Team: Chris, Fabian, Mark, Jim, Jon, Rob

Missing out on last week’s breakthrough took me through a range of relatively strong emotions, but the overriding one was relief that it was no longer needed for me to be the sole driver of V1. Motivating teams can be challenging, so it’s great when the cave does it for you. The reports were relatively mixed and poor quality, but the indication was there was either no obvious way on or a 40m undescended pitch and I had given up trying to work out which was more correct.

Roll on this week and everyone was keen as mustard. Peeps were even emerging out of the woodwork and a very unusual ban was unfortunately needed to be placed on any newbies wanting to “come help”; today was only for those who deserved it.

Being a glory grabbing, self-serving wanker I obviously went straight to the pointy end to check it out and was indeed impressed with how the place had grown. Through a couple little squeezes got me to the climb down that Jon stopped at last week and I was then down to the next little level where a boulder blocked the way on. Here was quite roomy, easy enough to sit up and work, but it was impossible to see passed this boulder. I chucked a rock beyond and was gobsmacked as it rumbled away for a good few seconds, the echos getting loader as it fell. Lol, Jon stopped inches too soon!

Our plan today was primarily to make sure that whatever ground we made was done big enough for the larger gentlemen in the team. This was mostly because we really didn’t in Cussey, so it was only fair this time. So I popped back to work the second squeeze whilst Jim above worked the first. And so commenced an awesome hour of double fronted digging which must be some of the most efficient work I’ve been involved with for a while. As this was kind of the plan we had two sets of everything, although last minute at the cars we realised we only had one capping mat, and so necessity gave birth to the Capping Croc, which actually performed reasonably (I didn’t die).

Capping Croc

Capping Croc TM


V1 Digging


Underground Jim

Once both squeezes were capped to shit I then moved forwards to work on the end (big excitement), giving Fabian room to drop down and start working with Chris above to lift all the newly generated up rubble up and out into the plenty of stacking room above. At the business end I managed to cap the rock out of the way pretty quickly but then failed massively with the second. This was partly because it turned out to not be a flake but instead was fridge-sized, and also because it was made out of netherite. The caps did nothing to it and even the newly requested bigger lumpy simply bounced off with a patronising “ding”.

Everyone was losing patience and I was losing energy, but rather than let someone else have a go and potentially prevent my complete glory-grabbing, me n Fabs agreed on a two-pronged attack where I squeezed over the top to the other side (I like this plan already) and work a crowbar whilst he pushed and hammered from above. Once beyond I could see that the massive boulder was actually sat on a bedrock protrusion which needed capping, and luckily that could be done from above (whilst I tried and failed to hide).

Boulder now dropped and shards of rock brushed off me, we were now able to get the crew through and see what we had found. We were in a spacious roof pocket in a tall rift running east west. Below, through the occasional wedged boulder, we could see enticing black holes and the large echos led our imaginations to what may lay below. This is what it’s all about.

In the new bit

Whilst finding new cave might be something we can do, unfortunately arriving with the agreed gear is not always our forte, so we had no bolts, hangers nor rope, only a far too short ladder and plenty of regret. Whilst people mulled over ideas of erecting scaffold stemples to rig off or going to get more gear, I thought I’d grab some more glory and see if I could slide down. After about 20m of somewhat controlled descent down the slightly hading rift I hit the floor and suggested people should follow if they are also stooped. Whilst they now mulled that one over I went off for a look.

Heading west along the narrow rift the rocky floor slowly descends, all in kinda Crabwalk dimensions, but straight. After maybe 20m the rift narrows and sediment blocks any route onwards but a small hole in the left hand wall (south) seems to be the main outlet for the water. Not much bigger than a fist so it’ll certainly need some digging to get an idea of what’s beyond, but it’s heading in the right direction and draughting slightly so remains a good (best?) prospect.

The opposite way in the big rift leads a similar distance, this time passed a drippy aven and to a boulder breakdown area which does not look obviously promising. I wonder if this is heading back into the surface shakehole feature above?

Back at the climb down the others seemed to have agreed that they weren’t going to join me so I spent some time to have a final look around. A few disto shots around confirmed the rift is 20m high and about 50m long in total, so indeed quite a big feature. Above the downstream dig I managed to climb up the rift into two tight continuations at increasing levels, each draughting slightly and each needing the walls shaving off quite a lot to make any progress. Not ideal but at least there are options. It will be really interesting to feel the draught next week when it’s forecast to be much warmer weather.

I then traversed out into the rift proper and started my climb back up. With the others watching I was of course trying to be slick whilst unassuming, but quickly managed to find myself quite desperately scrabbling at anything I could to try to make progress up this slippery and in places surprisingly featureless canyon. Thankfully for my dignity they were mostly too busy chatting shit to realise my distress and I eventually popped up to see most had already left in search of beer. Us remainers took a few snaps and then also headed out, collecting gear and sharing a spare Hobgoblin enroute, pretty pleased and honestly surprised at how well tonight had gone.

Debrief in the Mechanics was overwhelmed by the difficult objectives ahead. Where to dig, how to dig it, where to rig, why is there no water, where even are we relatively to V2, does Team Awesome need a tattoo, is another beer too many, etc. Basically all brilliant shit, the reason we are all together digging.

Team Awesome

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