Water Icicle Close Cavern – 02/02/2020

Five explorers rendezvoused in Monyash, with a cosy corner in the Old Smithy Cafe providing a comfortable spot for a hot brew and review of the entry pitch and survey of the new(ish) southern extensions.  Larry, Ollie, Tom, Sam and Fabian, with suitable pre-approval arranged by Larry from the Park Authority, headed in convoy up Derby Lane. Carefully avoiding ruts , puddles and potholes we were eventually defeated by a deep pool spanning the bottom of a small valley. Quickly gearing up alongside a narrow strip of woodland which provided scant cover in the blustery conditions, we were soon underway to the entrance.

Larry and Fabian rigged the shaft and we had soon assembled at the bottom. Ambience was provided by subtle candlelight and after a check for CO2 we proceeded South.

The route followed a wide section of arched phreatic passage with flowstone and broken fragments of speleothem to the “Great Rift“ which bisects the passageway rift, the way on was through a crawl through a shallow puddle, the “Welsh connection” which was reduced with some bailing. Beyond the rift the passage continued with taped sections protecting the floor and after clambering over some slabs fallen from the roof, we reached the beginning of the dig site. A slippery section of conveyer belt on the floor was traversed with the aid of a hand line through a timbered section to the end of the current dig. On the return progress was quicker on the conveyor belts with the help of gravity.

Larry, Fabian and Sam then explored a side passage ‘Olympic Stroll’ the remainder of the group saving some reserves for the return prusik.

The group returned to the entry shaft and explored the north passage, initially in welly sucking mud, following phreatic passageway until closing down in a rift chocked with sediment.

The final passage way to the northwest was followed through sections of passageway with speleothems and scour features in the top of the passage to a fixed ladder leading up to the gated section. [a trip has now been arranged on April 19 to the gated section]

Returning to the shaft the team had a quick wash utilising the provided scrubbing brushes and water buckets before ascending the shaft , rapid progress by some , steady progress by others and laboured progress by one (Thanks for the patience and encouragement), with a mid rope overtaking manoeuvre by Larry, had the shaft cleared after 45mins and the explorers back around the log burner enjoying a deserved slice of cake in quick order.

Tom C.

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