Woodhouse Way – 31/03/07

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Present: Dom Clayton, George North, James Carlisle. (Team Pillock)

Finally managed to get another trip in after two abortive attempts in
recent weeks (due to higher-than-sensible water levels). The trip
also provided a first run out for George's new drill, which turned
out to be very light-weight and easy to use.

We rebolted up the climb from Bat Chamber and rigged it for SRT,
removing the really dodgy ladder in the process. We then went for a
bit of a recce around the Radio Aven area. This aven is described
as 'blind' in the description, but it looked anything but from the
bottom (it seemed like a large passage entered at the top, and there
was quite a good draft). What's more, the walls were smooth and
untouched, with no bolt-holes visible.

Quite excited now, we began to bolt up the aven (after returning to
Pot Pit to retrieve the static rope we'd left there on the previous
visit), sensing that the surface was within reach. Half an hour later
George reported that the 'large' passage at the top was not actually
a passage at all... and five minutes after that he exhaled a
resounding cry of "bugger", when he spotted a previously placed bolt
hanger sticking out from the top of the aven! The crafty buggers must
have used a scaling pole after all! (we'd been told led to believe
that the original explorers had ascended Bat Aven using some sort of
vaguely defined lasooing technique).

All other leads seemed to close down, the only obvious way on being a
traverse back over the top of Bat Aven (into Christmas Pudding
Passage it later transpired). We were all set to start bolting this
greasy exposed traverse when Dom suddenly volunteered to cross tied
on to just his belay belt (!?!?!). This provided a few tense moments
because, with over 20ft of dynamic rope between the belayer and the
belayee, any slip would probably have been just as fatal as not being
belayed at all. Thankfully though, he made it across safely and went
for a look around. He quickly returned to report that he could see no
sign of any way on, and could not find the passage Hugh had
mentioned, from which running water could be heard emanating from
behind a boulder. We'll return to do a more thorough check of this
area next time, but it's not looking quite as promising as we'd
initially hoped.

In other news, the sandy dig in Bat Chamber was progressed another
metre or so, and it is now almost possible to reach far enough to
enable the straws ahead to be 'Windled' out of the way. More news
soon hopefully...