Balcony - not finding Sloppy Seconds, touristing, flooding

Wed 02 Aug 2017



We headed to Balcony with the intention of pushing Sloppy Seconds. We were underground by midday and nominated Rachel as leader as she knew how to get to Hilti-A-Plenty. However, none of us knew for sure how to get to Sloppy Seconds (we were looking for Bat Country first off).

I enjoyed the entrance series and the completely dry big pitch (this is apparently abnormal) and the following pitches down Hilti-A-Plenty. We took a left at the bottom in the hope of finding the right way, but sadly this was not the case. After much fun exploring, we decided to head back to the bottom of Hilty and take the other (correct) passage. It soon became clear that we were not going to find Sloppy Seconds, so, as it was my first trip, we replanned for a tourist trip to Ice Cock Aven.

After ascending the pitch leading to Cathedral Chasm, Corin decided to head out with Ash’s pushing rope as he had been to Ice Cock Aven only the day before. The journey for the three remaining was very enjoyable as I like a good climb and there were some good sandy crawls. The ice formations were as good as promised and Michael gave a great tour of the area. We then set off out.

I was first onto the ‘15m pitch’ when we heard a rumbling noise. We gave each other a worried look before quickly deciding to retreat away from the pitch to see where the water would appear. It was 5:40pm at this point and we found out that although the far side of the chamber gets wet we were alright to go up.

Our next concern was how far Corin had got as the entrance series big pitch is too wet to pass in flood. Thankfully we found him in the bottom of the entrance series in a bothy bag singing contentedly. He had had a similar close call, having retreated after just putting his croll on the rope.

It then became a military operation to put on out extra warm layers and prepare for a long wait in the bothy bag. We sat on rope and put tacklesacks below our feet to keep warm. The efficiency was excellent and we soon had water, food and a seating plan ready for our party. We pulled the bag over and made sure to leave a small hole for oxygen. Six games of ‘what time is it?’ and lots of chats later, Rachel went to check if the much less noisy pitch was now only drippy. After shouting down that it was good we all gradually left the bothy and headed out safely, almost missing callout at 11pm. What a first trip.