Thursday, 14 January 2016

Langstroth Pot - Through Trip - New Year (Solo)

My first lonesome trip of the New Year. The variable weather had forced me to cancel this one several times over the past week. I'd been here the previous evening, but after kitting up and heading for the entrance I realised I'd forgotten my Primary Light's (Fenix) battery. I made up for this absent mindedness by getting an early start, I was still against the clock though due to a scheduled Climbing Wall session later that day and supposed poor weather arriving at Lunchtime.

It was a very cold morning and I took some warming in to the situation. The icy waters of the entrance series knocked the breath out of me initially. Signs of the previous months worth of severe flooding were never far away, the cave was still gripped by large amounts of run off.
With having planned to photograph the through trip I couldn't face carrying a lot of gear so travelled as minimally as I could - one rope, no food and minimal lighting, the lack of food was a big mistake.
The contorted entrance series made attempts at photography more difficult than I'd expected, mainly down to being in a handicapped position while trying to light and shoot the subject. Beyond the first pitch was no better either due to the spray and water vapour in the atmosphere. I hadn't brought a cloth to wipe the lense but keeping any garment dry would have been difficult - I was sodden from then on out. Overall the majority of shots throughout the trip failed to make the cut, but what I did get was worth the effort. I am sure those Professionals of the Cave Photography world carry dry boxes and helpers to carry them, plus cloths to clean all aspects of the Camera their hands and faces, but me I just stuff my camera inside the jacket of my wetsuit - the moment it gets any more complicated I would cease to bother. The Photographs I take whether good or bad represent the situation the true character of the venue and the experience.

Every inlet was buzzing, discharging their share to the ever increasing whole, even inlets I hadn't known existed before. My only rope pulled down fine thankfully throughout the whole trip, although I did have a brief Arse Clincher on the first pitch (2nd when referring to NC1) but swapping ends to pull on had it sorted - phew!

The deeper I got the wilder it got and the photos got harder to take, I resorted to cleaning the lense with my cheek for the most part. My teeth were chattering by the time I'd reached Goat Inlet and I knew I had to get out soon. Having not had anything but a salad for breakfast my body was struggling to stay above the cold. The photos of the final pitches poorly depict the situation, it was a maelstrom!

I was for once a little nervous about the freedive's to get out, with the floods being what they were I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I had intended on checking them first with a cylinder but couldn't really be bothered getting cold before the trip and decided it was far more satisfying to take a blind chance. I took one last photo of myself standing in the sump pool, this is when I noticed both my feet were almost completely numb. I quickly donned my diving mask and helmet and began the dive out via the three short but bitterly cold sumps. I couldn't resist stopping for the obligatory over zealous breath of air in the tiny airbell either, hasn't got me yet, but there's still time.

My trip time was 3 1/2 hours which I was surprised with considering the extra time spent taking pictures. This may be a familiar trip for me, my bread and butter, but in these conditions and on this day it was another truly classic version.

© Simon Beck, 2016. The copyright for this article and photographs remains with the author. It should not be reproduced without permission.

© Simon Beck, 2016. The copyright for this article and photographs remains with the author. It should not be reproduced without permission.

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