Author Topic: Odin Mine Re-opening  (Read 1579 times)

Offline DCA

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Odin Mine Re-opening
« on: May 03, 2021, 08:22:20 pm »
In February 2011, a visit to Odin Mine discovered a serious collapse in the entrance level at the base of the first 'up' pitch, leaving a large and very deep hole where the floor used to be. The spoil had fallen through to the next level, part-blocking the route into the stone-stempled passage leading to the Cartgate chamber. As the site is owned by the National Trust and is on CROW land, this triggered alarm in their legal department, and cavers were asked to keep out whilst the situation was reviewed. As this section of the mine is predominately roofed by shale, with floors of (now-proven) dubious stability, safety had understandably become a serious issue. Several inspection visits were arranged, which took a few years, as the collapse took a long time to settle and visits with many people take a long time to arrange. Several more years elapsed with not much happening, mainly due to bureaucracy and the obvious reservations about how to deal with a potentially dangerous site on public-access land. Eventually, after much begging, the DCA was given permission to make a 'caver-specific' inspection in 2019, with a qualified mine inspector with experience of abandoned mines, with a view to establishing the stability (or otherwise) of the remaining areas of the ‘trade route’ to the terminal Cartgate chamber, and producing solutions to resolve the new hazards.

These solutions were subsequently accepted, and then applications to do the work had to be made to Natural England, as the site is within the Castleton SSSI, and also to Historic England, as the site is a Scheduled Monument and we needed to modify it. Whilst formalities, these took yet more time, and so it wasn't until January 2020 that DCA were able to begin a bolting programme to overcome the collapse and bring the rest of the fixtures up-to-date. DCA anchor policy states that all significant vertical pitches should be double-rigged with two anchors, but virtually all vertical pitches on the trade route were single DMM P-anchors of uncertain age, so these had to be pull-tested (all passed) and have been doubled-up where necessary, and additional backup anchors installed where the existing anchors were insufficient, or non-existent.

The floor-collapse was in an area of particularly complex (and fragile) geology, and conventional anchor systems proved ineffective in certain patches due to a thick layer of orange fluorspar with the appearance, strength, and consistency of barley-sugar. So, we had a set of special 600mm stainless throughbolts manufactured by Bolt Products to reach the limestone behind. Resin P-anchors were used in all areas where clean limestone was accessible (photos of the collapse-hole traverse bolting below). A few sessions were completed before Covid-19 struck, and the series of endless lockdowns and releases commenced. Owing to the complexity of the problems, the need to pull-test all anchors, old and new, and the constant interruptions due to Covid restrictions, we have only just completed the work in April 2021, but the site is now 'good to go'.

As gating and booking access to the site are both impractical, the site will be 'open access', but the National Trust have requested that we advise that ALL visitors MUST have BCA public liability insurance. As the site does contain higher risks than many mines, it is imperative that visitors approach the site with care and attention, particularly as rescues would be extremely complex and time-consuming, and with greater risks to the rescuers. Many changes have taken place since the site's closure, the most significant of which are listed below, and should be noted carefully as they significantly affect access. Also, many cavers have never visited the site before due to the ten years-long closure.

•   The NT removed the collapsed tree-trunk from the gorge-climb two years ago, meaning it is now almost impossible to climb up to the entrance this way - the rock is extremely slippery, and there is a high chance of a serious accident due to the height of the boulders and steep slope - do not attempt this route.

•   Recent collapses of rock from high above the lower gorge mean that this area is currently fenced-off by the NT and is still dangerous. Some hanging rock has recently been brought down for safety, but more will fall, so please keep out of the lower gorge at all times.

•   Access to the mine entrance should be made up the right-hand (north) slope to the shale boundary, and then either follow the tiny shale path branching to the left around the rim of the gorge (care) or go higher to the large tree that overlooks the entrance area. The safest way to access the entrance boulder-platform is via a pull-through rigged around the large tree (30m rope required). This also means no ropes are left visible for thieves. A single old P-anchor is available at floor-level on the limestone contact but rigging and rope-access for this has to be done from above and is thus very risky.

•   Once on the boulder platform, note two further new P-anchors on the north wall to rig a pull-through with the same 30m rope safely down the gorge upon exit. The single P-anchor above is too high to reach, so if you did use this method to access, climb back up the rope to de-rig (care!).

•   The entrance to the mine is a 4m sloping pitch in a tight slot down a tree-trunk, via the lower section of the right-hand vein cavity only - the left vein is unbolted and very loose. New anchors have been provided with backups. Inside the mine, tie off the rope at a P-anchor on the right-hand wall.

•   The floor collapse is 50m along the entrance level, and bolts for a safety traverse are on the right-hand wall – there are double anchors at each end, and the floor hole is large enough that nine connectors will be required to safely rig the rope across the hole. There are two protruding bolt-ends on anchors that still need to be cut off, so please be careful here.

•   The collapse hole is through very loose shale backfill and is NOT a pitch. Do not attempt to abseil down this hole under any circumstances – you could kill yourself or others and close the mine for ever.

•   The former ‘handline climb’ which follows the traverse, is a slippery climb up a shale-covered sloping false floor, and the top half is an awkward vertical thrutch through a tight slot with crumbly walls. Due to the collapse hole and the difficulty of rigging from below, this route is now SRT-only, and has been pre-rigged by DCA on brand-new rope, tied direct into the anchors. Please inspect this rope before use, and do not use if you spot damage. Please report any damage to DCA immediately. A via ferrata step has also been placed to aid bolting and may be useful to aid climbing, but this can be removed if it proves more problematic than helpful.

•   The debris from the collapse part-blocks the entrance to the stone-stempled passage, and care should be taken when entering or leaving. It would be helpful if visitors could dig this out more to reduce the risk of touching the first stemple.

•   The lowest pitch down from the Bell Chamber off the Cartgate is one for the geologists, and whilst a great example of vein working, it should be treated with great caution, although it is fitted with DMM P-anchors. The entrance is through a gap between enormous slabs of collapsed vein, many more of which are hanging overhead and are the base of the boulder choke in the Cartgate, so do not touch anything other than the anchors, which have no backup due to the lack of suitable space. There is no way on at the base of the pitch, and it’s totally blocked with deads in both directions.

The rest of the route is more or less as described in COPD and in the provided Micro Guide, with all anchors backed-up. Please consult the rigging topo carefully before setting off, as not enough rope, or the wrong lengths, could result in significant problems. The anchor route is designed for SRT, but ladders may be safely used on all the internal pitches after the fixed rigging.

An important point for new visitors to note about Odin is the shale – the top (entrance/exit) section is entirely roofed with shale with a false floor of uncertain depth, and small collapses (and large ones!) can and do happen all the time – please be aware of the need to be extra-careful, and leave immediately if anything significant falls from the roof. It is also extremely slippery, and hand and footholds that work on limestone may not work on shale, so again, please factor this in before attempting free moves over drops. It is more tiring to traverse over than limestone and will sap energy, particularly on the exit with steep awkward slopes to negotiate. Please be aware of your energy reserves and try to keep groups to small numbers to avoid congestion in small or tight spaces.

Finally, and most obviously, it is extremely dirty. All trips to Odin will involve trudging through or being coated by thick, black mud, and the entrance (or exit!) are the worst parts, due to the shale and the endless dead leaves that coat the floor. You will get very dirty, and it is much more difficult to wash off than sediment and will take much longer. So again, factor this into your trip estimation.

As Odin Mine is in a very public area and CROW land, it is quite likely that you may encounter members of the public on visits, and it is imperative that they are left with a good impression of cavers – but also imperative that they are treated with respect and are not put in any danger by us.

Also remember that the National Trust are taking something of a gamble with the site and are to some extent relying on DCA to encourage proper access – though we obviously can’t police it for them. So please use the site wisely and safely – it’s an important historic and geological resource and extremely interesting and quite challenging to visit but does have significant risks attached and we can’t afford any scandals at this stage. But we hope you enjoy your trip.

Further information is provided on the Cave Registry site, with rigging topos, original survey and a Micro Guide, along with references for further reading. The COPD description for this entry has also been unlocked to provide maximum information:

https://peakdistrictcaving.info/home/the-caves/castleton/odin-mine
Derbyshire Caving Association

Offline Pete K

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2021, 08:50:26 pm »
MODS - Can you unpin the locked sticky from March 2011 now please!

Offline rhychydwr1

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2021, 08:52:40 pm »
Just had a look at the survey.  Looks quite complicated.

Offline pwhole

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2021, 10:09:28 pm »
The 'trade route' isn't that complicated - much of the lower workings haven't been visited in decades, though a few bits have been seen more recently, and were no worse than above, at least. But it's all just rusty spits at present so a re-appraisal will be done at some point of the parts that are enterable. But we don't want to upset the NT either, so gently does it for starters. There's also quite a bit of the higher workings not on the survey, which may or may not have been open in 1975 when it was done - solid info on Odin is hard to find. Peter Lord is too, but we heard that he may have died recently. Ironically re-surveying it all was the project we were starting 10 years ago when we found the collapse.

Offline alastairgott

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2021, 10:23:43 pm »
amazing place can't wait :) :bounce:

Offline Mrs Trellis

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2021, 10:05:52 am »
That's great work. However interesting and extensive this ancient mine was I always found it rather depressing.
Mrs Trellis
Upper Sheeps Bottom
North Wales

Offline Badlad

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2021, 11:36:50 am »
MODS - Can you unpin the locked sticky from March 2011 now please!

Done.

I would be interested in knowing what liabilities the National Trust were concerned about that they thought having BCA insurance would cover.  Is it possible that whoever dealt with the NT could they contact me privately.  Cheers

Offline Mark Wright

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2021, 11:59:50 am »
I was wondering the same as Badlad about the Insurance.

Mark

Offline Fishes

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2021, 12:48:04 pm »
Great work.

Thanks for the efforts of all involved.

Its a really interesting place that seems much more complicated than the survey suggests.

Offline Goydenman

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2021, 12:55:33 pm »
Amazing work by the DCA...well done folk THANKS

Offline Pipster

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2021, 07:20:41 pm »
Great news!
::PIPSTER::

Offline Brains

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2021, 11:24:26 am »
Good effort on this, been hoping to get back in for many years ;D

Offline adep

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2021, 06:32:41 pm »
Just done this today, first time down in about 20 years, we found no problem climbing up from the bottom of the gorge to the entrance, it was pouring down today so very wet, but still no real obstacle, but certainly safer to abseil  in.
The bottom pitch off the cartgate after the first bell chamber seems to be blocked, it looked very un appealing and i couldnt see any sign of anchors so may have run in?

Offline alastairgott

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2021, 07:04:45 pm »
It’s a bit of a squeeze through the blocks, but was definitely passable in
December.

Offline Pete K

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2021, 07:04:56 pm »
Access to the pitch needs a flat out thrutch through a hole in the boulders. This squeeze places you face down looking directly down the pitch (!) with the anchors just above you. It's a bit of a horror show TBH.
The gorge is doable, but slippery and abseiling in is the traditional way so it stayed on the rigging guide and description.
Hopefully no more polyprop handlines hanging down the gorge or first pitch?

Offline pwhole

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #15 on: May 09, 2021, 12:40:02 am »
Although there's nothing useful at the bottom of that pitch, you can get off the rope halfway down onto a lovely ledge cut out of the main vein - and then you find another small vein, behind that one, and a small passage going westwards, but only for a few metres and then a forefield. I did get quite excited about that for a few seconds. But yes, looking up at the top of the pitch is not recommended for those of a nervous disposition, as it's essentially the bottom of the giant choke you climb up to get to the first crosscut at the end of the cartgate.

Offline Pete K

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2021, 08:42:32 am »
Special request if anyone takes a trip in there in the near future.
On Chippendale Rift is an old polyprop woven style rope. I totally forgot to cut it out and take it away on our last bolting trip. DCA would really appreciate it if it could be removed. It is currently on 2 anchors leading to the mini-pitch, but is not a safe traverse safety line.

Offline caving_fox

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #17 on: May 11, 2021, 03:57:44 pm »
Thanks everyone involved!

I've been there once, many years ago and have been thinking about a re-visit occasional since I heard of the collapse. About all I can remember is the very black mud!
If the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.

Offline pwhole

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2021, 06:29:32 pm »
There's a few relatively recent snaps on the main PDCI entry (bottom of the page) to refresh your memory - apart from the 2011 collapse the rest is fundamentally unchanged - especially the very black mud :)

https://peakdistrictcaving.info/home/the-caves/castleton/odin-mine

Offline Pete K

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2021, 06:45:50 pm »
I have added vast quantities of the black mud to my back garden during gear cleaning after the dozen or so trips we did. Unfortunately as Phil says, there is still a lot left down there!

Offline AR

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2021, 10:14:16 pm »
Top tip - when you come out, take the path past the crushing circle to the stream, there's a small waterfall that's great for washing the worst off!
Dirty old mines need love too....

Offline Pete K

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Re: Odin Mine Re-opening
« Reply #21 on: May 14, 2021, 04:17:08 pm »
Black mud still there and still like glue. Just back from a trip to cut out the last of the heavily corroded 'temporary' screw anchors on the new traverse. Nothing left now but the new shiny stainless steel anchors DCA installed.
I didn't get to the handline on Chippendale as I had another cave job to do elsewhere, so if someone could cut that out and bin it when they go past we'd be grateful.

 

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