Wales I

Augustinas Prusokas, Ben Honan, Ching Sik, Dave Kirkpatrick, David Yu, James Perry, Jarvist Frost, Jo-Kuang, Kenneth Tan, Kong You Liow, Rebecca Diss, Tanguy Racine, Tomas Satura, Will Scott, Xiaoming Liu, Yu Kang

Friday

Excellent minibus tunes - puff the magic dragon made several appearances
Many bowls of cheesy pasta and beer before bed

Rebecca "The Diss" Diss

First trip of the year, with all the new cavers! A smooth escape from London assisted by much stores-preparation during the week by the committee, a quick dally in the Swindon Tesco's hunting for Chilli ingredients, and then on to Brynmawr and the tram-road entrance to the CSS' hut Whitewalls on Llangattock.

Jarv

Saturday

The view from Whitewalls

Relatively late start, find I have no wellingtons or helmet...luckily my size was in the spare kit so didn't have to go bare foot or looking like a clown
Into the cave we go, straight away it was much tighter than I was expecting - lots of squeezing and crawling
Definitely saw a bat at some point which was pretty cool
My helmet was too big (smallest size, guess my head is just tiny) so kept falling forward which made it hard to see as my light was never in the right place
As soon as we hit water I got very heavy and much worse at climbing
Some big Caverny bits - maybe 2? Where we lay down in the mud, also good photo op
Some pretty scary climbing at times but nobody died so that's fun
Peeing in a cave is not on my recommend list tho
Also glasses are a bad idea if you're as clumsy as me, they're very scratched now, le cry
Overall good fun but pretty wet and muddy and gross
Many many bruises sustained, my whole left side from ankle to shoulder was covered
Oh I also had some pretty nasty blisters on my feet before going so that added pain and the slight worry of infection...luckily the cavers had some rather blackened tape stuff to cover them and all seemed fine

[Ed: Supposedly written in a 4am post-US-election haze ]

Diss

Morning saw a stunningly beautiful view down into the verdant valley, whisps of cloud crawling up the brown-brackened Sugarloaf opposite. Breakfast gobbled & plans made, we changed in the rather pleasant changing room, and then turned out onto the tramroad, set ourselves into our three groups and headed off to Aggy.

Jarv

Sunday

Second day was much more chill although we did encounter a few too many spiders for my liking - the price to pay for going to a cave with lots of entrances and whatnot
Also seemed to be a lot of army crawling which I am not a fan of
Much chocolate eating and photography occurred though so all in all a pretty good time

Diss

Aggy to Turkey pool: Jarv and Tanguy

Tanguy looks for a way on.

Not too many people wanted to go caving on the Sunday, so Tanguy and I were free to have a little play in Aggy. After a rather curtailed trip yesterday, the idea of having a quick romp was very attractive. Tanguy had his camera and flash unit, and I had my little S95 - so we set off to take a few photos.

A big gang of Scouts quite literally screamed past Whitewalls as they headed to Egelwys Faen. Tanguy and I sauntered after them, catching up with them while they were having their safety briefing & one of the leaders was putting orienteering markers in place.

We got to the Aggy entrance, and in typical 'experienced people doing a Sunday trip' fashion realised we weren't totally prepared - though we had a first aid kit, neither of us had a backup light! In at 12:20, we made some good time. I was soon massively overheating trying to keep up with Tanguy, with my over and under suit opened to the waist. At Baron's chamber, I asked for a few minutes respite, and lay flat out on a muddy boulder, to dump as much heat in as short time as possible!

At the junction down from main chamber to the stream, I stashed my Sigg bottle after one last sip, and we zoomed off down-stream and up through the 2nd boulder choke. The crushed Ammo tin (old flood food dump) seeming to hold up the ceiling was pretty sobering! The high level route past the choke was pretty slippery, and it always feels a bit preposterous to head straight down to the big drop of the rift, only to step across and turn around to come back!

We were soon at Northwest Junction (1 hr after entering), after spotting a nice couple of pools below the Ochre inlet to consider photographing on the way back. Tanguy reported the plastic cup collecting the Ochre drink was half full of iron deposits when they came this way yesterday! Certainly the orange-yellow stain on the rock was slippery as anything here. Here, he fact that I did not have a backup light was underlined, by my incredibly reliable headlamp conking out when I tapped my helmet on the ceiling. Tanguy was well within hearing range, luckily! Just a dusty battery connection.

Playing in the stream

Upstream along Turkey, with a few glances at some of the calcite, and a bit of photography at the cascades. We found ourselves at Turkey Pool - certainly a nice bit! I think the (only) last time I came this way, I must have missed the Coal-Celler junction, and headed up unknowingly into Coal Cellar passage.

Turkey Pool was beautiful. Really nice after all the mud to have some clean washed rock and pretty reflected lights on the ceiling. We took a couple of photos here, then assessed the situation. Tanguy promised many riches beyond, but also that the soaking was distinctly 'nipple deep'. We checked the time - nearly 14:00. To have a speedy return to London, we really had to be back at the hut by 16:00 ish. So we decided to turn at this point, and take a few more photos on the way out.

This we did, speeding along, without much need for discussion or digression. It's very strange doing a trip without novices to look after - I really felt like whole sections of my brain weren't needing to be engaged, a very relaxing trip, even if it was physically exercising.

Out to a beautiful valley, and then a quick hike back to the hut, just in time to gobble the proferred special-fried-rice and reheated crumble from last night.

Tanguy took the first shift on the minibus ride home. I wasn't too tired, but immobilised in the passenger seat by the many personal bags cluttered around, I kept on getting cramp in my legs, the effect of rather more boulder hopping than they were used to!

Jarv

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