Over the last couple of months work has continued at the Ink sump dig with Jim. Boulders have been removed and scaffolding has been added. Progress is steady and undramatic which is a good thing because we are digging in the roof. No great excitement means that there hasn’t been much to report about our activities in the boulder choke. There is however one other area that we have been considering as a possibility.
At the foot of the aven which we climb to get to the dig in Dooms Retreat the flooded passage ends in a rift filled with small boulders and gravel. Jim has been looking at this rift on and off over the time he has been digging above and has noted that as the water levels rise gravel is blown out of the rift and when the levels drop the gravel builds up. This indicates that there is flow coming out of the rift in high water and that there is a good possibility of passage beyond. In very high water Jim has even got into the rift with a camera on the end of a stick (very technical this cave diving lark) to film what happens beyond the gravel. The results show a passage that almost immediately turns a corner. At the start of the winter we planned to give the gravel choke a good hammering. We hoped to open up enough of a hole at the top of the gravel choke to allow the seasonal high water levels too wash out the rest. We have just had a very dry winter. Plan A has not worked. Plan B is to just get in there and dig the lot out so on Saturday and Sunday that is what I started doing. A very picturesque dive through Ink sump on Saturday was followed by about twenty minutes of digging until air margins forced a return through a now slightly cloudy sump. Diving in on Sunday most of the cloudiness had gone, but some patches still remained, and it was possible to inspect the previous days efforts before starting afresh. This time only about fifteen minutes were available for digging because of a lower fill pressure in the cylinder but despite that it felt like good progress was made. The journey out was a bit cloudier than the journey in.
Thinking about last years weather we did get a very dry spring followed by a wet summer so there is still hope for a return to plan A. Until then we will continue with plan B which if we are both diving on the same day means we can mix work at the top boulder choke with work in the bottom gravel choke. The only real down side to this project is that it will be very difficult to get pictures of the end of the dig. The passage is only a little bigger than a kitted diver and the visibility deteriorates very rapidly when it is visited. But don’t worry, Pete seems to be on a one man mission to provide us all with plenty of pictures and very few words so I am looking on my lack of pictures as a sort of karmic balance for the blog.