Mark R, Adam P, Luke N
Friday 29th and Sat 30th March 2013
The bank holiday Friday meant that there was an extra days digging up for grabs this weekend. Since our last trip down Rowter I have been thinking about spending some time looking at alternative ways down and this Friday was an ideal opportunity to have a poke around. We had a very leisurely start and after battling through 2m high snow drifts we were underground for about lunch time. The first stop was the bottom of the main shaft, we spent some time having a scrape around in the floor, looking at the walls and trying to catch a glimpse of what happens to the main shaft as it continues downwards. Second stop was the old DCC dig down the passage towards the abyss. The old scaffolded shaft was sunk at the lowest point in the section of passageway against one wall with some slight scalloping on it. The shaft is about 8 or so metres deep but the scaffolding in the last 3m looks a bit....rushed! The dig has gone down through some very very large boulders, making the whole thing feel very iffy. It does seem to draught though.
On my way back out I spotted a bit of a hole off to the right hand side of the passage, we had an hours dig here and opened it up a bit. The passage walls undercut sharply by a couple of metres and the walls and roof of the undercut are water worn and calcited. There also seems to be a draught here too but it's hard to tell.
On Saturday I was chatting to Rob Eavis about it and he suggested that the draught may be coming out of the base of the main shaft... Basically the place draughts like buggery and I have no idea where from! I have requested some smoke pellets from RICO plumbing and will be doing another trip with them soon.
Saturday was the day of the big Western Highway dig. This is a piece of passage in Peak that has been dug on and off by several people since the 80's. right now it is being dig by Henry Rockliffe. It's a large phreatic tube full of sand heading in a westerly direction beneath Puzzling Evidence towards Joint Effort. It's a bit of a trip to get there so we went prepared for a long day out. We met at the TSG... 8 of us including me and Luke N. which is apparently a good number for the dig. Because of the snow we walked up cave dale to the entrance to Titan which Henry had booked and set about descending into the depths and making our way to the dig... It's a lot further than it is to the bottom of Rowter, that's for sure! It's a nice dig in a sandy tube, the passage descends into a u-bend and rises again afterwards, I'm not sure how far has been dug over the years but its a long way. Henry has recently designed and installed a large volume air pump and large lengths of hose to combat the problem of poor air quality. Until now it has only been possible to dig for up to an hour before the air becomes too poor, on Saturday however all eight of us dug for about 7 hours. It wasn't perfect, I spent a lot of time right at the dig face filling buckets and ended up with quite a headache by the end but it was certainly manageable. The hardest part of the dig is definitely removing the trays of spoil. Henry had devised some harnesses for towing the trays, because of the distance required to remove the stuff, you had to attach the trays to you and crawl back to the tipping point... Tiring and especially hard on the knees, I will definitely be upgrading the knee pads next time, my knees are bolloxed.
We weren't progressing forwards which was frustrating but we were enlarging the passage which had previously been wormed through. Essential work to allow efficient progress next time round.
The trip out was hard work but good exercise I suppose and the long prussick made my bed feel all the better once I eventually got home.
A great dig with huge potential and some very clever engineering by a very determined caver... I look forward to the next one (sort of!)