Author Topic: UkCaving free rope and crabs being put to good use.  (Read 954 times)

Online Huge

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UkCaving free rope and crabs being put to good use.
« on: July 11, 2017, 08:57:30 am »
Minion, Trig Gledhill and I recently attempted to bolt climb to a possible passage, part way up a wall in a large chamber, in a cave somewhere in South Wales! Rope and crabs donated by UkCaving were used but on this occasion we were thwarted by a lack of time and poor rock.

There are actually two windows in the wall, one a few metres higher than the other but as the lower one is at the base of a steep slope and the higher one near the top of the slope, the height of the climb to either is similar. A tube, visible in the roof of the lower window, looked to be heading towards the upper window so it was decided to try to reach the upper one as there was no way of knowing if the tube was passable. Plus there was a ledge below the upper window which looked like it could be reached by free climbing to hopefully save time and bolts.

A bolt was placed for protection on the rising traverse to the ledge and Minion started the climb with Trig life-lining. Unfortunately, the rock above and around the ledge turned out to be so poor that it was almost funny! Minion came back down and we discussed options, whether to try for the lower window and hope there was a passable connection to the upper or to persevere where we were. It was decided to carry on above the first bolt, placed originally for protection, as the rock seemed to be more sound here. This might mean having to traverse across slightly, at a higher level though.

I took over climbing duties, with Trig again life-lining and placed a few more bolts, gaining a view into the window. Unfortunately it wasn't the start of a large passage going off but part of a small tube, which seems to be running diagonally down and parallel to the wall. The windows seem to be where the chamber has intersected the winding tube. There looked to be a part of the tube heading down towards the lower window and another part of it heading upwards. There are no windows visible higher up the wall so it needs checking out but unfortunately we had run out of time. I put a second stainless steel bolt in at the high point and rigged a length of the rope I'd kindly been given by UkCaving, directly to a couple of stainless ring hangers. Unfortunately we'd reached poor rock again so we'll have to think carefully on how to proceed from here.

Thanks again to Badlad and Pegasus at UkCaving and their generous benefactor for the rope and crabs. If we find something worthwhile, we'll leave the climb rigged with the rope, for a while at least. If there's nothing there (more likely!), everything will, of course, be removed and we'll move on to the next project.

Online Huge

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Re: UkCaving free rope and crabs being put to good use.
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2017, 02:49:46 pm »
Nearly forgot to thank Tony Seddon for collecting the gear from Ingleton for me. Chears again Tony.

Online Huge

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Re: UkCaving free rope and crabs being put to good use.
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2017, 10:10:20 am »
Trig Gledhill, Minion and I, have been back to complete the climb, mentioned in the post above, which is in the tall but short rift passage, leading off from the southern end of Fault Chambers in Ogof Draenen.

In the time between the trips, we had decided to start again and try to climb to the lower window in the hope that the rock here was better and that there was a passable way up into the higher window, that we had tried to reach last time.

The rock was mostly good and 7 bolts, plus 1 that seemed to go into some sort of pocket in the rock so wasn't used, saw me gingerly pulling over the edge, on a boulder that was lying on a slope of loose rock, and into the window. The window was roughly 2 metres wide by 1 metre high but the rift behind it, that I was now standing in, was longer and about 3-4 metres high. To the South was a narrow rift that rose up and turned a corner so that I couldn't see to a definite end. At the northern end, was a good sized but short rift, rising steeply up to the other window.

I placed another bolt, nice and high in the back wall of the rift, opposite the window, to rig the ladder from so that the other two could join me. The ladder could then also be used to gain the rift rising to the upper window. This turned out to be the final bolt as the drill died as I was placing it! I rigged the lifeline from the bolt and a natural thread off to one side. The 10m ladder turned out to be too short when rigged directly from the bolt so I had to extend the belay with a long sling.

Trigger joined me and waited in the narrow rift to the South, while Minion climbed up. I then suggested, that as he was already on the lifeline, he carry on up to the upper window. The ladder was re-rigged directly from the bolt and after a word of protest as he struggled slightly to leave the top of the ladder and establish himself in the rift, he was up in no time. The news from above wasn't great. The window / ledge up there was larger than the lower one but there was only one small passage going off, which closed down completely after just 4 metres. Minion took a few photos on his phone(!) (I'd left my camera at the bottom of the climb) and then came back down to where Trigger and I were waiting. While Minion had been exploring above, Trigger had checked out the small rift to the South, which unfortunately went nowhere. I had a quick look at the upper window but where I thought I had seen a tube last time, heading upwards from the northern end, there was nothing!

The ladder was re-rigged again from the sling and Minion climbed down. Trigger decided he wanted to abseil so borrowed my Stop (to save weight, I was the only one who had brought an SRT kit) and used the lifeline rope. I pulled up the rope, which had my Stop clipped on the end, then carefully de-rigged everything, lowering it all back down on the lifeline rope, before doubling the rope through the ring hanger on the bolt. Only one bolt I know but it was bomber. I then abbed down but the rope snagged when we tried to retrieve it. Myself and Minion ended up on our backs when the rope suddenly released after a good pull!

While Trigger and Minion started packing stuff away, I prusiked up the UkCaving donated rope we had left on the other climb, last time, to de-rig it, leaving behind another hanger and bolt at our high point. Thankfully the rope was retrieved with no problem, this time. All that was left was to make our way out, carrying a very heavy bag each!

So no big discoveries! If you include the windows in the total of what we found at the top of the climb, then the passage amounts to about 15m. If you don't include the windows, as they are open to the main, big rift passage, then you can halve that! Oh well, on to the next lead! We may take a look down a pitch next but there are also some avens and chokes to check out.

Thanks again to UkCaving for the rope and krabs that were used on this project.

The following photos were all taken by Minion on his phone.


Offline mudman

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Re: UkCaving free rope and crabs being put to good use.
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2017, 01:23:50 pm »
Excellent report Huge.  :clap2:

Online Huge

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Re: UkCaving free rope and crabs being put to good use.
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2017, 01:31:41 pm »
Cheers Mudman.

And Minion's photos came out well too, considering he took them on his old phone! When he said that he wanted to take a photo at Tea Junction, on the way out, I thought there was no way he'd get anything at all. Maybe we should ditch the TG-4s!

Online Trig Gledhill

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Re: UkCaving free rope and crabs being put to good use.
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2017, 06:57:16 pm »
Good read!

Just shows how good Samsung really are

Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk


Offline Goydenman

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Re: UkCaving free rope and crabs being put to good use.
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2017, 09:51:21 am »
Great report and photos. Although not big length of passage found, great effort and you now know that lead is ticked off...the fun continues eh.  It has reminded me us that come the spring we want to use our rope from UK Caving to examine the roof of Goyden 3 for possible digs

Online Huge

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Re: UkCaving free rope and crabs being put to good use.
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2017, 10:03:32 am »
Thanks Goydenman.

And all the best with the Goyden project!

Offline Mattrees

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Re: UkCaving free rope and crabs being put to good use.
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2017, 01:26:39 pm »
Press on; even when all we find are dead ends, we are still extending our collective knowledge of the cave.

Online Huge

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Re: UkCaving free rope and crabs being put to good use.
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2017, 05:26:09 pm »
You're very right Mattrees.

I suppose your project in Otter, is on hold until next year now?

Offline Mattrees

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Re: UkCaving free rope and crabs being put to good use.
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2017, 04:47:47 pm »
That's right, but I do have other irons in the fire.  ;)