Been meaning to hit this place up for a little while, each time I’ve been there in the past there was much less water and some rather large rats mooching around inside.
In fact on my first visit one dark night I waved a P7 around and caught sight of a very large rat I dubbed Splinter. He stopped for a second and looked at me before carrying on about his business in a Devil May Care kind of way, he didn’t care that I was watching him nor that I was hitting him with 200 lumens.
Yesterday was so boring after a day of Jet Washing the patio I decided to go back to Splinters Lair with a camera and fire off a few shots. It’s not a big place, just three arches and with much of the original pipework still intact. Still trying to pin an exact date on it, at first (at night) I thought it was Victorian but now I doubt that.
Last night there was about a foot of water inside and no sign of Splinter or his mates, I’m sure he will be back when it dries out though 🙂
Someone once said patience is a virtue and maybe they were right, there were some wise words written in The Battle for the Soul of Man…anyway, we have been waiting for over a year to go through the Stargate and many failed attempts have cost dearly in equipment, not to mention getting sick because of the atmosphere.
I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that we would never get close to it, even after some tantalising glimpses but karma was on our side and we even managed to recover some equipment lost months ago (more on that in a future post). The Stargate was reached….and we went through…to new worlds…
If you follow this blog you might be aware of an incident that caused me an amount of problems, sadly the upshot of that day has since had even worse fallout and has been the reason for radio silence on this blog…
The place is really my nemesis, we’ve been going there for a long time and it doesn’t reveal its secrets easily, hard work and an often dangerous environment are required to get any payoff. We have found really neat stuff in far flung corners that makes all the slog worth the effort. In fact certain things, that have become obsessional, still elude me and it was just this said ‘thing’ that was on the menu when karma dealt me a sucker punch.
Its true my wad0rs split and I dropped a few quids worth of Lensers into the murky depths but the damage was far far worse as I was to find out. The Thrunite is now working, although it took several days for it to dry out, the ‘sinking tripod’ issues turned out to be the column clamp failing on my Velbon E-540 of which I am waiting to get a spares/repair price for.
The icing on the cake was when my 40D stopped working….yep…d-e-a-d. All of the buttons apart from the shutter had stopped working, the display had gone and the camera just sat there with the autofocus chattering away to itself trying to focus on an invisible/imaginary subject in the distance….FUBAR!!
It was left to dry for a week or so but still refused to play so it got shipped off to the camera doctors while I started searching for a new Canon body (just in case). Two weeks later and several hundred pounds worse off it got couriered back to me having been totally stripped, lovingly rebuilt (with several new parts) and calibrated to Canon factory standards, oh and they cleaned all the mine gunk off it for me too 🙂
The repair slip said my camera had suffered ‘contamination and corrosion’ LOLZ
So, I’m nearly back in the game…stand by for updates in the coming weeks 🙂
Apologies for the lack of updates, been a lot going on in the last month or so…
This pair of wad0rs didn’t last long, they’ve had a couple of leaks for a while now but I suffered a full ‘blow out’ 250ft from dry land in four feet of stinking, fetid, skanky water yesterday.
In epic Kit Fail stylee at the same moment my 40D started sinking on its tripod, I dropped a Lenser P7 and a P3 in the water (that should have been clipped to me on Paracord…) and flooded my Thrunite Catapult. Water then came over the top of my wad0rs just to add insult to injury. I could feel the Lensers around my feet and could have dived to retrieve them but with the 40D in the other hand it was an easy decision to make….walk away and go buy yet another Lenser Twin Pack…
Three lights down and soaked to the skin we continued the trip and was glad to get out of the wad0rs once away from the location. Suffice to say they went straight in the wheelie bin after I took these shitty cameraphone pix of the damage…..(cheap wad0rs suck by the way).
Their replacements were ordered last week so should be here soon….black Gimp Style rubber with an industrial boot this time 😉
We’ve been hitting this place up for six months now and despite making great progress elsewhere in the mine these pesky arches have been just out of my reach for ages. First time I tried to reach them there was around eight feet of water and they just sat there in the distance teasing me (Picture 1 below), then a few months later the water level had dropped four feet and I was able to get quite close but had to abandon when water was lapping at the top of my tripod (Pic 2 below).
We’ve not been here for a while but on last weekends visit we were amazed to see the water level had dropped totally by the arches and we could walk right past them into virgin territory.
Now we could get down there we shocked as to their purpose…..the mine ceiling was supported on massive wooden cogs built on top of the arches and was at least 8-10 feet above the now buckling steelwork!
If you look at the third shot below you can make out the first two cogs above the steelwork.
Apologies for no more photo’s from this trip, the rest of the day was spent negotiating truly giant, unstable roof falls and getting stuck in three foot deep mud in a very low heading way out in the west. We did find several more Plant Rooms and some curious ‘dams’ that I need to find out more about…
This one has been on the To-Do list for ages, so long in fact that someone else beat us too it, c’est la vie!, you win some, lose some…
The truth is we were elsewhere frying bigger fish and were beaten by worthy opponents I know only thru the Interweb. Sloppy Seconds is never ideal but it had to be done as it was still a neat trip to make. The 4Gas had a spazz before we had broken a sweat and had to be shut down as it was blatantly lying about the 02 content and making a hell of a racket. This was far from ideal as there was a bunch of noxious primordial ooze right down there amongst that “Just for me and my dog” orange gloop and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was enough to get the h2s sensor squawking.
The trip involved walking through just over a mile of heavily flooded galleries and crosscuts, gingerly picking our way through a couple of truly unstable & massive roof collapses before we got to the payoff. Water was on average four feet deep with submerged roof collapses, random lumps of twisted, underwater, narrow gauge rail to negotiate and hidden sumps in the mine floor. Two of us had hilarious over wader moments, one resulting in blood loss and my waders sprang a leak within seconds of leaving the dry part of the mine. Other random weirdness was an anemic looking lizard 150ft from the surface amongst corn growing underground and being able to send SMS messages from the base of the shaft.
“Venimus, Vidimus, Vicimus”
Usual rules apply…No names, no locations, just pictures of somewhere very orange. Please don’t ask for locations as refusal often offends 🙂
Meteorological Perfection is not something you would normally associate with underground exploration but on our latest project a specific type of weather is the difference between rapid extraction, knackering 02 levels or a thoroughly enjoyable trip.
Weather Fronts were due to collide which meant a day of fantastic oxygen levels for us due to the high pressure and we enjoyed more than + 3% more 02 than had been experienced on many previous visits. Also in our favour were water levels so going chest deep got me to places I hadn’t previously been able to reach before without a boat.
Usual rules apply…No names, no locations, just pictures of somewhere. Please don’t ask for locations as refusal often offends 🙂
More water filled fun this week which ended up in a near ‘over (chest) wader’ moment in which my tripod disappeared and I nearly played submarines with my Canon. From here its likely to be Inflatable Tenders all the way on another trip to this area to get any deeper though…
(Once the tripod was drained though it seemed happy enough so its passed the test in my book.)
This blog has gone a bit off-topic recently with a distinct lack of Cold War items, this hasn’t gone unnoticed but I’m having such a blast with the underground lark I’m afraid I’m still showing the love for the underground 🙂
I wish I could show the whole set of these shots as they would truly blow your mind but sadly it would also compromise things so for the top drawer stuff just use your imagination…
Water is a big deal here and boats make sense for much of it, there’s also plenty of Death From Above action going on to keep you on your toes.
Plan A was wet and we really needed a boat, nobody had the balls to see how deep it was so I waded on in anyway just to find out. It was thigh deep, cold and I wasn’t wearing waders, seeing as I was now wet I pushed on for a while to see if things dried up….they didn’t.
We aborted and switched locations to Roof Fall City and I tried out a new toy recommended to me by a well known drainer (thanks for the tip in the unlikely event you are reading this…), a portable LED array that uses 64 LED’s on full power or 36 LED’s on reduced power, it has a ‘daylight’ colour temperature of 5,500K and outputs 480 lumens. I got it wrong really and placed it too near the shots so the backlit shots are a bit overcooked, next time I’ll try diffusing it or placing it further away…
Usual rules apply…No names, no locations, just pictures of somewhere. Don’t ask for locations because I won’t tell you, just enjoy the shots.
More Big Grips