Willerup Brothers | Trip reports | Our friends
|31 May 2002|
|By Mr. President|
We headed for lamb and fox chamber and a path finding mission aroundround trip. We did not find the lamb and fox chamber yet again eventhough it was only 200 metres from where we were last time. We endedup exploring the main 2.5 km streamway going around the round trip routethe opposite way around to my intentions.Last time we/I did not have a survey.
This time we were better prepared and my spirits (at least) were high.We had a great time but it was definitely second match to the cave.Our learning continues.
We had a good start. More people than expected turned up at the pub inAust. Dave, Gary, Robin, Frank, Elaine, Damon -- All in reasonable time.Unfortunately some were in the pub and some were outside in thecar park. Well a reasonable start but not perfect. Franks puzzledlook said they were at the pub this time! Robins evil smile suggestinghe was party to this latest twist.
We set off and arrived at the car park near the lamb and fox with Frankcar just about staying in touch with mine, despite my best efforts anda slow white van. Par for the course, I had not packed the bags, and brought outcomments from Gary about forgetting what it was like caving with me.Ungrateful git at least I had brought the ladder.Significantly Robin leaped in and neatly packed my ropes.This time we were taking a ladder for the 6 metre climb that gaveus the trouble last time. I was also taking another rope in case wecame across another exposed unpubliscised climb. I was rather pleasedwith the decision to take a rope last time.
However the downside was that we were forced to take two bags in and outof the squirmy crawly entrance series. On the way in this presentedno problems but on the way out they were to cause a few cussin's.I had told Gary of the one squeeze he might have problems with(being easily the biggest on our party). He was rightly pleasedwhen he passed it and was chirping up. So I confessed that itwas only a problem on the way out! Sorry did I omit to tell you?Oops!
We reached the climb and rigged the ladder. It would be wrong to saythis went smoothly, but it was certainly quicker for our party to doit with the ladder. The ladder experience was livened up by my carabinerssticking or jamming, and when I tipped Robin's neatly coiled rope outon to the floor introducing over 8 knots in the rope that had to beremoved before the double lifeline from below. Lesson to Robin andmyself for the crabs. Damon started collecting my carabiners andshowed he is a budding comic! But they are actually needed for thenext person being lifelined. So it is not the best time to executea theft.
We followed our previous tack down wonderbra bypass passage, still nonethe wiser for its name. We emerged just upstream from tea junction, butwith my erroneous interpretation of the survey and guide placing usdownstream form tea junction. So confident of my interpretationI omiited the guidebook description to save space on the laminatedsheets I had prepared. Everyone accepted my interpretation andwe proceeded downstream confident of covering the 200 metres orso to the 'lamb and fox chamber' and beginning our explorationsproper. From where I thought we were we simply had to follow thestream. Actually we were upstream from tea junction and we had to takea left turn a little after we had joined the streamway.We continued on ignoring the enormous passage on the left thatreally led to 'lamb and fox chamber'!
Unbeknown to us we continued an enormous distance down the passagevastly in excess of 200 metres to find a choke. We easily convincedourselves (or I did convince myself anyhow) that this was the chokewhere we climbed up into lamb and fox chamber. We found a dodgy climbup on the right expecting to break into our destination. When itwas just high-level continuation of the streamway we did not questionthe lack of the LFC. However a few dodgy climbs later as we struggled tostay high, we were brought to an abrupt end. Robin and Garyup front were staring down a sheer drop.
Time for consultation. Somehow we had missed LFC! Had we gone straightpast it. How could we? House sized boulders well we had not seen them!Perhaps we had not gone far enough and if we could go low-level along thestreamway then our goal of LFC would soon appear. With adetermination reminiscent of the elite team in OFD on the traversesor shambles trip. We circled back and found a route down the streamway throughboulders. It should only be a few more metres to LFC.
Meanwhile I took to the front rather puzzled but rather enjoying myself.I was going to find LFC. I stormed down the streamway probably getting 500metres ahead of everyone else. Jumping down waterfalls obliviousof the water. Puzzled yes but confident I could get back. Even ifI did not know where I was. The taped off sections of the streamwaydestroying dreams of being the first to tread down this section.The streamway was glorious, but even I started to wonder where everyoneelse was. I could not hear them. I stopped and waited, it seemed likeages. I took the unusual decision to use energy and go and look for them.Perhaps something was wrong an accident had happened.
I walked back finding a chest high pot hole in the stream that it was easy tofall down. Someone would have fun in this. I'll keep quiet. I thinkElaine found it, but I was not around to see it. After a few hundredyards of tracking back. I found Robin looking very pleased with himself. He started to tell me what he had just achieved! I was notlistening because I could now see everyone else led by Elaineperforming an intricate bridging movement above the streamway, desperateto avoid the water! I suddenly realised what Robin was so proud of, and whyeveryone was so far behind. I shouted 'It was you! They followed you!'He smiled proudly yes. I growled 'You bloody idiot' hurting Robinspride so that back in the pub he would take the pleasure of informingme that the whole navigation fiasco was my fault, mine only from startto finish. But that was for later, at the moment he was crestfallen.
The streamway beckoned it was obviously not the way we intended but itwas fun and where did it go. We pushed on perhaps another kilometerdown the streamway (it is 2.5 kilometers long) genorously decoratedat times. I begged for another 5 minutes to find LFC before turningback but this was gone in no time and at 9:00pm we accepteddefeat and turned back. It was on the way back it dawned on ushow far we had gone. It took ages to get back.On the way back we retraced our steps and Gary noticed the enormouspassage that would have led in less than 200 metres to LFC.His discrete enquiry made me take another look at the survey,Wonderbra bypass passage did not comeout where I had assumed itdid. I suddenly realised where we had just been. We had pushed downthe long streamway. When I produced our itinerary, I deliberatelyomitted the sections on it. So we never had any chance ofmatching it with what we found and working out where we were!I was horrified, Gary was not amused. Everyone elses faithin my navigation was destroyed!
Oh well, we can still make the pub if we rush. Gary nursinga few grudges of his own (knowing the squeeze to come no doubt)would not let it go at that and pointed out that we had probablygone twice as much caving as I had told him we would! A simplewalk (but how would I know anyhow -- some people are gullible),
Back to the ladder pitch. I lifelined from below until a close callfrom a flying carabiner as Robin passed the rope down caused meto rethink the plan. I cursed the lack of suitable apprentices thesedays. I ascended the pitch and started lifelining from above.However much to my embarrassment the first time I passed the ropedown I went a step further than Robin and hit the floor! Hmmnot my night for soapboxes!
We were all up soon and ready for therace out. Elaines lamp went out and I smiled as I got out trustyfairy lamp. Once again it did disappoint and failed yet again.Once again I had not wrapped it in Duck tape to improve itswaterproof properties (from zero that is). So back to my backupFX2 (even I expect the fairy light not to work. Cheers for the funChris Angell though!)
Robin led us up and out. Racing ahead with a bag and leaving mein the dust behind. Gary following behind I smiled knowing thesqueeze was to come. I was horrified to see Gary leadingthe way up the squeeze. I struggled passed him in the riftleading on to the squeeze as Gary chose this moment to demonstratethat he could do head over feet in the rift. Puzzled why he shoulddo this I indicated that I would show him how to do the squeeze.But really I was harbouring thoughts that someone ought to get abovehim in case he did get stuck. I got up no trouble (well a bit)this time. Gary did not find it so easy and Robin and I lefthim laid out at the top of the squeeze.
Robin was motoring again. He was almost out.I only managed to pass him as he spent sometime exploring a promising (not) looking sidepassage.While I steamed on upwards! Gary cursing about hislack of fitness, and probably deeper things concernedabout caving with me. The rest of the party wound its wayup keeping good time. In fact everyone had done the dodgy climbsand crawls very well and did not seem tired. Perhapswe could have gone faster. I remembered the dodgy mudy bouldersand thought again. We had done well! Franks apprentices haddone him proud again.
The relief as everyone made the fresh air was noticeable.A moments panic as I thought I would need to open the lockagain to shut it! Everyone else started up the steepclimb from the cave to the car park. Robin agreed toperform Roystons lockpicking role, but was not neededas the door shut with a liberal application of force frommy boot. Robin foolishly volunteered to carry theheavy bag up the hill. Allowing me to motor up the hillin fred fashion, whilst leaving Robin struggling behind.Beer was at stake and speed was of the essence!
Up on the hill, striding up the road Elaine engaged mein a walking race. There was bounce in everyone's stepbut Robins. We knew what he did not. We were going to makethe pub. It was 10:25! Gary and I got changed and ready ina close approximation to the high ideals of speed caving.We knew when speed mattered! Everyone else was a little perplexedas they watched us drive over to the pub whilst they were still dryingthemselves. The other car would be a while.Meanwhile after the last experience I was taking no chances.It looked dark I turned the door handle. The door opened, someoneshrieked, I put my foot in the open door. My muddy facerequired the pub to be open. We were in. But if everyoneelse was hoping I would get the beers in for them they weredisappointed. I only had enough money for me and Gary.5-10 minutes later everyone else arrived! But the landladybowed to the inevitable and we enjoyed several jars before thelocal left at 11:40!
Apparrently Robin did not make it to bed until 4:00 am.His backup supply of beers in case we did not make it(induced premature sleep) and he failed to make it past thesofa.