Sunday, 31 March 2019

The Pompom, OFD1 – Cwm Dwr

To make it a through trip was my idea to help my route finding, but would make the trip a bit longer, so planned to meet at 1000. I forgot they mess with the clocks this weekend and went for my customary run thinking I have loads of time, oops!
Tony Seddon happened to be at SWCC so we both went on a shopping spree, Mark buying undersuits and yes you guessed it I bought over suit! Plus, a new helmet, having spent a lot of Sat hitting my head due to wearing a helmet 2” bigger than my actually head.
Wearing our new attire, we eventually got underground around 1130. I managed to navigate most of the way to the confluence with only a few pointers from Mark, we reached the climb up by the scaffold bar in about 2hrs.
Mark did a super job of rigging the pull through for the ladder pitch and we retrieved the rope for the awkward climb up in to the passage way that leads to the pompom. The rope being 8mm dynamic made the climb all the more interesting, with mark literally picking me up by my belt and lifting me up and over the edge of the 2ndledge, at that point I was struggling to grab the next knot with all the stretch in the rope, so was glad for the assistance. ;)
The gypsum passage was stunning and as we continued to the crystal pools things got even prettier! We carefully climbed over the pools with camera gear and got a good routine sorted for packing up between shots. Surprise, surprise we did end up taking a bit longer than anticipated doing photographs but well worth the results!
We existed via Cwm Dwr as it was shortest route but not the easiest each with bags, I only had ladder and rope bag, poor Mark had heavy camera bag and ended up using his head to get the bag up the final chimney as he didn’t have a sling. All in all a good trip, plus I also got my new helmet presented back to me with my Scurion attached, thanks Tony. :) 

Present: Mark Burkey & Loz Appleby

Trip report: Loz Appleby

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Aggy – Grand Circle

Not a great start on my part, I decided to use the van so I couldn’t drive my normal route up the hill to Whitewalls, so drove further up Heads of Valley road not away I have been for a while only to find someone had moved the roads about & I got a little lost, so needless to say I was late meeting Mark.
Aware grand circle is long trip, on arrival I hastily started getting changed in to caving gear to realise I’ve forgotten a key piece of kit, my suit! 
Fortunately, Mark has an extensive caving wardrobe and after he’d stopped laughing, he offered me his smallest spare. Yes, it was a bit roomy but by the time I’d added my array of protective gear it didn’t look that silly. 
We quickly got through the entrance series and down to the streamway taking the turn at the northwest inlet. It gets very slippy underfoot here and we re-enacted Bambi on ice, sliding our way along until we reached the narrows where the water gets chest deep. It was very cold and I’m glad Mark had talked me out of going without a suit, we traversed tiny ledges to keep from going neck deep!
Can’t remember next bit ????
We make good progress and get to the 4thBoulder choke??? Mark goes first, disappearing up and around in to the 1sttight section, I can hear lots of scuffling, puffing and panting. He doesn’t sound happy and asks if I can help find something for his feet to push off, I crawl in to the bottom of the choke to check, but there’s nothing! He reports he can’t get past the next squeeze, I ask if he can come back out but he reckons not as he’d pushed hard to get through the 1st squeeze thinking that was the tight bit, but the 2ndis worse.
I crawl back out to see if I can find a small boulder to wedge to give Mark something to push off, thinking it’s a long way back around to get out if Mark can’t get through! I find a suitable rock and use my weight training skills to heave it up in to the choke and sure it up as best I can, hoping is doesn’t move and fall back on to me. 
There was a lot of groaning and tiny increments of movement from Mark as he attempted to inch his ribs over the constriction, he’s through, both of us are very relieved! He reckons he might even get a tiny bruise 😊.
Onward, we reach the turning for the southern streamway and start along it, exclaiming how it’s not that bad and don’t know why people moan about it so much!
About an hour later we were both cursing, say it was worse than we remember, with what seems like endless switching between stooping and crawling passage. Very glad to exit in to the main passageway and headed out. Bumping in to Richard on the walk back to find we’d made it round in about 7.5hrs. 

Present: Loz Appleby & Mark Burkey

Trip report Loz Appleby