Balcony - Cathedral Chasm and Dark Arts

Thu 10 Aug 2017

The aim of the trip was to derig Cathedral Chasm and poke around George’s lead in the Dark Arts. We followed Ash’s exceptional rigging and were thoroughly impressed with his resourcefulness and creativity. The man deserves recognition and from now, the pitch will be known as the Mashterpiece.

At the bottom of the rigging, a ledge led to a short crawl and a 5m pitch. We considered how much rope we could cut off the Mashterpiece given the swing across necessary to ascend. We tied off the rope with a length of cord we had brought.

The 5m pitch gave way to a north-bound rift with a crawl, QMA, for 10m after a C4 down and we left it at a 20m+ pitch, drafting inwards. The obvious way on from the P5 is up a C4 to another chamber, then C14 (chimney) down to a large, echoey chamber. This had a huge jammed boulder, heading a 30m+ pitch, also very worth dropping (QMA). We surveyed from the bottom of the Mashterpiece to the C14 climb, but it needs tying into the above survey (we were unsure where this ended, so didn’t bother to risk duplicating work). We promptly ran away to the Dark Arts.

George had tried to drop a P15 for the previous two years, and we finally dragged the final four functional drill batteries through the crawling rift with trench in the floor. I was somewhat behind with the rope bag when swearing filled the passage. It transpired that George had done a bad thing. He had let the drill bag slip down the rift whilst leaning back through an awkward dog-leg at the pitch head.

The next 20 minutes involved a whole hearted effort of ‘hook-a-duck’, where I tried to manoeuvre the bag with a snapgate, tied open on the end of a piece of cord. For reference, if possible, hauling from the top/bottom of the bag may be more successful than the shoulder straps. George gave his best in forcing his arm down the rift and the bag was eventually retrieved.

George set about bolting the awkward pitch head. Batteries 8, 13, and 15 successfully gave us half a hole in the shit rock, before the mighty number 14 finished the job. The 25m pitch gave way to a ‘skanky’ (George, 2017) pool of water and parallel shaft that also went nowhere.

Quite cold and disheartened, we left to find the entrance series rather wet. Deciding to give it half an hour, we set about investigating the flood drum. Some items are of obvious importance, although the absence of a pan is noteworthy in the presence of a stove, gas cylinder and large selection of oatso’s and soups. Fairly frustrated, we braved the not-very-wet entrance.


Sketvch survey of Loser Lido sump below Grike of the Earth