Back to the Parallel Universe – will it never end?

26th December 2007 Richard Mercer, Alan Speight

A trip to the Gour Inlet sump to syphon water, however the sump was still
open from last week – later Alan established that the rainfall had been 4mm
(?) for the week which explains that. Two ropes were left for the following
day’s trip.

27th December 2007
Richard Mercer, Phil Parker, guest gear carrier James Carlisle

What a lovely wet day, bound to be plenty of stream sounds from below us in
the Oh Bother It area and so it turned out. Plenty of tackle to take in plus
the two ropes to pick up at the sump meant an hour and threequarters to Oh
Bother It.

James was sent to dig in the kneeling height chamber whilst Richard
re-rigged a rope down the first decent hole in the large rift passage, now
christened Darkness Visible, then once at the top of the next drop started
complaining about lack of gear. Lackey Phil grabbed the necessary and joined
him. Mmmm, looks reasonably deep so with bolts installed the 24 metre was
rigged and Richard descended. Words like “It floods” followed by “Rope free”
echoed from below and we had a pitch of around 18 metres with one rub point
on a smoothish wall.

At the bottom it was another case of “Will this bastard never end?”. On the
way down it could be seen that not far below the jammed boulders at the head
of the pitch the rift pinched in and then became a wall. However further
down a small stream (probably that noticed in the hands and knees crawl)
appeared from the wall but lower down still was the source of the noise. Out
of a decent size hole came a large amount of water, a target for when it is
a lot drier.

At the bottom a sloping phreatic passage, well filled with mud (of course!)
allowed downward crawling access to a walking size streamway. Of course this
did not last and around a corner the roof lowered and we were in diver’s
territory. Back at the bottom of the rope, off to the west side, we could
see water emerging from a very low passage which seemed to be running along
our favourite 340/160 degree bearing, the line of the rift above, whereas in
our shaft there were walls in both these bearings.

On the east side a large phreatic passage sloped upwards. We managed to
follow this up the obligatory mud for about 50′ at which point the
sloping mud covered floor allied to minimal holes made us think better
of it. The passage could be seen to continue upwards through an arch
into a chamber with another arch on the far side.

On the way up the rope we noticed that at around a height of 20′ there was
open rift heading in the 160 degree direction.

As Richard had no chest jammer Phil got up and out of the way to allow
him the delight of ascending using a descender to prussic. James was given
the call and went down for a look, managing to spot 20 feet of sloping
passage that we had missed. In addition he had been giving the shovel such
welly that he had lowered the kneeling height chamber floor (now
standing height) enough to open up the start of a (blocked) passage
continuing on the 250 degree bearing. Unfortunately because of the heavy
rainfall a trickle of water was invading the chamber and starting to flood
the dig.

Well pleased with ourselves we headed out to the delights of a high main
streamway, a showerbath from Inlet 14 – James uttering a heart-felt “I’m
glad I’m not up there” – and rain on the surface. I suppose we’ll have to
go back next week.