Claire, Dave, Mark R, Mark W, Rob, Tim, TomTom
To whom it may concern,
I am writing to complain about the state of Rowter hole. A glimpse at the guidebook suggests a simple in and out trip of little consequence. Imagine my surprise upon descending 145m from the surface, passing through drippy shafts and a passage that conjures up the mental and physical pain or Darn Cilau. What used to be a 20 minute jaunt from dig face to surface is now a battle of whits between Rowter and my general laziness!
Please insert a elevator shaft within the next 48hrs,
In an attempt to miss the traffic I arrived at the farm extra early, fortunately it was a lovely day so I had a bit of kip before reading about something cavey. The motley crew arrived in several cars mostly at the same time, it was to be a bit of a crowd tonight, but a crowd that would be split up. Mark W had come to re-rig some wet weather deviations, Tim and Claire had come for a look around, Rob and Dave had come to survey and Mark R and myself were going to stick it to the wall at the end of the squeeze of horrors (The Ice cream trail?). Mark R and I took the lead and shot off before the rest to make the journey to the now fairly distant end of the cave. I meant to time how long it took but totally forgot. I’d worn some more clothes this time as last time it was a bit wet and nippy, unfortunately in our rush to get down my core temperature rose to 400c. It still gets me that just a few months ago this cave was just Rowter + a 13m gin shaft, now it’s essentially twice as deep and more than twice as time consuming.
We eventually found ourselves in still unnamed chamber and removed our SRTs for my first time properly into The Ice cream trail. The going was initially squeezey, but fortunately this closed up to full on awkward. There are protrusions in all the wrong places, and plenty of frictionless tubes to wiggle up. I managed to show off my twister skills at least when I was required to rotate my body inside a shoebox sized passage. The Handlines were a little un-nerving but once in more open space they weren't too bad, just a bit awkward to lower oneself into who knows what.
We were now finally at The Crystal Orechasm, and I was ruined! Mark was far too eager to blow the b’jesus out of the wall so I went to have a look before the whole place was bomb town. The other side of the just too tight squeeze opens up into a very nice looking pitch. Rigging it and getting onto the pitch could be fun, sort of reverse out and become suspended I guess. I threw some rocks down and came to the scientific conclusion that the floor is 25m away. There seemed to be lots of bouncing at the bottom so I assume it lands on some sort of boulder choke or at least a bank of some kind. I reversed out and let Mark in with the shiny drill, only to return to hand over various tools of destruction.
Mark began his drilling so I backed out to somewhere where I could stand and not be deafened. I think I missed something but it seems the wall had offended Mark as questions of its parentage and the like popped up. Several caps went it but it was highly disappointing, the loud pop was this time a dull thud which did little or nothing to the wall. Several attempts later and Mark was resorting to gbh, just going at the wall with anything that came to hand.
Somewhere along the line a third technique was discovered as a new capping attempt was made. This was a much nicer bang that sent a shock wave through the passage to me and didn't half reverberate in the little chamber I was in. I had a quick check to see if Mark was in one piece and he seemed pretty happy with his new technique. We did a battery change and Mark came out to retrieve feeling in his toes.
There was now a suspicious amount of white powder in the passage, but who am I to judge, so I let Mark continue with the lovely explosions. Every bang now was very reassuring with proper chunks of wall coming free to allow easier access to the pitch head. We had assumed that the others might had joined us by now as we had been in the cave for 2.5 hours, but either way our battery and cap supply was becoming depleted so we’d have to go find them anyway.
We packed up and slowly made our way along the horrible squeezey horrible nasty passage. I found myself getting stabbed by wall far too often and even got a bit stuck in the salmon position briefly. We came across Rob and Dave surveying at the particularly pretty part of the passage so I got to enjoy it in all its wonders before we overlapped and headed in opposite directions. I was about to remark on how it seemed further on the way out but then it started to open up, I was free of the squeezes and only 97% tired.
Claire, Tim and Mark W had already returned at this point and where presumably somewhere near the surface by now, but the tape and new deviations proved they had been here! Mark and I kitted up and made the slow climb up the new ropes (well I was slow at least). I was running low on steam as I escaped through bad badger choke and by the top of gin shaft I once again had a core temperature of 400c. I reached the shaft out to find Mark about 2/3rds of the way out and decided to have a little sit down to catch my breath. The prussuck out was slower than it used to be when we were digging in gin shaft, but at least I knew it was the end, mmmm fresh air is good.
A very good trip, a trip that now feels like a proper cave, a cave that keeps on giving! Badgers will soon be bottoming yet another new pitch which could well lead onto more exciting pain squeezes.
Until next time!
"About 37m vertically and 124m horizontally to Whirlpool rising. Total depth of Rowter EXCLUDING the un descended pitch is now 145m. total depth of dig from top of Gin shaft is 70m."
New survey by Rob and Dave :)