Buttered Badger Potholing Club
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Popping a ring

Chris A. Mark R, Rachael D, TomTom

Despite  converging on Eldon from three relatively distance directions we managed to time our arrivals to within minutes of each other, surely the sign of a well oiled machine? Mark was kind enough to have brought a selection of weights to carry down the hole and it was my turn to be the annoying camera man slowing everything down. After a quick spot of dinner we loaded up and trudged across to the hole, sadly in somewhat gloomy (but at least dry) weather. With the access rope rigged I shot on down to the big ledge above the vertical drops to set up my studio before the others came along ready to be 'papped'.

 

Mark was first down and after some classic faces we got what we were looking for, a relatively normal looking caver with several 6ft planks in tow, classic caving equipment. He shot on down to go drill some walls and then it was the turn of Rachael and Chris to be snapped. I took far too many shots to bother to properly edit them so I hoped that sheer luck would see me to a desired result. Eventually it was my turn so I packed up shop and followed the others down with my own bit of wood for fun and games.

 

Down in the main chamber Mark had already done some drilling to position the stainless steel pins that would hold the scaffolding ring in position and was now going about actually getting the ring to resemble something square and level. I took the option of not assisting and instead aimlessly wandered around taking pictures of all sorts of things, some of which included taking a picture directly at a flashgun, ehem.

 

Chris and Rachael did their bit helping Mark and eventually I ran out of excuses to just take pictures and so I too went to be of some assistance. Despite the Rolls Royce engineer on hand it was eventually decided that precision hammering was far too slow and so we switched to causing precision rock falls. With the first rings (and therefore retaining boards) not yet in our dig site was currently under threat from just collapsing in at any moment, with the occasional collapse resulting in synchronised harmonics as we feared for the lives of our toes.

 

Several jiffies later and through witchcraft and science we had two rings square and level and ready to receive boards. This of course was far too easy and so the bank of doom chose this moment to collapse in and partially cover the lower ring. We chose the speed response to this and dug out the ring before pushing the boards home before it could collapse again. This seemed to be a success and so we were done, we had the what now actually looked like a proper dig finally, just the whole sinking of a shaft part to come next. At least the rocks look a bit easier to shift than they did in Rowter hole!

 

Chris and Rachael wanted to be back to their various corners of the country before they turned to frogs and so they began the climb out whilst Mark and I finished off the board work. We backfilled the boards to keep them in place and made sure the corners were closed off so that loose small bit's couldn't find its way through. The place looked pretty ship shape so it was time for us to head off and catch the others, a good nights work considering the somewhat lax pace we had at times.

 

 

The place it also becoming more homely, we have portable speakers on hand to serenade us with digging music and a kitchen to feed and water us on the days where we decide to haul until Mark lets us rest. All in all we have the makings of what'll hopefully be a very successful dig.

To do list:

- Bit more back filling of the boards with larger rocks
- Digging down (obviously) to put in another ring, but not too much so that we undercut ourselves.
- Probably worth putting in a higher ring, just to protect us from debris from the bank of doom

 
Till next time,

TomTom