107 - 161, Runnelstone

Tue 28 Jul 2015

A more successful attempt to get to 161, got to China in 1hr45 having relocated the Double Beep rope back to Coldest on the way in. Slowed down a bit owing to not really knowing the way and Jenny being slow especially on all the tedious little climbs, but got ourselves to the Runnelstone, and Holey Cow 56. Wookey started bolting down while I went round Welly Popper Passage to (a) keep warm and (b) check that Wookey wasn't about to bolt into known passage. Got to a junction, headed left and got to a climb I was too wussy to descend (it turns out that this connects with station 56), then followed right before realising I was in previously unvisited passage, so headed back to 56. Wookey was some way down but had run out of rope, so we rigged with the longer rope. Wookey got to the bottom, said it ended and started to reascend. He thoroughly checked out the rift on the way up and found a window in to a few awkward oxbows which we followed down via a lovely hang, to the floor. A short way on, the water flows down a short small drop with a bigger (wider) pitch likely beyond.

This looked small + wet, so Wookey climbed up to some ledges to follow the rift at a higher level. Part way up he placed a very fast bolt, hence the passage name Fastest Bolt in the West. Followed these rising ledges to a quality natural. We'd hoped to traverse to a widening above the pitch for a nice easy descent. Unfortunately this didn't happen - the traverse continues, drafty, bit small, but no easy way down. Surveyed out. Decided to leave it rigged, but to take the drill out.

Surveyed the side passage from wellypopper.7 that I had scooped earlier. Named Falling Spike after a lovely spike handhold that Wookey removed from the wall near Wellypopper. Nice walking passage with draft to an aven with water (and a good place for a wee!) After this the passage split into two - small way on with the water on the right, and small dry way straight on. We think that the draft got lost on a window part way up on the right (needs gear to get in to). Headed out, took a bit over an hour to China (with some faffing), then 2 hours out from there. The pitch out of China is nicely long enough to mean you don't hold people up on the way out. The drill bag was much less bad than I expected on the Restless rifts. Happy to get out and find it not raining - had time to walk home and have dinner before it rained.