May 09 02
Having watched the N.Yorkshire rainfall figures all week I knew that a good trip down Grey Wife was not very likely. The cave itself would be okay but the sump would have rainwater run off in it that would reduce the viz to next to nothing. Having not had much luck with the weather at this site for a while I decided to give it a go anyway. From the forecast Saturday looked to be the best opportunity, so after a cavers start I was on the walk up to the cave by early afternoon.
In the shake-hole the stream that feeds the cave was running well as expected from the wetness of the ground on the way up. Once inside the cave some movement of the smaller rocks in the boulder choke was cleared up. Lead from an earlier (unblogged) trip (don’t tell Pete) was collected and the gruesome task of getting to the sump began.
At the bottom of the ladder pitch that lands in the sump pool the waterfall was delivering a bad quantity of warm surface water. This had the effect of making the sump a friendly brown colour rather that its usual forbidding black. The brown colour comes from peat staining which absorbs most light frequencies over a very short distance, the only colour that gets reflected is red. In the water everything looks red and the range is limited by how strong the staining it.
After kitting up and testing the equipment I found that one of the valves was free flowing. The resultant lose of air resulted in a reduction in the available dive time and it would not have been possible to reach the end of the line and do anything useful so the dive plan was modified. This was the first time I had taken fins down for the dive. On all previous times the passage had been small enough just to pull myself along or kick off the roof but the end of the line now lies in a larger passage where fins would be useful. The new plan was to see if I could fit through the entrance slot to the sump with fins on, going head first.
Underwater the warm water was welcome and I found that it was possible to enter the slot head first with fins on and reverse out. I also found that the peat stained water, although limiting the viz to about 20 cm, did allow me to see what was happening on the way out. On a dive with no flow (like the previous dives) the viz is good on the way in but zero on the way out owing to the silt that is disturbed on the way in. I also took the opportunity to test a gauge reader and that worked as expected.
After the dive I exited with one bag of kit to a very pleasant evening. The following day I went back to get the cylinders out and exited to hale stones and a howling gale. What a difference a day makes.
Series - Grey Wife Exploration
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