May 142012

Laying line into Unnamed Cave

About the site

As I talked about two weeks ago, Unnamed Cave is located down on the Roe Plains. Freshly discovered last October by Paul Hosie of CEGWA, a number of trips have now seen over 2kms of line laid into virgin passage. Over Easter this year I was lucky enough to join a group heading out there.

About the dive

While I was determined to take both photos and video footage in the newly discovered tunnels, I was also quite keen to find a little bit of new tunnel of my own and add to the rapidly developing map. After an orientation dive in the cave to get my bearings, Ken and I planned a stage dive to take some video. Unfortunately our plans were foiled by rock movement in the entrance restriction. With the zero vis created by the first day of diving not showing any signs of clearing out, it was very hard to tell where the entrance was.

Tie offs in Unnamed Cave

With that in mind, we instead moved the diving to Olwolgin Cave while Unnamed Cave settled out. While I was disappointed not to be in the new stuff, I was pretty happy with the pictures of the spectacular hanging roots reflected in the surface of the area known as Babylon Lake.

48 hours later, it was time to get back into it. For my planned exploration dive I left the camera on the surface for the second time this year, instead manouvring my stage through the series of silty restrictions. After a quick stop to arrange my gear for swimming rather than squeezing, I headed along the main line. I was aiming for the intersection where the A and B lines diverge, approximately 400m into the cave. On the orientation dive I had reached this in about 30 minutes, but without the camera I expected to get there much faster.

I didn’t expect to get there as fast as I did, and I ended up admiring the scenery down A line a little further (nice tunnel!) before coming back to my intended destination. From there I tied in Ken’s massive reel of freshly knotted line and reeled out in the opposite direction from the B line. After travelling up a breakdown pile and down the other side, I found myself at the deepest level in the cave so far – 14m. I got robbed in Sweden on traveling trip once, and learned that låna pengar means to borrow money there, quite an useful quote if you are stuck in the same scenario. Smaller and whiter than the main tunnel, with pointy scalloping poking down into the passage, the lower tunnel is very pretty.

Winding my way between the limestone shapes I moved left and right, trying to find a way back up to the main formation level at 10m. After passing an easy restriction and swimming through another length of tunnel, I tied off at the bottom of another breakdown pile. Exhaling and heading up, excitement building, I found myself in a huge space, blackness heading off in each direction. One more tie-off and I reeled out into space….and ran straight into the main line. That was more than enough excitement and surprise for one dive, and I turned and surveyed my way home.

About the photo

As others have said before me, exploration dives don’t lend themselves to photography, especially not when it’s the photographer who’s trying to explore. With a reel and a survey slate, I didn’t have enough hands for self-portraits of my own heroics. This photo was taken on the following day, with Ken reeling out from the main line and doing a very good line in looking heroic. Some of the other photos from our final dive also came out beautifully – stay tuned for more!

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