Paz Vale, Bob Toogood, Sam Pemberton, Dan Hibberts, Mark W
Paz Vale, Bob Toogood, Sam Pemberton, Dan Hibberts and me were down again yesterday (06/06/15). We installed another ring, added another 1m of depth to the shaft and installed the next set of boards. The current shaft is now just over 7m deep. Most of the clay and gravel that we first hit on Thursday has now been dug out (there was a lot of it) and we seem to be back into boulders again, lets hope it stays that way.
We were expecting a cast of 1000's to come up and give us a hand pulling out all the scrap metal and other junk but unfortunately it wasn't to be and by the time we had finished in the dig we didn't really have enough time, or energy, to pull it all out. This will now be a job for another weekend. It will probably need a tensioned line rigging across the shaft and positioning a pulley so junk can be pulled out clear of the sides and then moved horizontally to the East side ready for being loaded into a truck. This is how rescues used to be conducted, maybe still is? We had a bit of an epic pulling out a couple of tackle bags when they got snagged on some of the fixed rigging. Paz was soon on hand from below to free them and we were all soon after sat with a pint in the Devonshire having had a very successful day.
We had a look at the entrance into the Main Chamber with a view to installing a shaft to stabilise it. This would be a relatively easy job but not a cheep one. Our current triangular shaft which has 2 x boarded sides, 10 boards to a side costs around £75.00 / m. It would probably be best to install a rectangular shaft similar to the top section of the dig and would probably cost around £100.00 / m. We were thinking more along the lines of making it A LOT BIGGER than it currently is. Whilst an 800mm plastic pipe might keep a route into the Main Chamber open, I'm not sure a pipe alone would actually stabilise the area against further slippage. Dave Cowley and his Tuesday night team did an excellent job of clearing the route a few weeks ago but with the amount of traffic the cave is now seeing I expect to see some further movement of the boulders and other junk that is embedded in the route. Since it was cleared you now often have to wriggle through with a muddy stream pouring down the back of your over-suit!! If we were to dig this out there would be a lot more metal and junk retrieved so it may be best to make a start on this before having to drag large pieces of metal and timber from the Main Chamber that are bigger than the hole they now have to fit through.
The recommendation by Bograt to get the stabilisation work back on the DCA agenda for the meeting on the 20th is a good one. I'm sure the large numbers of DCA affiliated cavers participating in the digging project will agree the stabilisation of the entrance is worthy of financial support should the DCA have sufficient reserves to cover the materials element of the work. We will certainly be more than happy to do the work and could start almost immediately.
The farmer was a bit annoyed on Thursday at the speed some people had been driving up Eldon Lane and in front of their farmhouse. She asked us all to slow down. They have some young kids who are not used to the amount of traffic passing by and they may run out in front of you!! I apologised profusely on behalf of everyone and told her that we would all drive very slowly in the future.
I popped into the farm to apologise again yesterday, this time with a bottle of single malt. It went down very well and good relations are now fully restored with them letting us take a truck load of 20 x 6' scaffold tubes and 2 bags of fittings all the way to the side of the East route down Eldon Hole. Lets all try and help maintain the good relations we currently have and drive very slowly up the lane. If there's a cloud of dust behind you, you're driving too fast!!
When parking beside the left wall at the top of the lane, please don't block tractor access to the fork mounted tools that are stored in front of the wall. These tools may look unused but I helped the farmers son attach one to his tractor only last week. Please also ensure that gates aren't blocked and remember the large galvanised gate swings open a long way as Mark R discovered the other week when he found the gate resting against his van!!
I'm working away for the next 10 days so I'll leave it to the rest of the team members to keep you all up to date on their trips.