Arrakis. Weekend 11 & 12 December 20?? (by Janine McKinnon)

Arrakis. Weekend 11 & 12 December.


Party: Serena Benjamin, Matt Cracknell, Sarah Gilbert, Alan Jackson, Janine McKinnon, Jane Pulford, Ric Tunney, Amy Robertson, Tony Veness, Geoff Wise.


The long talked about trip to Arrakis finally got underway at 6.30am on a pleasant Saturday morning. The weather report for the weekend wasn’t that flash, but as water was probably going to be a bit of an issue at our proposed campsite at the cave, we thought a few rain showers would be good.


The two cars rendezvoused at Banjo’s in Huonville (where else?), loaded up with coffee, muffins, breakfast, and Amy, and then convoyed to the trail head. We noted that all (2) forestry gates were padlocked open.


After the distribution of group gear, and consumption of festive home made chocolate covered raspberries (thanks Alan) and shortbread (thanks Serena), we headed off into the Garnia at 9am. The track was as unpleasantly muddy and Garnia shrouded as I remembered, for the first 1.5 hours until the first major creek. It improves a bit from there to Trout Creek, half an hour later. This is the last surface water before Arrakis. It then took just over an hour to get to the Arrakis doline. Old trip reports talk of the (slightly) sub 2 hour walk in. They were either very fast, or the track has deteriorated a lot in the intervening 25 years. A bit of both I think.


We set up camp, with several of us bivvying under the overhang in the doline and the rest setting up tents, bivvies, and a couple of hammocks, nearby.


The group then split into two for the activities for the weekend. Alan, Janine, Serena, Geoff and Ric were rigging and bottoming the cave that afternoon. The others were going surface trogging, and doing the cave Sunday morning, de-rigging as they exited.


I was kitted up and started to rig the entrance pitch at 1.30pm. Alan was showing off his shiny new trog suit and the others were kitting up at a more leisurely pace, expecting to be waiting a while before they started down.


Alan was ready to go by the time I had the pitch rigged and he followed me down to the obvious spot for the installation of the safety line needed to get to the pitch head without risking slipping to one’s doom.


Once that was in I was off again down-slope. All was going well so far. The others started down behind us. Then I struck a problem. Without spending pages in lengthy explanations, I had basically misinterpreted the description of the approach to the big pitch in old trip reports. I ran out of rope long before I got to the pitch head. Alan and I discussed this for a few minutes and we decided to use the 10m rope I had bought for a climb at the bottom of the cave (just in case it really needed a handline).  I tied it in to the safety line and was off again. I aimed for the side (LHS) that the most recent bolts were placed but I still had insufficient rope to get across to there. I also didn’t really like the look of the approach nor the presumed rigging point. I went to a small gully on the approach line and ran out of rope again.


Alan and I had one of those shouted discussions over 40m and then I tied the 76m rope for the big pitch in. I started down the gully I was in, but decided I didn’t really like the look of it as a place to rig the drop, even though I thought this was where Nick had originally rigged from. That really just left the RHS wall. I came back up to a small alcove, got off rope, and called Alan down for a second opinion.


As he was on rope when he reached me, after a brief discussion, he headed to the ledge above me on the right hand wall to have a look. The ledge itself is a little airy near the end, without a traverse line, but it led to a good site for rigging the drop. Plans back on track then. Good. I came up and we started looking for somewhere to rig a backup/traverse line to get to the proposed pitch head. This took a looong time. We couldn’t find anything trustworthy. Loose rocks, crap rock, no threads. We were desperately trying not to put a bolt in but hopes were fast fading…


It was about this time, I gather, that Ric, back up the doline where the others were waiting at the top of the safety line, was overcome with cold and boredom, and piked on going any further. The other two stoically hung in there. Probably gnawing off the less necessary bits of their anatomy for stimulation, as they waited interminably.


Just as we were about to admit natural anchoring defeat, Alan found a rock jammed solidly at the back of a small alcove. We both checked it carefully and declared it good enough. Forward movement was on again.  We rigged this fairly quickly and moved out to the end of the ledge to decide on bolt placement. This was fairly quickly achieved and I put in one bolt. Alan occupied himself doing some gardening whilst the bolt was going in. He cleared the worst of the loose stuff but it was still a ledge to be treated with rock kicking respect.


The rebelay bolt went in fairly quickly after and then I was FINALLY away on the big pitch. We weren’t sure if we had much spare rope so I put in a really tight (Jeff Butt patented) loop, or lack there of. At the bottom I found we had a few metres to spare so Alan re-jiggered the rebelay on his way down.


The others started down to the pitch head whilst Alan and I moved on down the cave. They caught up to us looking for the crack we were supposed to rig the 3m pitch from. After finally finding it, it was declared not the right size for the nuts we had, and a bit dodgy anyway, so we put a bolt in above the drop.


On down to the next pitch, which has a corroded old spit that is only part way into the rock. This is totally unnecessary as there are 3 good naturals in very convenient spots.


Luckily the 8m climb proved to be very easy so we were all able to get to the chamber at the bottom where the stream comes in. We headed downstream first with all of us going almost to the end of navigable passage, and Alan and Serena going just those few metres more into the grovel than Geoff and I.

Then we went upstream to the end of the easy going stuff. No point crawling in water when the Eberhardt’s and Jeff Butt have been there before.


The trip out went easily. Alan and I had decided that a second bolt on the pitch head of the 68m pitch was a better idea than the single one we had put in, and so he re-rigged the pitch at the rebelay, to give us the extra rope at the top. We had seen that we had enough. Just.


Alan waited there for me, as Geoff and Serena went out and then we decided where to put the second bolt. As usual, the best place was out of my reach for manipulating a drill, and so Alan put in this bolt. We re-rigged the pitch head so that tomorrow’s group would have the mental reassurance of two bolts at the primary anchor.


I headed up last and was out at 7.30pm after a very enjoyable but inefficiently slow trip.


Amy was cooking dinner for us, which was a wonderful treat. All I had to do was get changed, get a glass of Port from Tony (who had carried in a small cask!) and start eating the pre-dinner nibblies people had supplied, whilst I waited for my Tuna  and lentil dinner to be ready.


Janine McKinnon

IB1: Revelation Cave (by Janine McKinnon)

IB1: Revelation Cave.


Party: Ric Tunney, Ken Hosking, Janine McKinnon.


This was a trip to complete the survey we started on our previous trip a few weeks ago. We had left the top half of the cave rigged, thus we got down and were surveying within half an hour of the first person (me) starting in.


We surveyed all side passages, and I had a go at climbing a narrow rift off a small side passage. I couldn’t move enough to get up and then Ken had a go by building a pile of rocks. After some time struggling, he managed to climb about 5 m up and determined that the passage closed off. This was a pity as we were high enough up the cave that we thought it might be another entrance, although there was no draft.


We surveyed up the passage to the old entrance, and it was here that Ken had a nasty fall off a ledge, 2m to the floor. The ledge was very slippery and he was contorted in an odd position to get a disto shot, when his boot suddenly slipped off. He fell hard onto the rocks in the passage and was very lucky not to have done serious damage. As it was he badly bruised an elbow and jarred his neck.

Valiant trooper that he is, once we had determined that he was going to live, we continued on with the surveying.


When we reached the rift that Ric and Petr looked up last trip, Ken had a go at climbing up. He got a short way up, could see daylight, but didn’t think the way was climbable. He thought it fitted Amy’s description of the old route in she had taken before the landslip. I had gone in that route once too, many years ago and before the landslip but (typically some might say) didn’t recognize the rift. We did a couple of shots part way in and then retreated out of the cave.


I was first out and so I went around to the old entrance tag and climbed down as far as I was game. I was looking down a rift that looked a dare-devil climbing job to me. Maybe bridgeable but you would have to be desperate.

When Ken came out he went to inspect the view of the rift from the top and was certain it was the one he had been looking up. So we have determined that is the old way in and we have surveyed to the correct spot. We are a couple of legs short of tying the two together though.


On closer inspection we think that the old entrance was a walk down slope (which is what I remember) near the tag which has been filled in by the landslide, leaving the vertical rift at the end the only opening.


We have completed the survey. Forward and back bearings were taken and a disto used.


Tassie Pot and Owl Pot 23/7/11 (by Janine McKinnon)

Tassie Pot & Owl Pot 23/7/11

Party: Serena Benjamin, Trent Ford, Petr Smejkal, Janine McKinnon

This is my half of the “two caves in one day training for China for Janine, Serena and Alan” epic.

Alan and his crew of two got away from the cars first. No surprise there. I think Alan had already decided this was a competition. We weren’t far behind though and were soon rigging the entrance pitch of Tassie Pot.

Our rope lengths were interesting. One rope to the rebelay on the first pitch and then another from there to the bottom of the second pitch.  This meant that I really needed to have two anchor points at the first rebelay, the p-hanger there and a natural which is about a metre below. This took me a few (quite a few) minutes to get the length of the bunny ears right, time that Alan wouldn’t be losing rigging Owl Pot (he had been there recently and remembered the rigging well).

Not that I was in a race with him, or anything….

Second pitch rigging went quickly and smoothly, and then I hit a small snag on the third pitch. We spent some time rigging this. More time lost.

Not that I was in a race with him, or anything….

I got to Goodbye Chamber, with Petr close behind, and we waited for the others with the rest of the rigging gear. And waited. Where were they?

Trent hadn’t heard Petr call “rope free” and had been waiting at the top of the third pitch. Finally he decided to go down. More lost time.

Not that I was in a race with Alan, or anything….

All went smoothly once we had the rest of our party and we all got to the bottom of the 71m pitch. I immediately started up, as we still had another cave to do today and,

I wasn’t in a race with Alan, of course….

As I prussiked up to the top above the first rebelay I thought I could hear voices. No, couldn’t be…

Bugger, it was.

After waiting for Alan to do a suitable amount of gloating (not that he was in a race, or anything, you understand..), I continued out of the cave.  Serena exited close behind me, and Petr soon after.

We had lunch and waited for Trent.

After half an hour we were getting cold and keen to get Owl Pot done.  We checked Tassie Pot and Serena saw Trent starting up the entrance pitch. After a shouted discussion he decided that he wasn’t keen to do Owl Pot so we headed off from the cars at 2:40pm.

The trip down the cave was quick and efficient. Alan had shown remarkably little faith in our determination and had de-rigged the bottom rope, and left it at the top of the previous pitch (just in case we did want to go to the bottom). We picked this up and re-rigged the pitch and dropped to the bottom. This was quickly done as Alan had left all the knots in the rope.

Bottom bagged, and it was straight back out. I had remembered the entrance pitch/slope as very muddy and unpleasant. I hadn’t been there in 25 years. It is nice to know my memory is accurate sometimes, although I’d have been happy for this to be one of those occasions that it was wrong. It may be another 25 years before I go there again.

Petr and I (de-rigging) were back at the cars at 5.30pm. So it wasn’t an epic day at all.

Alan and crew beat us by about 1.5 hours. Damn.

Not that we were in a race, or anything…

Janine McKinnon

Tassie Pot rigging guide,

P1. 42m.          Belay to tree at the edge of the pitch. Back up to tree 2m behind.

Rebelay p-hanger approx 7 m down. A natural flake 1m down and 0.5m to the right (facing wall) if desired.

P2. 24m        Stay on rope from P1. 2 X P hangers on RH wall (facing down cave) at       Head height.

P3. 18m       Backup and safety line around obvious chock in floor. Anchor 2X P-hangers 5m down.

P4. 71m.  Tie back to very large boulder in floor, 5m from pitch head.  Allow an extra 20m of rope for this, or 10m tape plus rope. 2 X P-hangers at waist height on LH wall at pitch head. 1 X P-hanger rebelay at approx 8m, and another 1 X P-hanger rebelay at edge of lip approx 20 further down. 76m rope absolute minimum, 80m good length.

IB 166-“Oh Yeh” Saturday 30/6/2012 (by Janine McKinnon)

Saturday 30/6/2012

IB 166-“Oh Yeh”

Party: Darren Holloway, Kerrin Huxley, Ric Tunney, Janine McKinnon.


Another Winter solstice weekend at Francistown had rolled around and a venue was sought for a pleasant, but not too lengthy, or taxing, days caving for the Saturday.

Various options were considered and rejected before we settled on “Oh Yeh”.


We stayed the Friday night at the carpark in the slug (our camper) and Darren and Kerrin were scheduled to arrive at 9am. We were having breakfast at 8:15am when they arrived. We won’t have any problems getting this pair to fit into the STC culture of promptness.

They did have gear to sort out, so we got to finish breakfast.


We left the cars at 9am and took a leisurely walk up to the cave. Ric disappeared about half way there when he decided his socks weren’t working and went back to change them. He caught us back up before we arrived at the cave. Zippy Riccy.


We rigged the entrance and, after some discussion, it was decided I would go first with the drill kit in case any of the bolts needed replacing. The cave was rigged by Madphil in 2001, and we hadn’t been able to find any reference in the trip reports as to whether the bolts were spits or thrubolts. We did not particularly want to rig off spits now, and thought that for future use, thrubolts were the way to go anyway. So if they weren’t there we should put them in this trip.


Darren wanted to be involved with the rigging, so he came next, with Ric bringing up the rear as “tail end Charlie”.


At the bottom of the first pitch I stayed on rope to inspect the bolts at the top of pitch two. It was a single bolt and also a spit. I waited at the bottom of the first pitch for Ric, discussing options with Darren as we waited. After we had all had a good look at the situation we decided that an approach to the top of the second pitch was needed and it was better if one could get off the first pitch abseil to do it. A very similar situation to the bottom of the first pitch in Midnight Hole.

So I put in a bolt at the top of the approach.


I then descended to the top of the second pitch and put a hanger in the spit so I had better access to the pitch head to put in a replacement bolt. Darren came down to nearby to watch and assist. I put a bolt in above, and a little to the side, of the spit. It took a while to select the site as the spit was in the perfect spot, not surprising since Madphil put it in.


The rebelay a few metres lower needed a bolt too, of course, and that was a little more problematic finding a good spot. Again, the spit was beautifully placed, and between projections further down, and crud rock, I spent 5 minutes deciding on the location for the bolt. Finally it was in and I looked down…to see our 48m rope waving in the breeze. It had seemed like plenty of rope for a 2 pitch (14m & 24m) cave, with the pitches right on top of each other. Redirections and rebelays certainly use up rope.

It looked like it was near the bottom though, so I decided to continue on and employ the skills I learnt from Jeff Butt in minimum rope caving. I rigged the rebelay with a very small loop and took the knot out of the bottom when I got to the end of the rope. The rope was a bit less than 1.5m off the ground, so I was able to stand and let it slip through my descender. I must have been channeling that day because it was perfect Jeff Butt rigging.


Once we were all down everyone had a look around, which doesn’t take long. We decided to put some tape across the route NOT to go to follow the small passage. It is easy to miss the route that has been used previously, and the tape should cause future parties to stop and think about where to go. The way on is over a boulder and down a short passage on the left hand wall, NOT the obvious way in front of the pitch.


Kerrin started up first, followed by Darren, Ric, and then me de-rigging. We had decided to leave the keepers in the spit holes as a back-up in case they may be needed in the future, for a rescue or something. A long shot, I know, but they are there now so no point in cutting off options unnecessarily.

However, try as I might (for 5 minutes anyway, until my patience ran out) I could not get the plastic nut back into the thread of the rebelay spit. I also managed to drop the washer on that bolt as I took the hanger off the thrubolt, so it needs replacing on the next trip.

I fared better at the pitch head bolt, and managed to refit the spit plugger, and get the nut, washer and hanger off the thrubolt without dropping anything.


As I approached the top of the pitch I was informed that the others had had some difficulty getting off the Y hang at the top. They had decided that a rebelay at the first bit of solid rock would make for an easier, and safer, exit. As we think this is an excellent beginners SRT cave, and thus future parties will very likely have very inexperienced cavers on board, I agreed to put the bolt in.

The gear was lowered to me, and in it went quickly, before I climbed out. I haven’t done any bolting for a while, maybe more than a year (?), but I had gotten back into the swing of it by then.


As we had lunch, after packing up, we discussed whether we would do our second objective for the day-Pseudocheirus Cave. It was 1.30pm by now, and whilst the day was still young, there were celebrations to be had that night. We guessed the cave would take about 3 hours to do, including the walk. That would be fine on a normal weekend but we didn’t want to arrive at Arthur’s too late. That was our excuse anyway, so we headed back to the cars for a leisurely coffee and drive back to Francistown.


We sprang a leak in our water tanks on the drive there and arrived to find water pouring out of the camper door. But that’s a non caving story.

Niggly Trip Report 23/01/10 (by Janine McKinnon)

Niggly Trip Report 23/01/10

Party:  Alan Jackson, Janine McKinnon.


Déjà vu: 7.30am at Alan’s place. Just the two of us heading off to Niggly.


This was to be the third, and final, trip to the bottom of the cave, plus a partial derig. Actually, there were only meant to have been two bottoming trips (presuming nothing new and exciting was found) but I had missed out on the previous week’s trip due to temporary decrepitude. Unfortunately Alan had reported back to me that the stream way passage that he and Matt had visited on that trip was awesome, not to be missed, and other glowing endorsements. Alan kindly (it’s his old age; passing 30; Alan’s not the same anymore) offered to take me there if I wished. Bugger.  How could I pass up my only opportunity to see this stuff? So, another trip to the bottom.


After another 45min trip to the entrance from the car, we headed underground at 10am. A smooth trip down (as smooth as I can do with a rack. Boy, I dislike those things) saw us at the top of the Black Supergiant 1.5 hours from the entrance.

Isn’t it wonderful when the cave is all rigged?


We had an enormous wad of tape that Rolan had prepared (by tying 4x50m tapes together) to measure the exact length of the pitch. It has never been measured directly, only determined from the survey data of the surrounding cave. Alan fed the tape down the pitch and then I descended first. The height was measured at 192m from the top P-hangers and 185m freehang from the rebelay.


I was quicker with the abseil this time. I took about 12 minutes and the rope showed no signs of overheating. As I had to double hand-feed it through the rack for all but the last 40-50m, it’s easy to see why it didn’t get too hot. I did though! It was almost as hard work as going back up. Well, almost almost. I didn’t find the pitch scary this time either (I was quite nervous on the first descent!). Familiarity…and all that.


Alan took a similar time for the descent but found the friction provided by his “Stop” somewhat less than I experienced. He needed to use his (or Ric’s borrowed one, actually) “Raumer” breaking krab.


We headed off through the rock pile, leaving many cairns along the way, and arrived out into the main stream passage after a half hour of interesting maneuvering. There is certainly no way that “little miss short-arse” could have got through on her own. I think I counted 4 times that I needed Alan’s help getting up or down climbs beyond my reach. The extremely slippery mud everywhere didn’t help at all.


The stream way turned out to be every bit as impressive as I had been led to believe (would Alan exaggerate?). Something over a kilometer of BIG passage (à la-Exit beyond the rock pile). We followed it to the second rock pile and then turned around to look at the higher passage back along our inward route. Climbing up into the upper levels was equally impressive. It feels like a higher chamber but is really just the top levels of the stream way passage that has been filled in by about 30m depth of mud. We looked around downstream for a short distance and then headed to the upstream end.  We climbed up and up, another 20m higher, to the top of the piles of mud and rock, and we were still 20-30m from the ceiling. This stuff is seriously big.


After a lunch break back at water level we started back to the bottom of the Supergiant. It was now very obvious why we had needed to mark the way as we came in. It is amazing how quickly you forget obscure or unpleasant turn offs after you have been in bigger parts of a cave for a while. Even with the cairns there were a couple of turns we had to think about. Alan repeated the aide to the height (and climbing skill) challenged, that he had given on the way in. I think he probably still has some of the footprints in the middle of his back… And on his knees… And shoulders… And head (no, just joking there).


We had taken 2.5 hours for the scenic diversion and neither of us was looking forward to the trip out from the bottom. We were planning to de-rig the cave back to the top of the third pitch. Personally, I would have been happy just to head out but we had time problems for the de-rig. There only seemed to be 3 people in the club prepared to go to the top of the Supergiant, and none of our timetables aligned for the next several months. So we had to get the ropes back to a place from which Alan, and a few helpers, could get them out of the cave.


We were slightly faster on the prussik this trip (50 minutes, from first on, to last off), with Alan giving regular updates on our progress (the tape was right beside us, and was actually a nuisance as it kept wrapping around the rope, and the person not prussiking spent their time trying to hold it away). I’m not sure if I really wanted to know how far we had to go as we slogged away! I slogged, Alan cruised.


It took us an hour, or more, to pull and pack the rope, tape and rigging gear. We cut the rope at a gestimate of 80m and 120m. It will be interesting to see how accurately we guessed. And no, we were not going to measure it out against 200m of tape, there in the cave.


With two big, and one small, packs between us (and we all know who had the 120m rope and small pack to carry) we started out from the top of the Supergiant. I headed up the pitches first, with Alan de-rigging behind (including removing the old spits) and arranging the ropes for an easy pull-up. We didn’t have any more packs for the other pitch ropes so we hauled them out behind us.


The whole lot made it to the top of the 3rd pitch, which we also de-rigged. This was as far as we had planned to haul out the gear today and we were very happy to leave it all there.


The trip out from this drop point was fast (except I’m not that fast on the nasty traverse) and smooth. What a joy to cave without packs, and what a pity I get to do it so rarely.


We got out to the surface in daylight, at 8.30pm, after an enjoyable 10.5 hour trip.



Janine McKinnon


Trip report MC-4 Execution Pot. 22/10/10 (by Janine McKinnon)

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!


Janine McKinnon

Geriatrics day out. Dwarrowdelf. 6/11/10 (by Janine McKinnon)

Geriatrics day out. Dwarrowdelf.  6/11/10


Party #1 (to the bottom): Ric Tunney (birthday boy), Serena Benjamin (birthday cake supplier), Janine McKinnon (accessories supplier)

Party #2 (half way crowd): Steve Bunton (party  #1 deserter), Ken Hosking (quality booze supplier), Amy Robinson (show winning cake supplier),  Chris Chad (multi-tasking).


After the very successful KD bottoming trip for Bunty’s 50th birthday, Ric  decided this was a good idea for landmark birthdays, and promptly told me that he wanted to bottom Dwarrowdelf for his 60th birthday.  This was a couple of years ago and I doubted, to be honest, that he would still be keen, come the appointed time. Well, I was proved wrong, and as the time approached, and his enthusiasm never waned, I expected that I would be getting him to the bottom and back by myself, given the lack of keen caving bods over the last few months.

Luckily Alan came to my rescue and said he’d come along. He is kind-hearted. Really. I was saved from an epic.

But  wait…I spoke too soon. He couldn’t come, he was going to be rafting the Franklin.

Back to an Epic again. Then Serena came home. Thank God. We could manage it together. Then Alan’s trip was postponed. He was back on again. It was going to be a breeze…no wait…he’s off again. A wedding this time apparently….


Meanwhile, other members were getting keen about a part way visit down the cave.  So, as we finally headed out of Hobart on Ric’s 60th birthday (conveniently a Saturday), the bottoming party was Ric, Bunty, Serena and I. The plan was that I would rig, Serena would come next with the remainder of the rope, Bunty and Ric would cruise down behind, we four would have a party at the bottom, Ric and Bunty cruise back up, and Serena and I would de-rig.

The others would come in at the back of the group, turn around when they had had enough, have a separate party before starting up, and probably go home before we got out.


It was a beautiful warm, sunny day and so the walk in and gear up at the entrance was very enjoyable. I had already distributed the party hats, forks, plates, napkins, cylume necklaces and port to the half way mob back at the car, and Serena now gave them their share of cake. Amy also had some fruit cake, part of her (will be!) local-show-award-winning entry.

Much chatting ensued whilst I endeavored to reach the p-hangers at the entrance.  Luckily, no-one seemed to be in a tearing hurry and my efforts seemed to provide amusement to the taller members of the group.


Finally I was away and I made my way fairly quickly to the top of the second pitch, where I waited for Serena with the next rope. I was carrying a 97m rope for the bottom pitch and had no room left in my pack as it was a fairly bulky rope. Serena bought the lovely, soft, 9mm, 120m rope we were using for the next 3 pitches (pity about the scary noises it makes as you abseil).


At the bottom of pitch two I made my blunder of the day. I headed off down the obvious climb to the right. I knew there was a tight keyhole to the top of pitch 3, and even that it was on the LHS, but I couldn’t remember if there was a short climb before it. After stuffing around, with Serena joining me, looking at various possibilities (see Southern Caver 58 for description of this area),  and trying to squeeze along a nasty, tight, unremembered but heavily-trogged passage on the LHS, I had just about decided that I had made a wrong turn when a call came from above. All the others had arrived and one bright spark had found the (obvious) way on, by observing the obvious P-hanger.


The thing that had thrown me a bit was that the area I was looking in was heavily trogged. Interestingly (to me), I have not made this mistake before.  Which is probably why it didn’t look familiar!

This navigational error was quite good, in hindsight, as it gives Alan an excellent opportunity to insert some damning witticism here.


[Insert damning witticism here.]


Anyway, back I went to start rigging the correct pitch. Tight little bastard that it is.


The next adjustment to our plan occurred as I started to rig the following pitch. Bunty arrived and declared that his light was failing and that he would be abandoning the bottoming group in favor of the part-way group. I was touched by his clever historical re-enactment. What better time to revisit the old “TCC light failure on trip”  scenario than a 60th birthday trip with four old(er) cavers along. What a pity I hadn’t thought of it and we could REALLY have got it right, i.e. more than one person’s light failing. And true, Ken hadn’t been TCC, and I’m sure SCS were more light-aware than TCC, but 3 of us had a lovely moment of nostalgia.

It was here we left the other party, complete with sudden addition, to enjoy their party whilst we lonely three continued on down the cave.


We gathered together again at the top of the final pitch, when Ric caught up with Serena and me as I put in the spits on the approach line. Now that Ric had caught up with me that “always to be depended upon but not always wanted”  husbandly advice started. Where to stand, my bunny ears weren’t long enough yet (I know!!!!!) etc, .. but, dear reader, I kept my temper (sort of), it WAS his birthday, after all…


At the bottom of the pitch we made our way to the shelf overlooking the large chamber where KD joins in. This would be a good place for our celebrations (yes Alan, it isn’t quite the bottom). The view was stunning. Or it would have been if the mist hadn’t been so thick. The “cave blaster” light we had bought along helped a bit.


So, out came the cake and…Where were the party hats and other aids? Ric and I did one of those “but I thought YOU had them?” things. I hadn’t had room, he hadn’t thought of them, bugger. Still in the car. He DID have the cylume necklaces though, so all was not lost in the festivities department.


After our quiet little party for 3, Ric started out and I went for a wander to try for the REAL bottom whilst I waited for him and Serena to prussic up. Alas, the recommended handline to the bottom (which we didn’t have) looked pretty essential to me. The dirt bank down was very steep, and very loose dirt, and I didn’t want to find myself rapidly at the bottom, alone, and unable to get back up.  Prudence or wimpishness?  I shan’t know until I try again (with an emergency handline available).


The trip out went smoothly. Ric kept finding party hats and cylume neclaces at the pitch heads, decorations for the theme of day we were told later. I think they just didn’t want to carry  all that weight uphill. But as they were the only party hats we saw for the day, it worked for us.


I hadn’t prussiked multiple pitches with 100m of rope hanging below me for quite a while, so that was a less than pleasant reminder. De-rigging the P-hangers I found quick and easy, with the notable exception of the first rebelay on the 55m pitch. The carabiner was absolutely jammed shut and only after more than 5 minutes of effort did I finally free it with my stop. I had just called for “guy fingers” when I (unexpectedly) got it to open. As Ric owned the closest set of these, and he was 2 pitches away, this was fortunate.



I was (last) out at 6 PM, 8 hours after starting down, and, to our surprise, the others were all waiting at the entrance. They had, apparently, been doing various surface-related tasks since they had got out 3 hours earlier.  But that tale I leave to Chris.


We all walked back to the cars together and had another little party of Champagne and red wine (thanks Ken) before heading home.


Janine McKinnon

Dwarrowdelf re-rig. 2/02/13 (by Janine McKinnon)

Dwarrowdelf re-rig. 2/02/13

Party: Jane Pulford, Ric Tunney, Janine McKinnon.


This was a quick trip to de-rig the cave following the second, and final, dive attempt on KD sump II, 2 weeks ago.

As we hauled all the diving gear out on that last trip, Alan & I also partially de-rigged the cave. We removed all the ropes as far as the bottom of pitch 4, and left them tied together and piled at the bottom of that pitch. Alan also removed the rebelay on Pitch 4 as he ascended, so there was no need for the de-rig party coming later to drop that pitch.

Thus, we now needed only to go as far as the top of pitch 4 to retrieve the ropes from further down the cave, and to de-rig the first 3 pitches on our exit.

As we were not in any particular hurry this trip, and Jane had not been into the cave before, we decided to stay together as we descended. Thus the last of us reached the bottom of pitch 3 not much short of an hour after the first started into the cave.

After lunch and packing, Ric started up with the 120m rope. I followed with the remaining ropes and Jane came last, de-rigging the 55m pitch as she went.

Ric continued up to the climbs above pitch 2, and waited to help haul packs. I waited for Jane at the top of pitch 3 to help with packing the rope.

We couldn’t fit the rope for pitch 2 into our packs, so that was hauled up the cave, and out, separately.

All went smoothly and we were all back on the surface just before 2pm. That made the total trip a bit short of 3.5 hours.

Ric and I both hauled packs of 13kgs up the cave, and our packs back to the car weighted 25kgs each, so de-rigging the cave at the same time as bringing out diving gear was never a sensible option, so it’s a good thing we didn’t try to do it.