Monday 16 October 2023

Maskhill-Oxlow Through Trip (Saturday 14th October 2023)

Given the success of the club's recent weekend at Heightworks, what better way could there be to put newly acquired (or perfectly honed) SRT skills into practice, other than a trip into Maskhill and Oxlow mines? Seven of us embarked on the trip, with two "new hands" (including myself), being experly supervised by five "old hands". After meeting and kitting up in a blustery Peak District layby, we split into two teams, with Graham, Dave and Paulina heading off to Oxlow, and Firas, Bartek, Jas and myself heading up to Maskhill. Firas was first down the shaft, leaving the rest of us to stand in the biting wind. Fortunately, it had dropped a little, and it wasn’t raining. In fact, it was a beautiful sunny day, but I think all of us were pleased to get out of the sun into the warmth of the mine. We were soon dropping down pitch after pitch, with Firas ably rigging the first half, and Bartek the second. Each time I lowered myself off the head of a pitch onto my cowstails, I relished looking down into the gloomy darkness, imagining what was beneath. It didn’t take much imagination, as it was invariably rocks and mud, but going deeper and deeper into the mine brought a real enjoyment and excitement. Before long we arrived at the top of the Waterfall Pitch, where a fixed tyrolean helped us to abseil across the top of a very deep, very dark hole. Once safely on the other side, one pitch remained until we met up with Graham, Dave and Paulina. It was then time for pizza and sweets (great energy food!) before setting off, and up out of Oxlow. (I note that while people sniggered at me bringing pizza on a caving (mining?) trip, their mirth didn't stop them from eating it...leaving me with one slice of pizza rather than four. Nevermind!) At this point, I was very grateful for the energy, as Prussiking up the ropes was much harder work than I remembered from practising at Heightworks / the mill. The tackle sack clipped to my harness didn’t help, of course; it seemed to pull me down with every upward movement, and reaching an awkward deviation was a real pain. Some words of advice from Bartek sorted me out, and it was with some embarrassment that I realised that no-one else seemed to struggle with the tackle sacks or deviation. So we’ll put it down to me having rubbish technique. Of course, that just means more practice is necessary, which means more caving trips…so rubbish technique does have some advantages. After dumping the bag on Jas (not literally, although I was tempted when I saw him looking up from the bottom of the pitch), Prussiking became much easier, and it felt like no time before we all popped out of the top of the shaft, where we saw Paulina and Dave coming across the field to meet us. There was time for the obligatory selfie (although Firas had the right idea, and walked off before this happened), before heading back to the car. Overall, a fantastic trip, and (for me) the first of (hopefully) very many SRT adventures underground.
Group members: Bartek Biela Paulina Biela Graham Smith Jas Sahota Firas Fayad Dave Williams Dave Bell

1 comment:

  1. Take no notice of them laughing Anne, there were no complaints when they were munching away on your delicious Pizza. And they have clearly forgotten the origin of Cornish Pasties, a staple meal for Tin and Ore miners of Cornwall, often savoury at one end and sweet at the other, usually apple. Made at home to take with them underground as it was much quicker than coming to the surface and waiting in a queue at Greggs.