May 08 11
A fortnight ago I received an email from Keef (now known as Terminal 5) asking if I fancied a swim in Lake 8 in Dan-Yr-Ogof where he had foolishly dropped a tackle sack. I said yes, knowing that no-one would be prepared to carry diving kit through the long crawl. It is now unclear which one of us is the bigger fool.
A team consisting of Keef , Brendon, Chris, Woll and me, met at the South Wales Caving Club Hut at 10 am on Saturday morning. After telling Keef it could have happened to anyone (yeah right) we drove off to the cave. Two other parties were also heading into DYO at the same time and Keef nearly managed to get one of them to carry the dive gear. I was impressed. Picking our way through the tourists, trying not to make them dirty, we went up to the show cave and signed in with an exit time of 5 pm. Very few tourists had ventured into the cave as we travelled through their part to the barrier which we climbed over to enter our bit. Most of the passage between the end of the show cave and Lake 8 is a straightforward mix of walking, stooping and crawling stuff. Then comes the main obstacle to dive kit—the long crawl. The team coped very well and went through without complaint arriving at the other end in good spirits if a little sweaty. We then moved on to the head of a climb down which is (according to Keef) the reason for the tackle bag ending up in Lake 8. Brendon doesn’t care for the climb and uses an alternative, easier and safer route that bypasses it. Whilst moving a tackle bag through this route two weeks ago Keef threw the (unattached) bag forward at the wrong moment. This bit of foolish enthusiasm was rewarded with a series of thuds ending in a loud splash. The bag had found the climb down to Lake 8. This, apparently is Brendons fault? After the bag had hit the water Brendon had carried out a search of the shallows where it looked like the bag would have hit the water. The deep part of the sump was out of reach to him as it lies at 18 m. In the bag were two SRT kits, a Nova battery pack, Keef’s car key and some flapjack.
The dive gear was moved to the side of Lake 8 without anybody trying to drop anything. After kitting up under a low arch on the sandy beach at the side of the sump pool I went down the dive line on the first search pass. The sump pool funnels down to the head of a shaft which drops straight down to a horizontal tube which is just about the bottom of the system and is therefore a bit murky. Searching was done mainly by hand as the visibility varied from nothing to about 30 cm. Travelling along the horizontal tube a few meters to see if the bag had been swept in failed to find anything and I went back up to surface. The second search area was on the side of the funnel closest to dive base and was carried out with Brendon doing an excellent job of operating a base fed line. This search involved sweeping back and forth across the bank at increasing depths until the head of the shaft was reached but again resulted in nothing being found. After surfacing again, one last search was agreed on the far bank of the funnel, again with a base fed line. The same search pattern as before was used and this time the results improved. The bag was located at a depth of about 6 m, wedged behind a flake. The location of the bag was aided by its bright orange colour. After surfacing and handing over the bag I de-kitted with Keef’s help whilst the other went for a wander up to Cloud Chamber to warm up and take some pictures (is it possible to do both?). Keef then showed me the way to the chamber which I have never seen before. I was very impressed.
The trip out was a little more difficult than the way in owing to the extra tackle bag but no-one was complaining. We exited the cave at about 4:30 pm after a successful and highly enjoyable trip. The SRT kits were okay, the Nova battery contacts were showing signs of corrosion, the car key opened the car but would not start it without the fuel pump cutting out and the flapjack had suffered a packaging failure and become porridge.
All the pictures in this post are from Brendon, who has a habit of producing very high quality images some of which have won awards. If you want to see more of his work please visit his flicker account on http://www.flickr.com/photos/dudley-bug/
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