Buttered Badger Potholing Club
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Optimal time (Pictures)

Mark R, TomTom

We met in Rowter field at the early time of 6pm for a quickie, caving that is. Mark had arrived in his new van and I was instantly jealous (and didn't have a look at some when I got home later honest). His pimping wagon had already had some kitting out work done to it and I was quickly offered some hot chocolate, with hot being the optimum word.

Tonights plan was basically to move all the left over digging supplies to the base of the main shaft for hauling out tomorrow. We presumed it would be a short trip so I took my camera to create a record of what needed to come out. The shaft is currently de-rigged since the old ropes were a bit old, plus an empty shaft makes for easy hauling! It was my turn to rig for once so after a bit of a tangling issue at the surface I headed off.

Unlike Mark I cannot rig at terminal velocity and so it was inevitable that before the shaft was over I ended up with Mark on my shoulders as I finished off faffing with the last mallion. It was probably around 6:30 by the time we reached the bottom, which for once meant the bottom of the main shaft rather than something obscene like beyond the Ice Cream Trail. A lot of the 'crap' was just below the climb out of the entrance chamber but there was still a small selection around Gin shaft.

It took about 15 minutes to clear the dig as there was only a few odd scraps here and there to collect now. One plank was pretty buried in the mud and as I pulled it out I lied about seeing a way on beyond, didn't go down well! We also had a poke around at the old digs where it became apparent that my knife is in fact pretty blunt. We did however learn that you can cut a rope with something with a similar sharpness to a spoon.

We repositioned ourselves at the climb up to the entrance shaft and bit by bit began to pass up the many pieces of generic crap. Some of the wood was no longer treated and so was now denser than lead. It made for a interesting game as you never really knew how heavy the thing you were lifting was going to be. It took a bit of re-jigging and catching sliding materials but after a fairly short period of back pain we had it all at the entrance shaft.

We went about sorting the piles into some sort of vague collection of similarities and tried to pick up any stray bits of string and knick nacks. It was starting to look organised already as we headed up to the original dig to remove the last few bits from up there. Hopefully after a bit of hauling it'll be like we were never there, apart from a 13m engineered shaft!

With the place looking pretty tidy it was time for some holiday snaps. I'm pretty lazy so basically just put the flash in a corner and took a few random ones. Home time was on the cards so we packed up and made our break for freedom. The shaft is much easier with no scaff clips attached to you and in no time at all we were at the surface coiling rope (a problem for tomorrows TomTom).

It is a hugely odd sensation getting out of the cave before 5 to last orders, in fact I think we made it to the pub for around 9pm. A quick drink by the fire and it was home time, back to Liverpool by 11:30 or something, bliss!