Lisa W, Mark R, Mark W, TomTom
Saturday 14th July 2014
Twas a pleasant morning when the 4 of us met in the Rowter field with a smattering of campers in the distance. Today's plan was to take some holiday snaps and to bolt climb up the Crystal Orechasm, and then some odd jobs depending on the length and success of the bolt climbing.
It was one of those weird days where I was glad to get in the cave due to overheating in my caving gear in the sunshine. I did consider just shutting the gate on the other 3 and going to sunbathe instead but came to the conclusion that a sack of angry badgers may find my doorstep if that happened. The way down is becoming more and more like autopilot these days, swapping between wearing SRT and then loading it into the tackle bag to squeeze through the various bits and bobs between the pitches. The various footholds on the free climbs becoming second nature and the pitch head quirks all known. Should probably be careful that repetition doesn't become carelessness, but for now it's making the longer trips a bit easier to get out of.
The Ice cream trail is certainly less horrific than my first attempt, and I didn't get stuck on my own leg once this time (result). The last few trips have involved widening the Powder Party at the head of the Crystal Orechasm pitch. This pitch head was recently described as the hardest task man has ever undertaken but it is now simply awkward as opposed to impossible. We came to the conclusion that this was due to my one cap and that Marks many were just superficial. Lisa and myself had never been to the bottom of the Crystal Orechasm so before the bolt climbing began we became the 4th and 5th ever to descend.
Once in and descending the Crystal Orechasm I became aware of how different this part of the cave seems to the rest of Rowter. It seems a lot more dark and aggressive almost, maybe it's just as we are subconsciously aware of how far from the exit we are now, but it certainly seems darker and less rounded than anything previous. It's an interesting pitch all round and once past the re-belay and at the bottom I had a little look around whilst waiting for Lisa. I found the hole which Mark and Chris discovered on their first look down here and after a few dropped pebbles I agreed with their conclusion, there's a reasonable body of water just a few metres below. The floor looks easy to dig through but I think the difficultly will come in shoring up the bank of boulders next to where the dig will be.
It was time to let the Marks bolt climb and me and Lisa headed out of the Crystal orechasm, the bottom of this chamber was not the ideal place to be in for disturbing a wall 40 odd metres above. Exiting the pitch head was not entirely graceful but I think I cracked the technique in the end, hopefully when we get the extra bolt in it'll become easier as well. We cleared out the way and then Mark and Mark began their bolt climb.
I took some truly outstanding photo's of Mark R belaying Mark W, if dark and blurred is your thing. I think we're going to have to photograph the pitch from on a rope as there isn't room anywhere at the moment. Because of the way the chamber is I couldn't actually see what was going on and so had to rely on commentary and noises to know what was going on. Mark W climbed about 15m I believe before a mix of thirst, hunger and lack of power started to turn our minds to pub. The Aven is still going so tomorrow Marks are going back to continue their climb (Spoiler alert, was an interesting result!).
We packed our things and began our exit, trudging along from the deepest depths of modern day Rowter. Our other little climbs will have to wait for another day, probably a weekday evening dig since the Crystal Orechasm is a bit of a stretch for an evening. We exited into a absolutely lovely evening and made our way for the camping field that in our absence had become jam packed with campers, with a selection of tents within touching distance of where we had to get changed. We duly obliged and put on a show for our new neighbours before heading off to the pub for a pie and a pint.
No results from todays dig but we started some of the work that will be continued tomorrow, so in that sense it was a success :)