As the title says really...
We met at 10am Saturday behind the Prison at The Grove. As Myself, Sas, Nick and Gaynam were arriving, Richard popped out from behind the wall wielding a pair of loppers he'd been pruning bushes with having arrived early. Gaynam then graced us with a tune on his trumpet and off we set...
First task was to determine if there was an audible connection between the rift in Allotment Dig and Coffin Hole. Richard, Sas and Nick headed to Coffin whilst myself and Gaynam climbed down the rift in Allotment Dig. Nothing could be heard despite much noise being created by both parties. The rift in Allotment dig is well gummed up with mud and having now looked more closely I suspect it's still several metres above anything in Coffin Hole and quite likely not aligned horizontally either. Nothing easy to be gained here we think.
Next we headed through allotment dig and out into Guano Rift. Like many before me, I believe the continuation of the Allotment Dig phreatic tunnel is hidden somewhere in the roof of the rift system waiting to be found. Naturally I decided to climb up to ceiling level at the junction for a poke around. As other have previously reported no evidence of the tunnel to be seen. A quick glance back to others still coming down the rift and it's clear the tunnel (if it does exist) must be above ceiling height in this area. I then notice what looked like a void above some loose rocks in the top of the rift. Clearly the best thing to do was spend the next 30 mins pulling out bits of ceiling and throwing them at the others 5m below in Guano Rift. It quickly became evident this was not the elusive phreatic tunnel, however we did enter a new bit of rift. Unfortunately it's only 5m long and looks to be well choked up, but does make an entirely pointless attic within the cave to visit should anyone wish. In hindsight it's probably worth another poke around in this area sometime as we only really bothered to look at the end of the new bit of rift for further leads.
Gaynam climbing up into the new bit:
Nick's photo's of Gaynam entering the new rift:
Having managed to get myself, Richard, Gaynam and Nick all into the new rift simultaneously (Sas declined to play cave sardines as she couldn't be arsed to climb up to it) we descended to floor level and headed into Letter box rift. This is one of the least visited bits of Flagpole - Richard, who'd led hundreds of trips through the cave declared he'd never been to the end of it! The end is wide but choked so probably worth poking to see what moves on a future trip.
We then headed back through into Guano rift and exited after Myself, Richard and Nick popped up to the high window on the left to discuss reinstating the bolts which have long since rusted away for SRT practice.
Back to the car for lunch - Sas decided an afternoon at my Mother's in front the fire & TV was a better option than my afternoon plans. The other 4 of us headed back down the path to Grove Cliff Fissure. Richard decided to stay outside (having been in with me previously) and do some more gardening whilst myself, Nick and Gaynam climbed up into the cave. We had a good poke around and found some rather loose places to be nervous of. Half the cave is accessed the other side of a squeeze, but assuming you can get through there's a good hour of your life to loose in here.
Onto Sunday. Just myself and Nick from Saturday, joined by Sam. The treat for the day was to complete the recently opened Steve's / Hopeless through trip in reverse by entering Steve's. Two goals - first to get some photo's and secondly to get a description of where to find the connection this way around for the Portland Caves website (let's just say it's not obvious this way around). Sam preferred the roped option so we rigged the two pitches rather than free climbing. It also became apparent that some bolts might be a good idea where you climb up to meet the rift down into Hopeless Hole, as although free climbable it is very exposed. It could also make a nice split SRT pitch. Perhaps another job for the ever growing list. Once out into Hopeless a couple of hours later we spend an hour working on our
end of the phreatic tunnel dig before heading to the Blue Vinny in Puddletown on the way home for a quick pint. A great weekend.
Hopefully more on Wednesday as Myself and Richard are returning for some midweek shenanigans