EASE GILL DIARY FOR 1961

from RRCPC1. 1961

In 1959 Mike Booth and Jim Eyre inaugurated the Booth-Eyre Crawl, a tortuous passage pushed to about a length of 300 ft. A waterfall was heard and the passage was assumed to connect with Wisdom Tooth Passage, although a colour test and human connection had both failed.
This was a nice tidy result but unfortunately a surveying type upon discovering two widely differing surveys of Wisdom Tooth Passage made a special effort with two other surveying types to survey the Booth-Eyre Crawl. Our nice tidy result was shattered - the passages zig-zag willy nilly into the Promised Land leaving a nice untidy problem in the Top End..

MAY 1961 - WRETCHED RABBIT PASSAGE
During topography work, an old high level network over Wretched Rabbit Passage was again entered after having been almost forgotten over the years. This was an original Red Rose discovery and the finding of an old mackintosh belt (my own) brought back nostalgic memories. This is more work for the surveyors. However, not content with this, I wandered with notebook and pencil into a 'cheese' further upstream above the junction. This complicated network of small passages breaks into boulder chambers as yet unexplored (shaky), and at one point a heap of snail shells were discovered below a small aven.
Another forgotten discovery was revisited during further trips up Wretched Rabbit Passage where the extension to the first major cross joint beyond the bedding plane section continues in a "ferrets only" passage. This time I managed to enter (with assistance) a small chamber above the rockfall' and the continuation beyond is ridiculously small but ferret Bateson says it goes...This could mean a continuation beyond the boulder choke which has abruptly cleaved the major passage below in two. It is worth pushing and could connect with Trident Roof Passage.
Still in Wretched Rabbit Passage and above the bedding plane section is Four Ways Chamber entered by accident from Stop Pot. This has now been surveyed and proves to be a useful escape route should the Main Drain be impassable. The breakdown which has formed the cavity of Four Ways Chamber is in close proximity with Carrot Chamber in the old high level series overhead and this has given rise to theories of a further fossil network which could extend as far as the gill. A branch passage from Four Ways Chamber runs beneath Carrot Chamber and ends at an aven remaining unexplored. However the main importance of Four Ways Chamber has been in the fixing of a triangulation of considerable importance with Eureka Jnct. and Stop Pot.

DOUBLE DECKER SERIES
This interesting high level series was gone over again in the hope of continuing what is in fact part of the main fossil system from beyond Stop Pot. However; both loose ends have been abruptly cut off by a major rockfall and apart from some very dicey crawls nothing more was discovered. "The surveyors were then sent forth into the wilderness but failed to find that which they were seeking and it came to pass that an official guide didst take them by the hand and say look yonder as he didst point at a cleft amongst the rubble from which did come the smell of virgin passage" and there was much gnashing of teeth etc. (However a new passage - Dry Dock was entered and surveyed, and another triangulation came into being fixing Stop Pot and Holbeck Jnct.) Ed.

MAY 1961 - DEPOT PASSAGE
A major inlet to the system, Depot Passage had defied all efforts to push and Dave and I had a preliminary run through to see if anything had been overlooked. Here we found a lonesome figure in an exposure suit (one of a group of campers we had encountered above Spout Hall). We acceded to his request to accompany us and we soon had a very hot bod on our hands as we headed upstream.
Above the rift we traversed back into some small chambers, one with a swinging rock at the entrance acting like a trap door. Everything seemed to be choked so we returned to the sandy chamber below the rift. Fairly high 50 ft., the chamber contains three old inlets at high level and one at floor level. We decided to return with scaling tackle and crowbars.

JUNE 1961 - TRIDENT ROOF PASSAGE
Whilst investigating the high levels at the junction to Pierces Passage with Trident Passage, I had seen a passage beyond an overhanging wall of loose rock. Being normal I left it alone and after climbing down had a look from the other side. From below the passage was hidden by a threatening mass of rock which was enough to act as a deterrent and' accordingly I forgot about it. Some years later a certain Mr.Cornes a newcomer to the sport, told me about a passage that he had just walked into. For months after every time I passed Trident passage I looked up and shuddered. However, like Everest - it was there and accordingly Mike Bateson, D. Marsden and myself climbed the very shaky rook slope, technically an easy climb, but owing to the loose nature of the blocks, extreme caution was exercised. Even by Dave Marsden who dropped a grand piano in the general direction of Mike Bateson - who had moved fortunately in the right direction and with alacrity.
The climb was a three fag climb - one whilst weighing it up, one whilst climbing, thus obscuring all loose rock and the third on top to restore shattered nerves and worry about getting down again.
An intricate network of small passages and chambers stretched from here to almost connect with the Upper Trident Series. Separated by a minor rockfall the network now concludes the complete fossil levels of Trident Passage and a cross section of this amazingly complex passage would be interesting to say the least. There is one mystery, the passage breaks into another larger passage which is blocked upstream and downstream thus giving no clue to its origin or destination - perhaps a survey will clarify matters. (Now been surveyed). Ed.

AUGUST 1961 - DEPOT PASSAGE
Determined to scale the high level inlets a set of ladders were taken in and an attack launched. The surveyors were off to some obscure part of the system.
However the ladders were much too short and the lowest inlet was only reached by holding the ladder upright against the wall with the foot resting on a bank of sand. This practise was not very sound, especially with a 15 ft drop below the sand bank. Purely on faith the final attempt proved the inlet to be a choked blind with the important inlets across the far side of the chamber hopelessly out of reach. J. Newton and M. Bateson began digging out the choked bedding plane at floor level whilst D. Marsden, T. Sharpe and M. Wilkinson and myself decided to give the high levels another going over.
Trapdoor Chamber was visited and the trapdoor thumped causing great consternation to Jim and Mike in the low crawl in the chamber below. Ghostly thumping from they knew not where.. Meanwhile I started to insert my bony body through a gap in the final choke and entered a low passage which soon changed to a miniature snake. I called for my tame ferret (Mel) and together we traversed along to a final choke beyond some fine helictites and numerous spiders. From a hole amongst the -rocks a fierce draught made itself felt and after enlarging the aperture a passage could be seen, but lights were going and a crow bar would make things easier. I remarked to Mel about the strange phenomenon of a powerful draught which in Ease Gill, I always associate with flooding. With this in mind I became vaguely uneasy as we returned to the others. Before we reached Stop Pot, we could hear the ominous rumble of swollen waters. The Wet Way was impossible so everyone had to sweat through the Dry Way dragging aluminium ladders and other sundries.
Meanwhile the surveying team had been found swimming about in the Main Drain. Their account was that after seeing several Omo white-faced bodies gush out from the Wet War (hardy F.M.C.C. souls), they began to realise the situation; whilst Mick was sat at the end of Pierce's Passage, water lapping his perch. Poetic Justice was a maelstrom but Jim Newton, Mike, Ron, and Pete had beaten us to it and moved the belay. At Spout Hall, the spout shot out like a jet of a hose pipe 3 ft diameter, the showerbath was torrential, but the biggest surprise of the day came in Broadway where the climb up to County Pot was a fierce waterfall. Shouts of water pouring in at the lid were answered by somebody forget to close it, coming in.. The climb from Slaughterhouse Sink caused utter confusion, the passage beyond was shut oft by a miniature Niagara.
Jim Newton turned the wrong way and bashed into the wall with a thud dropped his electron ladder, rebounded into someone behind whose scaling ladder section flew off with a terrific crash and clatter.
Ease Gill was in full flood, but everyone although soaked to the skin declared it a most exciting trip.

10th SEPTEMBER 1961 - DEPOT PASSAGE
We dashed up to Depot Passage with a crowbar and opened up the new passage, but after a few yards it became choked where a collapse had fallen through to a lower level.

It is obvious that an active stream passage is below - but which one? We were, however, recompensed for the lack of passage by the spectacular lace calcite which had formed over mud deposits, and in several cases the mud had been removed leaving them clean very fragile.

J. EYRE

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