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

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