Saturday, 5 March 2016

A dry dive through OFD1 to Cwm Dwr

With my original plan to go diving at the weekend getting cancelled earlier in the week a backup plan to go caving instead was quickly agreed upon

Having been in bottom entrance only a few weeks earlier and with a couple of visits to Cwm Dwr now under my belt our plan for Saturday was a through trip to connect the two.

With plenty of time between us and our call out we entered the system via the ladder and headed off up towards the step, where surprisingly, after all the recent heavy rain was actually looking low. With signs that things were safe we worked our way up stream over the deep pots before turning off into a taller passage toward the boulder chamber. With good route descriptions being read out by Mark S at the rear, we made easy work of the choke and were soon in the crawly passage above, admiring the unusual mud formations.

Continuing down through a squeeze and a crawl we entered a larger passage where we had a good explore trying to find the correct route on. With only Anita being able to squeeze through what seemed to be the only way forward, but with no obvious route, we turned around to retrace our steps. With us all scurrying off in different directions we soon spotted an opening above us. Back on track the passage sent us up and down through a number of collapsed boulder chokes until we immerged into a chamber with straws and a flat, sloping wall at the end. At this point lunchtime was announced and my fellow cavers produced tasty snacks from their bags! There were sandwiches, crisps and the all important pork pie – in the moment of such unusual delights I had soon consumed a whole sandwich, a handful of sweets and two delicious pies, only to then realise we were dining at the foot of The Letter Box! Luckily nobody had eaten too much and we all slid through the opening with ease, working our way down the passages to the sloping slab that leads to the diver’s rope. Not convinced the small opening on the right was the correct route on we volunteered Anita for a second time to go on ahead and check things out. With the green light we all pushed our way up the tight squeeze to be faced with a huge drop into the abyss! After slight deliberation Chris opened up his tackle bag and began setting up a prusik knot for each of us, and one by one we made the safe decent to the passage below.

Knowing we were now not too far away from Piccadilly Circus (and for me slightly more familiar ground); we relaxed and enjoyed playing around with a few photos. Once we were all suitably cold and with empty lunch boxes we picked up the pace and made easy work through the Smithy. From here we moved over the transverses leading to Big Shacks and we were soon ready to enter the Cwm Dwr Choke. After a few interesting manoeuvres through the maze of boulders we popped out into the final main passage and made our way up the Cwm Dwr Jama to reach the notorious crawl. The rest of the group had done their homework and questioned some footage from a ‘Keith Caver Production’ video which showed what appeared to be a tricky crawl about to unfold. I reassured them that the crawl wasn’t difficult and in fact the drain pipes leading out the system were far trickier to negotiate. As expected the crawl was met with ease and with everyone emerging into the quarry directly one after the other, it seems to be that I was the only one to struggle with the pipes!!

Present: Mike, Chris Redman, Mark & Anita Sherwood

Trip report Mike Bonner

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