Recent reports

Oxlow Cavern - 29th Nov 2009

Sunday November 29th 2009

Members present: Alastair Gott,  Chad B,  Lucy Gilchrist,  Marina Theodoropoulou,  Marion Holloway,  Sam Briscoe,  Toby Buxton

Report by Chad B

While doing Jean Pot the day before, I couldn’t stop thinking that the weather forecast for the Peak district was awful. It proved that way, with Chuck’s team already staying at the TSG, it was a 7am start at the container, which was not ideal for me because I was very tired due to washing my dirty caving gear at 1am that morning ready for Peak. Despite the heavy rain that greeted us that morning everyone was at the container on time. I said to everyone, I think that there is a good chance that Peak Cavern will be impassable today, so I told everyone to pack srt kits while I packed the ropes for Oxlow as a backup plan. Halfway to the Peak district I had realised that I has not packed any slings, for all the essential deviations and not packed a security link for Maz, Doh!

We efficiently arrived at the TSG, where Cat had kindly organised breakfast for us. Cat straight away told me that Peak cavern was off; Martin was very apologetic to us. I told everyone of my back up plan, but unfortunately Cat and Chuck had only brought harness and Cow’s tail for there Giants trips (which at least meant I had one sling now!). Chuck seemed happy to sack off caving and go tea rooming, I was keen to get all the fresher’s doing a trip. Matt C kindly made up Maz’s gear and leant me his cow’s tail for a use and as a deviation. So this meant seven of us caving while Chuck, Cat and Matt C went and did one of the showcases I think.

We arrived at Oxlow with little problems, there was a rope already rigged so we knew that we’d expect to meet another team at some point. The plan was for me to bang down, rig, wait and help people where necessary, with Alastair and Toby giving the bulk of the advice (Quite interesting how told everyone about whistle call as then actually used it), then have Toby de-rigging and reversing roles. The pace through the cave was fairly sedate, unfortunately it was a pretty cold day in the Peak, and with all the rain the cave was a little wet and very cold. It was all fairly easy stuff, although there is plenty of loose stuff at the pitch heads. At the top of the pitch that is over a water fall that leads to the traverse over the slope of rubble, Toby called me back and said that Maz was getting quite cold. I suggested that she could come to the front, as to not have to wait, instead Toby thought it best to have the car keys and ask if she wanted to go to the car. This turned out to be the best thing as the rest of the team carried on and met the other team coming up at the coldest section of the cave, just at the bottom of the water fall. I was getting very cold, the wait was a little irritating was that they didn’t exactly get a move onto to get out, they were nice enough though. Once they were out the way, I carried on over the slope traverse to the top of the final pitch. Here while I started rigging a massive Y-hang, Alastair shouted down that Sam was getting cold and that they were going to head out which Lucy also wanted to do as I had lost my de-rigger I thought it would be just easier if I did it. I told Alastair to start heading out and I’ll rattle down the last pitch to bottom the cave and see what was down there, which was rather uninspiring. After I got back up the last pitch I became rather confused as to why Alastair and Lucy had not moved. It seems like a third team had come down the cave and put there rope down the pitch and then took it back out. I gave two blows of my whistle and then Alastair did so, it seem to have worked because apparently they decided to go out and do Maskill.

At least we were on the move again, but I’d have to admit I was getting very cold waiting at the bottom of the pitches, but at least carrying two tackle sack out of this cave was preferential to one the previous day. Once we were out the mist started rolling over which is a little disconcerting.

I have to say well done to all the new members on this trip, each of whom I think pushed themselves to go as far as they were willing to do in very cold conditions after the disappointment of not doing Peak (I hope they get the chance on the next permit), and in fairness they seemed to have got a good level of SRT practise in. I personally enjoyed the rigging, because I always do, but found the cave very uninspiring but at least we did something give people the chance to cave.