Crystal Cave/Dog Hole connection
Saturday, 29 September 2007

As it was a CPC meet to Barbondale I took the chance to have a look at the infamous connection between Crystal Cave and Dog Hole, which takes the form of the awkward Barkers Passage leading to an extremely tight squeeze only passable by very thin cavers….as the guidebook says anyway. In the Dog Hole description, it actually refers to the squeeze as desperately tight.

And so we all assembled at the entrance to Crystal Cave at around 10.30am on saturday morning, the entrance being a civilised ~2min walk from the road. Crystal cave offers a nice trip with crawls, sporting bit of streamway, couple of easy ducks, short easy climbs and some nice formations. Barkers Passage is an inlet which enters at the bottom of the 3rd waterfall.

Myself and Dave Robertson (from CPC) set off up Barkers passage while the rest headed out. Several minutes of careful caving later (to avoid ripping my oversuit on the jagged and sharp rock) the crawl arrived at a short and easy vertical squeeze up to where I could look into the connection squeeze, which itself took the form of a tube/bedding.
Being tall, this actually proved a little awkward to get into, and so some unusual contortions were required to get my legs into a position where they would follow me through rather than get jammed and snapped off. This done, I pushed into the squeeze and proceeded to get stuck with one arm stretched out ahead and the other jammed solid along my body. Oops!

Reversing the squeeze proved to be rather fiddly due to an awkwardly placed rib of rock and my long legs. Once reversed, which took quite a while and lots of brute force, I took a few minutes to compose myself before making a second attempt……I certainly wasnt going to let this defeat me!!
This time, I lauched into the squeeze with both arms stretched out ahead, and once the usual leg contortions had been done pushed myself into the tightest part of the squeeze. This did feel rather committing, but some excellent holds on the other side allowed me to pull myself through, hips scraping down the rock and a few seconds later I was through. Yeeeeyyyyyyy!!!!!
I waved farewell to dave, who returned via Crystal, reached back for my wellies which were still on other side of the squeeze and proceeded to find the entrance to Dog Hole via a maze of boulders. The last crawl to the entrance is over strangely-smelling mud/poo, and pushing the rocks blocking the entrance out of the way, I had done the through trip!
I returned back to Crystal cave (via the surface!!) where the others were waiting, and once Dave was out we headed to Short Gill cave. This is a fine little cave with a nice section of streamway and some interesting gour pools. This rounded the day off nicely!!

Superb days caving!