Author Topic: Agen Allwedd - 14th December 2013  (Read 1553 times)

Offline dave_the_cave

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Agen Allwedd - 14th December 2013
« on: December 23, 2013, 12:10:46 am »
who: Dave G, Rowan W, Tim T, Jonnie T, Ivan E, Steve B, Scott W
where: Agen Allwedd - Towards Turkey Junction
when: 14th December 2013
Link to photos

Christmas caving in Agen Allwedd

The christmas caving celebrations were in whitewalls this year. Ivan and myself arrived on the friday night
and sampled the delights of crickhowell - a rather excellent chippy and a few pubs. Everyone else arrived
saturday morning around 10:30 so we had a relaxed start. The plan was a time limited trip (6 hours) into Agen Allwedd in
the general direction of the turkey pool and beyond. Well we did not get there. I was the only one who had passed
the second boulder choke before, and we normally do much shorter trips in an evening. Tim had been to keyhole chamber
before and was keen to examine the alternative streamway route rather than the traverse in keyhole chamber.
Jonnie was pretty new to caving but had been underground in the old quarries and bunkers with us before. Scott and Steve
had explored Agen Allwedd themselves a few weeks previously. Rowan had visited Agen Allwedd on many occassions on our evening trips, but had not been into the second boulder choke before. Ivan is unstoppable but had not been to the second boulder choke before. So new ground for most of us.

The plan was for 6 hours but the call out was arranged for 8 hours. Scott left written instructions for Amy who was waiting for us in whitewalls. It was a christmas caving trip and the intention was for it to be inclusive and relaxed.

It was 11:30 by the time we entered the cave after the long walk over from whitewalls. We were out of the cave by 17:20 so
we kept to the plan despite me extending our time at the further reaches and we came out from our farthest point in 2 hours including two small breaks.

We reached the bat sign just after the first boulder choke in a leisurely 35 minutes.
The view from the bat sign looking out along main passage. As it was lunchtime we stopped for a 30 minute break, and Ivan managed to have two cups of tea.

We then made our way into main stream passage with Ivan, Steve and Scott leading the way down the streamway.
We quickly made the little oxbow and then reached the climb up into the second boulder choke. Here Tim noticed
two ways on - a crawl and my usual climb up. I persuaded everyone that this was the way on and with a few complaints
about the climb being exposed we all entered the second boulder choke. On the way back Tim explored the crawl and found the much easier route into the second boulder choke beyond the climb down into the hole. But this was not before I had got
everyone to do the climb down which is harder than the climb up. Jonnie has long legs and was confident and skilled in his climbs. But Tim's route is easier and safer!?!

After which the main obstacle was the u-bend which happily now has a fixed traverse line. Here is a (comedy) video of our teamwork passing this obstacle. Everyone had cows tails and so we were all able to take advantage of the traverse line.

After which we had our proper lunch break in keyhole chamber

Our lunch spot over looked the traverse along the muddy ledge we did after lunch. Again this was rigged with a traverse line - we had brought maillons and a short rope for the traverse but chose to use the fixed rope.

Here is the view beyond the traverse, showing the canyon that has to be jumped several times. Tim examined the alternative climb down to the streamway, but decided to do the traverse and leaps instead.

Here is a shot looking back on our second lunch.

After lunch we did the traverse of the muddy ledge and the canyon leaps and made our way over to the hole at the far end of keyhole chamber. We had brought a rope for the climb down and so we rigged a lifeline off the fixed bolts, as well as using our cows tails on the fixed line provided. We descended to the streamway and began the long march to north west junction.
There was a lot more water here than I remembered but we headed north up the stream we had just joined.

At this point we had used over 3 hours of our time and it was only after much discussion we agreed to continue on another
30 minutes before turning back. This decision caused our party to split in two up the streamway with the sprinters determined to go as far as possible and the laggards who did not see the point of going fast.

It soon became apparent that the streamway was extremely well decorated and I joined the laggards and pushed the time limit as I wanted to take some photographs. Eventually the sprinters returned but I was the last out wanting yet another photo.

Here is a selection of the photos.

Some high stalactites

With an interesting aven above

Jonnie illuminating the formation

Tim examines the pools

A closer view of the pools

A curtain backlit by Steve

We timed out but I got to quickly photograph the Beehive on our return

We backtracked and worryingly missed the northwest junction but recognised the ocre inlets and realised we were travelling upstream. We continued back up the streamway with me in the rear with Jonnie looking after me. It was much longer than I had realised on the way in. But eventually we made it to the 50 foot climb back up into keyhole chamber. The climb up is initially worse than I remembered but it well stepped. Scott did a fine job of talking everyone up through the hand and foot holds up the climb. He had good awareness of what each person could not see. Ivan and Jonnie found a safer crawl up into keyhole chamber emerging after the climb up.

We had another tea break at keyhole chamber before making our return. But the breaks were shorter and we moved faster and regained the time by the time we made the bat sign in main passage. We passed the first boulder choke without a navigational wobble. We left the cave slightly within our planned 6 hours.

Good trip


Offline bagpuss

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Re: Agen Allwedd - 14th December 2013
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2013, 10:39:25 pm »
Nice report Dave. I hope to get back to Aggie sometime and take some photos of the formations in that part of the cave, they are lovely. Just to correct you Jonnie had been on quite a few Cave trips prior to this weekend with us- he's more capable than me!

Offline Dingley Dell

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Re: Agen Allwedd - 14th December 2013
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2013, 02:13:12 pm »
Good report Dave.  It was a really enjoyable trip, made all the better by returning to the cottage and already cooked loads of chilli.  Even though we didn't get as far as intended, at least we got to the point where things get pretty. I wasn't a fan of that canyon though, especially being near the back on the way out, it was a lot more slippery than before, I thought it was gonna swallow me :o


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