Author Topic: Miss Grace's Lane - 7th November 2013  (Read 1853 times)

Offline dave_the_cave

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Miss Grace's Lane - 7th November 2013
« on: November 10, 2013, 04:44:40 pm »
who: Dave G, Jennie L, Lucy V, Paul W
Where: Miss Grace's Lane - Six way junction
when: Thursday 7th November 2013
Link to photo album

The puzzle of the way on from Six ways junction

This was a thursday caving trip - Paul has continually complained about trips only being organised on a wednesday.
So I made a special effort as Lucy has just come back from her 2 year world tour. A thursday trip in a cave on Paul and Lucy's door step. This also was good for Jennie who also lives in the forest. Paul was anxious to get to the end of Miss Graces Lane so I proposed an early start. The early start (and perhaps Miss Graces Lane) caused a mutiny and there was a hastily arranged trip down Hunter's Inn Sink instead (actually on a thursday but at a later time). In the event I was 30 minutes late!!
So I should have arranged a later start, but four is a good number for this trip because of all the rigging needed just to pass the entrance series. This needs practice and good understanding for an evening trip - which we had failed to demonstrate on previous trips.

On a previous trip we had got as far as six way junction, but had rigged a ladder just after the shattered drop, which we later realised was not needed as there was a bypass route!?! We were caked with mud and I had refused the 5metre climb, but we
were still unsure of whether the climb was the way on. We thought we would take a look, but we should have read the
cave description.

I has also just bought an impressively powerful torch that I was keen to try out with my new camera. Here is the link - 3800 lumens you would have thought it would have made photography easy - but it seems it is just the beginning of another learning curve. Also despite its solid external aluminium case - after this trip it was rattling and on the following trip was showing poor connections!! Not cave proof.

Against expectations the first pitch went smoothly, I life-lined Paul, Lucy and Jennie down the 90 foot entrance pitch before descending in my SRT kit.

However it seemed at first that normal service would be resumed, as we tried to agree a plan for the second pitch. Lucy despite 2 years away from caving could vividly remember the route on: the split ladder climb, the bold step and crawl along
a phreatic tube and a little climb up into breakthrough chamber. The top and bottom of the second pitch barely have a voice connection making coordination difficult, but we did not agree
a plan before starting. We should have position someone as a relay between the top and bottom. But .. somehow we muddled through. Everyone was lifelined but no one stayed at the bold step to direct people over it. It is a fixed ladder and the bold step is only bold for someone who meets it for the first time. I descended last on an italian hitch rather than my descender with the intention to really climb the ladder.

After a struggle in the enclosed space I removed my SRT harness

Lucy in the impressively tall Breakthrough Chamber

Paul emerges from the climb up from breakthrough chamber into Dome Chamber

The ceiling of Dome chamber

Jennie on the route to Nurden Hall

Passage detail in the walk to Nurden Hall

Jennie asks if this is the coffin? Nope not quite yet.

First the final climb up into Nurden Hall

In Nurden Hall Paul studies the route

Jennie finds some Hieroglyphics

Paul and Jennie emerge into the chamber just before the bypass crawl to canyon halls

Lucy in the bypass crawl

Lucy crawling

The end of the bypass crawl

Me and my light sabre in the enormous Canyons Hall.

Lucy bridges over the shattered drop

Jennie in the climb down the shattered drop

Jennie in the crawl to six ways Junction

The crawl led to a climb down to a ledge and then another a little traverse into six ways junction again.
So far so good but what was the way on. I remembered the climb from before. It did not look so bad.
Also Lucy knows how to motivate me, as she suggested that the climbers (Paul and herself) should go first.
I slithered, grunted and groped the overhanging boulder at its start and passed it to find the rest of the climb
of was easy - if unstable (clay and boulders washed by water). My climbing demonstration had clearly not
inspired Jennie and she decided to wait in six ways junction. Lucy followed up next with Paul staying with Jennie
until we declared there was a way on. Well we found a way on but it was tight for me and I wanted to be sure
it was the way on. So we sent Lucy through and called up Paul to follow her. Lucy passed it easily, but somehow the
survey I wanted checking was left with me when Paul raced past me. So when they returned after a brief foray
along the narrow canyon to enter another chamber. Their description did not match the survey but was that Paul or
was this not the way on. Jennie was below waiting patiently so we decided to return and examine some of the other
passages on from six way junction.

While we had been exploring the passage beyond the climb - Jennie had her usual poke around and had discovered some delightful mud formations - here is  Jennie's Garden in six ways junction

Jennie has also taken a look at the Satanic traverses and directed us to take a look at its devilish blackness. Lucy led the way with me following. It was an evil traverse - a long way down, mud marks on rock nobbles rather than a ledge! Also it got wider
and less well blessed with holds until becoming a proper ledge. Not for me.

Here is Lucy looking on at the Satanic traverses

The mud showing how other braver cavers have bridged the satanic traverses - we will continue to look for the bypass

After this I realised we needed to return as it was getting late, but we had a quick look at one of the passages off six ways junction on the right leading to a choke.

Paul's Dinosaur scales in Six ways junction (Jennie counted seven ways).

After examining the choke we re-traced our steps back to the shattered drop, up into canyon halls, along the
bypass crawl.

On our return relaxing in the chamber after crawling back along the bypass crawl

Jennie spots the reason for the tape off area. It is there to protect some unusual cave fungus.

After this we continued back to Nurden Hall, Dome chamber, breakthrough chamber to look upon the bold step, where after a struggle I regained my SRT harness. I self life lined using my two jammers, but after passing the bold step gave up
and just climbed the ladder. At the top I lifelined Jennie and Lucy up the second pitch. We did nothing to relay the voice connection but after a couple of false starts we got the lifelining working using a butterfly on the middle of the rope
so the people at the bottom of the pitch never lost the rope (luxury of a long rope). Jennie suffered as the one belayed on
the middle of the rope. She described the tiring experience of being pulled up the ladder (by me) and fighting a downward pull  from the weight of the rope.

The first pitch is 90 foot and I had a another extremely long rope (100 metre) so the same trick was planned using the middle rope. Jennie was sceptical. I self life-lined myself up the fixed ladder using my two jammers with Jennie giving a gentle downward tug to pull the rope through. I was the only one to take a rest 2/3 up the ladder. I re-rigged the lifeline and Jennie came up next. More easily than the second pitch and without my rest stop. Lucy came up next on the middle of the rope. She came up so quickly my arms were acheing and I had to have a rest from pulling the rope through!

Paul was keen to de-rig and head down the pub. But it was not to be as when we checked the time in my car it was 23:38!
Another un-ethical caving trip. Jennie came to the rescue as she had brought apple pie sufficient for us all. Not quite
as good as a beer but pretty good.

Good trip - We need to communicate better as a team and maintain lifeline discipline.


« Last Edit: December 11, 2013, 08:32:55 pm by dave_the_cave »

Offline Dingley Dell

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Re: Miss Grace's Lane - 7th November 2013
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2013, 10:58:25 pm »
Good stuff Dave.  I'm looking forward to seeing your 'Lightsaber'...I think this is how rumours start.  Putting some kind of difuser on the end (tracing paper!) might help if it's producing too bright a spot in the middle

Offline caving_fox

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Re: Miss Grace's Lane - 7th November 2013
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2013, 09:33:50 am »
Good trip - We need to communicate better as a team and maintain lifeline discipline

Whistles really help here - you need predetermined signals - SUD, 1 blast=stop. 2=Up, 3=down. or however you prefer to arrange it. But whistles carry really well and you don't need to hear clear voices.

There's no need for SRT kit if you have long ropes - double it (at top pulley is ideal but running through a krab will do)  and belay first climber from bottom.
If the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.

Offline bagpuss

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Re: Miss Grace's Lane - 7th November 2013
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2013, 09:26:02 pm »
Fixed ladders minus a lifeline make me very uneasy, welly boot/tired caver/clumsiness could easily cause a slip. When I'm caving I am well aware I have a child at home I'm responsible for and take precautions (as far as I can) to not get myself into a dangerous situation. It's not always possible to mitigate risk and I'm sure the merits of life lines/ladders have been discussed at great length on this forum but what is the impact of a slip/fall, a life altering injury, worst case a fatality, what about the people who have to leave their families and rescue the person? Realistically how much longer would it have taken for him to wait for a lifeline? Being a 'climber' doesn't necessarily give you any advantage over a 'caver' on a ladder aside from greater arm strength, anyone can slip off.

Not a pop at you Dave, but surely there should be some sort of club agreement about protection on climbs?