Valley Entrance Avens and the Window Aven Extension (almost)
Sunday, 15 July 2007

Part of a weekend mission to reclimb the various avens in the roof tunnel between Valley Entrance and the pitch into the Kingsdale Master Cave. Partly to find out where they went, and partly to practice bolt climbing before going to Matienzo at the end of the month. On the Saturday we successfully climbed two bolt routes up avens. One a little way beyond the duck near the entrance (before the junction with the Milky Way) and the other a little over half way to the pitch. Both of there were successfully ascended, and both crap out just beyond where you can see from the bottom of each one with calcited jammed boulders above. We then moved on to the Window Aven which is the big one just short of the pitch. We planned to start bolting up this, and return on Sunday. But after Toby free climbed up to the first bolt it was possible to swing onto a ledge from where it was possible to walk into the bottom of an even bigger part of the aven. Quite an impressive big space which is just off the trade route through the cave and not somewhere I had noticed before. An old fixed rope was hanging down from above, so Toby and Pete went up and reported a narrow awkward rift going on at the top. We planned a return on the Sunday. Meanwhile back at Bull Pot farm I got to see the RRCPC file on the West Kingsdale System, and it included a highly detailed survey of the Window Aven extensions from 1977 drawn up by Terry Whittaker. The first thing I noticed was the label pointing to an 8.5 inch squeeze!

The Sunday saw Toby, Paul and myself back at the aven to take a look. A quick ascent of the fix rope got me to the original 1977 karabiners which I guessed were snap gates, judging by the lack of any sign of the gates on the rusty ovals with white metal oxide growths all over them! I climbed into the rift, which was awkward sideways horizontal thrutching to a bend which my legs were too long to get around. So I backed out and sent in Toby and Paul. They both passed the bend (one person went in at a time as there is only space for one to turn round beyond) and met the 8.5 inch squeeze, which neither could pass. The squeeze was described by them as being between the wall and a boulder, with a second boulder at an angle on top (this one is split down the middle). The split boulder is holding up tons more loose crap, so removing it was not an option. Toby tried to lever it sideways to open up the gap between it and the wall, making it possible to squeeze the other side of it to the original squeeze, but not far enough to get past it due to the impossible bend this made on the far side of it to get into the rift passage beyond. He thought he might has now made the original squeeze even smaller. So the passages beyond elude us for now, although the squeeze may yield to capping. At least I have the full survey data from beyond the squeeze, which Terry is happy for me to use in the new survey of the West Kingsdale System.