Tunnockschact Entrance Series

Fri 22 Jul 2011
Chris Smith

Rob and I headed off to Tunnockschact ahead of the main party to continue with the previous day's rigging (entrance pitch pre-rigged to the first deviation). I continued with the rigging, whilst rob sheltered on the surface.

Beneath the first deviation it was necessary to rig a Fig-8 rather than a Y-hang due to the thread on the right hand spit being damaged (needs re-bolting). Two further rebelay's to the first scree slope were rigged without incident. No snow was present on the scree slope making it extremely unstable

I undertook a spot of gardening, but my efforts were ineffectual as kicking down the loose choss seemed to further destabilise the remaining scree. At this point Rob descended the first main pitch and waited at the top of the scree slope

A "traverse line" was rigged from the bottom of the first pitch to the small pitch above the second scree slope. The entire traverse needs re-bolting as the anchor points are at ankle height, meaning that any falls taken on the rope will result in considerable shock loading. Rigging round the traverse and short pitch gave access to the second scree slope, where again no snow was present (in stark contrast with the previous year). Again, this slope is extremely unstable.

Had difficulty finding bolts for the traverse to the second Y-hang, however I suspect this because there are no bolts besides the one back-up point to the Y-hang. Needs re-bolting to make safe in low/no snow conditions.

Rigging the second Y-hang was a complete arse as the two bolts in the far wall were nearly unreachable. Rigging this section took much faffing, by which point Andy had joined me at the top of the pitch. Descending the pitch to the next floor and set of rebelay's took place without incident, although I did miss out the bolt for the deviation (oops!). By now Rob, Jon, and Noel were waiting around the top of the first scree slope and traverse line.

Descending the rebelay's below the second Y-hang and (missed) deviation gave access to the top of the old snow slope; however instead of being greeted by several tonnes of snow there was a gaping crevasse where top of the old snow slope used to be. Evidentially the cave has warmed up considerably since last year. Descending the snow slope beyond this point was impossible. Andy came down for a second opinion and concluded much the same as myself. At the point I turned around and started to ascend, so that Noel could come down for a third opinion. Rob, Jon and I headed out whilst Noel and Andy made one last inspection of the snow slope before heading out in tat order.


  • Scree slopes extremely unstable due to major snow melt

  • Entrance Y-hang needs re-bolting for right hand spit

  • First traverse needs re-bolting to raise the height of the traverse line

  • Traverse to second Y-hang needs additional spits, to improve safety under loose scree conditions

  • Bottom pitch above snow slope needs completely re-bolting to enable safe crossing of the crevasse in low snow conditions

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    Tunnockschact Entrance Series