Saturday 10 January 2015

Eat Sleep Cave Repeat. The Time of Our Lives In Daren Cilau

When the White Walls weekend was advertised Becca and Daz contacted me asking if they could have a trip to the Time Machine as a route finding exercise for them in anticipation of a future camping weekend at the Hard Rock Cafe. It is a trip I had heard Keith and Andy G mention a couple of times and a route finding trip I had fancied for a while so agreed to have a go at leading them in.
At the club on Thursday I tried to persuade Mr Edwards to join us and much to my delight he decided to give it a go. Jess, although swearing she would never again do Daren also agreed to give it one last go, and so our team of five was arranged.
Knowing that we would need quite a lot of camera equipment if we were going to try and do the Time Machine justice and also knowing we would need to carry extra food, drink and a first aid kit in with us we emailed Becca the night before to ask if they would mind carrying in some kit; I think I actually used the hook that they would need to carry kit with them to camp so it would be good practice for them :)
As usual our first stop was Luigi's for a good breakfast before heading to White Walls to kit up. Loz was persuaded to give us a lift to the car park (thank you Loz!) and we were enjoying the delights of the entrance crawl by around 11am.
Becca and Daz did a sterling job carrying the heavier bits of kit in, but it did mean the rest of us were able to keep up with them :)
We took a steady pace to Big Chamber and were soon heading off through the crawls to St Valentines Chamber.
Keith and I led off down Preliminary Passage and waited at the bottom of the Ladder climb for the others to catch up.
Jess led up the pitches and was unusually quiet which is not like her. I called up to ask if she was ok....I figured she was either scared or exhausted and called to ask which. After she reached the half way point where there was an awkward change over she called back down to let me know to save my daft questions for when she wasn't using all her effort to climb an awkward pitch.
Keith went up next to take some video and was followed by a very vocal Becca, whom when asked if She wanted me to take the tackle bag declined and climbed with it on her back!
Everyone had struggled getting up the ladder and having belayed everyone my arms were feeling pumped and I was quite nervous.
I shot up the first section of ladder and although awkward didn't find it too bad to the change over to the second section. Here I realised what all the fuss was about as I climbed the overhanging slippery rungs. Red faced, puffing, I worried that my arms wouldn't hold me as I clung desperately to the chain at the top and pulled myself to safety. How Becca managed with a heavy tackle bag on her back was something else.

The traverse and rope climbs caused no problems and we were soon dropping down in to White passage. As we continued onward Keith realised that when he thought he had reached the Time Machine on a previous trip he had actually been only minutes away.
We emerged at the top of  huge boulder slope in to the Time Machine itself and followed markers through to the drop down to The Bonsai Stream Way.
We popped up to the taped section to take a look at one end of the Crystal Oxbow before continuing on to Crystal inlet where we paused for photo's at the services sign.

Time was ticking by and everyone was aware of the return trip that awaited us, so it was decided that we would head back at this point taking some photographs and video as we went.
I could see that the extra weight had taken it's toll a little on Becca and Daz so the kit was re-distributed so that they only had one piece of kit to carry back.
The return trip went well until the entrance crawls where the tired group began to struggle a little in the crawls. Daz kept us entertained with a constant stream of expletives some of which I had never even heard before! He even managed to loose a welly at one point (A trick taught to him by Becca no doubt ;)

Finally after about 12 hours we emerged to find Snow coming down on the escarpment and were very glad to get back to the hut.
All that was left was to eat, sleep and cave the Sunday.....but that's another story.

Present: Keith Edwards, Jess Burkey, Becca Kirkpatrick, Daz Long and Mark Burkey

The entrance crawl
The 65ft Ladder pitch
The Time Machine

The Bonsai Formation by Keith Edwards....and perhaps a little creative editing by Mr Marris :)

Daz and Becca at the services sign

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