76 - Eislufthöhle - rigging down 70's route to Keg Series
We decided that today we would continue down the 70s route and see how far we could get with the rope + hangers we had. I wanted to play with the drill, so set off down to the current end of the rigging (the next ledge on from the Test Tube passage) and put in a nice Y-hang. Meanwhile Olly swung around on the snow plugs below to retrieve my spanner he had lost. The pitch was really nice – the best so far, a lovely hang in a huge shaft, on down to the next ledge + some 1970s spits, one of which was used as part of the Y, a deviation later and I was at the bottom of "Plugged Shaft" on a bouldery floor with a huge bit of scaffold bar longer than I am! The next pitch wasn't far away, and as we weren't certain how solid the floor was we continued the rope round – this is where the 112m rope ended, so we tied on the 85m and Olly bolted down "Saved Shaft" with, as is typical of this cave, a deviation. We now arrived at a HUGE boulder pile, with at least one boulder bigger than a car! The way on was under these with the draft. The boulders actually looked quite wedged, but it is probably worth trying to get over the top sometime (a) to see if it goes anywhere new and (b) in the hope that it is safer. Olly rigged a traverse line through the boulders, as once on the other side you are in a rift with very little in the floor dropping away into "Keg Series" 30 odd metres below. Olly rigged down this after doing some gardening of rocks at the pitch head, including one ~1m across... Olly got to the bottom of the first pitch and carried on down. I set off down this pitch, being really careful of all the loose stuff still there, and reached the bottom just as Olly had reached the end of the rope below. The pitch was quite drippy by the end, and perhaps needs rigging differently for times of rain. Anyway, with no rope, one hanger and no maillons left we decided to survey out, pulling the rope up to the top of the pitch so we can garden more next time. We wanted to survey with a plumb leg, but the pitch wasn't quite free hanging, so the plan was for Olly to go up, and swing across to where it would plumb from. This worked well until Olly dislodged a small rock with his foot which fell 12m to me below. As I was looking up at the tape it did not bounce off my helmet but hit me on the top of my nose / bottom of my forehead. It hurt lots and I screamed lots thinking I was properly broken. After a bit I realised Olly was asking in quite a concerned way if I was OK, so I thought for a bit if I was, my nose hurt lots, but there was only a very small bit of blood, and once I opened my eyes I realised that I could see alright, so I shouted back that I was OK, and cried some more until the pain died away a bit. We did a bit of surveying. Then decided to give up until we had done more gardening and rigging, and went back to the base of Saved Shaft. We surveyed back till it connected at The Ledge and went home.