Author Topic: Draenen - Gilwern passage - 15th December 2013  (Read 1438 times)

Offline dave_the_cave

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Draenen - Gilwern passage - 15th December 2013
« on: December 28, 2013, 06:58:09 pm »
who: Dave G, Tim T, Steve B, Ivan E, Rowan W
where: Ogof Draenen - Gilwern passage
when: 15th December 2013
Link to photos
Draenen 15th December 2013

After the evening Christmas celebrations in Whitewalls (thanks to Amy) - we were not up for another 6 hour trip and elected
for a much shorter trip into Ogof Draenen with a visit to Gilwern passage. Tim and myself both knew this trip very well as it is possible to do a rushed trip in an evening. I was looking forward to a more relaxed trip where I could take some photos with my new camera and light. We had been planning a longer trip down to Rifleman's chamber, but sadly once again this trip did not get done. It was steve's first trip into Draenen and its entrance series. It was Ivan's second trip into Draenen, but his memory of the first trip was not pleasant - I persuaded him not to wear a wet suit and the entrance series had proved to be very wet as well as the normal crawly/squeezy experience. This time he was wearing a wetsuit under the oversuit (and so was I - the others were in their furries and oversuits and did not suffer, but my thermals were soaking after failing to dry anything in whitewalls). Rowan had done quite a few trips into Draenen but had not been into it for over a year. So we were content with a relaxed trip.

Things did not start well. I could not find the publican of the lamb and fox so we got changed anyway. Bad mistake. It was pouring with rain and cold and we got changed in the car. The landlord arrived and was not keen on us using his car park. So mid changing we moved to where we normally park just above the path to the cave. In the midst of the move I was convinced I dropped the Draenen key in the pub car park. So I walked back up the road in the pouring rain, only for ivan to find it in the back of the car. Thankfully Steve came and got me from the car park, but the others were descending the hill anxious to get in the cave and out of the rain. There was an enormous puddle just before the door, and if anything it looked worse than being outside. We were not thinking like champion explorers, but we went in anyway.

In a rash fit of bravado I went with the bag. I tried to avoid it on the way out but whilst Ivan had it through the crawl and squeezes it found its way back to me. On the climb down through scaffolding just before the junction to spare rib - we had a piece of timber and a couple of stones come loose while we were climbing out. The timbers are very rotten and barely functional, but even without the plank it looked as safe as before. Frightening enough though.

There was plenty of water in the crawl and the wet squeeze so Ivan and myself could feel smug wearing our wetsuits and wallowed in them. However the others showed greater skill and speed and avoided getting anywhere near as wet as us.
The bag contained a ladder and Scott's short rope for the pitch, and so we are getting used to this pitch.
As we arrived at the log book at cairn junction we signed the book, but were tempted by the sound of rushing water, and so we were tempted into our first deviation in our plan (just after commit it to paper in the log book). The water was in the direction of big bang pitch so we decided to take a look at it. Actually the stream making the noise was pretty near and small but we continued up to Big Bang Pitch anyway.

Here is the mud formation just after cairn junction on the way to the bottom of big bang pitch.

Big bang pitch

Ivan inspecting the fixed rope at the bottom of Big Bang Pitch.

The start of Gilwern passage

The Sandy crawl at the start of Gilwern passage

The view from the end of the crawl

A closer look at the interesting ceiling

Tim looking at the formation before the little climb

A closer look at the pool at the bottom

The immense passageway

Ceiling detail

More passgeway

Crystals on the passage sides

A closer look at some of the crystals

Resuming our long walk up the passageway

Details of the passage sides

Stalagmites to the side of the passageway

Tim admiring the formation over the waxy pool

The waxy pool supported by foam

The formation dripping onto the waxy pool

Finally catching up with everyone else (their patience was strained)

Actually the new light was becoming temperamental - the shaking it had taken in the entrance series had taken its toll.
So I was having equipment failure reducing the number of photos I took after this.

But the crystal continued as the passageway closed in

We continued on to the climb into a chamber. I failed to do the climb up but everyone else succeeded and I was not happy
as I could not remember a problem before. But I certainly could not reproduce Rowans technique. Unfinished business as there is lots of passageway beyond this chamber. Another trip.

We retraced our steps and were surprised by how long the chamber seemed on the way out even without taking photos.
Good trip - hope you enjoyed the photos. I am sorry if there were too many. But it is the first time I have had a camera and light that could capture such scenes.


Offline Dingley Dell

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Re: Draenen - Gilwern passage - 15th December 2013
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2013, 02:07:35 pm »
We continued on to the climb into a chamber. I failed to do the climb up but everyone else succeeded and I was not happy as I could not remember a problem before. But I certainly could not reproduce Rowans technique. Unfinished business as there is lots of passageway beyond this chamber. Another trip.

Good report and photos Dave.  It was a good first trip into Draenan for me, even though the conditions for getting changed before and after were probably the worst I've suffered on a caving trip!  Incidentally, Tim didn't manage the climb up into the chamber either - Old Illtydian's Chamber.  That chamber doesn't go anywhere though.  The way on, into Galeria Garimpeiros extensions, is found by turning left at the juntion where we stopped just before the chamber climb.  You go down-slope and around the corner.  The way on is a low crawl under boulders.  I did have a quick look at it so I know where it is.  As per the description...

"Gilwern Passage continues past this junction to close down after about 20 m, just past a sharp S-bend. Here a climb up straight ahead also leads to a junction. The passage on the right is the other end of the passage on the left at the last junction (the easier way to reach this point), while up a small climb on the left leads to the large, but dead end, Old Illtydian's Chamber.

At the bottom of the climb up towards Old Illtydian's Chamber, after the S-bend, the water disappears under a low arch to the left. This can be followed through to a slight enlargement with a dry crawl ahead. This crawl is very short and leads to a climb up boulders into a (stable) choke where the roof is made from boulders in the floor of Old Illtydian's Chamber. Once at the top of the climb, the way on is through two adjoining squeezes (one of which will prove impassable to persons of more than average build) into another enlargement. The low arch straight ahead is the way on. The roof now becomes solid and covered in bunches of gypsum. This the start of Forever Changed, the initial passage of the Galeria Garimpeiros Extensions."


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