RRCPC Newsletter
Volume 41 Number 1 Article 3
February 2004

Wretched Rabbit Passage

Part 1: The Trident Pretender

Featuring - The (ex)Trident Team: Ray Duffy, Sam Leiberman, Hugh St Lawrence, Andy Whitney & Others

St Lawrence, Andy Whitney & Others After finally drawing a conclusion to the re-surveying of the Upper Trident Series, the valiant team looked for a new project to sink its eager teeth into. After careful consideration it was unanimously decided that the best way to keep up the enthusiasm would be to look for something a little less complicated and daunting - thus Wretched Rabbit became our new 'baby'. Although twisting and long, WR is basically one passage that goes from Eureka Junction to the surface - how complicated could it be? How wrong could we be?!

Our first 'working' trip was to simply be an exercise in exploration and familiarisation. Ray Duffy, Paul Windle and myself headed off into the sunset across the fell and were quickly at the bottom end of The Big Rift, where Wretched Rabbit Passage really starts. Working our way downstream, we examined every inlet and every nook and cranny. We soon found ourselves overwhelmed by a highly complex upper series branching off in all directions from near where a parallel streamway joins the main passage. We'd played this game before, in Trident!

After a brief scout around thinking "This should be fun to survey, oh sh*t it's another maze!" we decided to leave well alone for now as depression was beginning to set in. We continued on downstream and before long a decorated bedding was spied high in the roof above some jammed blocks. We were soon up and slithering along the sandy crawl, which quickly opened out into a passage of roomy proportions. Clambering over more fallen blocks we came upon an old hawser rope hanging down from a void above. Paul had a quick look and declared "It didn't look particularly inviting". We had no ascending gear so this would have to wait for another day.

Just as we were about to call it a day, Ray spotted another partially concealed inlet entering at roof level just a short way downstream. We climbed up to it and squirmed through into a roomy little chamberette with a short climb up to an aven. We weren't the first visitors to tread here though, as boulders had been piled into a makeshift step to get up the climb. An old rope could also be seen hanging down the aven above. We climbed up on the precariously balanced step to the rope and spotted the rusty old piton that it was attached to. It wasn't particularly appealing! At the top a narrow rift ascended gently upwards over small boulders to a point where a choke barred the way on. Paul and I spent some time clearing the obstruction, but in the end we were halted just short of a tantalizing void. There appeared to be a virgin chamber above. We reluctantly called it a day and headed out, vowing to return at the earliest opportunity.

A week or so passed and I returned, this time accompanied by Hugh St Lawrence, to survey the network of tubes below the step up into the short section of abandoned passage mid way down WR. Upon completion of the task I took Hugh to have a look at where we had got to the previous week. Hugh seemed very enthusiastic at our new discovery - a little too enthusiastic it would later transpire…

Before leaving we had one last mission to accomplish. We had noticed on the old survey that a large section of 'hanging' passage in Trident known as Crystal Passage was very close to WR. This passage is completely choked at both upstream and downstream ends and its source and destination are unknown. On an earlier surveying trip we had pushed the downstream end into a calcited boulder cavity richly decorated with some fine crystal pools. An impressively strong and cold draught issued from between a gap in the boulders, but was too small to negotiate and unfortunately the choke proved to be undiggable. However, the first major cross-rift upstream from the drop down into WR from Four Ways Chamber seemed to be within metres of the terminal choke. On first inspection the narrow rift seemed to abruptly close down, but I crawled along anyway and much to my surprise found that it turned to the right at ninety degrees. A few more metres of crawling and I could stand up in a large, abandoned stream passage very reminiscent of Crystal Passage! I shouted the good news back to Hugh, who was soon beside me and equally astounded.

Hugh St Lawrence in the Cross-rift leading to Crystal Passage

Hugh St Lawrence in the WR end of Crystal Passage

We walked on upstream and were shortly halted by a complete choke draped with delicate flowstone and crystal pools. A large curtain caught our eye and we paused to take some photographs. A closer examination of the choke followed and I managed to peer into a cavity similar to the one I had visited on the Trident side. A strong draught was racing into this hole. It appeared that we had now found our downstream destination of Crystal Passage. Although we have not yet established a visual or voice connection, our surveying provides pretty conclusive proof of a connection - the two ends of passage being only a few metres apart.

A few days later news started to circulate of a new discovery in WR. It turned out that Mr St Lawrence couldn't wait for the next 'official' trip and had enlisted Richard Gerrish to help him push a way into the new stuff that I had only just recently taken him to see! Paul had done most of the hard work during our initial visit, leaving the crafty pair with only one key boulder to shift. They were soon in and making their way along a somewhat awkward, but handsomely decorated passage, which Hugh christened Dreamweaver. Unfortunately it didn't last long and eventually joined a larger passage at a T-Junction, choking at both ends. This passage was later connected to an obscure, and very tight passage called Mystery and Imagination Passage that leads off from above the waterfall in WR Passage.

All of these exploratory trips and shenanigans were good fun, but it couldn't last forever. Survey Meister Duffy decided that we were all enjoying ourselves far too much and it was time to bring out the instruments of torture again. Ray and I headed off to below Four Ways Chamber to survey a passage that he had spotted in the roof on an earlier occasion. Sure enough it was there and reasonably sized at that. Initially a crawl with some nice easter egg mud cracks along the sides, it soon lifted to a stooping trench. We quickly surveyed our way down to where some boulders were obstructing the way on. These were soon passed and we found ourselves in a wide bedding chamber with what seemed like two ways on. The first, a small tube, I managed to squirm into for about a body length. It then turned a ninety degrees to the right and became impossibly small. The second possibility was a little more promising and led after a wriggle between boulders to a small breakdown chamber. An inlet entered at roof level but this was too small to proceed along. We finished off the surveying and called it a day.

We were now beginning to get a feel of what we were in for in Wretched Rabbit. What appears to be a simple, innocent fluffy bunny rabbit was in fact a big hairy monster with tentacles and foaming at the mouth. That Wretched Rabbit was just starting to show it's teeth - and big, white, sharp ones at that. We weren't going to be intimidated, however. We had already defeated one Wolf in Sheep's clothing in the form of Trident - bring it on!

Andy Whitney

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