TomTom, Mark R
Tom Tom and I met at the layby at 18:30, we sat for a few minutes in the absolutely vile sunshine shivering against the warm evening air and sheltering from the cooling breeze until we could stand it no longer and just had to get underground.
I was impressed that when asked how many bags we should take down Tom came up with an answer of 3 each, just as well because that’s what I had packed, along with the two bags of rope and rigging gear and additional hauling rope and pulley, hacksaw and Stanley knife.
I rigged to East chamber as economically and quickly as I could and Tom followed behind trying his best not to get the bulging sack between his legs get wedged on the way down the entrance. We went straight to the bottom of the old dig at the end of the chamber (with the permission of the original diggers) and set about removing stuff.
Our first challenge was the conveyor belt matting which covered the rubble slope, on its own a right pain in the arse but drop a large boulder on it and wedge it across the passage and you’re in for a fight. 15 minutes of semi- upside-down crow barring and swearing later and the boulder was released and the matting could be pulled out. We also hauled out several large bits of wood, loads of rope, bits of plastic and old buckets, crow bar, lump hammer and a cable winch. Eventually the old dig was clean and we continued at the bottom end of the chamber with a 1 tonne dumpy bag, classic tackle bag of Hauser laid rope nd loads more wood.
We stood back at this point and realised what a mess we had managed to make of East chamber- time to prioritise. We stacked what we estimated to be about 100-150kg of wet wood neatly against one wall and concentrated on all the man made bits of crap still lying around. Sadly many of these were made of metal so some of the bags became quite uncomfortably heavy. By far the worst load though was the conveyor belt matting which we guessed probably weighed about the same as a bag of cement 20-25kg L
At what I think was about 20:15 we began the task of hauling out the 5 bags (3 jumbo bags and 2 classics), conveyor matting bundle, ourselves and the ropes. It took around 2 hours to get it all to the surface, I went off ahead up each pitch with the hauling rope and pulley and Tom attached stuff at the bottom then tensioned the pitch rope to act as a tensioned line to guide the loads up to me snag free- it worked beautifully.
We collected a few more bits of metal just before the entrance shaft and Tom kindly went up first to finish off the hauling.
By far the worst part of the entire trip was carrying everything back to the cars in one go- it left me 6” shorter and a cripple the morning after but that warm fuzzy feeling of having a van full of assorted litter and crap rather than another Derbyshire cave full of it makes up for it. Just got to find the enthusiasm (and bodies) to deal with all of that wood now…