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

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