Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Mossdale Session 30

Mossdale Session 30  


(Simon Beck, Adele Ward)

'I've played this game, and taken it seriously for long enough, to feel there is little sense, in at least not finishing it'.

This one always used to feel like a big event in the past, i.e Mossdale after a long lay off. One never knows what to expect after winter's had it's turn again. There is also the issue of me being at my most sackless post New Year. I'm doubtful in anticipating a change to this trend but, ask me if I care. I'm 38 and give less of a shit about the consequences of any given thing than I ever have.

When it comes to the caving side of my life, I've hung everything I have on it. Maybe it's because I feel deep down that something will come of it all. Or alternatively I've lost all faith in convention. Either way I don't feel I'll be walking away it anytime soon. I've changed far too little to feel there will ever be a significant change in me.

Visions of expansion were again considered up until recently. More projects, more people, M.E.G etc, etc.... Enough so I even began making plans.
It was after this Session, that all changed.

After reminding myself how fortunate I am to still be doing all this, especially after the number of years it took me to find the right balance.

Why ruin a system that works?!

I've had no choice but to re-establish my motives and the why in my caving on occasions. My reasons now bear little resemblance to those of the past. Only the severity of my caving has remained consistent, which in itself is the key fundamental.
The most recent and significant change, regarding this, probably took place over the past half decade. It was not something that happened overnight, and developed over a long frustrating period of trial and error, punctuated with lulls of inactivity.
I never came to fully understand all the factors, which didn't really matter. I'd identified with what mattered the most.

The fact is....

I wouldn't want to go caving everyday of the week even if I could, and it's 50/50 even on days off. The result of all this being, I hate caving the moment I have to make plans for a set date in the future.

With a project that's largely governed by the weather, I don't always have a choice. But that is where the balance lies, somewhere between 'when I want' and 'when it's necessary'.

Regarding the plans I did make, Syphon Passage is still one I would like to stick with for the spring/summer or when I can afford to spare the time from Ouroborous, i.e when I'm ready etc... The prospects of expanding on what others have done here in the past, is something I've sat on for sometime now.

'What you want and what you're truly willing to sacrifice for it rarely unite'

'You thought you knew what you wanted until the time comes to answer for it'

The first Mossdale Session of the year!

Even though it felt long overdue, it still came earlier than in previous years.

I didn't feel in tune with any aspect of what was to come beforehand. My physical state, sanity, the weather, the cave or my objectives.. Call it more a 'Reconnaissance of the Soul' than anything else. An investigation of the train wreck, before the clear up begins.

I didn't struggle like I thought I would and faired pretty well regarding my fitness. Which is a complete mystery! The fact I was back two days later speaks volumes about the day.

The weather was settled but very cold, cloudy and windy. With a small chance of rain/snow. Not a day for the mid-regions of Mossdale without reasonable prior acquaintance, understanding, or just sheer ignorance!

Adele was raring to go, but nervous about how she would fare. I could only attempt to ridicule the lack of confidence from her. She'd been sport caving at a consistently hard level since she was last here. I didn't feel she needed reminding of that but indulged her all the same. I won't lie though, it was a miserable day!

I was surprised and disappointed to hear of Ian's recent issues regarding a newly acquired Wetsuit from Warmbac. Apparently after taking delivery of the suit, and during it's very first use, deterioration of the internal material was noticed. The suit was returned, yet Warmbac apparently refused to take responsibility and blamed it on damage caused by Vermin, which they'd apparently seen before.
It was admirable I thought of the shop the suit was ordered through to kindly take responsibility and cover the cost of a replacement, even though they were probably not obliged to do so.
Like myself Ian is hardly a one off consumer, having purchased their suits at intervals for well over ten years. With so much uncertainty regarding the cause of the damage, it's troubling that had it not been for the middle man, Ian would have been left footing it.

Richard Gibson did the Call-out for us, which was set for early the following day.

Levels in Mossdale Beck were still fairly elevated.
The damage and rearranging done by recent flooding was immediately obvious. It was also highlighted just how dangerous this outcrop in the wintertime, if not all year round. After kitting up and making our way to the entrance we witnessed a small collapse and landslide from atop the Scar. The area around the plaque was liberally scattered with fresh fall-out.

The entrance series was well and truly freeze dried! With not a patch of damp.

Neither of us was empty handed. I the drill box, Adele the capping stuff. The latter loaned to me by Richard Gibson, thanks!

The discovery of a huge cobble/shingle island at the juncture of Canal Passage/Blackpool Sands, which extended downstream as far as the Diving Board, and obviously the result of that recent event surprised even me! And that's with keeping, a usually very open mind about these things.
What was once waste/chest deep wading was now stooping against the ceiling.
I commented to Adele the negative effect this type of mass sediment deposition can have on access to areas of the cave.

The 'Diving Board' is the first partially submerged block one meets, offering relief, after the first wet deep section and narrowing at the D/S end of BlackPool Sands. I gave it the name cos you could almost avoid the neck deep water on the way out with a well aimed sideways lunging maneuver off the block.

Further downstream the duck was still easily passable with little build up having occurred at the main dam.

There was no escape from the bitterly cold water! The temperature of which felt far colder than what I'd ever experienced before. It could just be that age thing, or the consequence of another overly civilised start to the year.

One of the most notable events of this visit was the startled white trout I witnessed riding the rapids at the step down between Confusion Passage and Broadway. It was a comical moment which I doubt was shared by the fish in question.

'The reality of this place, no matter the season, is never far from, and above all death!'

Entry to Ouroborous was likened to a sit up and beg type grovel! I vowed, while resting at the Depot, to make this one count in the hope a satisfying return to civilisation would offset the suffering.
Capping the jammed boulders blocking access to the cavity was all I had on the agenda and would be enough I hoped. Adele was a spectator at this point. And with both of us feeling the cold I would try and keep it as short as I could.

The first issue was having forgotten the supply of ear plugs I'd brought in my jacket. I was convinced I'd brought some during the original supply, but after searching the Daren Drums this was not the case. With ears packed with soggy toilet tissue I would have to go deaf.

Two caps later, and by that point completely deaf! The main blockage was at least partially removed with the rest dropping down to the cavity. The 2nd blockage, an awkwardly positioned/shaped flake, resisted attempts until the capping trigger decided to part itself from the main column. Richard warned me that one of the 3 trigger mechanism he'd given me was loose.

Limited but partial access to the cavity was now feasible so I had a brief look. I was met with instant disappointment! Slight despondence then followed! I repeated the mantra to myself that 'this was never going to be an easy one!'. I think I'd got my hopes up of a quickly reached verdict.

Gained composure and decided to pack up.

With Adele there as backup I decided to have another look at the Rift and Boulder Chamber discovered above.

I will be treating this as a new discovery unless I'm told otherwise. This feature was only accessible post cage and timber removal, plus some excavation.. It's possible those who installed the timber had noted the rift's existence but taking in to consideration how I found it, this feature was inaccessible at the time.

After all the noise from capping, taking a peek above was probably rather foolhardy. I was just trying to offset the disappointment with something positive before leaving.

I'd blocked off access to the rift to protect myself from falling object, being directed in to the work area, when I'd began excavating the Lefthand route. This took a while to reopen before I could squeeze up and reach my previous limit, on top of the block the cage was built to support, within a rift formed between huge blocks. I was flanked by jammed boulders with a hole leading up to a small chamber above.
I made a slight advance on my previous effort but decided against trying my luck, with the proffered leg up of a very questionably jammed block, necessary to access the chamber proper.
Aside from the steam off my wetsuit limiting the visibility, and a slight blind spot, there appeared no way on from where I was positioned. This is by no means conclusive.
The chamber appears to be some kind of hollow within the choke. It's creation may well be connected to the event which curtailed an ULSA digging session in the 70s, and prompted the naming of Piston Chamber, when the block forming the ceiling dropped almost crushing the caver (Andy Eavis) below.

I squeezed back down to the cage with questions still unanswered about this feature. One definite conclusion, especially with the options I have below, there's little justification to risk seeking a route up there. The fact I've been privy to a number of objects crashing down in the choke above further highlights the need for care. Who's to know what effect I'm having overall as it is. I've created some safety for myself with the use of the scaffold, and intend on extending it's courtesy for as long as I feel it's necessary. Still! I'm far from deluding myself with the notion my safety is guaranteed, and I've no doubt there will be a few surprises in store.

My diary states the exit that day was a four letter word beginning with C!

Not bad ratings for the first one of the year!

A hole worn through the palm of my wetsuit glove, which exposed some already very sore skin (work related) rounded things off nicely. 

A gritty sub zero change was dealt with hastily before walking the long way home.

My diary also states; Having second thoughts about taking on more projects!

I spent the exhausting hike back deciding when to force a return. The following day (Sat) was considered but with the forecast good all weekend Sunday looked more likely - a rest day was also very wise if not a necessity!

Trip duration: 3hours 45mins

Next installment: Mossdale Session 31 - https://simonbeck.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/mossdale-session-31.html

© Simon Beck, 2018. The copyright for this article and photographs remains with the author. It should not be reproduced without permission.

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