Balkon - to Grand Prix -> Camp Kraken -> Radio Silence + Scum of the Earth + Octopus Garden ->derig)

Sat 04 Aug 2018
Becka Lawson

[Goal]: Derig Octopussy & Tentacle Traverse + camp to top of Kraken then derig out of Tunnocks to bottom of Number of the Beast.

Caved 12:00-22:00 on 3rd, 11:00-23:45 on 4th, 10:00-19:30 on 5th, setting off from top of Kraken ~15:00 after ferrying camp to the top of it in 5 prussics.

"This is not a 3-man derig" was Geroge's plaintive assessment. We'll see.

Day 1 in Balkon, George finished off the traverse opposite Pitstop, disappointing Luke who'd bombed down to do it. We then continued to the bottom of Mongol Rally + George put a couple more bolts in the Floodland pitch that he, Jacob+ Olly had started int he previous tripbut it looked like a major job so he derigged and we went down Grand Prix past Littleboy to the "à cheval" ridge and dropped Suction Cup pitch (rigging topo on previous page). This led to a rather confusing slopy area which we clambered up steeply until it ended in an aven. We lost George for some stressful minutes - he'd dropped down a steep, muddy phreatic tube + struggled to return. We then packed up + left the 53m rope + some hangers as own own bags still seemed full + I thought we had a long way to go but in fact we were in camp Kraken in under an hour.

Day 2 We took our long rope +14m rope to the muddy, drafty end of Radio Silence where the previous (Anthony/Chris/Hydra) camping trip had got to + unenthusiastically started to rig (George) and to shiver (Becka + Adam). After some time (we cracked and got into the bothy) George shouted that he was past the worst of the drips (we're haviung a drought, itwould probably be nasty in the rain) + we should come down.

I was really in the mood to jack it off - it was sharp, wet cold and vertical - but George perked up after spotting what loooked like a floor down a c2 gwt(?) after the end of Scum of the Earth. We'd finished the long rope so put the 14m on the final drop end - hurrah - it first revealed a floor and we were in a big complex chamber.

We set off surveying , trying to cheer up a chilly Adam. There were lovely marked - and nippled - and streaked - mud slopes and a proper stream with sandy then muddy banks leading to a small sump. Just before, on the mud bank, I spotted a tiny seedling - "there's a sprout!"

"A what?" We all stared at it, bathing it with light for the first time in its hopeless life, then surveyed the upper sections + finally, down the boulder slope, we got into the upstream canyon. We followed this to a c2 then ate & I suggested it was time to head home but I was overruled by George ripping up the c2 +roving about a beuatiful pool. We followed and there was, indeed, a gorgeous green and blue poollike a weird eye. We took photos then surveyed further until the passage narrowed to a tall rift.

I pursuaded a reluctant George that it was really time to go. We then headed out with George derigging Scum of Earth (big swing on the second rebelay) then me derigging Radio Silence + Beckoning Silence then back to camp with George getting the short straw of derigging Tentacle Traverse which was apparently a struggle given his stature. Worryingly no water had collected duringt he day but I worked out a system using a bin bag tocollect and funnel drips in to the Daren drum + that worked well.

Day 3

"Are we going to do this?" We started with relays up Kraken as we had only 4 tackle sacks. George first with a monster rope bag + drill then me with another monster rope bag + hangers then Adam with another monster rope bag + a bag with the gear we needed to take out of camp including a full to bursting shit drum - George was the last to dump and he grumbled that he'd been set up as he had to squish in the final bag.

At this point we realised that we hadn't nearly enough tackle sacks so Large Marge made an appearance - the massive orange survival bag filled with 3x sleeping bags and 3x Alpinexes and 4x karrimats. George was skeptical + I was racked with the giggles (she was nearly as tall as he was but considerably fatter) but in fact he shot up Kraken with her, leaving me to regret letting him off taking a normal tackle sack as well. That left me to bring up the rest of the camp in two tackle sacks, aDaren drum, + some claptrap, derigging en route. At the top we sorted the pile of gear whilst Adam headed up + out of Tunnocks.

There was a moderate-sized expedition's worth of gear left there - at least 400m of rope, over 100 hangers, drill, hand-bolting kit, slings, tent, sleeping + cooking gear etc.

Adam had the bag own(?) kit then I went and George derigged. I pursuaded him we should take 3 tackle sacks between us onthe derig. Mistake. I broke George. He ended up at the top of Window Twankey's with a fulltackle sack and most of Big Bertha full of disgustingly muddy rope _ got, erm, cross.

By then I'd dumped my bag at the bottom of Procrastination + I'd headed back down to fetch another bag but when I met Adam at the top of Number of the Beast he said I needed to be nice to George so I took Adam's bag & G+A went bag-free then we stopped order(?) and let George escape. Less burdened, we slogged out.I gave the bag to Adam on the entrance pitch then was nearly humiliated as, on a flapjack high, he powered up + nearly caught me up. George was sunbathing on the surface + led us on a forced march back to camp which was ... deserted. [This trip also desribed in UK Caving blog] text below by Adam Aldridge: This will be a summary of the last Kraken camp of 2018, and maybe ever.

The trip was partaken by George, Becka, and myself (Adam). We went underground in Balcony on Friday the 3rd of August around mid day and surfaced from Tunnocks around 8pm on Sunday.

Following a generous helping of faff resulting in an irate Becka we set of towards Balcony with optimism. This would be my first ever underground camp trip, so there was a pinch of excited apprehension in my mood.

After the necessary commute in balcony we made it to the Mongol Rally, this 200m shaft, sloping slightly from the vertical, was by far the biggest i've ever seen. The decent, seemingly endless, is mostly experienced with blackness above and below. After a short journey from the base of The Mongol Rally feeling suitably far from home, we started work at the pushing front. Day one was finished with around 250m surveyed; George had dropped a pitch which led into large airy passages. Throughout the day George had been commenting on invasive smells. Most of these instances were a result of Becka taking out her pet mouldy cheese. I quietly found this rather amusing.

George and I awoke after a night at camp to find Becka doing lots of productive things, she had checked the radio (unfortunately without success) and was well on the way to making breakfast. Led by Becka's enthusiasm, day two was begun with less faff than the previous. We set of along Tentacle Traverse and down Octo Pussy towards the front. I was feeling remarkably weary on this second day. There was point, as George and Becka shot off, where I was nearly defeated by a section of upward sloping mud.

An arduous (for me) and increasingly muddy commute later, we reached the pushing front: a muddy wet pitch, great! Feeling a touch despondent at this point, we pushed on; George started bolting the pitch while Becka and I waited at the top. Waiting very quickly got cold so in an attempt to alleviate this situation we started jumping about. The nature of this was quite comical, it was a fusion between a Zumba class routine and the irregular movements of telly tubies who have just been exited by the sun baby. To our surprise and elation, the muddy gryke of a lead dropped into a dry spacious expanse with multiple ways on. We began surveying down a railway tunnel passage sloping slightly down. This, to our bewilderment, led to a gentle meandering river banked by sloped volumes of mud. All of a sudden, Becka became exited, George and I rushed over, she had found a sprout in the mud! A surreal occurrence at ~700m below. The sapling drank in our light deeply as we admired it's lone perseverance.

A few pictures later, we moved on, only to find a sump. This would have been annoying if not for the alternative upstream continuation.

Half an hour or so up this lead, much to my relief, we stopped on a muddy bank for a lunch break. The only way on was a 3m climb into a relic inlet. Becka argued that we should turn back as it was getting late (a sensible idea to be fair). Despite Becka's standpoint, George and I were up for going on. With Irate protest from Becka, George began the climb. Out of sight, George began talking in awe of an interesting blue lake. With more protesting from Becka, I climbed up as well. The pool in question was like something out of a sci fi film, Its colour and complexity was preternatural. I could explain it to you by a picture able to convey more than words.

With rekindled enthusiasm for exploration we continued deeper into a truly surreal environment, the vast relic stream passage was littered with artefacts of its past; here and there, pools of immaculate water lay undisturbed for presumably quite a while; marbled fractal mud formations encrusted the lower surfaces; bizarre spiky rock formations en-habited the walls, formed by a vigorous torrent, long forgotten.

With over 400m on the PDA, we returned to camp. The commute seemed friendlier, for me at least, with a sense of accomplishment under the belt.

Waking up for the second time in absence of sunlight, the task for the 'day' was to de-rig and prusik out. The camp was packed up and raised to the top of Kraken in five caries up the pitch (one by me two each by George and Becka). George competed a particularly obscene carry: a huge orange survival bag tied at the top with cord, he looked like a surreal speleo version of Santa Claus.

Once camp was sorted, we began the long ascent to the surface. Becka and I set of with some bags of rope while the machine that is George began to de-rig the pitches.

This was my first trip to Kraken camp, but it might also be the last. However as one good thing comes to an end, the next is on the horizon: with the persistent efforts of this year (especially by George and Becka) a new region of Balkony has proved promising, and so, the camp will be reformed there with new opportunities awaiting.

« Last Edit: August 09, 2018, 08:58:29 am by adam74aldridge »

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Survex files on this date:
Wallets on this date:
    2018#39 Tunnocks - hydra-scumoftheearth ['scumoftheearth']
    2018#40 Tunnocks - hydra-scum2 ['scum2']
    2018#70 2018#70 - George"s collection of special things - to be SPLIT UP ['-topfiles-', 'suctioncup-plan', 'mongolrally-plan', 'mudslope-plan', 'hangman…
Logbook trips on this date:
    base camp - Expo T-shirts arrived at Gasthof
    Balkon - to Grand Prix -> Camp Kraken -> Radio Silence + Scum of the Earth + Octopus Garden ->derig)
    Homecoming - derig
    Homecoming - derig team 2
    topcamp - derig bivvy cave