Trip report MC-4 Execution Pot. 22/10/10
Party: Ric Tunney, Kath Whiteside, Serena Benjamin, Sarah Gilbert, Janine McKinnon.
We were up at Mole Creek for the annual “Kubla” weekend and wanted something to occupy us for the Friday. We had first, and last, done this cave 2 (maybe 3?) years ago, and put in some bolts at that time. A party from Sydney visited last Summer and we were given conflicting reports about one of the bolts being loose. Some said “yes” some said “no”! Very perplexing. This was a good opportunity to check it out, and have a pleasant days caving that didn’t involve permits and did involve some ropes.
We got away at 8:30am in two cars and left Sarah’s car at the start of the Urk’s Loop road, a 4WD track that saves us several kilometers of walking. The girls piled onto the tray of the truck and away we went with much jocularity. Just like traveling in the third world.
The drive up started well, pretty much as I remembered the track from the previous trip. There were recent tyre marks, which gave me confidence that people still drove up here.
After a couple of kilometers the vegetation along the track side started getting thicker, and thicker. We passed a few fallen trees that the previous car had chain sawed out of the way. Brilliant. Pity he hadn’t brush cut back the vegetation.
Then we came to a small tree across the road. We amused ourselves for 15 minutes cutting it away with the bow saw we carry, then it was off again. The bush was getting very thick by now. A few mud bogs, a creek crossing, a steep bank and much truck slapping branches later we arrived at our car park.
The girls descended from the tray brushing varying sized pieces of tree from themselves. They didn’t seem quite as amused by the mode of transport as at the start.
We only took a few minutes to organize ourselves and headed off for the half hour walk to the cave. We had taped the route last time so getting there was straightforward.
Last time, we rigged the entrance pot from a large gum tree on the up hill slope but this was fiddly and we now decided that by going for a rebelay-free free hang by crawl/prussiking 5 m up dirt and vegetation was silly. We moved to a side entry with a rebelay at a lip. I went down first and put in the bolt. I waited at the small chamber at the bottom of this first pitch, which in old trip reports was called a ledge on the first pitch but it is quite safe to get off on and thus make two pitches here.
The bolt on the top of the next section was the one that was suspect but it was rock solid for me. I am wondering if the Sydney party had not had their hanger tightened up enough and some of the party mistook a loose hanger for the bolt itself.
Anyway, down I went, followed by Serena with the next rope. I scrambled down the small slot to the top of the next pitch. There was a gale blowing out of here and the water from the stream at the bottom was very loud.
The 2 bolts at the top of this pitch give a lovely free hang but are a little awkward to reach. I got the hangers on but was getting cramped and came back out to get the rope organized in more comfort. Also, a safety line from the main room to the top of the pitch was a good idea and I wanted to put one in (and be attached) before climbing down the start of the pitch to put in the rope.
Serena was getting bored by now, so after we got the back up line in place she headed in to set the rope up.
The others were arriving by now and they all went down the pitch ahead of me.
I had forgotten what a fine pitch this one was. Cylindrical on three sides, nicely fluted walls. Noice. Very Noice.
It was damp at the bottom and the sound of the waterfall, from the stream joining into the final bit of the cave, was very loud.
Ric had already disappeared on the final climb to the sump and called up suggesting a hand line would be useful. Lucky we had bought a rope for that then, just in case. I climbed down after Ric, using the rope as a hand line cum classic abseil. The others followed using their conventional “stops”.
We took it in turns having a look at the sump (except Serena who couldn’t be bothered). It is very unimpressive really. A fine waterfall comes crashing in over a 6m drop from a side passage, runs around a corner, after flowing for 5 metres, and then disappears into a very small hole. Somewhat anti-climactic really.
Then we started out. Ric at the top, Kath somewhere in the middle, and Serena and I de-rigging. I even managed to get all the hangers removed without dropping a single nut or washer or tag.
The drive back along the track didn’t seem any less vegetated than the trip in. In fact, I hated it more as I was now the passenger. No control over what was happening, and getting thrown about more. It was quicker though, as Ric knew what to expect and so drove a bit faster than I had on the way in.
When the girls crawled off the tray at the end, the amount of foliage they were wearing was very impressive. Kath had managed to collect some wildlife along the way too, in the form of a couple of caterpillars.
We were back at camp by 5 pm, just as Katherine and Craig arrived to introduce themselves (see Genghis Khan trip report for Sunday). Then there was time for a clean up, gear sort for Kubla tomorrow, a beer, and off to the pub for dinner. Beautifully timed day!