Expo - Final Homecoming Stint

Sun 05 Aug 2018
Rachel Turnbull

Blog Author: RTurnbull

It?s coming home: Final Homecoming Stint‚Äč

Homecoming is a cave found this year, approximately 90 minutes walk from our bivouac on the Loser plateau that has just gone and gone! Unfortunately, it has sunk lots of resrouces and plans have been formulated to set up a satellite bivi in the future, where our expedition aims will consolidate underground efforts.

The derig
Despite our best efforts, we arrived at Homecoming to begin the derig, a cave we had little information about, but that did not extend much further than a junction, 200m down. Luke raced ahead and left Nadia and I remarking at the cave?s remarkable features; howling icy draught, deep free hanging pitches and long, low hanging traverse lines over rift passages.

Having entered the cave, thinking we were going to derig 200m of pitches, we found shit tons of rope after where we had expected to start, perhaps twice as much rope as we expected. Luke began the derig, Nadia ferrying tackle bags and myself ?processing rope? and packing bags. After an ambitious few hours, moving 200m of rope, we arrived at our preconceived start point. Here we plotted our PAELLA: Pulling A Extremely Long Length Altogether.

None of the 3 of us had ever ?paella?ed rope before but we knew we were not going to be able to prussik it all out, easily. We sent Luke up first with the rope tied to him and all the metalwork, ~35 handers+malloins and the emergency kit. Nadia and I derided the traverse to the big 120m pitch. With each bolt ~5m apart and no handholds to speak of, we questioned our sanity, but pushed through. Luke was much faster than our derigging effort and pulled our rope chain up 80m to the ledge, prussiked the tackle sack up 40m and came back down to meet Nadia on the ledge again. After a bit of discussion as to how to pull rope up two pitches at the same time they figured it out. Luke prussiked up the 40 and created a new pile as Nadia pulled the ropes I was derigging up. Very smooth.

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At the top of the 40m our chain was over 300m long and we were entering rift passage. Luckily the timing was right and we were met by Ruairidh, Jacob and Alex, who supported the transportation through a climbing rift, by acting as human-deviations getting the chain ~60m through twists and turns to the next pitch head.  The rest of the trip was smooth sailing with only a few rocks being dropped and one hanger escaping out of a hole in the bottom of the tackle sack. The final length that lay piled outside the cave entrance was over 500m and bigger than the average caver. An estimated 70 hangers and maillons plus deviation crabs were also brought out. Cavers returned to camp for 2am.

Man hours: 66

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Edit this entry. Survex files on this date:
    caves-1623/41/bigchamber
Wallets on this date:
    2018#41 Homecoming - putting the dick in dickons hole ['plan1-dick', 'notes1-dick']
Logbook trips on this date:
    Homecoming - shallow leads
    Expo - Final Homecoming Stint