Author Topic: Hopeless hole - Portland  (Read 12587 times)

Online tim.rose2

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Hopeless hole - Portland
« on: May 01, 2018, 11:31:23 pm »
Perhaps a dangerous assumption, but I enjoy reading other peoples digging efforts & trip reports so I'm hoping writing up my daft projects on Portland is of interest to someone other than me...

Having spend Saturday messing around in Showerbath Cave (see other thread), we spend a couple of hours on Sunday poking around in Hopeless hole.  For those who don't know, this is another short phreatic tube on Portland ending in a choke underneath one of the islands longer caves Steve's Endeavour.  This tunnel being a fair bit bigger than Showerbath.  There are two things to aim for here...
1. Enlarge the rift which almost certainly connects to Steve's End. to create a through trip.
2. Find the continuation of the pheatic tunnel.

Nick & Sam spend a lot of time clearing the tunnel of rocks from other peoples past efforts in this cave (back in the 90's I believe).  There's now a big pile outside.  I spent some time clearing a working space beneath the rift at the end and then poking the ceiling to encourage bits out to enlarge the rift.  Not a huge amount of progress on this trip from my part, but there's a big block ready to come down next time which just didn't want to drop despite being loose.  First assessment, I think creating the Steve's through trip should be quite easy if this block comes out nicely and I don't die from over enthusiastic ceiling poking.  The continuation of the tunnel on the other hand is going to be a massive effort.

If you're wondering I have a short attention span - there's two other places I also intend to poke around at!

A few photos...

The rift which connects to Steve's before we started:


Sam with the pile of evicted rocks:


Nick in the tunnel collecting some dirt out the floor to patch a hole in the climbers path outside (best not ask!)


The bit of ceiling next to the rift which needs to fall out as a starting point to making a man size route through to Steve's:


Online tim.rose2

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2018, 09:04:46 pm »
Perhaps this photo should also be posted...  It's the end of the cave just beyond the rift to Steve's - a very 'stable' looking place!  The phreatic tube is somewhere below this lot.  The void here is the gap created by the ceiling collapse, with the rubble floor being roughly level with the roof of the tunnel.


Offline NigelG

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2018, 07:18:00 pm »
I think the pictures showing the airy nature of the roof speak for the past digging attempts not making much progress... including my own team's in the '80s.

One thing we did was start to clear the floor to solid, to make the passage nice and roomy, then on the next session we found someone had used the cave as a khasi!

Unimpressed and trying not to gag, I buried the offensiveness outside, then we dragged rocks back in to make the first yard or so uninvitingly low and jagged.

It is an interesting prospect though, and it would be good to see the continuation of the ancient stream-passage beyond the area wrecked by Steve's Endeavour Rift (a mass-movement fissure) having opened across it.

Online tim.rose2

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2018, 07:34:02 pm »
Thanks Nigel.
We've left the deliberately annoying, knee destroying stones in the entrance for the same reason as you returned them, however Portland climbers are far politer and more conscious of the environment these days.  We've even lent a few people who've been climbing in the area our lights & helmets to go and have a look after they showed an interest.  The spoil removed so far was from much further back in the cave to create a good run for a drag tray.
The ceiling of the end of that place it truly terrifying though.  I think a route to Steve's is possible to make a new through trip, but digging the tunnel could lead to a few brown trouser moments.  My opinion is to start back before the current end and follow the right hand wall stacking spoil in the middle of the current termination 'chamber' to hopefully hold the roof up.  With other less pants staining options elsewhere to focus on Hopeless is now low down our list.

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2018, 10:37:53 pm »
Another session in Hopeless Hole today -Me, Nick & Sam.
I'd not bothered to mention on here, but between my last post and this one, there has been at least two other occasions where I've been back to Hopeless to attempt to move the block which needs to come out before a link to Steve's above is established.  Both failed - it's loose, moves up, down and sideways a few inches but will not drop out.  Today we decided to work on objective 2 - the continuation of the tunnel.
The first job was to work out where to focus efforts in the breakdown as the tunnel is 'lost'.  The first point to note is that the 'end' of the cave had previously been dug up into the void created by the rift and hence the floor was roughly level with the ceiling of the tunnel.  Secondly, previous efforts seemed to head off to the left a bit.  We decided to attempt to follow where we expected the right hand wall to be, assuming the tunnel was straight and then dig down.  After an hour or so of shifting rock a potential bit of wall appeared covered in flowstone.  Unfortunately this was under a very dodgy boulder.  A 'wall' was built to add support and I simply headed forward.  After a further hour a magic poke resulted in a fairly significant load of stuff fall out the ceiling.  This turned out to be another rift in the roof.  The rift is big enough to fit in, but is currently blocked with infill 1.5m up.  After clearing enough of the stuff that fell it's now possible to see the ceiling and top of the walls of the continuation of the tunnel.  Unfortunately the tunnel is filled to the ceiling with rocks and we've found it more or less at ceiling level.  It should be fairly straight forward (but time consuming) to empty now we know where we're going and most importantly the ceiling beyond this new rift is stable.  The end of this cave now looks significantly more promising and will receive our attention for the next few trips.  I'd guess about 3m of progress today.

Some Photo's:
The end of the cave - you can see the outline of the arched tunnel.  It's not clear in the photo, but above the rock fill the ceiling can be seen continuing for several metres.


Today's dig & 'support' wall


Nick under our latest death boulder.  This is the same boulder which is the main feature on the right hand side of the 'end' photo in the post above.


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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2018, 09:29:13 pm »
Another fart about in Hopeless today.  Just myself and Sas this time.  Both of us working at the end of the cave.  I spent the time pulling rocks / mud from the dig face attempting to follow the now defined right hand wall, Sas worked on sorting the spoil.  Small stuff got chucked down the left hand side of the wall holding up our death boulder and large stuff got moved back down the cave toward the entrance a short way and then stacked for subsequent removal.  No evidence of a left hand wall yet though.

Just like we've experienced in Showerbath some of the ceiling at the sharp end was parting company with the bedding plain break 8 inches above creating annoyingly large boulders.  These bits were levered down and all but one very large lump which will require breaking up before moving taken out of the way.  It now looks like the 'tunnel' ceiling is stable beyond.  A small void (but not big enough to fit in) is opening along the RH wall ahead which should make progress easier however other than this there's no sign of the rock / mud fill decreasing.  Another couple of trips at least required - perhaps next time it'll become obvious where all these rock have come from as it's almost certainly not the ceiling.

Although things are looking more stable ahead, the area we've just broken through is really loose above - twice today stuff fell out the ceiling.  Some stabilisation might be necessary in the near future.

The other good news - in moving what we have today we've found a draft hitting us in the face coming along the tunnel.  Prior to today the only draft (a very strong one) at the end of the cave was dropping down the rift from Steve's End. above.  Our new tunnel draft is rather faint compared to Steve's at the moment  but perhaps it suggests open passage beyond?

No photo's I'm afraid - the camera got accidentally left in the car.

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2018, 11:02:54 pm »
Another few hours in Hopeless yesterday - myself, Sas & Richard this time.

Most of my morning was taken up breaking the remaining boulder from our last trip into something more manageable using a combination of drilling, plug and feather, swearing at it and then beating the crap out of it with a hammer.  Eventually enough bits had broken off to leave something which could be moved.  Meanwhile Richard and Sas had cleared all the spoil from our previous trip and dumped outside the cave entrance.  We agreed the remaining bit of boulder would be moved from the end of the cave and then stop for lunch.  Unfortunately in doing so I clobbered the dodgy shit under our death boulder which resulted in a brown trouser moment as the ceiling lowered an inch or so and another 'dusting' of crap fell out the rift.  Richard swiftly came to the rescue and helped move the boulder out of the way allowing my rather hasty retreat down the cave.  Definitely time for lunch. 

We declared the end of the cave off limits until we'd properly assessed the roof stability following this movement.  First thing we did was build a rock pillar under one of the worst looking bits.  I'm not massively certain this would have done much other than provide moral support but it felt good at the time.  Next the dodgy shit on the right hand side under the death boulder got poked with as long a stick as we had (which felt about 30ft too short).  It all fell out with no further movement in the roof.  Richard then had a good look at things and we realised the ceiling had simply lowered itself on to the supporting wall we'd built last time and was now well supported on the left hand side.  Richard then used the loose stuff we'd removed to build a supporting wall under the right side of the roof boulder.  We're now fairly content our death boulder is well supported on both sides.  Work could resume!  Over time we intend to fill as much of the void in this area as possible to support the roof.

Another hour of working at the end followed - mostly mud removal now as we've hit a band of silt, though a return to stone is visible a couple of feet ahead.  Richard set to on taking the floor up in the tunnel before the breakdown area.  He seems determined to walk! 

No sign of open passage yet, however the draft coming down the tunnel significantly increased during this trip.

Some photo's:

Richard under our death boulder.


Now supported on both sides.  The support on the right is significantly better than this photo portrays.


This shows the progress at the end compared to the photo from two trips ago.


And a close up of the end.


Still no evidence of a left wall or where the in fill has come from.  In the last image you can just about see a couple of rocks protruding from the soil which will need to come out next.

Online tim.rose2

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2018, 10:40:11 pm »
Myself and Richard spent another 5 or 6 hours in Hopeless today.

First thing to note Richard popped into Hopeless during the week to remove our stone pillar built last time and replace it with a more sensible wooden support.  He'd also had a little poke of the end of the cave and created a pile of dirt.

Back to today - Richard seemed intend on removing the boulder blocking the route into Steve's.  First I had a go at it with Richards 12 tonne bottle jack.  It didn't take long for me to end up a quivering wreck - it was clear the bottle jack would bring down the boulder but possibly the ceiling too.  I then headed to the nice safe end of the cave and dug some mud whilst Richard scared himself.  We then decided it was too dangerous and concentrated on the end of the cave for a couple of hours.  Some more progress was made however we're now at another cross rift and the tunnel is choked to the ceiling with mud and rocks.  The nice stable ceiling is also gone.  Trying to look ahead through the gaps in the rocks I don't think this is going to be too horrific to get through.  We can only hope this is the last such area of breakdown. 

We then decided to call it quits for the day, but Richard announced he'd have one more go at the boulder.  I took a siesta in the main tunnel whilst Richard 'poked' and 'prodded' the boulder.  Starting to feel a little chilly I then decided to start clearing spoil from the main tunnel again.  An hour or so later bits of rock started to drop and another 10 min later the bloody boulder was down.  After a bit of clearing up and poking our heads up the now reasonably size rift we gave up completely knackered.  Stirling effort by Richard and his nerves.  I was definitely too wimpy to beat the shit out of that boulder in the way Richard did.

Assuming the void above is one of the known bits of Steve's End. then nothing more than an hour of gardening loose stuff should be needed to achieve the connect between the two caves now. 

Some more photos:

Richard joyous after the boulder dropped (big one on the left he's holding) and his pile of spoil which also fell out at the same time.


The boulder:


Richard up the rift:


Richard's improved ceiling support.  Turn's out Richard has better wood than me - this is a lump of 4x4 oak rather than some shitty bit of 2x4 pine I tend to turn up with.  We intend to keep filling underneath all the horribleness with spoil to support the ceiling (and hide the bits which look unfriendly).  The Steve's End rift connection is to the left.  Our 'end of the cave' dig is straight ahead.


I don't remember farting


The 'end of the cave' dig face


Richard with his mighty fine tool


View toward the dig


View along the main tunnel.  It's a fine looking passage, could do with being about 10x the size.

Offline Pegasus

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2018, 09:21:55 pm »
Quote
It didn't take long for me to end up a quivering wreck - it was clear the bottle jack would bring down the boulder but possibly the ceiling too.  I then headed to the nice safe end of the cave and dug some mud whilst Richard scared himself.

Laughed out loud at that  :lol:

Offline mrodoc

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2018, 08:50:35 am »
You need the Old Ruminator with his cement and scaffolding and acro props and trench supports and mesh............................................ etc!

Online mikem

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2018, 07:33:57 pm »
In the circumstances, I'd rather have your brother in law, Nigel...

Mike

Online tim.rose2

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2018, 10:33:24 pm »
Or access to some of the toys used in the quarries.

We've spoke about scaff & cement but can't be bothered - the place would just become a massive engineering job.  In the case of cement I think nothing short of a concrete pump would suffice.  Ideally the whole bloody lot will fall down (when we're not in there) so we don't have to bother.  Alternatively the bit of cliff pealing off which makes Steve's Endeavour could drop (that would be a rock fall worth seeing), opening up the continuation.  This option might upset the climbers though as some of the most popular routes are on the outer wall of Steve's.


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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2018, 09:18:21 pm »
Well as of today, Portland has a new through trip.  Hopeless Hole is now connected to Steve's Endeavour.

Following Richards excellent work getting the boulder out during the last trip reported on here and then subsequent solo trip a few days later to clear a huge amount of spoil there was very little to do today.  Nick started to climb up the rift doing a little gardening and enlarging on route heading toward the sounds of some seagulls.  I then followed and ended up taking the lead following my gut instinct of up.  After a fairly energetic climb of what we estimate to be 15m we popped out into a recognisable bit of Steve's Endeavour high up in the rift.  Back down to fetch Richard who claimed the connection wasn't Richard sized.  30mins of hacking bits off the rift wall and clearing further loose stuff and a route that was Richard sized had been created. 

All three of us then climbed up into Steve's and completed the through trip exiting from the normal entrance around 12:30.

For anyone mad enough to want to experience this through trip:
Firstly the connection is likely to be snug for medium to large sized cavers - be warned.
Route finding is easiest from Hopeless to Steve's however does require a good ability at free climbing Portland rifts.  This includes the Steve's entrance pitch (which obviously could be pre-rigged) and the 6m pitch often laddered further into the cave.

Follow the hopeless tunnel from the entrance to a small breakdown chamber containing a wooden pillar.  At the wooden pillar take the rift on the left.  Follow the obvious route up the slope ahead for a couple of meters until it is possible to start climbing up.  Climb more or less directly up for approx. 10m until it is possible to step left onto a false floor.  Continue climbing up another 5 m heading right handed over loose boulders.  Once on top the boulders you're in Steve's Endeavour and only a few meters from the end & window to daylight.  Climb down the other side onto the top of a huge flake and then down to floor level - this is where I would imagine most who have been in Steve's before would have turned back.

I'll update the Portland Caves Website in the next few days to provide a better description of the entire route.

After completing the through trip we headed back to Hopeless to continue the end of the cave dig for a while.  Mostly removing spoil today to improve access to the end - another 21 trays / carpets worth removed.  The end of the cave is now back into an area of collapse / rocks and it's not clear where the tunnel continues.  I'm guessing straight on, however it's possible we've also hit a right hand turn.  The next trip should provide the answers!

A few photos:
Richard with one of today's many 'carpet loads'.


Richard and Nick up in the connecting rift through to Steve's.


Nick at the end of the cave deciding where to plant his marigolds and begonias.


On the way back to the car I had a little scrabble around at the base of the cliff - possibly another choked phreatic tunnel to investigate.

Nick's also taken some photo's today - Hopefully he might post them on here!

Offline sawneybean

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2018, 03:40:52 pm »
Here are some photos of the wooden pillar mentioned in Tim's report, Tim working at the end of the phreatic passage in Hopeless and a view down the rift that connects Hopeless and Steve's, showing Richard negotiating the tight spot at the beginning of the climb up to Steve's.

Offline sawneybean

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2018, 03:48:54 pm »
Here are some photos of the wooden pillar mentioned in Tim's report, Tim working at the end of the phreatic passage in Hopeless and a view down the rift that connects Hopeless and Steve's, showing Richard negotiating the tight spot at the beginning of the climb up to Steve's.

Offline sawneybean

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2018, 03:52:07 pm »

Here are some photos of the wooden pillar mentioned in Tim's report, Tim working at the end of the phreatic passage in Hopeless and a view down the rift that connects Hopeless and Steve's, showing Richard negotiating the tight spot at the beginning of the climb up to Steve's.
[/quote]

Online tim.rose2

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2018, 11:17:50 pm »
I've updated the Hopeless Hole page on the Portland Caves website to include a description of the connection to Steve's should anyone want to do this trip:

https://sites.google.com/view/the-caves-of-portland/hopeless-hole

I'm in the process of updating the Steve's page but can't remember enough to write a descent description beyond the pitches at the moment.  I'll complete this and include a description of the connection the other way around once I've been back.

Offline MJenkinson

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2018, 09:30:28 am »
good work!

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2018, 10:25:21 pm »
Last weekend Myself, Nick and Sam completed the through trip the other way around from Steve's to Hopeless.  Finding the connection this way is more difficult.  I've updated the Steve's page on the Portland Caves Website to include what I hope is a reasonable description.
https://sites.google.com/view/the-caves-of-portland/steves-endeavour-rift

We also shifted another few loads of dirt / rocks from the Hopeless phreatic dig whilst we were there.  Nothing much to report other than we've found another shattered area where it seems the roof and right hand wall we've been following become undefined.  I had a more careful look at the rifts above in Steve's whilst we were up there on Sunday.  Assuming this shattered area is caused by another over head rift, I'm confident it's not a known apart of Steve's we're below.  This rift is approx. 4 or 5m further North.

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2018, 10:43:34 pm »
Me and Richard spent another couple of hours in Hopeless today after first digging a hole in the side of the footpath and then filling it back in (we thought there was a cave hiding - turned out to be nothing more than a undercut in the cliff) followed by a trip to Gemini rift around the corner from Hopeless.

First we cleared out some left over spoil from Sunday.  I then continued digging mud from the end of the cave whilst Richard progressed his mission with the floor to create a walking sized passage in between removing my spoil.  Another 6 carpet loads of mud was removed.  A thorough ceiling examination followed after which both myself and Richard declared it dodgy!  A good session of ceiling poking with the long poking pole resulted in a good deal of it falling down.  I then spent best part of an hour wrestling the largest bit a few metres back to a point it can be drilled and broken up next time.  We finished with an examination of what mess we'd created.  This is where it gets interesting.  It turns out this shattered area is not another rift as previously though.  Instead the ceiling of the phreatic tunnel plus the chert band a few inches above has parted company with the more solid layer of rock above that.  The good news is that this provides a solid ceiling and once cleared we should have a good sized space here.  Our first thoughts on the disappearance of the right hand wall is that we've found a side passage.  Amongst all the loose stuff and rubble it appears there are voids both ahead and to the right.  Quick progress should be made next time and no doubt we will learn whether indeed we now have two passages to deal with.  Our end of the cave dig might be about to become 2 digs!

 

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #20 on: November 26, 2018, 10:30:38 pm »
Another good session in Hopeless yesterday.  Richard arrived early equipped with a pile of wood and bucket of cement to look at stabilising some of the death boulders around the Steve's connection.  Myself and Sas appeared at 10am and Gaynam joined us for the afternoon.  When we arrived we found Richard led under one of the dubious bits of ceiling having removed all the previous supporting rocks on one side!  Best part of 30 loads of spoil later we gave up at 4pm. 

Richard spent a large part of the day constructing dry stone walls to support the ceiling and hold back some of the loose stuff in the area of the Steve's connection.  More to be done but great progress.  Sas & Gaynam assisted with spoil removal whilst I generated it. 

The end of the cave is now an interesting place, however once again things have become unclear.  As mentioned in the last report the ceiling of the tunnel we'd been following had become shattered.  The right hand wall also appeared to take a right hand turn.  We cleared some of the shattered ceiling heading up a couple of feet into the void.  Initially this was about 8 to 12 inches high but is now substantially more having cleared a lot of rock.  It seems like this void is a result of the roof of the phreatic tunnel parting company with the bedding layer 12 inches above and collapsing onto the mostly mud filled passage below.  This means our dig is now effectively above the roof the hopeless tunnel.  This is a similar situation to how we initially found the end of the cave back at the Steve's connection.  It appears we have a passage heading off to the right and also something straight ahead.  Digging down on the left hand side is what I believe to be the previously elusive left hand wall (currently buried under spoil awaiting to be taken out).  Straight ahead on this level appears to be mostly rock peeling off in layers to create a void a few inches high.  The course of action here will be to dig down and trace the route of the left hand wall probably having to remove both the peeling roof layer and a lot of mud.  Digging down in the right hand passage appears to unearth a right hand wall heading off at 90 degrees to the main passage.  So we now seem to have 2 digs!  Ideally we need to completely empty this junction area to fully understand what's happening here, but only time will tell if we can be bothered.  We cannot say for certain this is a junction rather than a right hand bend in the passage however the junction option feels more likely.  The right hand passage looked like it's predominantly mud to dig.  No sign of open passage yet.  Hopeless is certainly hiding it's secrets well as we're now a good 5 to 10 m beyond the Steve's connection and it looks like a lot of hard work is required still.

Some photo's:

Richards timber store


Richards 'hopeless' wall


The spoil Sherpa's


The 'hopeless wall from the other side


The straight on dig (and our long poking pole).  The left hand wall is 2ft below the pile of rocks on the left of the photo.


The right hand dig

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2019, 09:52:41 pm »
It's been a few months since we've had a day in Hopeless - mixture of bad weather and the distraction of making connections on the other side of the island.

Equipped with the new trolley Me, Sas and Richard set off to hopeless to spend a day clearing spoil.  17 trolley loads were removed.  No progress at the end of the cave this time, however we've made the existing bits much bigger and un-buried the potential right hand side passage just before the current end which had been filled up by Mike and Monica.  It's not massively clear where we should be digging at the moment as we've lost the tunnel again so our approach is emptying all which isn't solid rock.

Few issues with the trolley wheels falling off a couple of times which caused some merriment.  The trolley was christened 'Tim's Ingenious Trolley' or the 'Hopeless TIT' for short by Richard. 

A few pictures:
Apparently this was amusing, particularly a little later when pulling it through a puddle on the cliff path my boiler suit fell off...


Trolley loaded ready to be taken into the cave...



Richard hard at work...


Richard still hard at work...


Empty Carpet returned for filling...


Sas in the same bit of passage...


Current end of the cave...

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #22 on: May 25, 2019, 09:04:09 pm »
Since the last report on here we've done another 2 trips into Hopeless / Steve's.

The first being 3 weeks ago - myself and Richard did some bolting so that the exposed climbing around the Steve's / Hopeless connection can now be protected for those who need it.  Although competent climbers won't need rope, Steve's to Hopeless will make a nice SRT training trip with 5 short pitches, the longest of which is about 8m.  Alternatively, the climbs can just be protected with a lifeline as everything is perfectly climbable.  You'll still need one good climber in your team though as there are 'up pitches' in both directions which would need to be free climbed by the first person.   

After completing the bolting we pulled 5 or so trolley loads of spoil from the end of Hopeless and finished by doing the through trip with Gaynam who had joined us at lunchtime. 

The second trip was today - a whole day in Hopeless.  We mustered a team of 6 - myself, Sas, Richard, Nick, Sam and Gaynam.  I think Richard counted over 30 trolley loads.  Today's efforts focused on further emptying the area around the end of the cave which has resulted in a 'chamber' appearing which we even got 3 of us into (and you can sit up).  As previously mentioned we had two possible digs to choose from.  The first is what appears to be a right hand turn and the second 'straight ahead' dig (which takes a 90 degree left turn after a couple of feet).  Both of these leads are in the void under our solid ceiling which is roughly 3 ft above the height of the Hopeless tunnel.  We also went looking for the continuation of the Hopeless tunnel which we'd lost (again), by digging a hole in the floor on the left hand side of the 'chamber'.  As our chamber is approx. 3 ft above the level of the tunnel we knew the tunnel was somewhere beneath us. The good news is it looks like we've found it, the bad is that it looks like the tunnel is filled to within 2 inches of its roof with mud.  Interestingly, if this is the tunnel, it looks like it goes straight ahead passing underneath our 'straight on' dig.

So now we have 3 digs at the end of the cave but at least there's plenty of room to manoeuvre and temporarily stack spoil.  There's plenty more which could come out in our chamber and no doubt, Richard will continue his mission to 'take up the floor' but at least we're now in a position to choose one of the three options and dig forwards.  Unfortunately, it's not clear which is the best choice so we might dabble with them all and see what happens.

The trolley is proving to be great.  Today we roughly doubled our output compared to the pre-trolley days.  It's just a pity Hopeless is not giving up its secrets easily.

Quite a bit of talk today about a return to Showerbath so perhaps Hopeless will get left for a bit again?  Only time will tell.  We've just not got the commitment our Mendip friend have!

Offline mrodoc

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #23 on: May 28, 2019, 06:35:35 pm »
Great to read your report. Keep up the good work.

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2019, 09:45:09 pm »
Today marked a return to digging in Hopeless Hole having given it a break over the summer. 

The original plan was that there would be 4 of us, with the intention of having 2 in Blacknor at the end of 'Next to Go rift' and 2 into Steve's where we'd recently been digging to see if we can establish a vocal connection.  Unfortunately Nick had to work today leaving 3 so a new plan was needed.  The end of Steve's dig will have to wait for another day.

Having got in touch via the forum a couple of months back Ed and I met on Portland for a trip round Blacknor - Ed's first experience of the islands fine caves having recently moved down South from North Wales.  Ed joined us again today and Portland stalwart Richard was the third person.  We started with the Hopeless to Steve's through trip which was completed in about 1h30 so that Ed could see the delights of one of the Rift caves.  As had become custom, Richard spent a fair amount of the trip somewhere above our heads whereas myself and Ed decided to use the floor to progress. 

Having completed the through trip we spent around 3 hours continuing the end of Hopeless Hole dig.  This has been left for the last 6 months, partly due to loosing interest and partly due to needing a biggish team.  Richard was on TIT (Tim's Ingenious Trolley) duty whilst myself and Ed fannied around at the end pulling out spoil and filling carpet loads.  Approx. 15 trolley loads were evicted from the cave.  One oversized boulder needed breaking up, otherwise straight forward digging today.  Approx. 2 to 3 m of progress was made.  Just before giving up a couple of rocks were shifted in the right hand wall giving a view through a small hole into what looks like proper cave ahead.  Another session of clearing spoil is needed after which I hope to have something more interesting to report.  The 'proper' cave isn't exactly tall (I'm guessing 18 inches at best), however it looks several feet wide and possibly containing some descent formations.  There is orange stal visible ahead which was being dripped on (possibly from a rift above?).  All of a sudden this dig is looking reasonably promising however whether we'll have a few metres or something better is impossible to say just yet.  With any luck we might get a few of us together next weekend to continue.

Unfortunately my camera got left at home today, however Ed had his so perhaps he'll post a couple??

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #25 on: November 10, 2019, 07:58:25 am »
Tim lying where the large boulder used to be while trying to support the hanging ceiling. The way on is to the right, just beyond the hanging ceiling.


The way on, buried up to its neck in even more stuff to move but it looks very promising indeed!

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #26 on: November 10, 2019, 11:09:58 pm »


Having got in touch via the forum a couple of months back Ed and I met on Portland for a trip round Blacknor

That was good to read  ;D

The photos look, erm, precarious!

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #27 on: November 11, 2019, 09:43:57 am »
Great progressive dig read with clear images. It's rather a shame that its called " Hopeless Hole " though that might be the incentive to find more. I liked TIT. Many years ago I had NEDFROB though is probably best that we don't go into that. Our team is digging every week and I have actually got to use a bit of scaffolding now neatly disguised behind a stone wall. Peter's conveyor belt has been added and this makes hauling and crawling so much easier. When we ever find anything we will let folks know but it won't be anytime soon.

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #28 on: November 11, 2019, 11:42:04 am »
Yes, Tim we should have some light but durable conveyor belt knocking about it you need some.

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #29 on: November 11, 2019, 09:48:25 pm »
Thank Ed for posting the photo's.

The way on is basically behind all the loose stuff on the right in Ed's top photo.  Right at the end of our session on Saturday I pulled out a few bits just beyond that very dodgy boulder and a hole appeared with a view to better things.  I'd always thought the way on might be the other side of that rubble but until then, moving various bits on that RHS showed nothing other than more rubble so we followed the good wall on the left instead.

As for that boulder it didn't look that bad when I crawled under it!  I did put some 'supporting spoil' underneath so it wouldn't go far.  Might look at taking it out next time or just digging though the rubble this side of it.  From what I could see pretty much anywhere through that right hand mess will achieve the same outcome.  No doubt you've all guess by now, the loose stuff is what has dropped down yet another narrow rift crossing our cave!

As for digging, the TIT is working really well in the main passage as far as the Steve's connection (base camp 1).  The section further in is being served very well with the carpet drag trays.  We've got a fairly smooth dry floor so I don't think conveyor belt would add much.  Very kind offer though.  What we really need is more help - any volunteers?  Or just someone to finish the job for us.  All dig pirates welcome on Portland on the condition you tell us what you find!

I reckon one more trip will get us into what ever we've caught a glimpse of last weekend.  As much as we try not to leave spoil everywhere (Richard even noted how tidy I'd been keeping the place), we do have a reasonably large clear area only a few metres back from the dig face.  I like to call it a chamber because 3 of us fit in at once and we don't have many 'chambers'.  We've been using it as base camp 2!  There's always the option to pull spoil back to there and deal with it later.   

Otherwise, I suspect the dig will take a break again whilst we poke around at the potential Steve's to Blacknor dig (see other thread).  We didn't really intend to work on this one last weekend.

As for the name I don't know the history.  Presumably the cave was named 'Hopeless Hole' by past Portland explorers due to the state of the collapse under what is now the Steve's / Hopeless connection.  It certainly didn't look worthwhile to us but we set to anyway.  Our main goal was to establish the connect to Steve's which I don't think had been considered previously.  The SDS drill has been vital to our effort and without it I'm certain we too would have considered the place hopeless.

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #30 on: November 16, 2019, 09:57:19 pm »
Well Hopeless Hole is certainly proving to be hopeless!

As you've probably guessed by my first sentence we've not found the caverns measureless to man (on Portland that refers to anything Richard sized) we'd hoped for.  Myself, Sas and Richard spent a good few hours in Hopeless again today.  After removal of a reasonable amount of spoil I managed to grovel my way along the low, 'open' passage seen on our last trip making around 4 m of progress.  1 m ahead was the flow stone bank we'd gained a glimpse of previously; unfortunately no further passage was found.  In fact it seems the flow stone is completely blocking the way ahead (assuming one exists) leaving us with a dead end.  Another large spoil removal task would be required to open the route to the 'end' allowing sufficient room to work, and that's assuming there is something at the end worth working on.  All very disappointing really considering how promising it had all looked.  We have a solid roof, a good wall and it's heading in the right direction!  Bugger. 

So we called a committee meeting.  The outcome being that we're going to leave Hopeless for the foreseeable future.  Consequently we've had a bit of a tidy up today and Richard plans to return to remove the rest of our junk over the next week or so.  As for the future, we might clear a proper route as far as the stal bank for three reasons...
1. To be certain there's nothing further worth digging.
2. To make a proper end to the cave which has a view of a few pretties.
3. It's all been rather good fun so why not continue even if there's no purpose.
Or we might not bother!

What I did manage to do is take a few photos:

Here's Sas and Richard in our chamber:


Sas looking through the hole on the far side of the above chamber which leads to the end of the cave:


Richard about to round the final corner (to the right beyond the boulders).  This whole section has been cleared during our last 2 trips.


And round the corner he goes:


Once round that corner, a bit of wriggling later this is the view of the end:

The flowstone bank mentioned is central on this picture behind the last few rocks I couldn't be bothered to move when I had my head up level with them.

Well Hopeless has provided us with much amusement over the last 18 months so I dare say we'll be back one day!  In short though our efforts have resulted in the connection to Steve's providing a cracking through trip (which incidentally was completed again today by Nick and Jerome whilst we were digging) and we've doubled the length of the phreatic tunnel.  We've agreed the priority over this side of the island now needs to be the potential Steve's - Blacknor connection.  I've also got a few ideas for new places to bugger around in and of course there's always a return to Showerbath to consider.



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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #31 on: November 17, 2019, 03:45:29 pm »
Good stuff  dorset and mendip :clap2:  Come on the north

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #32 on: February 01, 2020, 10:33:46 pm »
Well it's almost as if we can't keep away!  Myself and Richard convinced Sas today she should complete the Steve's to Hopeless through trip have successfully avoided it since we made the connection.  What else is there to do after reaching Hopeless than the spend a couple hours digging the end? 

Today's objective was to bring the bloody ceiling down.  One thing we all agreed on after our last disappointing trip was that any further progress would require the removal of the rocks to the right of Richard in the third photo in my previous post.  The photo makes them look reasonable however it was all a bit dodgy on the far side and furthermore to give better access to the end we'd have to remove some of the bits holding it all up. 

In a change to tradition, Richard set to, doing unholy things with the long poking pole, whilst myself and Sas acted as spoil sherpa's.  About an hour later Richard had made the cave shorter as it was no longer possible to pass beneath the beast of a boulder he'd moved.  I then set to with the drill, plug and feathers.  Another hour later and the lot was gone.  Whilst I was breaking boulders Richard took out 5 TIT loads.  Spoil removal was slow today as we'd taken the carpet drag trays home previously.

Richard's convinced we should at least make a proper route down to the previously mentioned flow stone at the end of the cave and see what, if anything, can be done to continue ahead.  Today's effort has gone a long way to achieving that.  There's certain potential for a reasonable find, it's just a question of how much effort is required!

No photo's of today's digging, however here's 3 taken whilst in Steve's:







Back to the 'End of Steve's End.' dig on Friday.

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #33 on: August 24, 2020, 10:10:04 pm »
An update on Hopeless Hole...

Only two trips since Feb due to some annoying virus doing the rounds.  The first was a few weeks ago - very little to report from that one.  It was simply a tidying up / spoil removal session and a rough survey taken (below). 

The second was today and finally an opportunity to attack the flowstone bank at the end of the cave.  To be honest I didn't expect much from this.  It wasn't clear whether we should be digging at the penultimate corner or the end 4 m further on.  Consensus was to try the end (first).  Turns out mud, infill, boulders and flowstone is a very boring combination to dig.  Nether-the-less 4 hours later and about 1 m of forwards progress a drafting hole appeared which was soon enlarged to provide a view beyond the blockage into further 'passage'.  The Passage ahead appears to be about 30cm high with a solid roof.  Approx. 1.5 m wide and we've estimate at least 5 m long.  The 'floor' is a mix of mud and rock with the true floor probably 1 m below.  As with the last piece of passage in Hopeless we'll need to create a trench to crawl in as we progress.  Two keyed in boulders currently block entry into this which need breaking and removing next time.  Hopefully the next few metres at least should be quick progress.  The effort we've put into this place deserves some open passage now! 

A couple of photo's:

Looking ahead from the penultimate corner to Richard working at the flowstone bank. 




We've been able to retain a decent amount of the flowstone bank by keeping to the left.  This is what remains:


Gaynam sporting his latest headgear invention.  Basically a battery powered streetlight. 


The survey we took (which will hopefully be completely out of date after our next session):

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #34 on: August 31, 2020, 09:33:05 pm »
The team returned Saturday and through the flowstone we go.  It took approx. 30 mins, a dose of the drill, plug and feathers and some grunting with the crowbar but the 2 boulders blocking the exit from the flowstone choke succumbed.  A bit of a tidy up and enlargement of the hole through before the 'trenching' began.  With Nick at the lead we'd made around 5m of forward progress before lunch.  Beyond the choke we have a good ceiling and two walls with a passage width of approx. 2m.  Unfortunately we cannot tell the true height of the passage as it's filled nearly to the ceiling leaving a head space of around 20 to 30 cm.  Being 2m wide, half the width was sacrificed to home small spoil from our trench, whilst larger rocks were sent back for removal by the spoil sherpa's.  After lunch a further 3m of forward progress was made but this was very low due to inefficient 'spoil hiding' and hence running out of space.  I'd not tried very hard - knackered from the mornings efforts and desperately hoping it was magically going to get bigger!  At the far end, the passage continues the same for as far as we can see, being around 5 to 10 m.  On the plus side, it's clear where we're going and what we need to do.

We'll need to spend some time improving Saturdays forward progress making it a bit bigger and doing a better job of loosing the spoil but other wise progress should be fairly quick.  The problem of course is spoil removal as we getting a long way from the entrance (approx. 40 m) and very few other options.

What I'm struggling to understand is how the passage, which if empty would be sizeable for Portland, has become filled with rubble. Obviously some event has created the fill but I can't imagine what that would be.  The fill is a mixture of rocks ranging from aggregate to small boulders around 2ft square, a little soil and loads of broken up flowstone / stal.  We've worked our way along roughly 8 m of this and can see it continues ahead so there must be at least a 15m section.  There are no rifts above and other than a good splattering of 2 to 5cm long stals the ceiling is clean and flat.  The broken stal in the fill is far bigger than anything on the ceiling so it's not come from there.  The fill almost looks like the output from the stone crusher which has been pumped in!

For those who know Portland, the passage resembles Comfort Crawl in Blacknor being square shaped, however in the case of Hopeless the gap above the rubble floor is too small to fit through.

And for those who like them some photo's...

Looking through the hole we've made in the flowstone choke to Nick working on the other side:


The new passage on the far side of the choke showing the left hand wall and the ceiling.  The right hand side has been used to home what we've take from the left:


Richard inspecting the limit of Saturdays efforts at the end of the day (he might have commented that it wasn't big enough!):


A sample of the broken up bits of flowstone & stal found amongst the fill we're removing that we've put aside:

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #35 on: September 01, 2020, 01:58:10 pm »
On that last picture it looks like the stal could have come from the ceiling originally, where that black patch is now?
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

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Re: Hopeless hole - Portland
« Reply #36 on: September 01, 2020, 03:16:35 pm »
The black patch is chert in the ceiling - there's loads throughout the whole cave.  I've caused a bit of confusion by not explaining the 4th photo better.  Those bits of stal came from several metres further into the cave.  The fourth photo was taken where we were sorting spoil and those bits were picked out and placed on a convenient ledge as we thought we'd retain a few.  They would have come from somewhere below the ceiling shown in the 2nd photo.  There's also loads of it.  Every other piece of rock is at least partly flow stone so it's certainly not from the odd bit which has fallen off the current ceiling.  One theory I have is that the current ceiling was not the original ceiling.

 

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