Surveying with a moron
Sunday, 25 October 2015

With promises of what was described to be ‘efficient’ and ‘fun’, I was persuaded to accompany Brendan on a trip with the objective of resurveying part of the Kingsdale Master Cave, specifically Carrot Passage and adjoining passages not far from Valley Entrance. The trip was also a chance for Brendan to perfect and demonstrate his paperless surveying techniques of which he is very fond of. It’s probably worth mentioning that if you’re interested in reading about quality caving then read no further.

Brendan arrived promptly at my house, informing me that the two other people who’d offered to help had dropped out and thus it would be just the two of us, with the subtext that I would now have to drive. Not the best of starts but off we went to Inglesport, where we met with Holly, Noel, Katey and a somewhat unwell Nat. Noel looked worried as Brendan explained the plan and his disto calibrating method and we were subsequently laughed out of Inglesport following the question “How do you get to Kingsdale?”.

Eventually we got to the cave with fewer wrong turns than expected. I managed to lock my car keys in the cavity between my brake light and my boot door, Brendan giggled as I tried to explain how this was a problem as the boot can’t be opened without the now trapped key and that we might be stranded. Luckily the plastic bumper of Ford Ka’s are quite malleable and the key was rescued, disaster averted.

Commence disto calibration. Here I was introduced to the Ice-cream Time Machine Calibration Method. This is best done before a trip and not in the chamber adjacent to valley entrance, prone to several cavers and a dog repeatedly passing through. We attempted the calibration no less than five times before giving up after getting consistently bad disto readings – compass readings differing up to 100° when rolling the disto with repeated calibration error >1.5. This was attributed to the fact that it was recently dropped and probably broken, details of the problem can be found here along with a convenient solution as determined by the man himself! Brendan has kindly produced a diagram for carrying out his own tried and tested (and failed) method of calibrating a disto should anyone ever want to replicate this blunder of a trip. It seemed the traditional compass and clino method would once again prove more effective, had only we been foresighted enough to bring a pair.

With no means of surveying (to a reasonable standard) we decided to go and at least find the place we intended to survey. After the initial pool wading of valley entrance this mostly involved a lot of flat out crawling down the rather uninspiring passages that make up Milky Way, West Stream Passage, Shingle Crawl and Carrot Passage, most of which ended in digs. We were able to confirm the location of survey station 10 from the 2007 survey, providing a good starting point for anyone planning to survey down Carrot Passage in the future. Despite not being very long this was quite tiring and we soon got fed up and turned back, spending a grand total of around 3 hours actually caving.

If anything the trip highlighted the need for resurveying efforts judging from the shortcomings of the 1967 survey as well as the value of compass and clino as surveying tools. Big thanks to Nat for directions and Brendan for trying.

Ice-Cream Time Machine (Hall, B. 2015)
Posted by: George Breley
Size: 66kb
Width: 600 pixels
Height: 576 pixels
Posted: 25 October 2015
George – happy about how well the trip went 🙂
Posted by: Brendan Hall
Size: 66kb
Width: 600 pixels
Height: 449 pixels
Posted: 25 October 2015