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Slaughter Stream Cave

By Roy Unstone, 16 January 2002

Despite a massive outbreak of childishness at the planning stage, a sub-section of the HPCC made a well-executed, interesting, and, best of all, ethical trip into Slaughter downstream series last night. We reached the start of the very long Kuwait Passage, and made it back to the surface 3 hours 20 minutes from going in.

After entering and descending fixed ladders the pitches were dispatched efficiently, and Rachel the Cave Ferret was pointed at the first low obstacles. The rest of us tried to keep up. Progress slowed in the wading passages due to depth of water equalling Rachel the Cave Ferret's vertical extent. After an extended walk down the superb streamway there was a small navigational disagreement near sump 3. Let us just say that on repeat visits we will be taking the President's suggested route to Kuwait Passage here.

The HPCC target now must be an evening trip to the end of Kuwait Passage and back. The President has been told that from where we got to the end of Kuwait is another 1.5 hours each way, so clearly we will need to employ Enhanced SpeedCaving++ techniques. Effective lighting systems will be mandatory. Only two ladders are needed (the so-called "non-climbers" seemed to fly up the last climb on a top-rope). All should be familiar with Italian Hitch and The President's ladder coiling method. Protective builder's gloves will increase speed in some passages. We will need to jog down some parts of the cave. DaveCave's hanging sling to mark the junction with Pirate Passage was a good trick too.

For speed we need to avoid the Beale Alternative Route to Kuwait Passage, although I personally believe that UK caving does not offer enough opportunities to drag oneself over a giant sized cheese grater in a 12 inch clearance, and last night was thus a rare treat to be savoured.

We also need to surgically attach some frontal and parietal cranial bone overlays to The Ferret's skull. Her helmet is too loose even on its tightest setting, but skull enlargement should fix it. I believe a couple of Ferret ribs could be re-purposed for this. I am prepared to give it a go with my Swiss Army knife and a stapler. All cranial incision sites would be covered when the hair grows back, and if we use left and right 5th ribs a bikini can still be worn without showing scars.

I know there is a faction that maintains last night's expedition was not 100% ethical since the first pints were only obtained at 11:02pm, but I must re-assert: it was only a driving error that caused the overshoot and we would actually have been ordering pints at 10:58pm if the Dog and Muffler had been more clearly signposted. Furthermore, we could have ordered pints at 10:59pm in The Globe anyway, as we were there in time but returned to find the D&M so as to rendezvous with the rest of the team. The whole point of ethics is to leave a well specified primary caving/drinking challenge for those who follow. Thus the extra pints obtained by Robin at 11:25pm are also strictly irrelevant.

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