Mark R and Chris H
Saturday 25th June 2011
Saturday morning started like any other at Badger HQ. Shake off the previous nights gin consumption, scrabble around in the cupboards for something to eat and then contemplate packing some rope for the intended trip. Our numbers were somewhat reduced and so Mark and I set about getting packed. We'd decided earlier in the week that JH with a bimble around in Peak would be a nice change and allow us to explore areas we've not yet been too. The longer SRT pitches would also act as a little bit of training for the forthcoming Gouffre Berger trip for which neither of us has done much cave prep.
All packed we headed to Rowter farm to find that the campsite was remarkably full and despite the advanced hour of the day - 11ish there were alot of people around who seemed intent on watching us change into our gear. We reached the lid of JH to find it unlocked and rigged. Mark rigged the first pitch and I followed on once I got the call of 'rope free'. We continued on with Mark rigging and cursing the many deviations of the aptly named Bitch Pitch; then once down beyond the Workshop I took over the rigging. Once at the bottom we found the ladders down to the streamway in Peak. It was at this point that we realised that it was the pair of us that had done the trip together several years before and we hadn't got too far down the stream because of the shear volume of water.
This time however we were rewarded with a heavily silted streamway. After exploring an offshoot where Mark got a wet crotch and I ended up chest deep we continued on downstream to the Bung. Passing the Block Hall route we continued on to find the long-by-pass eventually coming to the bottom of the ladder that takes you up to Colostomy crawl. Knowing Mark has a great love of crawling I suggested we go and have a look. At the top of the ladder we peered into the hole and after what seemed like a long period of debate and argument - actually about 5 seconds where we both said 'not this time' we descended back down the ladder with a view to finding the short-by-pass. This we did although it didn't seem to by-pass very much so after some grumbling we both ended up squeezing through the low crawl in the water to reach the other side of the stream way.
From here we retraced our steps and ropes back to the surface. All in all a very nice Saturday afternoon trip made all the better knowing we were underground whilst it was raining at the surface. Back at Rowter campsite we tried to ignore the stares as we again changed for the crowd.
Sunday 26th June 2011
Sunday had been planned as a Rowter Dig day but as it was Mark had been plotting an idea to start construction of the winch for the bucket hauling in the Dig. After a somewhat embarrassing session at a bottle recycling bank where we emptied 3 or 4 months worth of wine and beer bottles/cans (and Mark wondered why he was short of space in his garage) into the various receptacles we set off to a secret workshop somewhere within 20 miles of Sheffield. All we had to start proceedings was a steel car wheel (non-space saver), an aging wheel-less Rayleigh
Pioneer hybrid bicycle and several lengths of steel box tubing. Queue the A-Team music and we were off, measuring, cutting, drilling, welding, grinding, lubricating, sweating, hammering, more sweating, checking out the girls on the Stihl calendar, even more sweating, welding, grinding... well you get the idea.
Finally we emerged into the mid day sun and sweltering heat with a contraption of sorts that we were hoping would ease the hauling in Rowter.
Out came the forklift truck and weights were fetched, the winch was rigged up and the first tests began. Sitting in the 'proposed' hauling position it became clear that not enough force was going to be exerted on the wheel to lift bucket after bucket of heavy boulders, pebbles, sand, mud and water. After trying several setups with the now defunct bike and our new construction our rumbling stomachs brought an end to the proceedings and we cleared up and hurried off to sate our hunger.
It’ll need a little more thought and another construction day but we should get to the point where we have a new vastly more efficient winch system.