Trip date: 25/1/20
A few years ago Claire and I had the privilege of supporting a Freem filming trip beyond the sky hook at the top of Midnight Passage. It was quite an adventure and a part of the cave system I had certainly not visited before.
Last weekend a team of 5 got together to have a crack at the same route and hopefully lay down the foundation for future exploration in that part of the system. Helen, Tim and Claire had all passed through this section of the system on alternative routes but only Claire and I had been down the big pitch leading to Splash Inlet.
Claire, Chloe and I had to be back on the surface by 6pm as we were attending the Wealdon AGM Club Meal at the Abercrave Inn. With that in mind, Chloe, Claire and I packed the ropes the night before to save time in the morning.
On Saturday Helen arrived at 9:30am, we all did the obligatory tea/coffee/faff, shared out kit and were on our way to Top Entrance by 10:45.
|Helen, Chloe, Tim, Claire and Duncan all looking sparkly, energetic and ready for adventure.|
|Team having a short break at top Midnight Passage; Helen gets a power nap during the 1/40s exposure...clever party trick!|
|In a small alcove where the team had stopped is a band of limestone with many impressive fossils.|
|Claire, Chloe and Tim waiting to ascend the Sky Hook.|
|Tim at top of sky hook.|
|Chloe stepping off the final traverse line at sky hook, Duncan in foreground.|
|Claire next to the curtains at top of Sky hook.|
|Helen prusiking up to sky hook.|
|A close up of one of the many crystal pools that can be seen in the passages beyond the sky hook pitch.|
|Claire and a curtain, back lighting provided by Helen.|
|Duncan rigging “P20”.|
There is a small hole off to the left as indicated by the arrow in the image below; you could go down that, and indeed Claire did, but I struggled to get through with my SRT kit on so the rest of us quickly abandoned that idea in favour of rigging the window. Be aware there are a couple of rub points (on both routes) so we used our tackle bags to try and stop this, would have been better to use proper rope protectors.
|We went through the obvious window to descend the “P8” pitch. Arrow indicates the location of a small hole at floor level offering an alternative route down “P8” pitch.|
|Claire prusiking up small “P8” pitch. Arrow indicates where you would have popped out if you had crawled through the smaller hole.|
|Duncan looking a bit knackered after prusiking up”P20”|
Another lesson was just how much rope we needed, for P20 we brought 55m but 40m would have been fine even with our backing up to 2 naturals. The P8 pitch we brought 25m that could have been just 20m. So next time we will bring a 40m and 20m saving the weight of 15m of rope! In total we used 6 slings and 8 Krabs for rigging and rope protection. These stats do not include the skyhook pitch.
And finally I had forgotten just how tiring it is to carry a full SRT kit, ropes and rigging. I was knackered when we got out!
For the record we made it to the meal! :)
Trip Time: 6 hours