Ian and Adele 28/06/2018
The aim of this dive was to get through the narrow rift after sump 1 to check the status of the belay at pitch 2 – hoping to find some nut cracks to avoid hauling bolting gear through…..but the best-laid plans…..
A scorching day in Buckden ruled against walking in neoprene, so with backpacks we wandered steadily uphill, pausing for a few rests to watch the Horners baling hay (vintage Ford 5000 for the tractor buffs) in the fields below.
Feel the heat.
Changing by the shakehole we were immediately overheating and desperate to get underground, where we noticed some flood debris in the entrance crawl, a legacy of the local thunderstorm Adele and Simon observed a couple of weeks earlier and which would have a significant bearing on the day.
Painful progress with a couple of bags, due to my 5 mm dive suit having 0 mm knees and a pair of not great kneepads either, was made to the pitch, where Adele got some super pics of the change in strata.
Girvanella to Great Scar transition, Pitch 1.
Down at camp 1, Adele helped me kit up and after crawling to the duck, I dived through to test all was well with my kit.
Holding fins, heading to duck.
First problem – where’s the line gone? Pulling at the base of the belay block it was found to be buried in a few inches of sand…oh dear….fins on and into the now silty water as I recovered the line. The now familiar descent and a bit of good vis at the downstream end, starting up the steep beach to break surface…except it was too tight! The flood pulse had shifted the sand and a small gap in the arch was visible. A couple of minutes’ grovelling and scraping found enough space to wriggle through and surface….minus one fin. My spare reg was also fully choked with sand, my wellies were full of the stuff, as were my sorry kneepads, so a cleanup was in order.
Sitting in the cramped space my plans to de-kit were quickly binned, turning instead to getting back through the squeeze and finding my lost kit. Returning in zero vis, I was soon back at the upstream end, calling to Adele that I had lost a fin and would go back in to get it. Descending feet-first, scouring the floor with my welly, contact was made back at the slope and with line in right hand, the stretch was performed to recover said item and an exit was decided.
A curious scene greeted me…..Adele was playing music from her phone, wrapped in a space blanket and smoking profusely, such that my first breath of non-compressed air made me cough.
Is that smoke or mist?
The familiar painful exit was made after admiring the fine high passage below the pitch, which is in itself an aesthetic piece of rock.
Looking up the fine pitch 1.
The customary fight to get the bags through the tight sections was accomplished and the final fun climb made to crawl out into the heat after Adele swore at a spider.
Adele exiting climb.
A quick slurp of juice and we wandered down to change on the scorching tarmac of the car park, then Bluebell-bound. This cave is fun but frustrating….next time? Thanks again to Adele for her help with this one.
Pics by IC and Adele.