06 September 2016

Digging sped up

If you have a modern tunneling machine, you can drill through solid rock rather fast. If you have a crowbar and a trowel, you don't. We were not trying to dig through solid rock, but we were digging though a rather packed mass of slate, with limited means. We had started to use Hilti caps, but that's still only a modest tool. But Miles, of Go Below fame, was trying to get to the very same recesses we were chasing, but via a different route; and furthermore, with heavier tools. He needs to use tools in there on a regular basis anyway, for installing zipwires, steps, handlines, abseils and whatnot. And he has the key to the gate, so he can drive heavy materials to the entrance. He was going at it with a breaker, and making amazing progress. He wanted to bring a generator down as a source of power and wanted our help with it. And we wanted to see what he had been up to! So we teamed up.

The first chore was getting that generator down the pitch. That was a bit of a faff! It isn't a freehang, so we had to carry it down, along the steps Miles had installed there. Sounds easier than it it. Especially as the engine started to come loose of the frame! But we got it down without trouble.

It was at this level Miles had made a breakthrough, quite like the one we had had before; he had dug through one chamber, only to get to the next collapse a few meters onwards. But one has to start somewhere! And every new meter is exciting. The part of the tunnel we now had access to was filled to the brim with artifacts! Very exciting. And the next collapse consisted of very large blocks, with large gaps in between. It looked scary as one slab underneath which there was a person-sized gap was clearly under a lot of stress and showed some initial fracturing. Oh dear! I did go in, briefly, but out soon again. More project!

Looking back to the collapse we had come through

Contemplating the way on 

Simon shows the cute little slate slabs

We went back and for a while I helped Miles with digging up rather than onwards; that was another of his plans. There were enough people in our own dig. But when they needed some stuff I had brought down in my bag I went there. I spent some time socialising, some time eating a sandwich, and a very small amount of time actually digging. Then everyone started to pack up! Good, I like an early night.

I thought we'd be out quickly, as we now can climb out all at the same time, but some of us don't like the steps, so two came up on a rope anyway. Oh dear! That takes a while. Miles might add a ladder to the steps as there is one bit where the step is a bit big. Maybe then we can all use the steps! This dig is so exciting, I suppose we would want to go there very often, and the more time at the coal face the better! It would really be amazing if we could get into actual chambers...

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