Saturday 14 January 2023

Agen Allwedd

With the plan to get our caving year off to a good start (and to introduce a new member to the underground world) Lucy and I decided to stretch our legs/backs with an easy trip down to the Music Room. After meeting at Luigi’s for breakfast we entered the system for around 11am, and with our newest member Alex leading the way we entered the 1st choke in good time. One by one we popped our heads out into Baron’s chamber and slowly made our way down to the music hall where we had a good explore of a number of the adjoining passages, including the cliffs of Dover. Once we all regrouped, we retraced our steps, nearly missing our re-entry to boulder choke 1 and slowly made our way out. With smiles all-round, we headed to McDonald’s for more food!

Trip report: Mike Bonner

Photos: Sterling 

Present: Lucy Bonner, Alex H, Sterling, Mike Bonner

Friday 13 January 2023

OFD Moonlight Chamber

Another mid-week caving trip. This aim this time was to explore all of the passages surrounding Moonlight Chamber, somewhere I had last visited about three decades ago.

As Loz now knows the trade routes through the system we diverted off the trade route and bypassed The Brickyard. At White Arch we diverted again and explored some of the White Arch Series - passages that Mark and I thought were new to us, until it dawned on us that we had explored them just last year.

Emerging at the bottom of Speedy Caver we then took the Edwards Shortcut route to Cross Rift and soon we were at the climb up to Moonlight Chamber. Last week when we explored the passages behind Shatter Pillar we found a well decorated, taped-off passage. This time we found the other end of this passage. I must return and take some video.

After Moonlight Chamber we proceeded to Midnight Passage where we knew that there are high level passages leading to the far side of Moonlight Chamber. The climb up begins at a rift to the right-hand side of the pool that leads to Northern Lights. These passages have seen very little traffic over the years and great care is needed as there is a lot of loose rock, everywhere! We explored the whole of this area and were able to look back down into Moonlight Chamber at the level of the huge white stalactite which hangs down from the ceiling. This is an area that really only needs to be visited once!

On the way out we stopped to make a short video, something we'd first tried out last week.

Here's the result.

Cavers: Keith, Loz and Mark

Thursday 5 January 2023

Route Finding in OFD

The aim of the trip was to explore the passages between Moonlight Chamber and Shatter Pillar and hopefully find a connection.

However on the way in we decided to look at the passage which starts at the squeeze down at the bottom of the Corkscrew. A right turn off this passage leads to sand crawls which link to the passage between The Judge and Swamp Creek. Mark struggled a little to get through the squeeze - a result of too much over indulgence during the Christmas festivities. We ignored the right turn and continued along the passage which popped out above a stream. The stream is Salubrious but upstream of the Corkscrew! The connecting passage goes round in a complete circle - something one is not aware of, and it is quite disorienting. I've attempted to mark this on the survey segment below.

Mark then discovered another passage branching off from the one we had just come along. He set off leaving Mel and me some way behind. The passage had to be traversed along. Soon it became quite tight but a climb down a hole in the floor led to a lower level passage. Which way had Mark gone? We could hear him calling but couldn't determine which direction his shouts we emanating from.

We climbed down and soon found Mark coming back towards us. Apparently he was trying to communicate to us that he had climbed up onto a boulder pile and wasn't sure he could climb back down safely.

We now had no idea where we were. Both Mark and I didn't recognise the passage. We continued forward passing branch on the right and came to a tricky climb up. Mark climbed it. After dithering for a few minutes I followed prompting Mel to call it 'flying pensioner' climb. Mel followed.

Mark was ahead again and shouted back to us. This time we could hear what he said, "I know where we are. I've just popped out into Chasm Passage." To say we were a little confused was an understatement. How had we got here? To show Mel exactly where we were, we set off along Chasm Passage as far as Timo's Table.

It's been several years since either Mark or I have been to OFD 3 but we both remembered that one of the linking passages from ArĂȘte Chamber to Chasm Passage popped out into Chasm Passage roughly where we had recently emerged. So where was this passage? We set off to find it.

Eventually it dawned on us. The passage we are looking for was the passage we had just come out of, one we had negotiated many times but failed to recognise. We had no excuse. Now knowing where we were it was a simple task to go back along the passage and down 'flying pensioner climb, but instead of climbing back up we continued along and popped back into Salubrious exactly opposite where we had left it some time ago, thus completing another part of the OFD jigsaw and proving just how difficult it is to navigate one's way through parts of OFD by just following the survey.

After this we set off on our original mission and headed for Shatter Pillar. Behind Shatter Pillar we took the passage that leads to the squeeze down into Lugubrious Passage which we crossed over, and soon we found the connecting passage to Moonlight Chamber. Mission accomplished.

From Shatter Pillar we took a passage which connects to Cross Rift. In this passage we took a little bit of experimental video for a future CK production. The filming was completed in a Mark-sized passage just past The Crossroads.

Mark in the tight spot.

A serious discussion.

A need a Haribo!

Intrepid Explorers: Loz Appleby, Mark Burkey & Keith Edwards