Chris A, Mark R
24th March 2014
It was always going to be a good dig when upon arriving at the first gate I found an honesty box full of free range eggs. It just so happened I needed some eggs and also emptied a load of change into my car just before I came.. Fate was smiling on us tonight. Which is just as well given where we were going and what we were doing.
Chris was delighted when he was handed a tackle bag with a dozen double scaffold clips in it, even more so when he heard there were some old rusty clips to bring out at the end. The plan for the evening was to build a frame under the large suspended boulder and find a way to extend it to support the left hand 'wall' too. Once done, we would fill up some spaces in the choke with spare rock and lever some big flakes off the wall just before the choke where the westerly flowing stream disappears.
We could tell as we descended the main shaft that water levels were the highest they have been since we broke through into Badger Rift, the Hypothermia dam was overflowing, probably a kink in one of the pipes we diverted down the old dig.
After showing Chris around we emptied the tools and spare materials out of the undercut chamber above the choke and assembled at the foot of the choke in the stream way. We discussed for a few minutes how best to tackle the framing of the boulder and set to drilling stainless pins into the walls and cutting scaffold tubes to length... Which was fantastic fun in the constricted passage with loose walls. Eventually we had one side assembled and when everything was tightened up it was lovely and solid. The left hand side of the frame was more of a challenge given that there was nothing solid to drill pins into. Everything is now pinned on the right and carefully wedged into hollows on the left against the shattered pillar which holds up the big boulder and the rest of the stuff in the roof. A long vertical drops down into the rift with spurs off to support the base of the pillar. Eventually we ended up with a pretty solid looking frame that makes everything feel a lot more hospitable to work in. The last job was to lever a couple of big flakes of rock off the walls, which was alarmingly easy, one of them came away to reveal nothing but space and a loose boulder pile behind- another interesting challenge for next time.
The biggest challenge however is likely to be finding stacking space for all the material we are about to produce... Some ingenuity will be required here but I have a few ideas to dream about.
All in all a great dig with some positive progress, great to have the help of a Rolls Royce Nuclear Engineer to work through the tricky scaffolding with :)