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Present: Dunks, Dour, Gwyn, Andrew, Julia

We got underground at 12:40pm. Several hours earlier than last year. Down the entrance series which was deeper, tighter and wetter than I’d remembered, then on to the roped climb, which I remembered very clearly… Then into big stuff. Cairn Junction, Tea Junction, all huge, impressive and full of boulders. Great cave, pity you spend so much time looking at the floor. Indiana Highway was nice traversing. I swear the traversing got progressively harder as we got further round, but maybe it was me getting progressively more tired. It’s not boulders the whole way at least, after a bit we got to a nice passage with a sandy floor which you can actually walk along without thinking about the next three steps. Passed some nice willies, and on to St David’s Hall which was rather large and I got very comfy and dozed for a couple of minutes. Unfortunately we were only about a quarter of the way round so I had to stop sleeping and do some more caving.

The guidebook description for Squirrel Rifts is pretty crap, but Dunks navigated no problem. Oh yeah, this was after we’d descended the nice fixed ladder on Balcony Pitch, having brought our own ladder and line. Still, the ladder did come in useful. Couple of free climbs, I fell halfway down the second and landed on my “good” ankle. Fortunately it was ok in the cave. I was a bit freaked out after that so when I got to a tight bit a short way on I lay there and had a bit of a rest. It looked smaller than me but it wasn’t. Conversation went something like this:

Me – It isn’t that thin is it.
Anthony – No [If you can’t get through that, then you’re an official lardarse. – Dunks]
Me – I’m being really wussy aren’t I.
Several Voices – Yes!

Into Agent Blorenge (I only know all the names ‘cos I’ve got the survey in front of me. Keep being impressed about what a long way it looks) and there were quite a few technicalish free climbs. I was too knackered by this point, so the ladder was rigged on a couple of them. On one I couldn’t get down to the ladder, so I stood on Dunks’s back whilst he wedged himself in the rift and slowly lowered himself down. By then it had become obvious that I was going to end up buying several rounds of beer. Ah well.

Stomped along for a bit, and reached the main streamway (after a long duck – the sewer) which was nice. It carried on being nice for about a mile, through a couple of boulder chokes and past some nice pretties. Staggered from Tea Junction to Cairn Junction, had my umpteenth rest whilst Dunks ran off to put a ladder on the roped climb, then carried on. Up the entrance series, with Duncan quietly reminding me that there were people behind me lying in the stream and people back at the hut getting worried ‘cos we were late for our callout. Couldn’t open the door so Duncan did it. We were all out after a mere 10 hours. Andrew and Gwyn had lightmares but not me, ha ha! Quick(ish) change then back to the pub, got shouted at for worrying people then ate slop, drank beer and went to bed. What an original ending.

Julia Bradshaw