Some of us have still “Got It”

ABERCROMBIE CAVES – 15 – 17 November 2019
Another weekend at Abercrombie trying to finalise some cave surveying and other information for the book that will be going to print in 12 month’s time.  We were lucky enough to have use of the old caretaker’s cottage and we were a nice efficient group of five so we were all looking forward to some interesting caving.Beth, Andre & Elliot, Penny, Rod, David and I arrived at various times on Friday and were up bright and early to get started.  Beth’s objective for the weekend was to drop down into a section of Stable Cave that needed surveying.  Andre stayed above ground looking after 1 year old Elliott and the rest of us except Rod (who went off in search of missing tags) joined Beth.

As Penny is new to caving, Beth took her through the top gate at Stable and David and I entered through the bottom gate.  David and I waited, and waited and waited and finally David set off to try to find Penny & Beth – Beth had found the side passage that she was looking for, we just couldn’t hear her as she called out.

Me, sitting waiting for Beth and David to finish setting up the pitch. (Photo: Penny)

David rigging up a second anchor as a back up (Photo: Penny)

Beth, manning the top belay, by this time I was on the ladder going down the 10m pitch, if I’d known how long it was (I’m sure Beth told me but I didn’t take it in), I would have abseiled down.  The ladder, as always, was a pain. Everyone else abseiled down, but I hadn’t bought my abseil gear with me into the cave – poor planning. (Photo: Penny)

The ladder with the rope beside it, the ladder only just reached the bottom (it’s a 10m ladder). (Photo Penny)

David abseiling down (Photo: Penny)

Beth doing the surveying of the chamber (Photo: Penny)

Nice formation on the ceiling, I didn’t even see this, too busy trying to stay on the ladder, then too busy prussiking out (Photo: Penny)

Beth’s “Still Got It”, her first prussic in a cave since she had Elliott a year ago. Beth lent me her SRT to prussic up the pitch, my first prussic in a cave in 12 months – was really happy with it so I’ve “Still Got It”. (Photo: Penny)

Exiting Stable – a very dusty cave, didn’t remember how dusty it was. MSS put this gate in for NPWS about 20 years ago. (Photo: Penny)

David then took Penny on a tour of The Grand Arch – here he’s on one of the suspension bridges (Photo: Penny)

After Stable, Rod and I did a bit more cleaning up of the logs at the causeway, they block up the drainage holes and make the creek silt up so we’re trying to see if removing all the flood debris will clean up the creek a bit during the next flood event.

Whilst Rod and I were mucking around at the Causeway, Beth confirmed that we had permission to take a look into Long Tunnel.  Long Tunnel is a passage off The Grand Arch and is a bat hibernation area, so during winter, no-one is allowed to enter the cave, we want to survey the cave in January so we thought we should take a look at it to make sure it’s not full of flood debris.  We got permission to enter, but only after dusk, so we had some lunch and then decided to take a look into another passage off The Grand Arch that David had been up into 20 or 30 years ago.

Heading over to the cave.  The last flood event was back in August (or September) I think, the water has finally gone down enough that we could walk on the creek bed but it was very muddy.

Rod, David and Beth looking up at the hole that you had to climb into.

Penny chimneying up (although a novice, she’s definitely “Got It”) – one look at Penny wedged into the crevasse and I decided that I didn’t need to go up there.

David making his way to the hole/climb. He has obviously “Still Got It” because he climbed up with little or no effort.

And then crawled through the passage – has he “Got It” or what! (Photo: Penny) – seeing this photo I’m kicking myself that I didn’t make the effort now – serious case of envy.

Looking out of The Grand Arch.

We headed back to the cottage, had happy hour followed by a scrumptious dinner of Mediterranean meatballs and pasta (thanks Beth), then headed down to Long Tunnel once it was dusk.

Does NPWS really think that this sign would keep the tourists – “No Entry, this cave is a bat roost. Do not Enter, you will be prosecuted & fined ….” that’s almost enough to encourage some people to go in and see what’s there.  Good thing we had permission.

I was surprised at how nice the cave was, a good stream-way and we were able to go in quite a way until we decided that some bats were still leaving, so we should get out of their way. (Photo:  Penny)

The passage did become smaller, but it looked like further on in one of the side passages you’d be able to get up and walk again. There wasn’t as much flood debris as I imagined there would be, and thankfully no evidence of others having been in there before us. (Photo: Penny)

Next morning the others went up to the North Western (?) Bluff to see if they wanted to survey Rabbit Hole (a firm no there from Beth, way too squeezie), I decided to go over to the camping area and do some cleaning up of garbage (why would someone throw out some trackie pants and underwear?) and then more work on the causeway flood debris. This photo of Beth going down into the Bluff’s creek (Photo: Penny)

Penny showing the tag that Rod led them to, would probably be the biggest cave in the North Western Bluff area.

Rod’s “Still Got It”, clambered down into the cave, did some amazing moves that no-one else wanted to do and checked out this rally interesting cave. (Photo: Penny)

Beth decided she didn’t want to make that committing move that Rod made, so watched from afar. This really does look like a cave we’ll have to go back into next time. (Photo: Penny)

Back at the cottage, David delivering “Straightening out and folding a cave ladder 101” for those of us who were clueless about the right way to fold up a ladder! (Photo: Penny)

Everyone back at the cottage by lunchtime and on the road back home.  Great weekend thanks Beth, Rod and David, Penny and I really learned a lot.  Next trip – January 2020 maybe.


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