15 January 2018

Old wine in new bags: the mine version

The Thursdaynighters had a new project. They had come across an adit of a mine we visit more often that we didn't know  about. They had gone in! And found a winze that lead somewhere. Somewhere else in the mine, one assumes! But the winze was full of things getting in the way, things threatening to come down, and cold water. So they had spent some time trying solve the water issue and making the place passable. They hadn't been all the way down yet! And now I would join them.

We got kitted up and went to the adit. Simon, David and me went there; Mick and Paul went elsewhere to see if they could drain a different level a bit. They didn't like how high the water was!

We went in and soon I saw what all the fuss was about. David volunteered to go down first and try to do a bit more work. But he needed help from us above; he needed us to send him things down and such. But he was in a winze with water coming down it. It makes communication difficult! And after a while he announced he was getting cold and wet and wanted to come up again.

I went down next, and continued the work a bit. I could now see what David had been talking about! I could also see the floor. But while I was trying to secure things I heard voices. Mick and Paul had joined us! So when I was done I went back up. I knew David was wet and cold, and I figured Mick and Paul were bored, so it seemed the reasonable thing to do.

It was true that David was wet and cold, and so were Mick and Paul, but David's spirits weren't affected. Nor were Simon's! Simon now went down, approved of the work done, and went all the way down. David couldn't wait to join. I thought about it, thought at how tired I was from the past few days, and decided all three of us going down would take too long. I'd wait!

There was some shouting from below and I wasn't sure what it all meant; one thing I understood was that they wanted the end of the rope down. It had a figure of eight in. They sounded urgent, and I'm still a bit twitchy about getting shouted at, so I just chucked it when the men shouted for it and tugged at the rope. Bad idea!

When the voices faded away I made myself comfortable, switched off my light and closed my eyes. I could doze until they came back! This took longer than I thought. I figured they may be able to go 10m in one direction, and 20 in the other, but that was clearly not the case. The voices stayed silent for a while! Until I heard one from the level I was in. Strange! Had Paul got bored orsomething? But it was David! He explained they had decided to come out of the lower level they had dropped into, and walked back around the outside. And why not! So now we could de-rig. Which was a faff. The figure of eight had got stuck! So I went down the rope again, and freed it. I managed to entangle the rope with myself and with another rope and with whatever else there was in that winze, but I got out with all the rope. Success! And time to go back to the vehicles,where Paul and Mick were!

I had been afraid Paul wouldn't have been able to change as his clothes were in David's car, but he appeared all dry and snug. Good! We changed too, ate some of Mick's left-over Christmas chocolate, and went home. A successful night! Would we go back? Possibly! It didn't lead to new terrain, but a new way of getting to known terrain is worth something too...

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