107 - Gemshohle - Attempt #2 to push Wookey & Jess' lead at North end of China
After a later start than was intended (due to my extensive faffing abilities), we were underground by 11:45. By 1:30pm we had reached "Too bold". This being Elaines 2nd trip of expo, and only her 6th SRT trip, she was not quite so confident on the larger pitches, so we reached the bottom of China by around 3pm. The climb which Wookey had rigged was somewhat precarious to say the least, so we sat on the other side of the choss pile at the bottom in a group shelter until each of us had ascended the climb. Aled & David got to the top and I decided to come up. About halfway up (~2m above the deviation) I felt a massive draught kicking out of a slanting rift in the wall: the lead! The others had gone too high. David dropped down with the drill after I had had a look down the hole, a slanting rift for ~5m which opens out over the top of a reasonable freehang (~20m). The pitch was subsequently dropped by David, who shouted enthusiastically up for someone to follow. I had the survey kit in my bag so I followed on.
After some rigging adjustments, I dropped into a rather large passage with a humongous draught at the end. Very excited! We went round the corner to where Dave had looked to and began surveying. However after 3 legs Dave discovered a survey station which wasn't ours. Strange! This lead us to believe that it was not new passage. We went through a squeeze after a sandy crawl after following a phreatic passage with a gravelly floor, this reached a massive rift with a dodgy looking climb or a dodgy looking traverse (tried doing the traverse but it was a silly idea with us being 2 rather inexperienced cavers on the wrong side of a possibly new bit of passage. We therefore turned round and backsurveyed 8 legs from previous station 18 to the top of the pitch David dropped. By this time, it was getting on for 8pm & with a 12 (midnight) callout we decided it was time to turn round, Aled & Elaine having already headed out. Carrying the drill, bolting kit etc progress was more taxing than expected and we reached the surface around 10:30.
After some faff and route finding issues we returned to top camp at 11:40pm cutting callout a wee bit fine.