Mark W, Tim A, Rob Eavis, Jim Lister, Mark R.
Grade 3/4 changing conditions greeted us at the farm so we were at the base of the main shaft pretty damn quickly. Here Mark W and I headed off down to the dig afce and left Tim to put some dye into the Hypothermia dam. As I climbed down onto the large wedged boulder in Badger Rift I placed my foot against a small chockstone holding it in place and the whole thing shifted slightly. Mark went off to the choke to sit and watch for signs of green in the oncoming stream whilst I set to the big boulder with an 8ft scaffold tube. Eventually the beast was dislodged into the rift below but not before I smashed my hand against the wall causing a finger to swell up uncomfortably large in my glove.
Tim arrived about 5 or 10 minutes later and we all climbed through the choke into the undercut chamber at the top to look at the westerly flowing stream and start work on digging. We moved a few boulders and felt completely uncomfortable with the whole thing. Tim wiggled some more scaffold tubes in place and after a while we resorted back to the same thing we have ended up doing on every trip so far- sitting and looking.
Mark said that although he understood the logic of going up to come down again, the fact that the undercut chamber was so unstable meant that really he thought tackling the choke from the bottom would be just as safe and possibly easier. Tim was of a similar opinion but also suggested that giving the dig some ‘time to settle’ might not be a bad thing either.
Eventually, after a couple of hours at the dig we headed out eager for a pint. It was then that we came across Jim and Rob just entering Badger rift with the Disto X and PDA survey gear. We had a quick chat, all got in each other’s way for a little bit and departed.
We, the surveyors included, never saw the dye. A further test would be handy and this time we should use some detectors to make sure. This is something that John Gunn may be able to help us with.
We sat in the pub in Castleton later on listening to Jim Lister and all about the dig he has been working on the far side of Ink Sump for the last 15 years. It was after this conversation that I realised- although I doubt we will still manage to be interested in this choke in 15 years time, there is no rush and the best thing we can do at the moment is carefully but methodically explore every possible way on before committing to anything. More importantly- we should be taking things steady and spending all the time and effort required to make things safe before pushing too hard.
Rob sent me the first look at the survey data the following morning- very efficient, two screenshots below show what the new dig looks like although it may only make sense to those who know it. The choke is about 22 vertical metres below the top of Gin shaft and about 14m horizontally.