As has been mentioned by several other people the weather this summer has not been kind to outdoor types; this is doubly true for us indoor/outdoor types. Fortunately the last few weeks of dry spell have resulted in an improvement in conditions underground. (Not that things have been bad, they just haven’t been good, and as such completely unacceptable to all grumpy old gits.) To make the most of the two week long dry spell I managed to get Paul G along for a trip down Grey Wife. My aim being to inspect the line, sort out a possible problem at a line join and see what condition the reel is in – visibility permitting. Paul was also going to dive to familiarise himself with the sump.
Paul came up to Greenclose on the Saturday night and got to know some of the regulars who were having curry (gits). On Sunday we departed for Grey Wife with one and a half sets of diving kit. Paul made short work of both the walk and the cave, I wish I could say the same for myself… At Paradox Pond the water looked invitingly clear through the usual topping of washed in vegetation. I kitted up and dived first. Before diving Paul asked if I wanted to take some tube belays with me; I reviewed my plan and decided I had enough to do already and said no. Submerging in the still water where the waterfall normally lands it soon became apparent that the dry conditions were providing the best dive conditions I have ever seen in the sump. Wearing fins for the first time on proper dive in the place worked well and quick progress was made with the silt that was disturbed staying behind me, probably owing to the absence of flow. The line inspection went well, no repairs were needed, and a lead weight belay was placed at the line join which turned out to be okay. Moving on to the reel the visibility was still good so I rolled out some line. The silt deposits in the sump are mobile, the flow moves the silt through the sump and out of it at some unknown point, creating a different terrain on each dive. on this dive the passage that had previously looked over a meter tall was reduced to easy going between rattly bits. The line rolled off the reel very easily with the passage going in what was probably a straight (ish) line until a cross rift was met. At this point I became very aware that I had said no to Paul’s idea of taking the tube belays and was very glad to be wearing fins which meant I couldn’t kick myself at that moment. The reel was tied off and buried in a silt bank as an end belay and a return was made through my own silt clouds. After I surfaced Paul kitted up in half his gear and half mine and went for a dive. All thoughts of having a long look were soon dashed as the cold water made it’s way into his wetsuit via the hand sized holes in the knees and elbows. After a successful go at the slot out of Paradox Pond into the sump proper Paul went on for a short distance before returning. We made our way out with Paul again putting me to shame in the rift. On the surface the sun was still shining and the malt loaf that Paul provided went down to quickly for the camera to catch the moment.
The biggest surprise of the trip was the visibility in the sump; this is very useful knowledge as this is not an easy access site and it is worth knowing what weather conditions allow the best opportunity. Using fins on a full dive was also an improvement with the size of passage now being visited. The slot out of Paradox Pond has become easier; this might be due to the high level of rainfall over recent months. Paul has said he is interested in a return visit so he needs to be kept away from sharp objects.