Balcony - The Far Side

Sun 17 Aug 2014



Enthusiasm for caving was apparently waning as no-one had been underground for days. A respite in the weather meant we could head to Balcony with dry kit/clothes. We took 2 drills to attempt a "double pronged" attack on the 2 main leads at the end of Leeds bypass.

Holly set up at the pitch, aiming to descend this whilst Noel & Andy re-rigged Fleur & Pete's traverse over a huge blank walled shaft into a continuation of the main passage on the other side. This looked like a major undertaking so we headed back to Holly to see if her lead would "go" easily.

Holly had put in a traverse, & it looked like, from closer inspection, that there may be horizontal passage continuing over the pitch. Soon, Holly had rigged the pitch, which turned out to be ~10m only, with a much smaller continuation down through a slot. But there was a continuation of the horizontal at the bottom of the 10m!

Noel & Andy set off surveying whilst Holly tidied up the rigging. It kept going over a rift traverse into a tube with strange piles of flakey rock. In continued to a small pitch next to a boulder choke with passage visible above the boulders, accessible by an exposed traverse over the pit. We found a hole up the boulders where both Noel & Andy got scared and didn't want to go up it. But then Holly turned up, told the boys to "man-up" & promptly climbed up through the boulders. So we had to follow, into the passage continuation above. The bigger passage at the top ended after 2 legs at an aven, but a continuation in a crap looking passage the other way (we thought it would end round the corner, & Andy didn't even notice it at first) kept going & going up a slight incline. The passage started intersecting various junctions with A-lead quality passages leading off, & got bigger & bigger as we went. Holly was now very excited, hardly able to contain herself enough to do her nail-varnish job! Even Andy appeared to be enjoying himself - or at least was less miserable than normal. Passage became very large, & ended eventually at a large shaft. Noel recognised this as the other side of the pit we were initially considering traversing so we had completed a large loop! We left a sheet of paper on the last station in order to shoot back across from the other side on the way out, to complete the survey loop.

Not quite having had our fill yet, it was still early so we headed up the first A lead on the way out & surveyed that to a pitch with a large passage continuing on the other side. Strong draught here, A+ lead. It would require bolt traversing to get around to. We decided to call it a day & headed out, shooting the loop closure leg across the shaft on the way past (de-rigging the traverse to get here as well).

We called the main passage "The Far Side" as it was across the huge pit that was the old A lead. The new passage is a continuation of the major development of the cave & is very interesting.

We surveyed 514m on this trip in maybe 4-5 hours - not bad. We also left 7 major horizontal leads & a couple requiring traversing - this is an excellent & easy-going cave so far & loads of potential.

Rigging Topo:

[blank space, no rigging topo]