Author Topic: Free rigging gear for cave projects  (Read 6884 times)

Offline Badlad

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Re: Free rigging gear for cave projects
« Reply #25 on: February 16, 2017, 08:41:09 pm »
Hi all

I am now back at cave base and have spent an enjoyable day measuring and packing up the rope for distribution to those who I have contacted.  If you've not already been in touch to arrange collection please do so.

There is not much rope left so do put in a request for consideration if you have a UK based project that would benefit from some free rope.


UK Caving

Re: Free rigging gear for cave projects
« Reply #25 on: February 16, 2017, 08:41:09 pm »

Offline Pegasus

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Re: Free rigging gear for cave projects
« Reply #26 on: February 16, 2017, 09:30:50 pm »
Couldn't find the chopping board or knife earlier.....

« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 11:51:26 pm by Pegasus »

Offline slinkydan

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Re: Free rigging gear for cave projects
« Reply #27 on: February 18, 2017, 08:36:18 pm »
Hi would it be possible to have 30m and a couple of carribinas to finally complete my mission into blacknor hole. Worth an ask.

Offline lumenchild

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Re: Free rigging gear for cave projects
« Reply #28 on: February 19, 2017, 02:43:16 pm »
thank you to uk caving and spanset uk for the length of rope for a project, 
always love life, remember you are made from stardust you where born to shine!

Offline Duncan Price

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Here is where some of the rope went..
« Reply #29 on: September 18, 2019, 12:48:35 pm »
I'm actually writing this to save time explaining to everyone how I got a scar on the bridge of my nose.  It is over two months since the incident and it is obvious that I'm marked for life.  Having written a book full of anecdotes in order to avoid having to repeat such tales in the pub, I'm putting my fingers to the keyboard to save valuable drinking time by referring interested parties to this post on UKcaving.  Spanset rope does feature.

First a bit of background...

In December 1975 Colin Edmunds (whilst searching for a way on beyond the (then) limit of exploration in Wookey Hole followed the walls of the large underwater passage that leads to Chamber 22 up into airspace in a large rift with no dry land.  The place was not visited again until the Summer of 1984 when Peter Glanvill and others (after looking at old dive reports) rediscovered the site and christened it “Edmunds Chamber” (or Rift) in honour of the original explorer.  Subsequent climbing operations (hampered by the fact that there is no dry land and the divers had to carefully de-kit and tie off their gear to lines hanging from bolts placed in the wall) reached the top of the 20 m high chamber and gained entry to an inclined bedding passage which ended at a dig.  They christened the passage “Beyond the Thunderdome” after the Mad Max film popular at the time.  John Cordingley, Russell Carter and Andrew Goddard were the last divers to record any exploration there in 1989 when they examined the dig – concluding that explosives would need to be used to make progress.
A new generation of cave divers took up the challenge in 2005, laboriously transporting scaffold poles and planks to establish a platform from which to recommence operations.  The climb to the top of the chamber was re-bolted until finally (after a lot of effort) the end was examined by one of the team, a local cave digger, who concluded: “this is not a viable dig site given the number of banging trips required to establish its worth.”

Roll on 2015, and the completion of an artificial tunnel linking Chamber 9 to Chamber 20.  This permitted non-divers to more closely examine areas previously not accessible to them.  A draughty area high up in the roof of the Lake Chamber in 20 was an obvious lead.  Alison Moody was able to pass a tight squeeze to gain new ground while Andrew Atkinson engineered a roomier (but still constricted) route over the top.  To their surprise they found footprints from previous visitors: they had re-entered Beyond the Thunderdome and found a dry route to Edmunds Chamber.  The high-level passage was surveyed but no-one descended the pitch to water level.

I was interested in the find as potentially there could be a dry way from Edmunds Chamber to Wookey 22.  I’d examined the connection several time on visits to 20 but it looked tight, so I resolved to do something about this.  Max Fisher and I went there on 21st February 2017 equipped for the job but we found it possible to pass the squeeze and (since we had brought SRT kit and rope) we became the first people to stand on the platform at water level in Edmunds Chamber without having to dive to get there.  We fired a charge on exit to break up the floor of the squeeze, but as I’d left my drill on the wrong side of the dig, I had to return a couple of days later to recover it and size up what more needed to be done to make it passable to someone of a larger frame – perhaps a diver wearing a wetsuit who might have been stranded beyond. Then I went on a skiing holiday…

On flying back to the UK from Geneva, I was pulled over by the security staff as my hand luggage had come up positive for chemicals on screening.  I’d been careful to put my luggage on the back seat of my car rather than in the boot where my caving gear had been.  There were a nervous few minutes before the guards decided that their machine had thrown up a false positive and I wasn’t required to undergo a search!

Work continued with the permission of the show Cave management with trips being made on Tuesday evenings when the cave was closed for tourists in the middle of the week over the winter period.  Pete Hall accompanied me on one of these trips and found another (lower) route out through the boulders into Wookey 20 from Beyond the Thunderdome with minimal effort.  The connection had been practically open all the time.  Once satisfied that the high-level connection could be passed by anyone (it was now hands-and-knees sized), Max Fisher and I did an exchange trip whereby I dived from Chamber 9 to Edmunds Chamber and met max who had come overland.  Max donned my diving gear and swam out while I prussiked up the pitch armed with a DistoX to survey the chamber and link it into the previous survey.  Having also surveyed the underwater route to Edmunds Chamber we now had a closed loop.  Disappointingly, the chamber runs parallel to Chamber 22 and there are no obvious leads to pursue towards forging a dry connection (which would potentially allow non-divers – or rather cavers prepared to free dive some short sumps – access to Chamber 24).  I returned later to de-rig the pitch and recover my rope. UKcaving had kindly donated some Spanset rope to rig the pitch, but this remained in my attic for until July 2019.

Having been given some stainless-steel bolts and hangers by Chris Binding to replace the rather ancient spits installed by previous visitors on the pitch Max and I returned to Edmunds Chamber on 11th July.  We carried two large bags each with drill, rope, hangers and an inflatable canoe.  I’d bought the canoe in Lidl and planned to use the craft in Edmunds Chamber for a spot of boating.  It turned out that I’d brought and oversized drill bit (14 mm) for the bolts, so we had to leave an empty hole in the only bit of decent rock left at the pitch head for filling with an anchor of the appropriate dimensions another time.  Rigging the rope off what we could find, Max and I made our way to the divers’ platform and inflated the canoe with a foot pump.   Unfortunately, the chamber is too narrow at this point to step into the boat sideways, so one had to hold onto the painter and enter it from the bow.

Max went first and leapt into the canoe gracefully doing a perfect impression of Yogic flying by landing on his knees.  Off he sailed into the gloom to the other end of the lake passing beneath a precariously wedged boulder which spans the rift.  After a modicum of paddling (it is possible to turn the canoe in the middle of the chamber where it is widest, Max returned, and it was my go.  Rather nervously (the water is 15 m deep here), I held the canoe by its mooring line and dived in, landing on my face.  My helmet slipped down over my nose and cut a gash in it.  Blood was everywhere as I lay in the boat.  Regaining composure, I paddled around – painfully aware of warm wet stuff flowing down my cheeks.  Max helped me out of the boat, and we climbed out.  To add insult to injury, my camp lamp went out and I had to exit using my back-up torch.  Events were recorded on film, and the bit where I face-plant the floor of the canoe is 37 s in.

The boat is still there and the pitch currently rigged – use both at your own risk.


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