I recently got contacted by a professional climber who had seen my Mossdale videos, named Robbie Phillips. He climbs E6+ climbs normally. He wanted to see what caving was like compared to caving. This is his Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAtf-avZj2vWLnYtCchZp8A
Initially, he wanted me to take him down Mossdale, but as he had never been caving before and I had no idea what he would be like underground and neither did he, so I decided to do something more novice friendly. However, Robbie insisted that he wanted to do something gruelling. So I thought Notts 2 with something extra if he feels like it then, there are plenty of options. Robbie had a friend who had done the Ario expedition so borrowed a full set of caving gear, therefor I did not have to worry about providing him with any equipment.
So on the last day of July me and Robbie met up at the carpark in Cowan bridge for a day of filming and caving and headed up the hill to Notts 2.
It started off with Robbie setting the scene with drone footage of the cave and me entering the cave, then we filmed a quick introduction where he asked me what the cave was like and for me to say how difficult it was (I may have overegged the equivalent climbing grade somewhat).
So off we went underground, Robbie had a massive bag with a huge box with an expensive camera in it, I had his smaller camera, film light and usual caving stuff (snacks, survival bag etc).
I figured as he’s a hard climber he can deal with his larger bag, so left him to it. In any case, I did not want to be responsible for dropping it down the Notts 2 entrance shaft! Despite his large bag, he was loving it so far, though that could have just been for the camera.
From the bottom we headed downstream first, and I remembered I always wanted to explore Gower inlet, so that is what we did. It got a bit crawly and Robbie was doing the “dramatic bit” to the camera. We got to a half drained sump at an end of a dig and decided to turn around here. The passage is interesting and well worth a visit, the climb up to it being quite fun too. By this point with all the filming we had already been underground well over 2 hours.
Next was the downstream waterfall where he shot footage of me climbing it, rather than him for some reason, was several takes! Then we headed to curry inlet, where Robbie was blown away by all the formations and took plenty of B-roll footage (Background footage essentially).
But I knew he wanted to do something harder and gruelling and was after-all why he contacted me in the first place. I had to take him somewhere safe(ish) but challenging, so guess where I took him?
That’s right, the Notts 2 to Lost Johns connection dig. I thankfully persuaded him to leave his huge camera bag behind, so the rest was filmed with his go-pro and my phone camera. I did have his other camera if you remember, but he neglected to check it was actually waterproof, so when we got it out we found it was dead, as it evidently was not waterproof!
At the start of the crawls his chest strap on his go-pro chest mount immediately snapped too making him realise, yes that’s why you normally get blurry mess in harder caving trip videos. So, not sure how this section will come out in his video, but my phone was at least taking good footage! However, despite this he was loving it. Though he did say he was feeling claustrophobic and seemed to make things appear far more dramatic than it actually was at this point. But this might just be because I am used to these things and he is not and maybe he genuinely was a bit more nervous than I thought. I checked he was actually okay to continue and he was and on we went. If anyone has not done this section before, its about 20 – 25 minutes of sometimes flat-out crawling, in squirmy passage with small upward climbs. There are also interesting sky dives into narrow gaps which are definitely somewhat intimidating, followed by some vertical tight “chimneys” (rifts) to exit.
We made it up through the squeezes and out to the other side. Having been underground for over 6 hours now, we did not explore too much of the passage from the junction, just the big stomping passage to gather more B-roll on my phone this time as it was now the best recording device we had!
We made quick progress getting out of the cave we took just over an hour to get out from here, which I think is a respectable time, proving it was the filming that was taking most of the rest of the time. He told me the difficulty was exactly what he had in mind, so I guess I made a good choice with the trip venue.
Once on the surface he did an outro, he said he would definitely come caving again. It was a pretty hard and long trip for someone who has never been caving before.
Trip time 7 – 8 hours.
Here’s a few short vids recorded on my phone:
You’re a YouTube sensation, Alex.