Chris H, Mark R
10th May 2014
What an exciting day! It's a shame we were both so sore from yesterday.
The plan was to head straight back to the ice cream trail and drop the newly named Wizards Sleeve pitches, keep going until we we're turned back and take some photos on the way out.
The trip down was exciting, there was more water than yesterday making the waterfalls quite spray lashed. Next dryish opportunity we have we will definitely be installing some deviations on the pitches.
Given that it was just the two of us we opted to take just the drill, rope and bolting gear along the passage. SRT kits had to go in bags because several of the squeezes made it impossible to get through whilst wearing one. It was sad to see the beautiful calcite flowstone floor of the tube had already turned brown after just 4 man-trips through but this is the dilemma we face when exploring caves. We just have to do our best to minimise our impact as best as we can.
Getting ourselves to the pitches was awkward and rigging them was even more so but we eventually found ourselves at the base of the two drops in a fairly spacious cavity. Up to this point the rift had alternated between rift and tube but always following a heavily mineralised vein. Are we in a washed out pipe vein?? The walls are heavily calcited and in many places worn smooth by the flow of water.
Once we were both at the base of the Wizards sleeve pitches Chris crawled off down an uninspiring looking little tube low down in the floor with a puddle in the bottom. I thought it didn't look promising but we could hear the sound of another stream ahead of us.
Chris had only been gone a few seconds when he called back. "Errm Mark, were going to need a bigger rope!"
The tube was actually really nice- it had this white calcite walls all the way to the end with giant crystals sticking out like a carpet of pyramids. The sharp bits had been worn smooth on these making it look like an exaggerated scalloped wall. The end narrowed down into a vertical rift again and became too tight to get through but we could see into a large void just beyond. We shot the disto through to the far wall of the void to find it was 14m across and the furthest we could shoot down was 17.5 m. We both agreed though that it was almost certainly deeper than this.
Water was falling from the roof of the 'chamber' (shaft? Pitch?) and running off somewhere beneath us where we couldn't see. Excitedly we ignored our plan for the day and Chris went all the way back along the Ice Cream trail to fetch the capping gear. By the time he had returned and we had done one very difficult, un comfortable and fairly ineffective bang it was time to head out. It will take a more concerted effort to get through into what we called The Crystal Orechasm :)
On the way out we took a shot in the un named chamber at the base of the pitches and two more in Bad Badger Choke. The pitches would have made spectacular photos with all of the water but we had neither the time nor the people to make the most of them.
We were out for about 5:30 and off up to the Dales to talk about cave exploration in China and have a look at Tim Allens & Co's dig in the Mohole.
Next trip down we will be taking more 'persuasion' for the narrow rift and will hopefully have some more news very soon :) :) :) :D