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Fairy cave - without lager

27 June 2002
By Mr. President

Jane and I (more Jane than I!)successfully brought my beginners (on their second only caving trip)through a tour of the delights of the farther reaches of fairy cave.We did the trip in just under 3 hours (I was back at the car and gettingchanged before I looked at the clock showing 10:59).So we missed the pub and Robin will breathe a sigh of relief that hereas not on the trip!

We did not explore the u-bend, as although it should have been easierI felt it un-wise to expose my beginners to a trip I had not done before. Sothey had to do the harder trip! Something sounds wronghere.

There were five of us Dave,Jane,Adam,Iris,Tony

I led the way through the initial entrance series. Iris feeling the heat anddeciding to strip off a few layers much to my puzzlement.And almost certainly to her deteriment (a severe dousing was inorderjust a little further on). I had a head cold and was not thinking fastenough to persuade her to keep everything on! She was describing the crawlas a run. Puzzled as it certainly was not! I took it as a compliment and wecarried on as before down to the duck.

I was paddling in it waiting for everyone else to follow.Hmm, har, hmm.. the waters much higher than last time, about twice as muchwater, ceiling a little lower than I remember. Keeping thesethoughts to myself. I advised everyone to keep their noses out of the waterand to take it slowly.

Immediately I entered the water it was freezeing, so I went throughas fast as possible head first in the water disregarding all the soundadvice I had just given trying to make it through the water as fastas I could.

Well that was easy enough, now for the squeeze!I took off my battery and slide through, quite pleased with my slipperyartistry. This is not so bad (in fact everyone else had no problem eitherbut lets not take anything away from myself)

The plan was for me to stay on the other side of the squeeze and talkeveryone through it. I was worried that this squeeze would cause us problemsafter Jerome's experience. So I had told everyone to take off their batteryand pass it through to me during the squeeze.

The plan floundered before it had started. Iris entered the cold waterand discovered it was rather cold and more importantly that it wasimpossible to keep your head out of the water. So she gave up andtried going through on her back at my suggestion. However this is far harder(you cannot see where you are going!), but it does keep your noseout of water. I shouted through to take her helmet off, but ..Iris announced she did not want to do it.

I was helpless on the other side (useless might be more appropriate)Meanwhile Adam came through the squeeze and duck without a hitch joining mein the gloomy hole beyond the squeeze.At the other end Jane came to the rescue braving the cold water(secretly she had a wet suit on)and went about showing Iris howit could be done on the side and that it really was quite easy, andthere were only two short points where the ceiling was really low.This is all relative we are in fact crawling through 5+ inches ofwater. The ceiling is low all the way by most standards.

She gained Iris confidence and talked her through the duck and thesqueeze. Only Tony to come he had bravely measured himself against mygirth and to his mirth deiced that if Dave could do it then so couldhe. I was not so sure but bit my lip. Jane and Iris were betweenme and Tony I could not help him. But Jane did. Tony was through withouta problem. Phew..

My leadership style was developing into 'sink or swim' whilst marvellouslycomplemented by Janes style of pulling them out of thewater. I think they prefered Janes gentle support!

My role of guide was seen more as torturer in chief, looks of hereally wants us to do more of this, were exchanged but my normalsensitivity to the needs of the party were blighted by my head cold.

Onwards. We slowly crawled or so it seemed (we did a reasonable time).We all bridged the drop and entered the part of the cave where thefairy dust and stalactites start to appear. The far point of the fated tripwhen Jerome did his one and only caving trip.

I pushed on. We must think about turning around when the delightsof the cave were so near. I was a little disappointed that everyoneseemed tired and unappreciative of the cave so far. Hmm it willget a lot better I urged... Miraculously they followedcrawling through the boulders until me and Adam were in walking spaceamongst the stals.

Jane shouted from far back that we really ought to turn back. Iagreed but immediately set about up the cave for a look myself.But then I shouted back, but just come on a little more...We are standing!(only just I might have added but accuracy is notmy strong point).

Iris, Jane and tony came through. I went up the passage for another look,expecting everyone else to follow. Puzzled I slowly returned tofind Jane was removing one of her layers (a gaghoul) and her wet suit socks!Iris was regaining some layers! Jane had decide that Iriswas getting far to cold. I watched on, she was cold I agreed but shewas not yet shivvering.. She'll survive! Everyone else was showing greatconcern. Good job I kept quiet.

Eventually everyone was persuaded to walk up the 100 yards or so of gloriouspassage way to the end of fairy cave (well almost).I was looking for signs of awe and pleasure at the sights. I wasdisappointed minds were probably thinking of the crawl back.Where had Dave taken them! I was thinking coldly -- we have missed thepub, but we will get out so long as we pass the squeeze (or the u-bend).Nothing much can go wrong when crawling. It is safe but tiring, so whenyou are tired you get even more tired and have to go slowly.So I settled in to the rear and allowed everyone to go as slowlyas possible. Jane and Adam leading the way out.

However we flew out faster than we went in. I do not understandwhy this happens, but it regularly does in caving! On the way out you aremore tired and climbing out, but everyone manages to go faster.

We crawled up towards the squeeze, everyone watched by Jane descendingthe hole before the squeeze safely and without incident.Tony watched by me was not so well looked after. Whilst talking Tonythrough to the hole, I was distracted by the events before thesqueeze. My attention switching from Tony to the squeeze, and finally backto Tony when with horror I watched fall/slide down the hole. He had seen mestanding below and assumed there was a solid floor Unfortunately I wasbridged over the hole! Luckily Tony's backside hitthe floor and his slide ended after only a 5 foot drop!God what a lucky escape!

Jane went through the squeeze and set up a line whereby the last personthrough would help the next person get their battery through.Worked a treat wished I'd thought of that! Meanwhile I dusted Tony offand helped Iris take her belt off, before tying it around her oops.Not on purpose, but I was dramatically sacked from further assistance!She could sort it out herself.

Through she went no problem with the squeeze and then she dutifully gotin position to help Tony through before crawling through the duckwithout an issue. Hardened cavers after this experience. I smiled.Tony through no problem, Just me now. Bag and battery through,sods law would get me stuck but not this time. I slide throughwith graceful ease (honest!)and enjoyed the cold wallow in the duck(not honest!). We were virtually out.

Just a few more squeezes and crawls, Jane leading the way outand as if to reassure me of my role managed to lose the routeout within yards of the exit. Puzzled I shook my head and smiled pointingout that you could smell the way out by the fresh air. Still not surewhether I really was needed! One by one I watched my tiredbeginners leave the cave and their looks of relief as they breathedthe night air. They were out! They were shattered! Iris's legs sagging withthe shock of haiving to stand upright! What a trip!

Back to the car. Another un-ethical caving trip. We did not make thepub. But what a second caving trip! Everyone but me had done an excellentcaving trip!

Still to explore the u-bend route, and watch that hole more carefully!

Dave Grosvenor


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