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Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
Remember I mentioned the draught.  Sometimes it was stonking out and other times nothing at all.  Well, on the first breakthrough into Autumn Chamber several of the team mentioned that a good draught came out of holes on the left hand side, ie, the opposite side to the rift down to the stream.  Clearly we were distracted by the later but also, on the occasion I looked at them, they were pretty draughtless.  The holes then got buried by spoil whilst uncovering the stream rift.  However, these holes were the last hope.

They were uncovered and the draught was encouraging ? a proper blower on that day.  Digging wasn?t easy, solid rock with sticky mud and boulders in front.  Digging down uncovered a thin bedding but the bedding rock above must have been in tension or something as each set of caps only brought off small fractious chunks.  It was going to take a while to dig we reckoned.

Bones at the start of the bedding dig
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Little progress after a few hard trips
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Not that we minded that but there was a problem.  We had six to eight people turning up keen to dig but there was not enough for most to do.  Before, everyone was helping to haul up to the surface but now one person capping and one throwing the spoil down the stream inlet passage was all that was needed all trip.  After a couple of sessions with half of the team wandering aimlessly about the fell Mick came up with an idea.  While we had a big team, let?s go back to Five Ways where the dig there could easily use up six or eight people ? and that dig looked equally good.  We?d return to Fing Hopeless when we only had three or four turn up, plus it would be a good change of scenery. 

So off we embarked for a series of trips up the much longer route to Five Ways Pot on Ingleborough.  There is a separate thread on that dig and it is still active so please leave the digging there to us.  Anyhow, at that time, as luck would have it, Dave and his mate were looking for a new Tuesday night dig and offered to plug away at the bedding in our absence.  Now it took a few weeks before he got around to a trip ? and he brought along three mates instead of one!  Well, they had a good night as it turned out because in a single shift they managed to enlarge the bedding to a point where the view and the echo became intoxicating.  Pushing on late into the night, eventually one of them got through to the head of a fairly significant pitch ? not too deep but wide, well developed and encouraging in every way.

The next day the rest of us had arranged to meet for Five Ways again but a message from Dave soon had everyone quickly making plans to change venue and me racing home to pick up a ladder and line (Five Ways didn?t require SRT kits and so not everyone had theirs with them).

I got down to the bedding first and managed to shoot through fairly easily.  The bedding emerged on a broad ledge with some calcited blocks on the edge and a pitch of around 8m dropping down into what looked like a well-developed passage.  The size of the hole was a good 2x4m across but the ledge extended further all around.  The roof was fairly flat but a slight arch drifted off to the right into what might have been a continuation across the pit.  On that side a bank of sandy sediment sat on the ledge and a grovel over it revealed a low bedding of some sort which would need further investigation.  However, the pitch was beckoning.

Our digging team comes in all shapes, sizes and stiffness of bone so we have an unwritten rule to make digs ?wheelchair friendly?, open for everyone, if you know what I mean.  This meant the bedding needed enlarging.  It was pretty filthy muddy in places but that made it easier to dig from the far side and I set about that.  Dave, Mick and co set about capping the solid bits from the far side.  After about an hour?s work it was declared big enough for all and gear was passed through to rig the pitch.


Descending the pitch
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Looking back up towards the pitch
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The chamber or junction or whatever it is, but something significant anyway
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The pitch was a full ladder hang down a calcited wall.  On the far side a couple of inlets brought in a tiddle of water which kept the boulders at the bottom clean.  A gully continued down a steep slope of boulders to a junction or chamber if you like.  Anyway it was big, definitely big and perhaps quite a major piece of development.  There was a roof passage, an inlet passage, a crashing stream but the most exciting thing was the rounded scalloped wall at the bottom where the steep slope of boulders came to a halt and from where, between dark spaces a cool wind blew. 

This is the way on
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This short but significant breakthrough needs more of a description and I?ll tackle that in the next instalment.

What is also worth mentioning at this stage was how well the three behaved who made the lucky breakthrough with Dave.  They obviously recognised the effort and expense we had put it to the dig and stood well back whilst we had our fun.  They have since been and looked around and helped out with a number of tasks.  Not mentioning anyone?s name but not everyone was so restrained, eh  ;)

Photo credits to Franklin and one from Nick.
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
Just to capitalise on this first breakthrough I've found a few more shots which give an idea of the potential.

First here is a shot of Pegagsus in the breakthrough dig - it's pretty muddy
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...and another photo of the pitch.  Tim's pitch it might get called  ;)
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The main cave comes in from the entrance choke at what might be described as a chamber.  Up in the roof is the hint of something prominent.
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A streamway also enters the chamber.  It may come from the sumped route but is not yet fully explored.  Progress can only be made along the roof tube.
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The other end of that roof tube led into a passage up a difficult climb.  It started flat out but soon became more keyhole shaped.  It went for about 70m to a climb down and choke where another run in entered from above.  The photo is me fixing a ladder at the top of the climb but no one has been along it with a camera as yet.  Plus we now have a better idea how it ties in...shhhh

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More in a minute...
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
There was clearly one very exciting dig. At the bottom of the boulder slope all the rocks came to a halt against the curved passage wall. Behind the inlet stream crashed down a narrow drop from above and sunk amongst the same boulders. Between the blocks the draught blew upwards into our faces.... and there were glimpses of blackness below. More shoring would be needed to support the slope so a new batch of scaffold and pole was brought down and work commenced.

A reminder of the dig site
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So to work with the planks
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Until eventually enough scaffold is in and it is looking good..

 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
Apologies.  I'd hoped to do a another installment by now but I am away from home and finding it difficult to get it together.  8)
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
Our last video showed Bones at the short scaffolded dig looking through into black space. He handed over to me for a look and I reckoned I could just squeeze through ? go for it they said. From the other side it was easy to make bigger and having my phone on me I was able to film Mick coming through.

Ignore the commentary where I say, ?here we are in Five Ways?, duh! That is where I?d been a few days before. It?s funny what breakthrough fever can do.



Not surprising there had been a big turnout but a few had already headed out. The remaining gang all headed through to see what glory awaited us. A boulder slope dropped steeply down to a sizable rift. This appeared to be split into a high and lower level but both on the same prominent joint feature. Straight on, the higher rift was a good 10m high and led to a junction where an inlet dropped in from above.


The main rift continued up a steep mud slope to roof level where a short crawl soon picked up inlet water and dropped back down to a hole in the floor and a pitch. Traversing across led into a chamber with other ways on which was left for the next trip.


Back at the boulder slope the lower level had been looked at too. The stream was audible crashing around below but it was mostly too tight to get down. It was possible to traverse at the top for a way until this too pinched out. Dave suggested I might find a tight route down as there were glimpses of a floor 10m below. I engineered an awkward zig zagging route down the slippery muddy rift which got easier as the bottom approached. It was a real streamway in a tall rift and I headed downstream. All too quickly I came to an enlarged area on ninety-degree bend with smaller rifts joining from the opposite side. More of these later. Downstream the large blocks had detached themselves from the wall preventing any body sized progress but there were potential ways on at stream level, mid-level and a roof tube. Most importantly they all draughted and although there were other leads this was looking like the major way on.

Start of the lower rift which leads to streamway

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On the next couple of trips we drop the pitch and check out the traverse over the top of it.. and revisit the streamway of course
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
Over the next couple of trips the various leads were looked at with some excitement.  Si and Di visited to survey the cave to date.  From the elevation we could see that much of the cave was on different levels of the same joint structure, a joint swarm I think it is called.  It suggested that all the various drops were likely to lead into the streamway and that would be the main lead.  However, the zig zagging route down to stream level was not for everyone.  It was very tight, awkward and really slippery especially on the return.  We?d try the other routes first to see if an easier route could be found.

The pitch we saw Mick throwing rocks down was dropped by Frank (Frank?s pitch).  It went down two 7m drops separated by a boulder ledge.  At the bottom a too narrow rift continued and it was possible to see into something much bigger.  I was suspicious where this would be, so accompanied by Bones, we both headed to the stream end chamber whilst Geoff returned the bottom of Frank?s pitch.  Sure enough, in the small rifts coming in on the opposite side, we were able to make a visual connection and chat to each other.  It didn?t look like it would take much capping to get through and then would probably be the easiest route to then attack the downstream.  That would be the next major objective but in the meantime other routes were being explored.

Frank descending 'his' pitch

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An easy traverse led over Frank?s pitch and dropped down into a chamber.  The floor was choked, as were other routes that entered from above, however, there was a narrow rift in the far wall.  Rocks thrown into this rift could be heard falling down a pitch just ahead.  The rift was soon widened, but as the floor dropped away just in front of it, this had to be done by hanging by a bolt!  Once through, there was a three-man ledge over an undercut pitch of 8m.  Duncan descended first (Duncan?s Pitch) and many of us followed but unfortunately it was choked at the bottom.  Holes down against the wall draughted and it was a promising dig but we suspected it was likely to be going to the same place as the stream so would try that option first.

The chamber with Duncan attempting to get into the rift on the far side.  The rest of us wait expectantly

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A final lead was the inlet which crashed down in a side rift half way between the breakthrough choke and Frank?s Pitch.  Duncan and Dave climbed this to about 100m of small but fine passage, splitting and eventually getting too small.

Next time we?ll finally get to attack the downstream lead?..
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
Here is a short film clip of what I refer to as Stream End Chamber. I originally entered it from the upstream rift in the roof but it was a tight awkward zig zag to get down to stream level. We capped out a small rift at the bottom of Frank's Pitch to arrive at the same place. In the clip Mick is at the rift where we have entered. He is chiseling off the loose bits. The cameras swings around first looking into the upstream route and then the way on downstream. We chose to cap a route above the blocks you see. It took only an hour to get through. More later....

 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
It took only an hours capping to get through the downstream blockage.  A few boulders had to go and a dodgy righthand wall widened.  We had to leave in place a barely calcited boulder hanging above for fear that disturbing it would just result in an avalanche.  This meant it was a little awkward to thrutch through, first into a circular pot and then manoeuvre out on a muddy ledge ducking under a low protrusion.  A climb down slabs followed into what I later described as a ?Streamway of Merit? and the name has stuck.  It was a narrow but well developed rift with oxbows, ledges and some sharp flakes.  Some walking, some sideways shuffling and some crawling at stream level.  A few white formations appeared before the whole thing lowered to a crawl just where an inlet entered.  This was later followed for 50m and lined up nicely with the dig at the bottom of Duncan?s Pitch.  It seemed pointless to attempt a connection between the two.  The crawl downstream went past a fine array of white straws before a short pitch was reached.  It was narrow at the top but at the bottom other waters could be seen entering.  We had no gear for it so it was left until the next trip.  Si and Di completed the survey which amounted to nearly half a K so far. 

Beyond the 'stream end chamber' and into the 'streamway of merit'
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The draught, the size of the stream and general development suggested something significant but there was no sign it was heading to its known neighbours.  In fact, it was a mystery and difficult to work out where a cave like this fitted in to the area ? and we still aren?t much wiser as I write.

https://youtu.be/dr8fHGxxoCI

https://youtu.be/faD7LspJs7k


Next trip it?s Geoff?s turn to drop the pitch first.
 

Rob

Well-known member
Great stuff, very exciting. I'm guessing that crawl isn't even yet the Speechless video on the first post yet?  :clap:

Looking forward to seeing a survey to help piece it all together, although i guess that may come in the grand finale post, so as not to give too much away too early?
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
Hope I'm not dragging it out too much.  Genuinely posting as and when I've time and got some photos or vids uploaded.  Next ones a big one  ;)
 

zzzzzzed

Member
Badlad said:
Hope I'm not dragging it out too much.  Genuinely posting as and when I've time and got some photos or vids uploaded.  Next ones a big one  ;)
That's fine - as long as you don't make us wait for season 2 next year before we get to the bottom of the cave  :dig:
 
Rob said:
Great stuff, very exciting. I'm guessing that crawl isn't even yet the Speechless video on the first post yet?  :clap:

Looking forward to seeing a survey to help piece it all together, although i guess that may come in the grand finale post, so as not to give too much away too early?

Rob just for you I will output Si & Di's survey to fit with Tims decription so far. Do it tonight as I have to do some work on it anyway.
 

Rob

Well-known member
Badlad said:
Hope I'm not dragging it out too much....
I guess you're dragging it out less than those people who blog each trip as it happens (and so normally takes years to get the full story)!

Also this way we believe (hope) there's a good ending to the tale so it'll be worthwhile following, again different to many dig blogs!


Swallowneck said:
Rob just for you I will output Si & Di's survey to fit with Tims decription so far. Do it tonight as I have to do some work on it anyway.
Thanks, although i hope it's shared here openly, and not "just for me"!  (y)
 
Thanks, although i hope it's shared here openly, and not "just for me"!  (y)

Rob, as you are the only one who's asked, I really have done it for you!!

Still very much work in progress but all the data will be in the archive before too long for everyone to poke at. No secrets here.

Nick
 

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Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
Badlad said:
Hope I'm not dragging it out too much.  Genuinely posting as and when I've time and got some photos or vids uploaded.  Next ones a big one  ;)

I was going to add that this version of story telling actually reflects the exploration.  Not only did we have a protracted initial dig but then a succession of breakthroughs and delays on finding the route, dropping pitches etc.  I can tell you we are still down there twice a week so the story is not over yet.  I'll get on with the next installment later  :)
 

Rob

Well-known member
Great stuff, and thanks for the survey Nick. All makes much more sense now!  (y)
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
I?ve got quite a few video clips of the breakthrough down the pitch and what that led to. I?ll post some of them as I think even though they are a little crappy, my commentary especially, they give a good live flavour of the cave. I?ll post a selection of Frank?s photos on a different post at a later date.

So, the first video clip is of Geoff descending the little pitch. We?d had to cap out the top to get down it. Geoff comments about stepping off the ladder on the moon landing in 1968. He didn?t of course but he did step off the ladder at the bottom of Long Kin West at the same time. Clearly he is still going strong.


At the bottom the stream flows off down a partially choked bedding which needed a little digging out. Two inlets enter on the opposite side, both small, and only go about 30m each. We don?t know where the water comes from.


This is a video I took just this week as we hadn?t really got anything of the crawl that followed. Mick originally explored this first but it ended in a choke. He dug a bit out and handed over to me and I was able to push a few boulders forward and squeeze through. I had to go vertically up over a boulder but together we dug out a more direct route although it is still a thrutch today.


I shot off into a fabulous passage followed by Mick, Geoff and Duncan. After a while I decided to turn round and head back to Geoff?s Pitch to get my camera to record some of the passage. Nick and Frank caught up with me and this is a clip of Nick thrutching through that last little dig with a view of what lies ahead.


A little further on we come to a junction with a group of formation now known as the Apostles. I?m asking Nick to look up mainly so that he doesn?t shine the light straight into the camera although the straws in the roof are fabulous. Then, there is a slightly better clip of the same place.


https://youtu.be/ke5rQ2bMgI8

The passage continues.......
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
ChrisJC said:
I reckon the Milwr Tunnel used less explosives than you lot.

Chris.

A few caps used here and there.  Nothing much.  Mostly trad digging in boulders.
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
Hers's a few of Franklin's still shots of the section up to the Apostles.  Featuring the lovely Di.

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We'll be down at Speechless soon....
 
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