I would like to start this post with an apology.
Tish I’m sorry that there are no pictures and for the emotional hardship you will suffer when Pete realizes and throws the toys out of the pram.
In the middle of last week Jim suggested a trip into Peak to look at the top of Buxton Water aven. On a previous trip he had seen two boulders at the top blocking the way on to open black space. Suitably fooled I met up with Jim at the the TSG hut for several cups of tea before heading off to the cave.
In the cave we kitted up and dived through a very murky Buxton Water sump and surfaced in the aven, de-kitted and donned our SRT kit for the climb up the in-situ ropes. The aven goes up several hundred feet in a series of short pitches between steeply angled ledges all of which hold back precariously balanced boulders. Jim went half way up the aven and I stayed out of the firing line until he shouted down that is was my turn to move, Jim then proceeded to the topmost ledge and on joining him I saw that the next stage went straight up into a rift above the aven. After a quick look into the boulder chock at the very top of the ledge (to confirm that it doesn’t go) we went up the rift to look at the two boulders.
At the head of the rift another loose ledge awaited us but we were able to wriggle up off the rope to inspect the boulders. Or rather we weren’t. Jim had suffered from rose tinted spectacle syndrome and had forgotten that there were two bulges in the walls of the rift below the boulders (and the black void beyond) that needed removing before we could get at the boulders. I went back down the rope and sored the equipment needed for the job, tied it on to the rope and Jim hauled it up. I followed up the rope as Jim started drilling the first shot hole, on my arrival at the top of the rope Jim was ready to let off the first Hilti cap. We both covered our ears and Jim hit the firing bar – no result. After several minutes of tapping away we had to admit that the cap was probably a dud and without a second bar we were stuck. I slid back down the rope while Jim tried to free the now jammed bar. A loud report announced that he had succeeded. Once again I got myself out of the firing line as Jim continued dilling and capping the rift wall, quickly removing the first bulge before starting on the second. All the time small boulders were falling down from above and ricocheting down the aven dislodging rocks from the various ledges below. Several of these made that special deep noise that large rocks make when they hit water and work stopped as we listened for the noise of air escaping from diving cylinders below. Nervous laughter and expletives were the order of the day. Unfortunately the second bulge proved more difficult to get at than the first and, eventually defeated, we retreated but not before one more large rock had come down the final pitch, scoring a direct hit on the tackle bag at the bottom, destroying a large chunk of the ledge and taking a lot of other rocks down into the water below.
After making our way gingerly down the aven and checking the dive gear on the clothes line we exited to find that we had spent about seven hours underground and had overshot the show cave closing time by half an hour. Fortunately Jim is so well known at the cave that instead of being in trouble we were greeted with a cup of tea. 😉