GSH - pitches, crapping out KWH, scooping

Mon 31 Jul 2017

After the excitement of yesterday, having left all our personal kit and a set of bolting kit at the cave, we returned optimistic that we would find something big today. We were under strict instructions from Becka not to crap out KWH, which she considered her cave. We headed off into GSH to continue surveying from where we had got to the day before. We first went up the right-hand fork at the second T junction. After one further survey leg we realised that we had reached a pitch of about 12m, which had not been noticed before due to the strict scooping restrictions imposed by Becka. These restrictions were to prove a great inhibition all round throughout the day.

We decided to survey as far as possible in the other direction before returning to bolt it, having left the drill etc on the surface. A reasonable distance (~60m) was surveyed, but as it was drafting inwards we suspected that the passages were leading to the surface. We found four ways on, three of which became choked with boulders after only a few further legs. The fourth was a ~5m climb up a drippy aven which had horizontal passage leading off at the top, but we didn’t climb this as we thought it was heading to the surface and the climb probably needed a rope for the way down. This done, we went back to the surface for a melon break.

We then returned to the pitch to bolt it. The rock again was extremely poor and there had clearly been some major ceiling collapse. Huge boulders were loose at the pitch head. After the drill battery ran out having done 3.5 holes (with the second battery - taped, #1 - doing zero holes) a scrappy descent was made using the tacklebag as a rope protector at the top. At the bottom, a rift led off for ~20m before arriving at another pitch head. This one was huge - at least a 3s drop. Exciting! We would return with more batteries and rope tomorrow to drop it. We exited again for a second lunch of snowmelt, noodles and soup.

Then we went back to KWH, where both of the going leads crapped out after only one more survey leg each. Another example of where further scooping would have given us extremely useful further information and saved us a lot of time. The final example of this was when we stuck our heads into the other drafty hole found the day before, which Becka claimed to have ventured ~20m into. After ~50m, we found a very drafty pitch which looked much easier to drop than the pitches in GSH.

So, with two excellent prospects (along with two excellent digs for Ash to investigate), we returned to Top Camp quite early but in high spirits.