Thu 07 Jul 2016
Descended lunchtime and sent down at a steady pace. Met up with David, Julian and Becka at the camp. After a quick brew we went off exploring. WE headed to the 4m climb mentioned by the previous party's write up. Mark climbed it and beyond the passage soon reached another pitch down where we could hear water. After that it was time to get back to camp for dinner. The night was pretty comfortable.
Big day of exploration. First lead was the "short pitch of 20m". A quick rig from Mark and it was 12m. Below a fine piece of passage led to a blind alcove. A smaller side passage led directly to a mud sump the consistence of a blancmange. We christened this "The Wrong Custard". Next up was a ramp just after the northern branch splits off. Luke took the lead and up we went! Some superb cracked mud floor at the top. Then we finished off with a crack at the deep pitch in Lobster Passage. Mark put in the first few traverse bolts in, then Luke took over and rigged the actual descent. A superb 45m freehang into a chamber. At the bottom was some very glutinous mud and a sump. An inlet passage led to an aven at least 20m high.
We had breakfast and then Mark went up the boulder slope to get onto the rope..but couldn't find it. Anthony (our illustrious trip leader with a pocket full of surveys and notes) came up the slope prepared to point "the old duffer" in the right direction. But he soon realised that the rope really was missing. With our lights on full power we managed to locate it about 20 m off the floor. Bugger. To avoid wasting a day we decided to go pushing anyway. A rescue seemed inevitable but we couldn't do anything about it. First up was a B-lead not far from the bottom of Octopussy. This went for ~140m, sloping down all the way to a very muddy conclusion. After this, Mark went back to camp (in case another party came down). Meanwhile Anthony and Luke took a look at the two pitches nearby. One (to the left) proved awkward due to a big loose boulder. The other (to the right) is in a rift and was easier to rig. Anthony took up the cudgels and descended down to a chamber/passage with two ways on. Either another pitch or an ascending ramp. Those were left for another day. Dinner was calm and we spent some time inventing ridiculous games to pass the time in case of a protracted wait for rescue. "Soup snap" was one idea.
At about 11:45 we heard the first sounds of rescuers approaching. Soon after we welcome sight of Nat abseiling down meant that we were at last able to get out. An efficient prussic out and everybody was back on the surface by 17:00. Many thanks to all the EXPO members who organised a very efficient rescue!