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TOPIC: Ogof Hesp Alyn - an (un)true story

Ogof Hesp Alyn - an (un)true story 3 years 1 month ago #23562

  • Ian
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Ogof Hesp Alyn – an (un)true story

Remembering a little known route from years past, where the glacially silted cave gave way to clean, washed bedding, alien landscapes and startling formations; an intrepid group of five very experienced cavers planned to return fully kitted with an arsenal of ropes, tackle and equipment.

Only two of the five had ever discovered this hidden mystery but we knew that we had reached our limit on the last visit as the floor fell away in a boulder room and our then inadequate provisions failed to allow us further passage.

A sense of excitement buzzed around as we all met at the usual spot. Smiles and laughter filled the air and we set off up the long hill with bags of rope and light hearts.

A mile of hillwalking later we were at the entrance where the usual 30 foot ladder was dropped. One by one we filed in and down.

The 100 metre flat crawl of water and sediment (aka. Gloopious maximus) was devoid of most of the water but sufficient remained to ensure the cold and wet penetrated our oversuits. So much was the case that the sedimentary goo engaged our SRT kits with such ferocity that they were transformigorised into belts of laden cack.

Turning left at the usual junction, instead of right, I began the lead to the hole that was to take us to the mysterious washed underworld and the unknown beyond. The second of us who was the only other to venture this way held the rear and the party progressed.

Arriving at the hidden hole, I stopped and one by one, my compatriots arrived and we began to form a rig to hold the rope for our descent into the hole – a tight, water torn rift plumbed to around 40 feet.

It was at this point a sense of foreboding crept upon us; a sense that was to gain momentum and magnitude as the evening was to pass. One of our team was missing.

It was our tail member, the only other who knew of this hole, but he was not with us. We hailed and we waited but there was nothing. Concerned for our comrade, a small contingent made their way back to find him. All proved well when he was found in a further reach of the cave heading in exactly the wrong direction.

We were united again but even at this early time, a mist of doubt had begun to form.

As I began to prepare for descent I noticed my descender was missing from my harness. Alarmed, I vocalised the problem which was quickly resolved as we had a spare stop and a spare figure 8. Annoyed I had mis-placed my own stop, I began the descent into the rift with my companions stop until I reached the bottom where I found another of my comrades scouting for the way on.

He asked “Which way is it? I can’t find a route.”

I looked around and, dismayed, came to realise that a collapse had occurred and our passage was blocked. Sharp, jagged rock and a strange mutation of calcite littered the passage with interwoven boulders ensuring further progress was made most difficult.

I knew the way and an awkward squeeze down was located which lead to a blocked, flat out belly crawl. The leading compatriot bravely negotiated the awkward squeeze and beg and clearing the belly crawl that was now nothing but mud and sediment.

The mist of doubt grew stronger as I pondered how he might reverse his decision and return back to us from the awkward slot. He didn’t return.

Instead, a distant shout could be heard “I’m through”. Another of the team began the awkward descent through the choke and into the muddied belly crawl and I knew I would be next.

As I slipped into the rift and made my way into the entombed crawl space, I again pondered how the return would be possible – this time my concern was how would I get out ?

Being the smallest of the team, I struggled and my thoughts passed to how the others might fare. Still, we all got through and further into the cave where we were faced with the clean washed bedding plane that I remembered so well from the earlier trip.

This time, however, there was to be a marked difference. The new existence of the collapse and the arrival of the glacial silt meant the sloping bedding plane would be easy to descend and very difficult to return up. There was no head space and this was to be a flat belly crawl downwards at a reasonably small angle – an angle sufficiently great to cause a problem returning. The mist of doubt became of a cloud of doubt as I wondered, again, how we would manage the return trip.

One by one we slipped down the washed bedding plane bringing with us a thick layer of mud and goo, mud and goo which should not have been attached to us and a significant new mechanic that brought with it a sense of doom.

At bottom, we found the once clean passage caked in new silt and more digging was required – passing through this ensured that our bodies were fully restored to a compete muddied state.

Just through the new mud crawl was the cavern of alien worlds. Strange, clean water torn walls of a colour and stone describable in only science fiction novels. We marvelled the feature and, for a moment, the cloud of doubt vanished as we lost ourselves in another world.

Recovering to reality, we pressed on and reached what we loosely describe as a letterbox slot. To reach it, another flat, tight crawl was to be traversed and by throwing ones legs around, it was possible to drop through the slot onto an eight foot drop into a huge cavern. Previously this had been clean washed and finding a purchase was easy. Now, however, the presence of glacial silt, mud and goo not only made purchases invisible but also completely unusable.

The cloud of doubt escalated to a cloud of doom as I considered, yet again, “how can we return back past this problem”. My mind was filled with impossible dreams; lost in the depths of the unreturnable underworld, I began to feel my own doom.

With a stone heart, I took myself into the tight crawl and flung myself into the letterbox to find myself being caught by my compatriot who was already through and down. I looked back, certain I could not make it back up and certain I would not be returning to the surface.

One by one the team came through and into the huge chamber. A reconnaissance party of one was sent to explore whilst the rest of us rigged another unfathomable hole in the floor. Steadfast, I decided I was not going to descend and announced my intention to return to surface slowly whilst the team made their way down. This intention was forbidden and I was not allowed to go alone, but another team member would join me. A small and insignificant amount of relief attempted to penetrated my veil of doom – unsuccessfully.

At this point, one team member announced the “goo” had destroyed his descender and asked for another spare. I offered mine knowing my route was only upwards but my mind acknowledged the cave was progressing it’s claws of demise of our equipment as well as our bodies.

By now the cold had claimed me, the cloud of doom had completely enveloped me and my world was lost.

Three members began their descent whilst I and my comrade negotiated the letterbox upwards. I could not get back in. Try as I might, the muddied stone threw me off time and time again until I resigned myself to failure. My comrade offered his back to climb on an, with a thrust beyond my ability, I re-entered the flat letterbox.

In order to get into this slot, I had removed my SRT gear. Likewise my companion. He passed up two balls of heavy mud which I vaguely recognised as being the kit that I needed to get myself out of this cave of doom. I shuffled forwards to allow my mate to climb into the slot and I watched, helpless, as he made effort after effort until, eventually, I saw him fall.

My heart only re-started after I heard the noise of him falling abate when I was able to shout “Are you ok?”. A voice returned my call “yes, I landed on mud”. Perhaps this cave was to forgive us our trespass after all, or was this only small mercy?

With renewed determination, I again watched helplessly as he attempted the climb a second time, this time his strength held and I saw his body go limp as he made it into the slot.

With my belly pressed into the floor and my back tightly pressed into the ceiling, I crawled onwards, back to the muddied crawl just before the clean washed elevated bedding plane.

Once through the muddied crawl (ensuring I was again caked from head to toe in gelatinous goo), I back the crawl upwards. The airspace was confined, there was no head room and the only means to get up was to “frog march” whilst flat out with my elbows and my knees. It took only a short time for my knee pads to be wrecked on the stone floor and pain began to accompany my every movement.

So slow was our pace that the three other team members had returned unable to descend any further without more rope. They were now behind us.

I reached the flat mud hole that had been dug by us earlier and wondered how I would get out. Six feet of being entombed in mud and I saw the way up. I also saw, what I considered to be, an easier way up through the collapse and I made for it. Very quickly I realised my error, I became contortionalised in a way that no human should ever be and, being at the front of the team, I could not be helped. The cloud of doom became of thick fog of doom and I wondered if I would ever leave this forsaken place.

With inhuman abilities, I twisted and turned until I was back in the muddied tomb where I made for the original path, this I managed with much less difficulty and, with relief, I found myself back at the rope and enough space to stand.

I shouted back to my comrade who was beginning the crawl in the muddied tomb. I did not know it then but it would be many hours before I would see or hear from him again.

I stood alone with my heavy ball of mud and began to try to find my SRT kit which was inside somewhere. There was no water and the talons of cold and body of fear that filled me made removing this goo almost impossible. Eventually, I managed to make my gear serviceable and re-equip my harness.

I attached myself to the rope and began my ascent up the tight rift.

The goo ensured that the grip of my hand jammer was faulty and I would feel the teeth lose cohesion bring with it a heart stopping moment on each thrust. As I ascended, I found the weight being relieved from my chest ascender as my body jammed in the rift. The loss of weight on my chest caused the ascender gate to open and I realised that I was attached only by the hand jammer by right hand was holding onto. With my left hand, I fought with my chest jammer to re-engage the lock. A battle I was to win even as the hand jammer tried to slip as the mud took possession of the teeth and the jammer was to fail. Up the rift I ascended, fighting death on each prussic, until I arrived at the rim and hauled myself out.

I lay down to find myself and within a few minutes another team member arrived, not my comrade that journeyed back with me though. I asked where he was and was advised he was cleaning his kit and would be up next (third of five). I announced my intention to return to surface and set off alone along the now very familiar passage with only a 100 metre crawl of water and goo and a relatively short electron ladder ascent to escape.

I made it quickly and the sense of relief at the surface was overwhelming.

I returned the mile distance up and over the hill to my car and began the process of removing my suit of cack and recovering the heat and sense of life that I had lost.

Very shortly, another team member appeared, the one who ascended the last rift ahead of my compatriot. We laughed and joked of the experience until two more of the team appeared.

But, where was my comrade, the one who had returned with me, number three of five was missing. We took stock but he was not here. Where was he? We had with us the entrance ladder so he could not escape the cave. But how could he have gone astray ?

Two members returned to the cave to find that he was indeed still there having become lost at the pitch head and being missed by two members who knew he was ahead of them. His journey to find the exit and been long and failed but he did return as an unrecognisable human shaped moving wall of mud.

And so, the unknown mysteries that lay deep below remain unknown mysteries that lay deep below.

I shall not return.

Note : there may have been a little embellishment in places ;)
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Ogof Hesp Alyn - an (un)true story 3 years 1 month ago #23566

  • WelshSossy
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Absolutely fantastic trip indeed, and a masterpiece of a trip report Ian.

Certainly feeling the aches and pains today. Roll on next week for our return. Can we tempt you back again Ian? ;) I'm sure things will seem much better next time around :).
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Ogof Hesp Alyn - an (un)true story 3 years 1 month ago #23569

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WelshSossy wrote:
Can we tempt you back again Ian? ;)


No.
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Ogof Hesp Alyn - an (un)true story 3 years 1 month ago #23572

  • timwatts
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actually pissing myself laughing.

Same time same place with another few lengths of rope i recon. Well, being that we've left three lengths of club rope in there up to now, we'll bloody well have to go back! :-)

Poor guy didn't have the best of trips did he. As we walked back (the final time) to the cars, along the path, Guy failed to notice the paths gentle curve to the right at one point and began forging fresh tracks through the undergrowth. A wise crack or two from his followers soon steered him back onto the relatively straight and definitely narrow, with a response something about charging a different set of batteries for his head lamp next time. So that perhaps explained a lot!

Cracking trip and nice to see some new bits - the Chamber below was very impressive, and the next pitch after that - which needed even more rope looked better again!
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Ogof Hesp Alyn - an (un)true story 3 years 1 month ago #23573

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ian, seriously though - you're coming again next week right?
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Ogof Hesp Alyn - an (un)true story 3 years 1 month ago #23574

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timwatts wrote:
ian, seriously though - you're coming again next week right?

No.
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Ogof Hesp Alyn - an (un)true story 3 years 1 month ago #23575

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You've got to come. It needs filming :)
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Ogof Hesp Alyn - an (un)true story 3 years 1 month ago #23576

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melo dramatic report as usual ian,
but f.a.f. :cheer: :cheer: :cheer:
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Ogof Hesp Alyn - an (un)true story 3 years 1 month ago #23577

  • LesW
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Love this story Ian :lol:

What I can't place though is where this junction is? I can only recal one passage until the climb down in the boulders then a junction where straight on ends and left (under a wet duck) leads to a large passage and the sand crawls (eventually)
I'm a very busy person
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Ogof Hesp Alyn - an (un)true story 3 years 1 month ago #23578

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hi les.
at the start of the boulder chamber you can turn sharp left back on yourself, thats the direction he's on about
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Ogof Hesp Alyn - an (un)true story 3 years 1 month ago #23580

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Cheers Mike.
I don't recall seing a passage there though...
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Ogof Hesp Alyn - an (un)true story 3 years 1 month ago #23586

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turn left (back on yourself) immediatly at end of entrance crawl. i.e. normally go 'right' in the main passage (which is effectively straight on) but turn left and take main passage in opposite direction.

or to remember it another way, on way out you normally always have to look for the fork left into the entrance crawl (or rather exit crawl).
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Ogof Hesp Alyn - an (un)true story 3 years 1 month ago #23680

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Video of this route (from this week) is now online.
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Last Edit: 3 years 1 month ago by WelshSossy.
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