Monday, 26 March 2012

A North Wales Mining Weekend

An unseasonably warm March weekend saw various cars converge on the caving/climbing hut in Tanygrisiau, the main aim being to complete the Croesor-Rhosydd through trip.

The Croesor Rhosydd Through Trip - 24/03/2012
Croseor and Rhosydd are two huge slate mines (more like quarries with a roof on top and a swimming pool at the bottom) on opposite sides of Moelwyn Mawr, above Tanygrisiau, a village near Blaenau Ffestiniog (is that the most unpronouncable sentence ever?). When the two quarries were still in use, a tunnel was driven to connect them. It is claimed that this was to settle a dispute over who had the rights to the slate in which part of the mountain, and subsequently to aid ventilation. However, in reality the tunnel was clearly driven by forward-thinking mine owners to enable mine explorers and cavers to complete an exciting through trip seventy years after the mines ceased producing slate. More background here.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

White Scar Cave

17th March On Saturday I joined a large group of Red Rose members for a trip down White Scar, beyond the tourist show cave bit. After squeezing into as much neoprene as we could muster (a task which looked like it was harder for some than for others; I'm assured because the neoprene had 'lost its stretch...') we stomped through the showcave and, after a quick look in Battlefield Chamber, climbed over the railings and into the continuation of the streamway.

Tourists don't go beyond this point, mainly because the water is 8 feet deep and there is no walkway above it, but after a combination of swimming and holding onto ledges on the side, we were through the deep section and into the boulder choke. There was a delay here as nobody could find the way through. After a time, Ian clambered through a hole to find somewhere to pee. Thinking he'd found the way on I followed him. I presume he kept going to get away from me and find some privacy, but eventually he popped out on the other side of the boulder choke, so I guess I can claim some credit for finding the route...sort of...?

Several hundred metres of large, fun, wet streamway followed. Eventually we reached a cascade on the right, at the top of which the passage changed character. The stream was now wide, slow and silty with a low ceiling. A series of ducks followed but, rather than being intimidating, they were great fun as there was so much space under the water and I was quite warm in my wetsuit. Eventually we found a dive line and the first sump. I poked my legs through and could feel the other side, but didn't fancy the free dive!

Back at the cascade, we had a look at some impressively long straws at the top of a hand line climb before heading out after a fine 4 hours underground.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Some Peak District Trips

10th and 11th March 2012

We joined CUCC for a Saturday trip, the plan being for Kathryn, Siobahn, Dan and I to head down Knotlow and Olly, Aiora, Anna and Nimrod to go down Hillocks. All being well, we'd meet underground and swap entrances for the return. Owing to a lack of reading abilities in our group we had a bit of a false start when we started rigging the wrong mine shaft. Kathryn was rigging, and her suspicions were aroused when the shaft had the wrong number of bolts at the top, several more rebelays than expected and a very notable lack of floor where she was expecting one 9m down. The incorrect name on the shaft lid was probably also a bit of a giveaway.

Having eventually found the correct entrance in another field (with a the namne 'Knotlow' on the lid) we rigged a nice 9m free hang follwed by another pitch to get to some scrambly horizontal caving. We then made our way towards Waterfall Chamber, with an impressive flooded shaft at the bottom and waited for the Hillocks team to appear. By now Siobahn, who was already a bit ill, was feeling even more rubbish (most of CUCC seemed to have a cold this weekend), so I headed out of Knotlow with her, whilst Kathryn and Dan waited for Olly's group to appear to complete the exchange trip. 4 hrs T/U

Sunday was rescue practice in Oxlow, 4 hrs T/U.