204 - Razor Dance

Tue 27 Jul 2004



My drill was at the bottom of Razor Dance, and since I was about to go home I needed to fish it out. Since there was a shortage of people wanting to push the thing further, we decided to do one more push-survey-derig trip. Four days of attempting to dry out my fleecy undersuit proved futile (not helped by rushing up the hill in the dark and rain the previous night due to a 12 hour error in the recorded callout time for the Eisluft team). So at 8am I pulled on soaking wet undersuit prior to a 10am trip start. Twenty hours later I took it off again, and for most of the intervening time I was too cold.

Uneventful trip as far as the start of Razor Dance, where the water level was higher than I've ever seen – probably double the usual levels. The wet climb was unpleasant but passable so we elected to carry on. Most of the pitches were fine: an extra waterfall had appeared at Mash Tun, but it was OK. The bottom of Copper was very wet – borderline dangerous. The rebelay on Yeast is in a star place for avoiding the water (shame about the pitch head bolts, which need a tector). In conclusion, Razor Dance will be OK in the wet with an extra couple of bolts: one on the first wet climb, and another for a water avoidance deviation on Copper.

From the pushing front the stream continues in a tedious winding fashion. Martin headed onward with the drill (having earlier put in a rebelay bolt on Pepper Pot) while Dave + Dour surveyed. Dave couldn't read the instruments so I was forced to peer through the murk. Some creativity was required to fabricate some data. Much tedious dicking about in the rift to find the right level and a 6m pitch later we reached the deep point (204 now 544m deep) where the water goes down a tiny slot. Round the corner an ascending traverse goes to a much wider bit (~4m wide) – looks like a weak bed has been exploited to make the widening – the bed is visible cutting across the passage. A line is needed where the traverse gets muddy and slippy – lots of brown mud with a black crust with dessication cracks (at least there was before I stomped/bum-slid across it). The drill battery had done its usual trick of going from 4 bars to none in no time at all, so a Martin special pushing rig was put in place. Cartoon laws of rigging apply: the naturals are sound so long as you don't look at them too closely. More bolts needed next time. At the end is a pitch that we couldn't get close enough to see down – estimate 20m on the basis of throwing one rock down it (i.e. it could be any length at all). [Incidentally, this point is around 10m above the level at which the stream was last seen.—DL]

Thereafter we (read Dave) derigged out as far as God Loves a Drunk, where soup was consumed. The drill and a bag of rope walked out of the cave all on their own, whilst another bag of rope got tired at the bottom of Kiwi Suit. Team foot jammer levitated out whilst expending no effort at all, whilst this dinosaur frogged out at his usual funereal pace.

Pushing Razor Dance is becoming quite serious in terms of the amount of effort and gear required. It is only worth pushing next year if there are enough (i.e. more than 4) moderately hard (but not necessarily bionic) people interested in pushing it.