Freesteel Blog » Ireby 2 digging session

Ireby 2 digging session

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 at 5:15 pm Written by:

It was a dark and sunny day. Well, there was some rain. But the caves were dry. Team of 4 went to work on the dig in Duke Street 2 of Ireby Fell Cavern

I have this old video of a trip down Ireby a few years ago, pumping the sump out in order to gain access to both ends of the whirlpool dig to more than double the speed it got dug out to provide a dry bypass.

Whirlpool passage is a surprisingly crawl that had been backfilled with clay and sand up to the ceiling, and it would have taken many years if you had to keep dragging the dirt out along its entire length from the far end.


Here’s where the new dig is going on, in similar solid filled passage. This time no one knows where it goes, or even if it is going anywhere. It could keep people occupied for two months, or 20 years.


Here is a picture of one of the digging trays at the last point in the passage where you can still sit up and there’s a place to stack the dirt.


I began chalking up the trays as I pulled them out. There’s 45 here at 16:45pm. The previous photo showed 8 marks at 15:20pm. By my calculation that’s one tray every two and a half minutes.


When everyone else had used up the oxygen and replaced it with carbon dioxide, I was moved to the digging face. This is what the view is looking back.


And this is the actual dig face at my feet. I found it easier to kick and scrape at it with my boots and pull armfuls up the slope with my hands than use the shovel. There is a temptation to want to make as much progress as you can forwards and worm-hole it, but this is counterproductive as you quickly don’t have any room to dig.

We gave up when everyone had a headache. I was not well all of the following day, though I don’t know if this was connected. It may soon be time to install a ventilation system.

That night I decided we need to make this dig open source. Back in the old days cavers got very possessive about their digs, and kept them secret, or even gated them with an iron grill and a padlock lest someone come in and poach it by breaking through into new cave after you had done all the hard work.

But the likelihood of that happening is nearly nil for me because I am not there often enough, and the possibility that it could happen for someone else could be the attraction of getting them in there to make some progress. It’s like buying loads of lottery tickets. The more people play, the sooner the prize is won.

What we need is a Dig Log at the start of the passage which would have a couple of pages of instructions and diagrams encouraging and telling cavers how to get to work, and a load of blank pages where they could write down when they were there and what they got done. I’ll take out a small ad in Descent Magazine enticing teams to get along, and pretty soon everyone will chip in and there will be a big break through in my lifetime.

If it proceeds 100m to the west it goes off the edge of the page and ruins my current survey poster.

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