Mark R, TomTom
We didn't meet at Rowter for once, we met at Hitch n hike! I needed some body armour as the cave is definitely picking on me, as well as some new SRT bits and bobs since after 7 years things are wearing a little. Mark needed a new drybag as he was cracking out his brand new fancy drill for the dig, it was like Christmas all over again!
Once we finally arrived at Rowter we cowered in my car eating lunch, it seemed that all of the water in the world was falling on this field. Things could have been worse though, a party of sodden DoE'ers arriving was testament to that. Once we had changed in the car as much as is feasible we made the dash for our car boots, covering ourselves in as much waterproofing as battered caving suits would allow.
Marks plan was to take 47 tonnes of scaffolding, 26 tonnes of scaffold clips, and a drill down. The mighty packhorses slowly headed to the hole (well even a heavily laden Mark is still a whippet when caves are involved) and we arrived just in time for the rain to stop. Scared of this strange dry sensation we quickly descended down the shaft, with the majority of the weight attached to Mark one way or another.
I was delighted to find out that there was a extra scaffolding pole at the bottom of the main shaft which apparently fancied a trip through Bad Badger Choke (note to self, more Badgers need kidnapping for future trips). Several minutes of grunting and sighed lifting were required to human chain the weight down gin shaft, through the vast Foster's Faith and down to Luke's Cage.
Mark had a little poke around and decided the plan of action for throwing metal at the still not ideal choke. I mostly just unpacked things and passed it through as Mark did something which involved his drill and moans of excitement (some things are better not asked). Eventually I was allowed to come through and see but I was changed a entry fee of winding props.
The plan for the day was to make the rubble heap between the choke and Two Left Wellys safe. Some of the very nice footholds move, and when they move they encourage many others to move. We lined up the scaffolding like a spiders web and Mark proceeded to drill into the wall like he was drilling into a cabbage. It's all very nice being all speedy but I feel its cutting into my sitting and doing nothing moments too much.
We managed to secure a whole dodgy section by wedging the boulders in place with scaffolding and then supporting them so that the only way the rocks could move would be if gravity suddenly got bored. We used a windable prop to brace from one side of the choke to the other, creating a nice bench, but mostly a brace to hold up another part of the boulder choke before heading to the bottom of the choke to secure a giant boulder.
The stream was bombing it down today and so a welly was required to protect the drill from spay. We braced the huge boulder before I set up the tightest fitting piece of scaffolding ever, it was not at all a fluke that it eventually fitted perfectly.
Without a watch to tell us it was far later than I thought it was we decided to head the surface. We had 3 tackle bags to take out but only one had stuff in so I felt pretty springy. Unfortunately Mark had other ideas and proceeded to pack bits of old metal into any space he could find. By the time we had got to the top of Gin shaft our treasure haul contained:
- The drill + batteries + accessories
- A daren drum full of metal
- A wire ladder
- That oversized daren drum full of god knows what these days
- A tackle sack of rope offcuts
- Some wire?
- a little box of drill bits?
- The amazing backup lantern
- and some WD40
As I surveyed the scene at the bottom of the main shaft I considered faking a heart attack so the stuff could be hauled out by someone else, but Mark kindly attached more than half to his crotch, thus making me feel guilty, and thus making me follow.
In the end it wasn't that bad, my only worry was the oversized drum falling off me 5m from the top or something. It didn't take the eternity that I feared to get out and I was even greeted by sunshine on my exit...... 2 minutes later and it was back to sideways rain.
A good trip, a very good trip that turned out to be very productive despite going no further that the top of Two Left Wellys. Bad Badger looks much nicer now, and the climb down the choke the other side is less likely to cause movement. The spring clean was tiring but makes the place look much nicer, just need a vase of flowers down there and then we are done.