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Daren Cilau

by Mark Lumley.

Having seen the Grade 5c survey of the Hard Rock Extensions, it became apparent to the Crew that the latest Westerly breakthrough from Brazil didn't quite fit the pattern of cave passage in the region.  The survey suggested that there should be a NNW continuation from Brazil, straight through 'Big Passage Nowhere Near The Action' heading up to 'Icing on the Cake' in the divers extension and then ultimately on up to Trident Passage in Agen Alwedd.

At 9.30 in the evening of 27th June, Steve Allen and I headed into Daren to check out the possibility of finding the NNW continuation.  We were at camp by 12.30, had a meal and headed into Hard Rock. Our first impression of the North wall of Big Passage was that it didn't show much promise.  Steve started work at some boulders in one corner while I dug a low, sandy arch.  I soon joined him though, when a void was revealed through a small hole in the floor. An hour later we had dug this wide enough for Steve to get through into a low bedding plane six feet below.  This contained some fine crystal but choked after 10 metres. Steve dug through the choke in about an hour while I gardened my way through behind.

We came up into a 1.5m - 2m high x 10m wide, phreatic passage with a sandy, crystal clustered roof. Unfortunately this stopped at another collapse after 30 metres.  We knew the nature of the passage now and dug down in the floor.  Sure enough a hole, appeared and another low, unstable bedding. I pushed a way in for 5m, wincing as each boulder moved revealed another section of hairy, 'hanging death' roof. Steve, dug the next 5m, howling at one stage as a moved boulder committed him to going forward.

Finally, he was through into a passage continuation of about 10m.  It was about 8.00 am and we were worn out.  I had a look at the next choke and ten minutes later I broke through into the most magnificent crystal passage I have ever seen.  The dimensions were much the same as before but this time we crawled for about 80m, to the next choke.  Throughout the length of the crawl the roof is literally covered in clusters of crystal needles from about 1" to 3" long.  The floor is sand and needles, the latter seemed to get inside our clothes at just about every move, sticking into knees, neck and elbows and earning the place the name 'Acupuncture Passage'.

The fifth boulder choke was dug for 30 minutes and looked very promising but the two of us were knackered so we headed back to camp, had a meal and left the cave after a non-stop 21 hour trip, to the drunken delights of the Chelsea Summer Barbecue.