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Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1

Thursday March 22nd 2012

Members present: Chad B,  Mark Sims,  Toby Buxton

Report by Toby Buxton

This was a really really brilliant trip. Just as varied as Top Sink-Bye George and possibly even more fun. Less grim as well! I'd recommend it to anyone with relatively decent caving fitness and a fairly good knowledge of OFD. At least take a survey so you can get out if it all goes wrong!

We started off going up the streamway in 1 at a fairly good pace and into the connection. Here Mark took the lead as he was to navigate us through OFD 1.5 (and most of the trip, to be honest). We passed a 5m ish climb without a second glance, not knowing what it had in store for us...

Anyway, the crawly stuff in the connection made us all feel a bit crap, as is always the case at the start of a big trip I find. We soon perked up as we stomped up the Cwm Dwr streamway. Mark led us out and up into Marble Showers. I was a little worried about the traverses due to my short legs, but they proved very little bother. The traverses that is, not the legs, though I suppose it amounts to the same thing. The marble showers traverses are far shorter than the ones in OFD 3 and no more difficult except in a few peculiar little moves . Still looking for the fabled terrifying OFD traverses. Maybe on the way to Pom Pom passage? We'll find out one day.

Next we zoomed up cross rift. Chad, who had been a little worried about the traverses as well, was clearly in good spirits as I could clearly hear the Chorpocopter buzzing away behind me. At Salubrious I took over the navigation. In a short time we were sliding down poached egg, where I realised I didn't have the guts/height to jump into the high level route to Bowhani Junction, so we took the lame lower route as the others didn't fancy it much either.

Shortly we were at the crevasse. Since 1-3-1 is a fairly long trip we had decided to leave ladders at home and had brought a single 20m rope. This meant to use it on the little climb we had to pull it down, which we soon realised meant it couldn't be knotted (should have thought of that before?). In fact this wasn't too problematic as the only difficulty the climb really poses is death if you fall off - so don't. Or try and land on the little wedged rocks if you really must!

We had heard it's free climb-able so were fairly happy to slide down and not worry too much about the return. Then it was just the fairly simple navigation through the great rift passage that forms the route to OFD3. It was easy as usual and nice and quick. As many will be aware, the traverses are occasionally somewhat overhyped. Even the short-legged have little to fear - if I can do it, then nobody else can really complain! At least about them being very wide. 'I'm bad at traversing' is probably acceptable :p The last little climb where you go back under yourself to get through the choke before OFD3 proper is the only thing with a bit of a challenge.

I found the way down to the streamway without going too far on. I wasn't much looking forward to the next bit due to being a water pansy, so I faffed about for a bit rolling down my sleeves and putting on my oversuit and cuffs. Eventually we set off with the Chimp borbing ahead. The OFD2 streamway was a few hours in the future, so I didn't bother trying to stay dry, though I certainly let the others know when the water passed certain critical levels! We passed the fake Smith's armoury, weaved through the odd bit of streamway that follows and found the real thing.

This feels like a conclusion of sorts but of course you're only halfway through the trip at this point. After a few minutes we turned around and set off back the way we came. By the time we were back in dry passage my legs were aching from all the wading, but they soon got better after warming up. Back at the crevasse, Mark went up first. He had an interesting time of it, but by the time he was at the top the knots were all in the right place so me and Chad soon joined him.

Back in 2, we raced though to maypole inlet and into the streamway. Due to previous terrifying experiences as a fresher (ish), I had decent levels of adrenaline and spent my time jumping (probably not a great idea) over the massive pools the other two were just walking through. As any good water pansy knows, all the pools in the streamway are traversable with a bit of effort, except for one: The Boss Pool. It goes round a corner, is unfathomably deep and has a low roof, no handholds and is a damn long way across. As if the bloody thing were designed to drown you. Mark kindly waited on the other side to tell me to stop being a fag and get on with it, but after extended dithering he got bored and left. To cut a long story short, I managed to jump it and get a hold somewhere, only getting wet up to my waist. I was very pleased with myself. Mark and Chad were not at all impressed and clearly thought I was a pillock. But I was on top of the world and continued jumping the pools.

After the streamway it was plain sailing through to Cwn Dwr, 1.5 and the connection. Here, the innocuous looking climb revealed what it had saved up for us, but this is a trip report not a rescue one. Suffice to say, just before the climb we were on target for 9 hours. I made it out in a bit less than this, but unfortunately my companions had to take a rather longer and harder route out, and deserve credit for so doing. Thanks must go to everyone who helped out, especially the chaps at SMWCRT.

Everything up until that point made up a seriously great caving trip. For me personally, shooting down the OFD1 streamway and pounding up the hill, it wasn't a terrible experience. Though I was knackered I was full up with adrenaline so didn't notice, and was stuffed full of food, treated rather well and then sent straight to bed without being allowed to go back down. Unsurprisingly, Mark wants to do it again some time 'properly', so maybe we'll beat 9 hours next time. Might even have to ask for the quickest recorded time so we have something to aim at ;)