We've had a couple of trips down to the frontier since the last post and yesterday had a great turn-out with Badlad, Mick, Geoff, Duncan, JJ, Mick (Bones), Pete (O) and your correspondent. The pond, that was photographed with Bones in it while peering into a low calcite slot, has dried up. We dug through the calcite slot into the alcove with helictites that Badlad had managed to open on that trip. Mick dug beyond that into a partially filled roof passage - here things changed as the space in the roof had small stals, a calcite film on the walls and a pebble floor. We could see about 2 or 3 metres ahead. See the attached snap with my hand and torch for added for scale.
Yesterday, after shifting 77 bags of sand from the Guillotine Ledge on Geppetto Pitch, we set to tunnelling once more - with Mick, our Tunnelling Machine (not programmed to slow down or stop ) at the front with Duncan behind trying desperately in a tight space to 'unbury' Mick. He had to fill the bags and get them into the drag tray for the short journey to the haul bucket at the foot of the pitch. Another snap taken last Wednesday shows Badlad in the bag-filling spot and the approach tunnel.
Mick cleared the 'roof tunnel' - as you can see from Badlad's film footage taken at the close of play. Another alcove has appeared, the fine sand has become coarse sand and fine gravel with pebbles. The air is flowing - a faint draught was felt - the air remained good even when Mick was sealed in his sandy sarcophagus!
We all lost count of the bags though estimated about 70 on the half-way ledge. We'll have to shift that lot next to make room. We are, of course, hoping and anticipating on a breakthrough into a bigger space - the shifting of debris (easily dug though it is) is long, hard work. Strange though it may seem, none of us on the dig are getting any younger ( ) and the groans, moans and bad back winces increased with every bucket yesterday! Still, our lives would be meaningless if we didn't do it ... Geoff is writing our book - The Joy of Digging - and is currently up to Chapter 169 with plenty of saucy illustrations.
Alex, we would be happy for you to join the group and push the dig though we meet on Wednesday mornings and dig through the day (we have to get back to our secure accommodation in the evenings ) - are you free then?
There has been a bit of a gap in posts though no gap in the digging - however, after yesterday's visit there might be.
The initial 'roof space' was dug out up to the stal curtain (just visible in the last post's shot) - the first snap is of Dave R at that point. The passage now has a working title - Bronson Crawl (after the character in the film The Great Escape who was claustrophobic and feared premature burial). To get there from the initial Coughin' Level you have to squeeze through a calcite slot - it was suggested we call it The Gates of Eden - though given the name of our fellow digger, it was called The Gates of Yeadon - see the snap of Badlad on the other side of it.
After we reached the curtain, another similar stretch of roof passage ran on the same bearing. We dug this out - snap of Bones at the limit of that. Beyond was a tiny arch and hole - we dug that out to a right angled bend - snap of Dave R's legs fast disappearing. Dave engaged his 'corkscrew' tunnelling mode and spun round and removed sand at the same tie - remarkable. See snaps of Dave's legs and boots - imagine them spinning round at a grand old speed! Beyond as an extremely tight twist and wrestle into another roof pocket at the point where the passage turned another right angle to regain the same rough bearing. The way on was draughting - small hole but sandy continuation. We've now added about 30m of horizontal passage to the pot.
A team of Badlad, Bones, Dave, Lynn, Mick and your correspondent returned yesterday to find the lower cave flooded. The tide had gone out a little though foam on the roof showed it had recently filled up. We shifted all the bags we loaded up on the last trip up into the higher chamber.
We will go back on Sunday to see if the flood waters have retreated.