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The Darkness Beckons...

5 August 2003
By Mr. President
The last trip in this direction of the round trip made Lamb and Fox chamber. A sedate but interesting pace took 2 hours to Lamb and Fox, but the rush for the pub showed that we could get out in 1 hour! This was with a party of six. This time there were three of us. We made it to Lamb and Fox in less than an hour, but crucially got back from Lamb and Fox chamber in an hour an 5 minutes! Thus in retrospect the previous trips exit performance was impressive. The ladder pitch at the end of the entrance series is the clear bottleneck.

At Lamb and Fox chamber the dodgy looking Cairn climb and ledges mud was wet by John G for Natalie and Dave following adding to their perspiration. Indiana highway started as runnable passage with a smooth dried mud lined floor, but soon broke into a lovely high traverse on muddy ledges. Initial sharp intakes of breath before we got into the swings of things, with John G spending a few minutes contemplating a bold step down of two foot! While Natalie and crawled around the alternative route. Smiles all round where we saw John's dilemma! Better safe than sorry but.. This high traverse went on for so long, we were begnning to think that they had took the tope down over the 20m shaft mentioned in the survey.

Facts
Team: Natalie F, John G, Dave G
Trip In 7:20pm
Out 10:35
10:43 to the car
Changed by 10:58 NO PUB!?!
Ominously a traverse line was rigged well back from the shaft. The appearance of the rope coincided with the disappearance

of good ledges, a wider canyon and a bigger drop. With hindsight it was easy and quite safe. But at the time we were crying out for our cows-tails. I see no reason for not taking them. As the traverse over the shaft is wide and exposed and one slip is not recoverable.

However worse exposure is soon to come as Indiana highways traverse ends with a breakdown chamber. It took us a while to interpret the surveys instructions to "climb over boulders and go straight on" and we spend a few moments rock climbing over any likely looking boulder. Before John G simply followed the obvious walk to the left and stared down at a deep void below with a high muddy ledge to the left. After much discussion we could not see any alternative. The way on is a bold muddy step above the void onto a most un-reassuring muddy and sloping ledge. John G took the lead without complaint. I followed, fingernails digging into the mud I rammed my body as tighly into the roof as possible. Cursing when I had to move closer to the edge. Natalie followed more slowly spending time to savour the firghtening experience.

After the crawl along the muddy ledge you have to take two bold steps over a canyon. The first was wide but with only an 8 foot drop whereas the other was narrow but over 30 foot. The small drop caused the most consternation. Natalie smaller size not doing her any favours. She likes crawling and is keen for a Darren Cilau crawling trip. We were over and had reached the junction with the MagaDrive and MegaDrive North chambers 8:40pm wow..

However 20 minutes of walking made no dent into a passage as long as Megadrive and we reached nowhere of significance when we turned around at 9:05pm MegaDrive is a muddy boulder strewn passageway like the route to Lamb and Fox chamber making it difficult to move fast. It is no race down a streamway like the route to Agent Blorenge streamway.

On the return we were back in Lamb and Fox chamber for 9:30pm suggesting that caution had slowed us a little on the way in. At this point we were smelling the pub but we had to better the 1 hour estimate for the time out! We failed. I guess we were tired. But Daves spare lighting systems in the caving bag made the kit bag very heavy for all but fat boys and elite cavers. Dave allowed John G to take the bag on the way out, before taking pity on him and taking it on. But then Daves ligting system started being dodgy. Somewhere on the trip the rubber protective wire around the cable between the battery and the light had been stripped off. In the crawls of the entrance series Daves light was doing a fair impersonation of a flash light. Dave used this as an excuse to abandon the kit bag, but his lighting system staged an amazing recovery after the bag was dropped. Perhaps the sound effects from Natalie and John moving the bag through the entrance series soothed his lighting system.

However we were all out for 10:35 pm. Up the hill for 10:43 and sadly changed for 10:58.

Well I am starting to beleive that the roundtrip can be done in under 6 hours, perhaps even 5 hours!

A good trip honest Robin, but if we knew we were going to miss the pub then Balcony pitch and St Davids Hall were beckoning!

Dave G


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