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Llangattwg Update

by Mark Lumley

The project to connect up Daren Cilau and Agen Allwedd is still going strong for the Rock Steady Crew with a phenomenal amount of man-hours put into digging this year. Since I left for Mexico some individuals have done the equivalent of 2 months underground, including several 10 day trips.

Numbers have dwindled, with fewer people capable of overcoming the considerable physical and psychological pressures of a sustained push.  For any worthwhile digging to be done it is necessary to go down for at least three days anything less is just travel, sleep and recovery time, with a token visit to the dig site.

The nucleus of diggers left are certainly considerably fitter than when the project started. The trip to Milliways - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - takes 4 to 5 hours if you push it.  This means getting to the Hard Rock Cafe in 2 hours. (If you don't know the cave and you're considering a tourist trip to the end and back, be prepared for 24 hours underground - the worst bit's beyond the Hard Rock Cafe!)

Andy Cave, Angela Garwood, Pete Bolt, Steve Allen & co. pushed numerous digs between the Restaurant and Friday 13th passage in the early part of the year.  The most successful of these was the Warren which gave a few hundred feet of tight, very pretty passage ending in a chamber with an 'undiggable' choke (we're going back with scaffold poles, all sherpas welcome!!)  This has a storming draught and looks as though it could go to Trident Passage or the more distant Midnight Passage.  It is our considered opinion that there is something very big in between the two.

Star Bar chamber is being pushed along a tight, draughting rift.  This looks promising for a connection to Trident (God forbid!)  Andy Cave and Steve Allen pushed Machu Picchu for a few hundred feet.  This ends in a frustrating, draughting, sandy maze.  Dig 43lb is being pushed west.  This appears to draught with no airspace (remember Acupuncture Passage).  Crystal Rift dig is immediately below the ladder in Big Chamber II and looks 'interesting'.  Sand Dig looks good too.

The most promising lead, however, must surely be Friday 13th.  This is the furthest point west in the cave, an hour from the restaurant. Large walking passage deteriorates to a low sand crawl which we dug out in January (whatever happened to Mongo?) to reach a small chamber with a draughting boulder choke.  This has been banged and dug on several occasions. August bank holiday saw Andy, Pete and myself back at the choke.  A couple of charges were placed here (and numerous others elsewhere in the extensions) and we fired our last with a way on visible beyond a boulder.  As for the Gothic diggers, they've had enough of digging at the bottom of Aggy for the time being and are looking at the very promising Aven Series/Copper Passage dig with Geoff Newton and Clive Gardener.

The Gloucester/Hereford boys are still active in Aggy.  John Cooper and Arther Millet are putting a lot of work into a draughting rift on the surface above the Tram Road, with a view to a possible back door to Daren.  We have put a lot of man-hours into the BEC/RSC dig in Midnight Passage. The boulder cone has been 'stabilised' and we now intend to dig under the right hand side of it (Pass the Andrex!!)

The divers have had a frustrating season, being plagued by bad weather, but there are still dives to be done in Daren, not to mention the terminal sump in Aggy.  (Damn, I didn't mean to mention the terminal sump in Aggy!) Arthur Millet has virtually completed a grade 5 survey of the entire known system - a really dedicated piece of hard work without which we wouldn't have had half the success.

With any luck a connection will be made in the next year - I hope so because we then intend to push the system West, under Llangynidr ... now there's a system!

P.S.  A seventy hour trip was carried out from October 6th  - 9th by Pete, Andy, Angela, Nick, Snablet and myself.   Friday 13th boulder choke was pushed for about 30ft vertically and 50ft horizontally. We all aged about 5 years in the process and the way on is back to blasting.

Snablet extended the Shit-Rift by 70ft of tight crawling; started a new, draughting, very promising dig at the top end of Friday 13th Passage and another charge was set off (after a misfire and another 2 years of ageing by Pete!) in the Star Bar Chamber. This should be open on our return.

P.P.S.  If you ever get the opportunity, go and see the blue formations in Pain Killer Passage - they are without doubt the best erratics in the country!