleased with themselves, their faces covered with suspicious brown muck... the explanation was they had both made it through the sump (which is apparently normally closed) but to get through it had required them to remove their helmets, hence the extra face paint.

Mark seemed a little disappointed that I hadn’t waited for him to emerge the other side of the sump, I pointed that it was his choice not to play follow the leader and took a detour to try and drown himself. I think that’s why he pushed me over in the “no one died or nuffink” photo.

Thank you to all for allowing me to lead you astray..!

No One Died or Nuffink!

Mel at the Pagoda

Becca at The White Company

Daz at the Antlers

Chloe in Urchin Oxbow

Trip report: Loz Appleby
Photos: Mark Burkey
Present: Loz, Daz, Becca, Mel, Chloe and Mark

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