Members Present: Don, Mike Sharman
Since no one else has written a trip report I’ve decided to write something. After some discussion about whether or not to do Barbon – though he didn’t complain, Mike’s back was a concern, plus Sharman wasn’t eager to go back to this hellhole – we decided to try and dig out Bucket-on-the-Head, the entrance to which was blocked when we tried to exit from here last July (trying to do the through trip from Crystal Cave). We found the general area where Bucket is located with no problem. Finding the precise location, however, was a little more challenging. After an hour of digging and chucking rocks Sharman spotted some scaffolding. A bit more excavation and he was able to fit down the ladder. The only problem is that the weather that day was pretty miserable, with rain forecast in the afternoon, so a through trip from here to Crystal Cave was out of the question, especially given the amount of water that we had seen gushing out of Crystal earlier when we were getting changed. We covered the Bucket entrance with a few slabs of rock and some sticks, but that won’t be enough to protect it from the potential damage that could and will be done by heavy rains, especially when considering the entrance is located on the side of a streambed. Someone needs to build a heavy-dut protective wall around the entrance. Someone like Red Rose.
Abandoning Bucket we headed over to Barbon Pot which was easily found. There really isn’t much to add that wasn’t already covered in Alex’s earlier trip report from March. One thing that did surprise me is that Sharman was completely useless with directions once inside the cave. He could barely remember any of it, despite the fact that he had just been there THREE MONTHS PREVIOUS. Admittedly the cave is a bit of a maze, but not really because there’s really only one route through the cave, though there are a number of very short detours along the way, all of which dead-end. The cave wasn’t nearly as miserable as I was expecting based on Sharman’s less than enthusiastic description of the whole place as being loose and on the verge of complete collapse at any moment.
It was a fun if short trip (under three hours). The entrance pitch is more troublesome than you’d expect on first glance. There is a very interesting feet first squeeze followed immediately by an awkward sky dive squeeze, followed immediately by a very loose upward climb. There is a short sideways crawl in shallow water followed immediately by an awkward flat-out crawl (at least awkward upon exiting). And the cave ends in a very large chamber, the largest room in the cave. There were a couple of casualties along the way. Mike made it 2/3 of the way through the cave but then decided to wait for Sharman and me because a) he had smashed one of his fingers when we were digging Bucket, b) he had banged his knee earlier in the cave, and c) he didn’t want to f*$k his back up. To be honest, I’m impressed that he got as far as he did given the condition of his back. Barbon requires a lot of physical flexibility. Sharman initially gave up just before the sideways crawl in water because he didn’t want to get muddy or wet, however after a lot of coaxing and name calling he decided to come through.
The NC description states that the cave ends at a very low bedding plane. Sharman and I couldn’t find this. The final chamber ends at a sloping mass of breakdown. The stream disappears down a crack in the floor at the lowest point in the room. Sharman and I explored all the nooks and crannies we could find but never did come across anything that could be described as a low bedding plane. I don’t think it would be very difficult to haul in gear to do some digging, if the bedding plane could be found. If you were quick you could probably make it from the entrance to the end in under an hour.
Afterwards we had a drink in Barbon (the village) and then headed home.
You forgot to mention how shitty it was Don 🤢
Mike Sharman: Now there is a scary combination.
I can’t believe you could not find the flat out crawl (especially since I took Shaman there when we were there last time) Just climb up the back of the chamber, follow the passage over the top, it then drops down a slope and finishes in said flat out crawl where cobbles need to be removed in solid passage.
Am happy to do some digging just need drag try and rope.
We searched all over and couldn’t find anything even resembling a bedding plane. No disrespect to Sharman, but he was ‘less than helpful’ in terms of directions. He couldn’t even remember which boulders to climb down between in the chamber immediately below the entrance pitch. I really envy him. Every cave he enters is entirely new to him.
You forgot to mention how shitty it was Don 🤢
Wasn’t too bad where I was waiting
Sharman is right. The cave really is shitty. Surprisingly I had forgotten how shitty it is. Not the entire cave, just part of it.