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Titan Shaft - Peak Cavern - 30th May 2009

Saturday May 30th 2009

Members present: Chad B,  George Bunyan,  Imogen Shepherd,  Kevin Francis,  Thomas Blakey

Report by Chad B

What an awe inspiring place Titan Shaft is! A great trip involving 7 hours of wall to wall caving. Prior to reaching the entrance we has a lovely walk up in the sun. To get to Titan there is a very highly engineered 45 m entrance shaft with a Scaffold cage at the top to rig the entrance rope off. This in itself was a nice decent, the rigging was somewhat bizarre, two sling were rigged off two scaff bars to form a Y-hang, I’d prefer to see the metal chain used together with it being backed up and centred! It was probably a good thing that I didn’t spend any time staring at the scaff bars holding me up at this point. The descent was slow with the rope screeching through my rack. Once at the bottom I became aware at how hot my rack was and trust it to find the hole in my glove. There was a nicely positioned pool of water to cool my rack though. I then followed Tom round to the top of Titan which started out as a traverse line through to the Y-hang. An interesting in-situ traverse line is also riged here with a nouse!!! It was while I was waiting on the traverse line that I began to take in the scale of the place. As soon as I heard the ‘rope free’ call from tom it was off onto the Y-hang to start my 70 m descent down to the event horizon. I took a gentle decent down as I wanted to have a good look around the place. It was weird seeing the rope above me disappear into darkness and seeing the rope below me going into darkness. I then reached the balcony known as the event horizon where I clipped into a short traverse line while I was waiting for Tom to get to the bottom. At the event horizon there was also an in-situ rope coming from the side. Once Tom had got to the bottom I made the short abseil down to the re-belay underneath the balcony. Did the change over then I was again abseiling 55 m down to the bolder choke at the bottom. Tom who had been waiting at the bottom had turned his light off so it was like abseiling into the abyss. It was also weird to see the water dripping on my rack boil off. Upon nearly reaching the bottom it was a little alarming to hear Imogen who was behind me shout ‘ok’ as I had not even given the rope free call, once at the bottom I quickly took of my rack and shouted ‘rope free’ which was initially greeted with silence while the confused and possibly alarmed Imogen must have been thinking why is he shouting that again, eventually the ‘ok’ came. It seems like a call from above had been taken to be mine. The descent was really good fun and had been a lot easier that I’d thought it would be especially the changeover at the event horizon, so I definitely would like to prussic up next time as I would imagine that this would be quite a challenge. The shaft its self was simply amazing. I joined Tom, turned my light off and watched Imogen, George and Kev abseil down, George literally flew down the shaft!

Tom then led us through the boulder choke after which Tom, George and I diverted off to Major Sump, once we were sumped out we went back to the junction to Minor Sump. George went in first followed by Imogen, myself and Tom. Eventually we were all backed up with George saying ‘there is a little bit of air space’. So we duly underwent an awkward turn around. Upon meeting Kev back at the junction to this passage he sent me down what started out to be a drier and worse on the knees route to minor sump, but alas that also became very wet. So for me another awkward turnaround. Kev pointed out a cross back at the junction – so that explains why he didn’t go any further. We were then off looking in Calcite Aven and ‘Kev and Imogen hole’… we were certainly doing a far bit of exploring on this trip. We were soon off to the bottom of leviathan at the bottom of JH – how old if all that stuff down in that?! We all got wet going through Speedwell and I was rather surprised when I saw a fan pump electrical unit. I didn’t want to be in the water anymore at that point! The ladders going out of this section were a little awkward, might be nice putting an in-situ rope here to make it a bit safer. Some more stomping around led us to more sumps, The Bathing pool and Secret Sump – which you could call a cute sump.

Eventually after some traversing over metal ropes and some more sightseeing it was through Colostomy Crawl, a horrible muddy mess of a crawl, but that was the fun of it lol! Certainly more of a hardcore crawl than that of the Ireby dig a week a go. Imogen being the smallest raced through the crawl but I think George broke his knee pads here – not the ideal situation. The breeze in this section was very refreshing. Beyond here we caught up with Imogen and carried on, George and I had sumps on our brain and had a look at Treasury Sump. Because we were at a point where we had been before George and I managed to find our way out of Peak Cavern. As Kev said this was 7 hours of wall to wall caving – we did so much more than I have described since the fantastic descent down Titan. Can caving get any better than this??? Hopefully going up one day will be!