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 Arête 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

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