204 - Razordance -> push horizontal leads. Combined push, survey, photo + derig trip. Sigh.

Tue 31 Jul 2007



Woken up by Andrew to the news that we were going down Razordance. Hmm, really? I was prussiking out of 204E at 10pm last night + fancied a bit of a mellow, shallow shufty. Still, now or never as the derig loomed + Wookey was keen. Then Julian astounded us all by muttering that he'd come along. He went off for a dump whilst we consulted Andrew who was going to have to shepherd us down there. Why not? says Andrew, so we were underground by 10am feeling a bit old, unfit + generally fragile for all of this lark. Slowly down the pitches then into the rift. And more rift. And more sodding rift, ye gods. Only Andrew had been through before (+ then only once) so we got lost a couple of times, particularly trying to find the oxbow thing but finally we hit the sump + the unfeasible traverse. Don't worry, its easier this direction says Andrew. Hmm, reassuring. Quick chocky stop + off up lots of scrambly climbs - not too bad but it felt a long way from home by now. What's all this about? asks Wookey. We have to go up 120m now says Andrew. Bloody hell. Wish we'd looked at the survey a bit more carefully before setting off - except that would probably have discouraged us from all this nonsense. This is wasting my valuable getting-out energy grumbles Julian. Picked up Andrew's camera case + did some 4-flash shots in the big chamber then split with Andrew + Julian taking photos and Wookey + I continuing Andrew, George + Andreas' Gobi Trail survey ~ SW for 130m including plenty of diddly 2m legs in mainly crawly / stoopy tubes with sand or pebble floor. A reasonable draft heading in with us. It was all quite cosy + friendly and we could easily have notched up a few more hours surveying but Wookey decided that enough was enough so we took some cheesy group shots + left things at a complex junction wuth 2 QM A's and a QM B with sound of water. One to a Razordance-like rift with water, the other with a strong draft coming out + heading up steeply. Derigged the hand line + I picked up the tacklesack of unrigged rope + back to the sump to put on our SRT gear. I failed to palm off the tacklesack on anyone + set off to the start of the traverse. I'd heard Dunks muttering that cutting the rope for the traverse without leaving a tail down to the sump level had been a bit overkeen on scrimping with the rope + the muddy slope from the end of the traverse down had been awkward on the way there but, hey, nobody had actually fallen off it yet. Andrew had mentioned it was easier high but with the tacklesack I didn't want to slither a long way down so I gingerly teetered forward on muddy ledges + eyed up the slot in the sump, wondering if it was narrow enough that I couldn't possibly fall down it. Yes I thought + promptly my foot slid + I decided to check it out. 'Shit'. Then I've got one foot under the water + the other braced on the far wall with the tacklesack dangling like a Mafioso's cement sack from my waist + some serious knee shake. 'Andrew's coming' shouts Wookey. He gets his long cows tail into the traverse + I manage to clip my cow's tail into his footloops + then do a flailing prussik up him and onto the traverse. Still nobody volunteered to take the fucking tacklesack. I hauled myself across the traverse trying to maintain enough stress that my 8pm spit sample on the far side was a good 'un. Right, that was my low point, literally as well as figuratively. Andrew derigged the traverse whilst collecting his spit + gobs as soon as he gets over. Were you holding the spit pot whilst you derigged? asked Wookey. Er, he's good but even Andrew probably didn't have a spare hand there. Tootled up the rift - not as bad as feared, route-finding easier than on the way down + it didn't seem any more energetic than on the way down, especially as all the pitches are nice + bite sized. I didn't let anyone have a cup-of-soup at the camp as we didn't deserve it. On + on, I'd forgotten all the pitches by now. I managed to do an awkward section right at the bottom whilst everyone else wandered around trying to find the way higher up. Then a really long pitch, followed by another largish one. I got a bit concerned as Julian would be slow on this + I knew Razordance started with an awkward section + a couple of short pitches so we must still have quite a long way to go in the rift... Andrew came up swearing at his dysfunctional jammer. How many more pitches? I asked. 12. OK altogether, but how many to go? Well, we've done 1 or 2. No, but the first ones in Razordance are short... ah! You mean I'm not in the rift any more??? Great news - halfway up Kiwi Suit before I knew it. No time out from here. Andrew + I got out + rehydrated, went to bed + Julian + Wookey came out a couple of hours later. Julian did an ad hoc spit sample just to see what euphoria hormones look like (though how he gets his 4am baseline comparison I don't know). A fine trip - once in a lifetime, literally, for Julian at least... Combined age of 4 team members = 152 years, what's the retirement age for this kind of nonsense?