Saturday, 18 July 2015

Ogof Draenen Round Trip - A tale of two halves - well only one really

The Ogof Draenen Round trip is one of the classic caving trips to be undertaken. This is a very long trip with the most challenging bits of navigation at the far reaches of the circuit. I had been taken on this trip by Emma only a few months after starting caving and after 15 years I knew that I would remember little.
And so we set off with bits of Grade II survey and some printed notes giving ourselves 10 hours before call out so we could be free to navigate our way round at leisure. The start of the trip covers standard routes and we set off at a good pace and found our way around to the ladder pitch down at the end of Perseverance II. A new 'Daren style' ladder was located next to the fixed steel ladder complete with a lifeline that only reached halfway down, we decided to use the old ladder and then headed off down Players Tunnel for what was a much longer slog than I had remembered before we emerged at the top of the impressive St Davids Chamber. Here we stayed high and made our way to the start of Squirrel Rifts. The route felt much longer than the distances described in the notes we had and so we spent a long time trying to match passages and junctions to that in the notes. Progress was slow until we reached a junction and all but Chloe went squirrelling off to try and find the way on. Five minutes later a call came back from Chloe proclaiming she had sussed it, as she pointed to an A4 sign on the floor that declared this to be Wooden Spoon Passage and the Round Trip was the passage behind. We soon made our way to a deep climb down and then a low restricted passage at the bottom. As we consulted the notes to check if this was the way to the Haggis Basher Brendan noticed that his watch read 5:30pm. We were a little bemused by where the time had gone to and so we decided that the safest plan was to retrace our steps to make our callout time. We were out in about three hours, picking up our cameras without even time to take a single shot. Once back at the cars and changed Rich proclaimed that his car clock said 6:30pm. Brendans watch had flicked onto another time zone, we could have completed the round trip even allowing for more faffing route finding.
We will return to complete no the bulk of the route finding has been completed.

Present: Mark Burkey, Chloe Burney, Rich Gibbons and Brendan Marris

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