Balkonhöhle - Charon & Underground Camp
T/U Fri ?7, Sat 24, Sun 15
(also Wookey + Andreas on camp)
I food-panicked and insisted on us taking down unfeasible numbers of curries etc. We each had a heavy bag down, taking a lot extra rope. Camp disappointed Nat - dirty cups + very damp pits. Also very muddy hangers. Drip for water very slow.
We all headed to the 70m pitch (Tartarus) at the end of Nothern Pitstop + Medusa's Maze. Wookey + Andreas then continued the horizontal lead that Harry + Johnno had left on the previous camping trip whilst Nat + I went down the muddy slope along a deep stream canyon. The angle meant that it needed a rope as the mud was thick + treacherous. At the end of their rope Nat bolted + naturaled down a short pitch. We had great hopes of horizontal but just round the corner the ledges returned (not before we passed a gorgeous wall of white crystal/helictite balls). I had been following behind Nat with the survey but I got to rig a short traverse along the muddy ledge (3 bolts, last one particularly poor - there were two hammers at camp but we had failed to bring either so we were using rocks which weren't very effective). The ledge ended + we'd have had to rig a pitch down to continue so we decided to derig all of our rope plus what Harry + Johnno put in. I started on this whilst Nat checked out dropping directly into the stream canyon. He decided this was too deep (>30m?) to do so we plodded on with the derig. I properly ran out of steam, fighting to move in the disgusting thick mud with the ropes + bags + our gear coated thickly in it. Met Andreas + Wookey at the top of the slope + divided out the gear so we all dragged one heavy bag back to camp. 12 hours caving. (Woke 7am, left camp 9am, back 9pm).
Up at 7, packed up, left 9.30, out 2.30 to 3pm. Slow steady plod as we all had big bags, taking out excess rigging gear + the 4th pit from camp. Met Gwen, Kristian, Dinny + Chris Holt at the entrance.