Sunday 25 October 2015

What It Takes To Get The Shot Two - Llygad Llwchr

This is about the 10th edit of this video and although it’s far from perfect, I do sort of like the 'fly on the wall/behind the scenes look at cave photographers at work’ nature of it, so have at long last decided to upload it.

Saturday 24 October 2015

Knocking at Cwm Dwr, but did we get through...

Finalising our plans at the Mill Thursday evening for an Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2 to Cwm Dwr through trip, Rich G and I made an early start Saturday for SWCC.

With a quick bacon butty stop to fuel two finely tuned cavers for the day, we arrived in good time to fill out route cards and check weather conditions with the DO. Once inside top entrance we moved swiftly to the far side of the chamber and headed left over a number of boulders into a rift, this quickly emerged into the top end of Gnome Passage.
With Rich feeling confident from previous trips we headed down to our left, passing the Wedding Cake to arrive at a large drop leading down to Salubrious Streamway. We worked our way through the boulders, and resisting temptation to keep progressing downwards we took a diversion through Sand Passage to visit the Judge and the Trident formations.
 Rejoining our route, but now leaving the Salubrious Stream we entered a tight rift with white mud on the floor. Continuing to make good progress through the many twists and turns we eventually arrived at an awkward down climb that needed negotiating before we could rejoin the stream below. With a few committing moves we both made easy work of the drop, and once safely down the rift continued until reaching the ladder climb that would lead us to the main stream at Maypole Inlet.

After negotiating another awkward climb into the stream the real fun of the day began as we watched each other fall neck deep into several of the rock pools! With adrenaline and spirits running high we made good progress downstream, up and over into the Great Oxbow to bypass the sump, passing Marble Showers, continuing through to River Chamber one, and finally a low arch at the end of which was the Confluence. A short distance ahead from this we entered the flood Bypass and continued up into Piccadilly, at this junction we turned right to continue the route to Cwm Dwr, and after an awkward step and a climb over boulders we entered the Smithy, with the noise of the Cwm Dwr stream below. On slightly more familiar ground we negotiated the route finding through passages, traverses and boulder climbs easily to Big Shacks.

This progress continued through the boulder choke, using the scaffold pipes for guidance to soon emerge into the final big chamber. Working our way up the last few boulder climbs we finally reached the final crawl, with our energy levels flagging we slowly but surely made our way through to the base of the drain pipes. With Rich looking like he was ready to toast a successful trip with the Cubans he had bought from his recent holiday, and daylight only a few metres away I pulled myself up each section of pipe until I reached the door... Now I’m not sure whether it was the lack of a full English at Luigi's, but I didn’t seem to be able to open it! Had we forgotten something? Had somebody told us, and we had not been listening? How many hours left till our call out! All these thoughts went through our minds until I gave it one last push and the door flung open! Phew!!

Present: Rich Gibbons & Mike Bonner
Trip Report: Mike Bonner

Sunday 18 October 2015

Ars'in about & Chillin in the Green Canal

For Sunday we planned on taking Mike in another first for him, Dan Yr Ogof.

Brendan wanted to grab a classic shot in Straw Chamber and I wanted to do the same at Crystal Pool, so our trip was set.

Water levels were low on the way in and the group made swift progress in through to the long crawl, even with me slowing the group to take a shot at Pot Sump.
Jess brushed up on her navigation leading us through to the Green Canal, but we found most of the buoyancy was at the other end, so decided to complete the round trip in the other direction, starting in the lower series.
At Mazeways we found the, usually sumped, entrance open and so popped in for a play before continuing on.
Jess made going through the Camels Arse look incredibly awkward, I went on to make it look all but impossible and Mike popped through no problem....Peace of P*ss, I believe was the phrase he used ;)
Continuing on we climbed out up the Abyss and on to take a look at The Rising  before backtracking to the Green Canal and out the way we'd come.

Brendan and Mike Near Pot Sump
Brendan, Mike & Jess at the Crystal Pool
Mike in Cloud Chamber (Photo Brendan Marris)
Mike in Cloud Chamber (Photo Brendan Marris)

Present: Mike Bonner, Brendan Marris, Jess Burkey & Mark Burkey

Saturday 17 October 2015

Hanging around in Gnome Passage

For the October South Wales weekend Jess, in her new capacity as training officer, sent an email out offering some SRT training to go with a spot of caving in OFD.

We were joined by Brendan, Ian and Mike for Saturdays trip and met at Luigi's for a spot of breakfast before continuing on to the SWCC. We headed in via the Mini Columns and bedding planes to rig the head of the newly bolted 28M pitch in to Gnome passage. Here we took some time to show Ian and Mike some basics of rigging before descending the pitch. After dumping the kit we headed off down Edwards Short Cut to Frozen River before continuing on to Shatter Pillar.

Finding myself in need of a running stream, I headed off to Salubrious, but having taken a tumble the weekend before, found the bruising on my back to painful to contort through the restriction and had to leave this to Mike and Ian to pop down. Next we headed through Selenite passage and in to Salubrious with a quick divert to have a look at the Trident and Judge formations. With Mike suitably impressed we headed back to the pitch to take a couple of photo's of Jess Ascending.
Mike and Ian decided they'd had too much fun already and so Brendan took them out the standard route and left Jess and I to de-rig and bring the kit out via Speedy Caver and White Arch.

Jess ascends the pitch in to Gnome Passage
Mike in Frozen River

Brendan at the Trident
Ian and Jess in Selenite Passage

Present: Mike Bonner, Mark Burkey, Ian Millward, Brendan Marris & Mark Burkey

Thursday 15 October 2015

What it takes to get the shot - Llygad Llwchwr promo

Dudley's dynamic duo, speleo snappers Brendan and Mark go questing again in search of the illusive perfect cave photograph. Watch to see how they fare, and why they needed to take a giant inflatable crab with them. Preparation is everything. Witness the skill and determination needed to stay at the top of their game.
The complete video will be available shortly, when the legal wrangling is over and hopefully an out of court settlement has been reached. Meanwhile here's a short teaser.

Sunday 11 October 2015

Unhinged in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu!

Having been unable to get underground for almost 2 weeks I was going a little stir crazy.

Fortunately Chloe, Mark Burgess and Brendan came to my rescue with a couple of days play in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu.

Chloe wanted to have a go at leading a through trip from OFD 1 to top entrance and so the plans were made.

Water levels were low going in and we swiftly made our way up stream, pausing for a quick shot on the way to boulder chamber and through the connection. At the letterbox Chloe looked at me doubtfully as I showed her how to hold the chain and slip in to the slot feet first, but giving it a go, she agreed it was actually much easier than our usual head first lunge through.
After the flat out crawls and climb down the divers pitch it was time to enter the main stream.

The last time I tried to take some shots in this area of the cave I had lost a flash gun to the flowing water and so was keen to have another go at shooting the stunning black rock and calcite streaking.
After half an hour of photography I decided that everyone was looking chilly enough, so packed up my kit, only to find a hinge on my Peli case had snapped.
I would normally try to traverse all the wet pots in the stream, but didn't want to risk slipping and dunking the camera gear, so the next hour was spent chest deep in them with the camera box held high!
After climbing out at Maypole inlet it was a pleasant stomp along our familiar route out along Salubrious, up through the corkscrew climb, and out via Gnome Passage.

Monday was a very lazy day of playing with multiple exposure shots in Big Chamber and Gnome Passage.

Mark In Marble Showers
Chloe in the Main Stream Way
Mark in the Main Stream Way
Many Me's in Big Chamber Near The Entrance (Picture Brendan Marris)
Brendan in Gnome Passage

Present: Brendan Marris, Chloe Burney, Mark Burgess & Mark Burkey

Saturday 3 October 2015

Underground - Overground in Porth Yr Ogof

Mike had fancied a day's exploring at Porth Yr Ogof and with some fine weather forecast for the weekend we made a trip there on the Saturday.
We had quite a bit of kit between the pair of us, with buoyancy aids, rubber inner tubes plus kit for the pitch entrances and also camera gear as well. We made a leisurely start and headed down, missing breakfast to arrive at about 10:30am. Loaded with gear we headed down to the main cave entrance to stash the buoyancy aids, as we would do the cold swims as the last part of the trip. We then headed out of the cave and over the road to the three vertical entrances - (G), (H), and (I) on the survey. A handline was dropped down the gated entrance (I) and Brendan descended to quickly check out where the two vertical entrances dropped in. The handline proved its worth on the climb back up and we then headed to the two other entrances, these being only a few metres apart and connect together underground after a short distance. It was clear entrance (H) was the one to use with ample natural belays to rig from. A rope was rigged down, to a ledge a short distance in, but no suitable belays could be found to rig a nice hang down the centre of the shaft. There would be a good amount of rope rub, so after a little deliberation we descended with the plan of not going back up the pitch. Once down we explored the area at the bottom and took photos of the Letterbox squeeze found close to the bottom of the vertical entrances. Brendan then headed back up the climb to surface, but Mike had difficulty with the climb, so the pitch was derigged and Brendan then returned down the climb.

The Letterbox - Porth Yr Ogof
Mike in the Letterbox - Porth Yr Ogof - Photo Brendan Marris

We then headed up towards the main entrance and explored all around the Maze area finding the two entrances in this part of the cave - (D1) and (D2). We exited entrance (D1) and then dropped down the tight entrance (D2) (it would be very hard to exit via D2). With all areas of the Maze explored we headed to the start of The Creek, where we first looked at the passage that leads to Hywel's Grotto. A flat out bedding crawl leads to a low crawl in a wet passage to reach Hywel's Grotto, a small chamber with calcite flows. Beyond this some more crawling took us over gours to reach the end of the passage. A couple of photos were taken before our return.

Near Hywel's Grotto- Porth Yr Ogof
Mike near Hywel's Grotto - Porth Yr Ogof - Photo Brendan Marris

Near Hywel's Grotto- Porth Yr Ogof
Mike near Hywel's Grotto - Porth Yr Ogof - Photo Brendan Marris

From the Creek we headed down to the Great Bedding, explored around the shingle banks before heading upstream to find the passage up to Cwm Port Inlet on the right. We followed the passage upstream, passing the inlet to the sumps and then continued along the low and unpleasant passage until we finally reached a nasty looking duck. After much procrastination we flipped onto our backs and with noses to the ceiling and passed the long duck to emerge in the deep water of the main stream. We quickly swam against the current past the White Horse to reach the bouldery floor of the entrance chamber. From here we headed to the right and explored the passages that led from the Tradesman's Entrance, finally heading upstream to exit the cave via Tradesman's.
All that was left to do now was the final swim out of the resurgence. We picked up our buoyancy gear and went above ground to the shakehole entrances - (I) and (J) on the survey. We entered the cave here, taking a quick look at the passages around these entrances before we headed downstream to see a glimpse of enticing daylight ahead. Kitted up with our floatation aids we swam the final few metres to emerge into glorious sunshine. We then had a look at the other entrances near the resurgence, having a little explore in entrance (M) which has some nice passage ending in a low wet approach to a shingle and rotting wood filled bedding. We then returned picking up the last of our tackle, having explored virtually all the passage that can be accessed without diving.

Present: Mike Bonner and Brendan Marris