26 March 2018

Unusual recesses of a mine

It was a good night to be with the Thursdaynighters again! Miles was otherwise engaged, so I would get to see a different mine again. One I had been in many times, but we'd try to explore unusual bits this time. David had spotted two passages he couldn't reach without extra gadgets, so the plan was to carry a double ladder into the mine and reach these places. Who knows what we would find! They had also found a so far unknown (to us) adit we wanted to have a look at.

We gathered and got geared up. We had more people in the parking lot than we would have underground: Edwyn was just passing by on his commute, and Phil wasn't quite feeling well, so he would just come for a walk.

We set off, and soon reached the adit. Those who hadn't seen it before had a look. A strange place! Full of ochre, but from where? But it didn't go awfully far so soon we came out again, slithering down the slope, over the same ochre. Onwards!

 Pretty cave pearls in the adit

We got to the main entrance and walked to the ladderway. I had assumed the passage was at the bottom of the ladderway. Its last ladder is missing, but hey, we had a ladder! I didn't put on my SRT kit and helped David bring the ladder down. That went generally OK except that he kept telling me off for pulling the ladder, while it was gravity that did the pulling, not me. Telling him that didn't help. And then it turned out the passage went off the ladderway! Exciting. It was a bit of a faff to get the ladder into position as maneouvering long objects in a narrow ladderway is tricky, but we did it.  The passage went straight to a winze. Or shaft, I'm not sure. We could hear the others higher up.

I had seen it now. David now wanted me to go and fetch a rope from lower down. As clearly the ladder wasn't going to go all that way I needed my SRT kit after all. Thanks, David! I had told him I wasn't going to put it on. But I went back up to get it. Along the way I got distracted by another passage I had never noticed (or maybe I had, and then forgot again; either way, I couldn't remember seeing it before), and which I clambered into. The rope could wait! But then Jason, who had been wearing SRT kit already, went instead. Fine! I went up to eat some fruit. Then I went down again to see how things were progressing. Maybe they needed a hand with the ladder?

I ended up having Jason throw the ropes he was fetching at me; that saved him dragging them up while climbing another rope. Then I went up; David and Ed brought the ladder up. I took it at the top. And saw yet another out-of reach passage just there. I put the ladder up! It didn't reach. But we had two; we could extend it. The other half was just around the corner! David fetched it and soon i was up. It was a bit iffy get get off it, as what you stepped onto was a steeply inclined rubble slope, but I did it. And it went! It was a passage with ore chute going down left, right and centre, and a nice chain ladder leading up. Cool! I went back. Getting back onto the ladder was again bit tricky but I did it.

The snazzy chain ladder

Next was a ladderway going up rather than down; the bottom ladder was missing (or maybe the bottom two). We plonked the ladders up and off went David. He reached the remaining ladders and wanted to attach the retrieved rope to it. But who carried it? Nobody! Oh dear. We even had had three bits; Ed had had the third but tossed it aside as he said he had his own. David was angry as usual. Not sure why it was all our fault; he had refrained from bringing the ropes as much as we had. Oh well, that's how it works. I'm glad I'm mostly digging; Miles never does that kind of being angry at people for all the wrong reasons. Anyway; Jason and I went to fetch all three bits and all worked out. In the meantime David had been using Ed's rope; it had been immaculate but now it was fully ochrous. That'll teach him! But now he could put the ropes there we could leave. He went up and down again.

Then he suggested I go up without the ladder, using the put-in-place rope. I did! And climbed the ladders. They were delightful! Below me David did some re-rigging while I took some pictures. There was one ladder a bit precariously leaning towards the open stope; we didn't want to use that. But maybe a next time we could secure it and climb onwards! Who knows where that would bring us.

 The ladderway

I then went down through the gunk. It was time to go home! I made sure to wash my stuff on the way out. No need bringing all that gunk home! On the way back we discussed strategies for securing that wonky ladder. Mick had nibblies, as usual. And when these were eaten Ed and I went home; David and Paul had come in the Landrover so we travelled separately. It wasn't all too late! Altogether a successful night! With some reminders of why there's more to digging than juts finding new terrain, but a pleasant night after all!

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