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Last updated: Friday, 29 October, 2004 12:51

Smoke test in Dweebland

By Mathias Willerup. Trip: 7-9th November 2003

2 years after we got to HRC. As you can read for the numerous other reports from OyDC on this site, we've now since been in Daren several times since the start of it all. As I was packing my caving gear in Copenhagen preparing for my trip over the "end" of Daren Cilau called Dweebland, I was wondering if there was any sense in all this. It had been a good year since I'd done any caving and the last two trips to Daren had been so hard that I'd sworn on the last trip never to set my foot in the cave again. But the darkness was beckoning and I was fully committed for this trip, hoping that my lack of fitness or rutine wouldn't too big a problem on this trip with the two top fit Elite Sportsmen Stone and Martin. One thing that I wasn't in doubt of - I wanted badly to get to the end of the cave so that my live could move on in a more normal direction.

We were greeted at the Whitewalls Changing Facilities by John Stevens whos name we'd all heard before since he is the one distributing the cave surveys of the area that we all have decorating our walls at home. With a classic big beard and moderately mad looking eyes he turned out to be a really nice bloke. We chatted a bit about caving and what he'd done etc, and when we mentioned (proudly) that we were planning to go to Dweebland and back, his face lit up and out came "would you lads like some smokebombs?". A quick look around the group and without having any idea of what a smokebombs would look like we all said "yes please!!!" as this sounded like a super-festive start to our trip. John got the package out and showed us the goods. He mumbled something about them being of the cheap non- coloured sort, and that he'd got them from one of his mates. He gave us two, and I packed them carefully in my photo-pelicancase along with a lighter also kindly donated by John. We had been given a mission. For me, this just brought the whole trip on up to another level than just visiting the end, and it felt like we were actually just beginning something rather than finishing the job. As we marched out of the Whitewalls fully equipped we passed three lads from Devon who was also going to Daren camping there for two days. We'd already spoken to them over the net, and they looked like really nice blokes as they were munching through there fish and chips planning to go in an hour or something after us. It was with a certain amount of envy that I said "see you later" - I'd have loved to have a round of fish and chips before setting off. But we had stodged ourselves quite full on nuts and fruit, so I felt quite on for it anyway.

We reached the entrance in darkness, started the cave watch and headed in.

(read report on Entrance-Hard Rock Cafe)

--> Chrystal Inlet. I'd been going quite well (speedwise) and was feeling quite on top of things, as we reached the water bottles at Chrystal Inlet, which we filled up and carried the last leg into HRC.

At HRC we were greeted by Adrian Fawcett - the unofficial custodian of HRC. He had a newcomer (to Daren) with him and they took good care of us as we arrived fairly knackered and thirsty - five minutes after I arrived in the camp I was drinking a nice cuppa tea - luxury!! This was really nice throughout our weekend since the stoves and lighting was always burning making the camp a nice and warm place to get back to. The second team (fish&chip eaters) arrived about 1 hour later and we were having a good time all of us (8 in total) telling stories and drinking cocktails, soup and beer. At around 3am we hit the sheets. Didn't get as much sleep as I had hoped, due to a fuck-up on the mat department. Stupid. Pissing in the Wellington did the job again.

Next morning we woke up at around 9am and was preparing for an 11am start. We sorted everything out and headed off. The other team were planning to do some surveying of another region of the cave.

We headed off and stayed in the same formation throughout the trip - Me first, Martin with the Dragbag and Stone in the end, helping along with the bag. Bags make a huge difference in caving and being a dragger is nothing short of the equivalence of being a sherpa on the big mountains. Martin never complained, and he always insisted on dragging the extra loads whenever needed. A tremendous effort and a huge contributor to our successes in the past. It all worked out extremely well and I was very pleased and almost honoured to lead all the way to Dweebland and back. Top stuff.

We paced ourselves steadily - steady pace throughout the trip, not many breaks, and none of our usual "speedcaving" antics. First time I had been in this section we had been speedcaving it big time, and I was glad we now had the time to do it "properly". The sand ducks, Brazil, Accupuncture, Microns. My dreaded bit of Anglegrinder Bypass went fairly straightforward (when you don't have a bag) and we made it to the REU just a bit ahead of schedule. Things were going well. We had a bit of a snack and stodged up on water before venturering into new territory (for me) beyond the REU. The cave continues in some nice and wide passages by walking and the odd crawl, with some interesting navigational challenges. We "sealed off" all the wrong turns, (little line of stones) so the way on to Dweebland should now be pretty obvious. Martin and Royston seemed to enjoy my leading (they'd been here before) always telling me "yeah that's the way on", only did I discover a couple of days later that they hadn't had much more a clue that I had to where the way went on! I did hit the odd blind end (dig) which is always a bit of a heart stopper, but nothing I wasn't akin to. I guess I'm getting better (or worse?) at it all. We soon arrived at the start of the Big Chamber pitch (30ft in-situ ladder) - an amazing discovery after all that crawling. I wasn't particularly impressed with the state of the bolts both for the backup rope and for the ladder. I'm bringing a couple of spits in next time. You don't want that baby to break in there. We got down the spectacular pitch and the continuation soon takes you the beautiful Cordillera Blancha - a superb pristine formation guarding an interesting looking tunnel behind. Has anyone been in that way?

After admirering the formations we headed on towards the sand swims, and this is litterally what feels like miles and miles of low sandy crawling (swimming style) deep under the mountain. I found it an excellent change from the painful Accupunture Passage, and I was really enjoying it all. We got to the Warren where we had a look at the active dig of Dades Choke (with bang wire everywhere), but soon steamed ahead southwards towards Friday the 13th where Spaderunner and Dweebland separates. It's all quite hard going in there, and I was particularly finding the Bad Bat Choke really ultra-ugly. Tight squeezing in all directions eventually going up through a tight choke and then gymnastically entering an ultratight horizontal break, quite difficult to get into from the choke.

As we reached the junction we had a sip of water and contemplates the way on. Stone and Martin had been to Spaderunner before so now the real unchartered territory began. I was more than prepared to take the backseat and let the Elite team lead on, but they insisted I lead on, which again I was super chuffed with. I was or had already transcended into a completely different world and never considered going anywhere but on and onwards. Royston's excellent HP sponsored laminated survey and guidebook copies did their last bit of magic (they were trashed afterwards, after 2 years of good service), and I didn't even have to consult them much after an initial study. In Daren, and especially in the furtherst reaches it seems to be by inviation only, and we were on the A-list. The cave just pulled us in. I stuck my head into some rather tight and nasty looking squeezes, sometimes straight into a dig, but always the cave seemed to correct my mistake and point me in the right direction. Chokes were getting a bit more loose and rocks less polished. There was definitely a sense of unfinished business in there, like the ghosts of the past was leading us to the end, or maybe rather the start. The start of a new era for a new generation of cavers. As we slowly worked our way through BetweenDweeb, we eventually made it to Dweebland and pushed our weary bodies all the way to the end of Upper Dweeb. The end.

With no time to waste really (we didn't have tons of food or water), we poked around a bit, and I even popped my head and upper body into a upwards going boulder dig, Martin handing me a long scalfolding pole left in-situ, and I tried my first bit of digging. Maybe not the best way of trying out the techniques (I could definitely get into this digging business), but I managed to loosen three football size boulders next to a solid looking roof above me. Even in my untrained eye there was definitely a way on.

Before taking the obligatory summit photo (!) we set off the smoke bombs - JS had in his forsight given us two - first one I ignited and lobbed into the void, and that's all we saw of it. Obviously not the way to do it. Next one was ignited and put on a comfortable ledge in a sizable chamber just under the upwards choke. I lit it, and rushed into the next chamber where Stone and Martin was sitting just as excited as myself about this smoking business. We couldn't really see exactly where the smoke went, but it was 100% clear that there was a draft going in and not out towards us. We were sitting comfortable 1 meter from the smoke... [Then we went out. End of report - sorry!]

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