WISDOM TOOTH EXTENSION

Link to passage description

from RRCPC 8
Discovered 1981

Investigation into this series of passages, discovered from the top of Wisdom Tooth Passage in Top Sink, took place over a period of six months in 1981. It provides an interesting excursion with possibilities of further passage and maybe even another entrance to the Ease gill system.

Exploration was carried out mainly by Alan Burke and Dave Crellin, which kicked off as a Sunday night trip down Top Sink after the club AGM on the 5th April. Under advice from Jim Newton it was decided to give the top end of Wisdom Tooth a serious examination due to its hitherto neglected potential because of its isolation. The passage itself is one which is easily missed on the standard abseiling through-trip, but is recognized as the inlet on the left below Penknife Pitch which enters the main stream before it starts down Bradshaw's Passage. Entry is gained by a 5m climb up into the walking-size higher level of the passage. On this first trip, however, it took Al and Dave three quarters of an hour to travel a hundred feet when, in ignorance, they followed up the passage at stream level!

A walk on the false floor round several bends, followed by a crawl over stal and a climb down brings one into a small chamber with a 5m waterfall entering on the left. At first it was decided to take a look at the passage that lay straight ahead, but this soon split up and ended in a boulder choke from which the small stream ran. So it was back to the waterfall which carried the main volume of H20. This was negotiated by a climb into the roof of the main passage followed by a step round the corner and traverse into the inlet. This rapidly deteriorated into a twisting crawl until a dry inlet on the right was reached. A body length or two the crawl soon closed down, but a draught was felt and a widening of the passage beyond the constriction could just be seen.

The same duo revisited the passage on the 31st May, accompanied by Boyd Harris. Instead of pushing the dry inlet the wet crawl was followed round a couple of tightish bends till it closed down ahead. But a wriggle up a slope to the right soon stepped up through some loose flakes into a walking-size passage which led off in both directions with a dry, loose floor and flaky walls. Excitement now took over, and Dave turned right to follow the passage in a downstream direction. Unfortunately, it very soon decreased in size, forcing the explorer down into a sideways crawl. Maybe a hundred feet and several awkward corners later (later dubbed the Dire Straits), the top of a 5m pitch into a small chamber was reached. Dave returned to tell of the find.

Despite this success, it was not until the 26th September that Dave could fire enough enthusiasm in Al and Paul Saville to follow up this discovery. Reaching the top of the pitch round the bends was no picnic for Al's six and a half foot frame, and lamp, boots etc. had to be removed. First down the ladder, Dave dived straight into the passage on the other side of the chamber without so much as a second thought. As luck would have it, this became another nasty thrutch in a tight meandering canyon. Meanwhile, Paul and Al decided to do the sensible thing and followed the rift at a higher level where the going was much easier and they were soon overtaking Dave, still struggling below.
The helictite-encrusted walls in this section regrettably suffered under hand of Paul crying 'f.. .ing formations' as they tore through his wetsuit. Difficult progress in the bottom forced Dave up to join the others and the way was continued to a climb up over muddy blocks into a small chamber. A fossil inlet on the left was noted, but the main way on was back on down into the rift again until a widening of the passage brought them onto a false floor at a junction. A climb down off the false floor dropped the cavers into well-trodden territory.

Disappointment at not finding the caverns measureless to man was delayed by the curiosity as to where they were. Following the passage towards the sound of running water brought them to a hole through a boulder screen and a slope down into the main drain. It was obviously somewhere towards the lower end of Bradshaw's Passage, but whether they had emerged from part of the CRG Extension or not was unclear. Despite this uncertainty, it was decided to name the foregoing route as Upper and Lower Molar Passages respectively, so continuing on from Wisdom Tooth in a dental vein.

With enthusiasm now rekindled, a return trip was planned for the following day. Two parties entered the extension from opposite ends, Mick Doran, Boyd and Dave exploring upstream above the Dire Straits for about l50ft of easy going to a choke from which the stream issued. An effort was made to dig this but was abandoned when it was realised that any collapse of the cobble-filled rift would block their exit.

Paul and Al, meanwhile, had been making their own discoveries. Entering the inlet on the right at the bottom of Lower Molar, a rift passage was followed on a false floor for 100ft or so. The floor turned out to be rather thin, and a boot put through it was then suspended some thirty feet above the stream, presumably Bradshaw's.

The fossil inlet previously noted was then examined. This turned out to be 200ft long, terminating in a sandy-floored aven. This was later climbed to reveal two choked inlets, one with a strong draught and a promising echo. Some attractive little formations in the main rift, resembling rashers of bacon, gave rise to the name, Danish Passage.

Several more trips were made to do some photographing and a bit more poking about. But passages are never as large as when they are first entered, and the series soon got a notoriety for being a right little illegitimate. Surveying was eventually undertaken by a none too enthusiastic team, the more so as by this time Top Sink had collapsed and the long way in via County had to be trudged. Paul insisted on using his Fisma for these occasions resulting in complaints that he couldn't see what he was writing, while the other surveyors laid upside down in water or whatever, shouting the customary "Well get a bloody grip!"

Eventually, it was finished and the picture drawn. Since this time, however, few people have ventured into this part of Ease gill, though the possibility of more passage remains. Personally, I hope that the Wisdom Tooth Extension continues to be the same neglected, unspoilt place it was when we found it.

Dave Crellin.

WISDOM TOOTH EXTENSION - Topography.


Upstream from Limerick Junction, mixed going passes the CDG Extension on the right and several hundred feet further on Bradshaw's Passage turns left into a low crawl at a point where a muddy slope of boulders rises up to the right.

At the top of the slope, squeeze through a hole in the boulder screen into the continuation which rises up underneath a false floor. To the left is Skywalker Passage, several hundred feet of muddy going in a rift on a thin false floor, 30ft above Bradshaw's Passage - care! To the right, down and round a corner, leads into Lower Molar Passage which is traversing in a rift for l50ft to a junction. On the right is an oxbow which brings one back into the same passage at a higher level, from which point a climb up chocks arrives in a small chamber.

A l0ft climb on the right leads into Danish Passage, above the oxbow just mentioned. Danish is 300ft of easy going, twisting rift to a final small chamber where a l5ft climb in the roof reveals two choked inlets. Straight on at the chamber in Molar dips down into Upper Molar Passage where an awkward climb and traverse regain the upper level of the rift. Easier going enlarges to a handsome size before an abrupt descent into another chamber. An awkward l5ft climb now follows into a narrow rift with several sharp bends, the Dire Straits. After l50ft the rift closes to a flat-out crawl for a few feet to emerge in a larger passage on several levels with many loose flakes.

Holes in the floor lead down to a narrow twisting stream trench, and shortly the water falls over a l5ft drop into Wisdom Tooth proper. An exposed step round the corner to the right leads to an easy chimney down to the floor. Upstream above the holes leads to larger walking-size stream passage which eventually splits and chokes after 200ft.

BACK


RRCPC 2001