76 - Keg Series

Fri 30 Jul 2004

Went down to the top of Keg Series with lots of rigging gear + drill. Olly did some more gardening (but there is still lots of loose stuff around) and went down; rather than heading straight down the pitch like last time, he swung across into the passage ~ 1/3 of the way down. The horizontal passage only went a few metres before becoming choked to the right, and rejoining the pitch on the left. Anyway Olly rigged down a different shaft leaving on the left that rejoined the direct pitch at the bottom + nicely avoided water + loose rocks. At the next pitch head I foolishly remarked that it would be nice if it sumped round the corner, so we could look somewhere nice (+ less loose).

The next pitch was actually nice, less loose + BIG, it was rigged with a deviation + a knot pass, but needs more/better deviation(s). This took us down to another ledge 25m below; from here Olly rigged a 3rd pitch (with a deviation in) that after 25m reached a really big ledge with (for the first time in a while) a solid rock floor. Olly went down a short, 5m pitch, whilst I commented on how big and therefore significant this passage/pitch series was. At the bottom Olly found a sump and I felt guilty for wanting one earlier...

I climbed down to check it really was a sump (it was, and not a very impressive one at that) whilst Olly looked at a small passage going off the other way till it got small; I came out and looked there – after a short crawl (~5m) it met a small stream passage which I followed for a short way till it felt small + committing – the passage does however continue. Meanwhile Olly had found a more promising lead by climbing above the sump and following a tortuous vadose canyon downhill until it got bigger and became another pitch series; we decided to leave this for next year and surveyed out to the top of Keg Series.

On the middle big pitch I had a bad feeling about the rope rubbing so was prusiking fairly gently. Once I was ~1/2 way up I noticed the rope was caught round a flake above the deviation and was rubbing lots + lots over a fairly sharp edge. This made me scared, lots. I wished we weren't using 9mm rope too. I shouted up to Olly what had happened + that I was going to prusik very carefully, unless he had any bright ideas for what to do. Olly suggested I prusik very very carefully. I carried on up, past the knot pass, cursing Olly's rigging (sorry) till I got to the deviation which I clipped into (keeping my jammers on as well). Despite the deviation being on a dodgy small spike with a retired sling I felt a whole lot safer and pondered what to do next. The only option me or Olly could think of was to pass the deviation so I could up-flick the rope, then prusik gently past the rub point. I was careful not to look at the rope until past the rub, because that was how Olly said cartoons work! Anyway the rope was only a bit furry, I didn't die and we exited the rest of the cave uneventfully.