Author Topic: Draenen - Round trip - weather dependency - this Saturday (25th Nov)  (Read 3359 times)

Offline Frog2

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We are due to attempt the Round trip (again) and so far the weather forecast is a bit depressing!

Can anyone advise how 'rain' dependent this trip is? - I know the description mentions the ducks in Agent Blorenge seemingly becoming sumps and Beyond A Choke streamway hazardous also with very heavy rain the entrance series becomes 'extremely unpleasant'.

I say Round trip again because as a group we have arrived at a what looked like an impossible climb down - twice  - I then saw the entry in Cheddar Caving Club on line log book describing their recent trip with some excellent photos.

The photos prove we had found ourselves at the top of the pitch pictured but we had bottled out of committing ourselves to descend.  Now know we were at the right place but were not convinced so took the longer/safer option to exit the way we came.  Also have now been given a 'vague' description of the 'pitch by pass - so we are intent on returning to look for same.

Now for an extra couple of questions!

The pitch by pass is described as tight looking - should it be passable by guys with 44inch chests!

The long description of Draenen on their website describes a climb seemingly further on where a handline in useful - is this the pitch pictured (now with your 'new' line in situ) or is this further on?

How is route finding following your pictured pitch?  In the past we have poked up Blorenge Inlet doing the first canal (in that direction - obviously 2nd when doing round trip)?

Look forward to receiving any assistance - thanks.

Offline Stupot

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Re: Draenen - Round trip - weather dependency - this Saturday (25th Nov)
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2006, 04:23:19 pm »
Did the Round Trip on Saturday and the levels were ok, waist deep in the canal sections with no ducks.

The pitch bypass is snug but not desperate by any means, 44" should be fine (but don't hold me to that).

Not too hot on the Draenen description so that's about the limit of my help  :doubt:

Stu.
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Offline Andy Sparrow

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Re: Draenen - Round trip - weather dependency - this Saturday (25th Nov)
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2006, 04:23:38 pm »
We are due to attempt the Round trip (again) and so far the weather forecast is a bit depressing!

Can anyone advise how 'rain' dependent this trip is? - I know the description mentions the ducks in Agent Blorenge seemingly becoming sumps and Beyond A Choke streamway hazardous also with very heavy rain the entrance series becomes 'extremely unpleasant'.

I say Round trip again because as a group we have arrived at a what looked like an impossible climb down - twice  - I then saw the entry in Cheddar Caving Club on line log book describing their recent trip with some excellent photos.

The photos prove we had found ourselves at the top of the pitch pictured but we had bottled out of committing ourselves to descend.  Now know we were at the right place but were not convinced so took the longer/safer option to exit the way we came.  Also have now been given a 'vague' description of the 'pitch by pass - so we are intent on returning to look for same.

Now for an extra couple of questions!

The pitch by pass is described as tight looking - should it be passable by guys with 44inch chests!

The long description of Draenen on their website describes a climb seemingly further on where a handline in useful - is this the pitch pictured (now with your 'new' line in situ) or is this further on?

How is route finding following your pictured pitch?  In the past we have poked up Blorenge Inlet doing the first canal (in that direction - obviously 2nd when doing round trip)?

Look forward to receiving any assistance - thanks.


I would be wary of attempting the trip in wet weather.  The ducks in Agent Blorenge could prove rather nasty and the cascades might be a little exciting too.   You could try doing the trip in reverse which would get you to the ducks more directly and also give you a look at conditions in the main streamway.

The bypass looks much tighter than it is - in fact it looks completely impossible until you crawl in headfirst past the first constriction.  You would probably get through it ok but if not there is the pitch.  We left a rope in place which will be more useful than the original old bit of tat.  Route finding would be easier if you did the trip anti-clockwise - that way you can't miss the rope or the bypass which leads off directly from the bottom.  You can always take a ladder to help get the tubbies up.

There are a couple of waterfalls in AB where you might use a rope but they are pretty easy (under normal water) without.

Route finding in Agent Blorenge is not a big problem.  You have to traverse some of it in a narrow rift which is the most 'techy' part of the trip.  There's one point where the cave turns an elbow and the streamway is too tight - look up and you'll find an eyehole to climb through - very entertaining.  Mind you I don't know how obvious it is to find the right level to progress if you are going anti-clockwise - might be a bit unobvious in places.

Let us know how you get on.
Andy Sparrow



Offline NigR

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Re: Draenen - Round trip - weather dependency - this Saturday (25th Nov)
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2006, 09:30:30 pm »

I would be wary of attempting the trip in wet weather.  The ducks in Agent Blorenge could prove rather nasty and the cascades might be a little exciting too.   You could try doing the trip in reverse which would get you to the ducks more directly and also give you a look at conditions in the main streamway.


Sound advice regarding the ducks and the cascades. The ducks do sump occasionally in very high water conditions and one of the cascades would be difficult to climb, bearing in mind you are likely to be rather wet and cold by this time (assuming you are wearing normal 'dry' kit).

The major problem with attempting the trip in the reverse direction, as Andy suggests, would be if the water rose behind you and you failed to find the way through beyond the ducks so necessitating a return the same way. You would also get wet much earlier on, which is the main reason most people go the traditional way around.

Personally, I wouldn't attempt the round trip if the water levels are already high and there is heavy rain forecast on the day in question. Having said that, you have nothing to lose by going down to have a look (don't worry about the Entrance Series, it never sumps). Just take plenty of food and spare light in case you have to retrace your steps (i.e. plan for a ten hour trip rather than a five hour one).


Offline Huge

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Re: Draenen - Round trip - weather dependency - this Saturday (25th Nov)
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2006, 10:49:46 am »
Got a bit confused there with talk of a pitch and pitch bypass. I've done the round trip a few times and never come across a pitch in that area before. A quick look at Andy's trip writeup cleared things up though.

I wouldn't consider the double climb down out of Squirrel Rifts and the tight crawl through to Haggis Basher as a pitch bypass, rather as the original and standard route for the trip. I've been through the crawl with some larger cavers and they haven't had much of a problem - I don't know their chest measurement though! The rope climb / pitch I would consider as 'well you could go that way but why bother?'

Route finding between the parts that you've done is pretty straightforward. When you get to the end of Squirrel Rifts you enter a small chamber with the larger Wooden Spoon Passage to the right. This is taped off to avoid confusion. The way on is straight ahead/left into a smaller, half boulder filled, rift. This quickly leads to a double climb down on the right at the bottom of which is the narrow crawl which pops out into Haggis Basher Number One. This is the Round Trip Connection. (The climbs can be traversed over to reach Squirrel Rifts 2 and Life On Mars and the pitch?). Turn right in Haggis Basher and you partly ascend a slope to a 'window' looking into another large passage - Far Agent Blorenge. Follow FAB downstream to where the stream itself flows into a too tight rift on the right. Go into the wide crawl ahead and very soon you'll see another 'window' on the right which leads straight into Agent Blorenge downstream of the tight bit. Very soon you reach the sharp right turn, that Andy mentions, where the stream goes into a very narrow (but not too tight for thin people - take your helmet off) chute. The bypass is to shimmy up to yet another 'window' which drops straight into a rift which drops to the base of the tight chute. Some acrobatics are needed as you must go through the window feet first to avoid falling head first down the rift! Don't get confused by climbing into a solid floored passage (Chocolate Blorenge) which will simply link you back to FAB and Crystal Maze. After the chute or bypass is the first canal section, The Sewer, which might well sump in high water. Then it's the tight rift where you have to pick the correct level followed by a climb down to the top of a cascade. Climbing down this could be interesting in high water. This is followed by the second, longer, canal section, The Duck, which can be bypassed by back and footing up the rift above to the top of a boulder slope which drops to the downstream side of The Duck.

At which point high water turns Agent Blorenge and the BAC streamway from sporting to dangerous I'm not sure I could judge accurately, sorry.

Have a fun and safe trip and give us a writeup when you've done it.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2006, 11:04:50 am by Huge »

Offline Frog2

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Re: Draenen - Round trip - weather dependency - this Saturday (25th Nov)
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2006, 11:55:12 am »
Many thanks for the advice and descriptions - we will be having a go at the 'standard' route.

Wrte up will follow,

again, many thanks,

Offline NigR

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Re: Draenen - Round trip - weather dependency - this Saturday (25th Nov)
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2006, 12:15:17 pm »
Heavy rain in West Wales during the night and this morning. No idea what it is like further east.

andymorgan

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Re: Draenen - Round trip - weather dependency - this Saturday (25th Nov)
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2006, 12:33:31 pm »
Is it rarely dry in Wales?

hoehlenforscher

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Re: Draenen - Round trip - weather dependency - this Saturday (25th Nov)
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2006, 03:55:48 pm »
Its been raining heavily here around Abergaveeny for the last few days. Rivers are up, road between Abergavenny and Crickhowell is flooded. Lot more forecast tonite. Just chatted to a mate who knows the cave well. He said don't do it! :(

Offline Frog2

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Re: Draenen - Round trip - weather dependency - this Saturday (25th Nov)
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2006, 04:23:27 pm »
Its been raining heavily here around Abergaveeny for the last few days. Rivers are up, road between Abergavenny and Crickhowell is flooded. Lot more forecast tonite. Just chatted to a mate who knows the cave well. He said don't do it! :(

Thanks for the advice - will be taken on board.  As weekend booked will still look in entrance and have a poke about anyway - hopefully plenty of dryish areas to look at!

Could venture towards Snowball - unless advised against.

Offline damian

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Re: Draenen - Round trip - weather dependency - this Saturday (25th Nov)
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2006, 04:55:43 pm »
You will have no problems with water levels going to Snowball, although the entrance will get you a bit wetter than normal!!

Offline Frog2

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Re: Draenen - Round trip - weather dependency - this Saturday (25th Nov)
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2006, 03:41:38 pm »
Trip Report

England was wet, Wales was wetter.

The entire club (8 of us) gathered at Leigh Delamere for breakfast - 2 went off for a trip in Aggie leaving 6 of us for our planned trip to Draenen and (due to weather) an attempt at just finding the Round Trip connection.

The Entrance series was the wettest I have ever seen with a significant amount of water cascading down the main ‘scaffolded’ shaft.  The bottom crawl also had a significant amount of water a few inches deep, made spotting the line for the ‘squeeze’ through the boulders a little awkward but OK and yes, wet.

We (I) stuck a ladder down the 4m climb and we arrived at Cairn Junction, wet.  The eager cavers at the front then struck off ignoring the passage for Wonderbra and Carpet crawl.  Eventually caught up with them and we backtracked to Carpet crawl – a new bit of passage to us as we had always used Wonderbra in the past.

White Arch passage was uneventful but the water levels in the bits of stream you can see were much higher than normal.

We made steady progress and find ourselves at the bottom of the fixed ladder down Balcony
Pitch into the Arms Park about two hours after our entry.

Managed to use the wrong exit from the Arms Park (not quite left enough) but eventually realized our mistake as the passage closed down and memories sprang back declaring this was the wrong passage.  Went back and then down Players Tunnel and made our way to St David’s Hall – even we couldn’t get this bit wrong.

Exited SDH into Squirrel Rifts and followed the obvious muddy route till we reached the sort of 2nd traverse – here either senility or Alzheimer’s or something came into effect as none of us could remember what looked like an awkward traverse and we managed to convince ourselves we were in the wrong place.  One excuse would be it was 8 months since last being there.  Anyway we backtracked again trying all reasonable sized passages and eventually made our way back to St David’s Hall where we knew exactly where we were (again).

So now we were depressed, this was the Clubs third attempt at finding/doing the Round trip and we had not got as far as either of the previous trips!  Time was running out and we would be pushing last orders (for food) at the pub we were booked in, handily close in the Forest of Dean, not.

Still we made the correct decision to have another go – this time the dodgy traverse was traversed even by a wuss like me.  Still don’t remember it but the return was very easy just stand on one side and lean over to the other wall.

The chamber with Wooden Spoon (handily taped off and labeled – ‘round trip connection is behind you’) was reached – again, we knew exactly where we were!

The rift was entered and we made our way along to what seems to be its conclusion – either a traverse/climb up to what we thought was the ‘pitch’ – or beneath this traverse is a tight rift – is this the start of the climbs down?

Armed with some descriptions from Wooden Spoon – “down a hole in the floor after about 20m and along a tight passage to Haggis Basher No 1” and “This quickly leads to a double climb down on the right at the bottom of which is the narrow crawl which pops out into Haggis Basher Number One”

So we returned back to the chamber with Wooden Spoon – went back down the rift estimating 20m – there there was an obvious hole in the floor with a wedged wobbly boulder – it was tight looking and about 6 - 8 foot deep – three of our group thought this was worth a look and 2 of the descriptions were;

1) "Descended tight, six foot rectangular shaft in floor (carefully avoiding wedged boulder) and crawled off forward into ever-narrowing rift.  Gave up, turned around and got nowhere that way either.  Pulled back out of said shaft by the arms by caring colleagues..."


2) “Yurgh!!!”

The person with the latter wordy description when asked, mentioned a tight rift with crystals on the wall that looked intact – therefore not a normally used passage.

He did expand on it on his return to work as follows;

“We thought we had found the illusive (sic) round trip connection.
About 20/25m on, to the left of the entrance to Wooden Spoon, the passage forks. In the entrance to the left fork, in the floor, is a vertical passage, partially blocked by a large cube of stone, this is not totally secure. This passage is very tight and can be entered either feet or head first. I entered feet first with the boulder on my right hand side. When your feet are about 6ft down the passage opens up into a small chamber which you can turn into. There is only one way on. This passage is narrow and drops in the general direction of (Agent Blorenge?) Further on the passage narrows to the point where you need to climb higher and continue on your side, the sides walls of the passage are lined with small outcroppings of what look like selenite crystals and do not look as though they have been disturbed. It looked as though the passage opened up further on but getting there would take a long time and there was no obvious connection to larger passage. I turned back (with difficulty) at this point and returned to the small chamber which appeared to be made from deposited fine particles - the chamber did not appear to be stable when viewed from here. When returning back up to the main passage the easiest (only sensible) way is to be physically lifted.

Don't think I'll be volunteering for such an enticing hole in the ground in the near future -- someone else's turn !!! "



With all three guys hoisted out of the hole we looked around a bit further – there seemed to be a further hole to the right (looking from on the way in) but this was not pushed.

OK So where is the real Round Trip connection – if it can be described, graphically, in words of one syllable for obviously simple cavers it would be appreciated. Even better with photographs!

The exit was partly educational – how we managed to lose (temporarily) one of our group from the middle of the party was worrying.  We had three guys at the front moving quickly and two at the back moving a bit slower, poor old Rich in the middle managed to get out of contact and took a wrong turn in Squirrel Rifts.  It was almost amusing when the last of the group arrived at SDH to be asked where is Rich? – he’s with you lot - no he isn’t he’s meant to be with you! Stop mucking about!

Anyway he was fairly quickly found and a lesson learnt.
The exit was fairly uneventful, if slow – the ‘exit’ series not quite as wet as before but still refreshing if that is the right term.  Nice and dark and windy when we exited, about 8 hours after entering, with a clear sky, until we got back to the cars when the heavens opened – wet again!!

So in closing, any further assistance in helping us to find this elusive connection would be gratefully appreciated

Offline Huge

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Re: Draenen - Round trip - weather dependency - this Saturday (25th Nov)
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2006, 10:56:45 pm »
With all three guys hoisted out of the hole we looked around a bit further - there seemed to be a further hole to the right (looking from on the way in) but this was not pushed.

Could be the one!

I seem to remember that the climbs down to the connection are on the right. The correct hole is not tight so the one you descended doesn't sound right to me. I'd like to offer to show you the way but I'm not caving at the moment because of health probs. Of course you may not want a 'guide' as you wouldn't get the satisfaction of finding the way yourselves.

Interesting avatar by the way. In case you don't know, it's Huw Durban of Brynmawr Caving Club in the Calcite Squeezes in the entrance series of Daren Cilau by Martin Farr.