20 December 2004

Like, elected office and all that jazz

This weekend was the wash the gear which was de-rigged from the cave rescue drill about a month ago. Given that Kostas G. has his shoulder shafted and couldn't come exploring the Paloumba area with me (despite the ministry being kind enough to finally issue permission), I decided to come and wash other people's gear and the ropes of Selas.

Nikos (foreground left, in blue) has given the club a bathtub, which Andreas put on stilts, and then a siphon system was rigged up to prevent mud going directly into the wastewater system, and away we went.

The whole washing thing usually happens where there is plenty of running water, like in rivers, streams, springs, etc. but this is the next best thing.

So here's all the stuff we washed on Saturday, brand spanking new rope belonging to the federation's rescue team included. We'll be washing the rest today or wednesday. Got the first meeting of the board of directors, where we get to share out all the jobs and decide exactly what it is we will be doing.

A final bit before signing off - three of our boys are getting ready to go to Voronya, to the deepest cave in the world, which is currently measuring in at -2080m More information can be had (in Greek) here, and I expect there will be regular updates. They're going to confirm the survey work done by the team that broke the barrier of -2,000m, working between -1,440 and the bottom. It's quite exciting given that there are not that many cavers who have one so deep.

There's plenty of stuff (most of it in Russian) about Voronya, which can be found by plugging in Voronya and / or Krubera into google.

29 November 2004

Thank Petzl for the Pantin

Chelidorea, then. Cave entrance is up at about 1,000m and facing the gulf of Corinth, with the most amazing views of it and across the water to the other side. The way down to the cave is very steep from the road and if you haven’t been before, it’s easy to get lost. The entrance is about 1m in diameter with a nice amount of damp air coming out - the first time I have felt air breathing through the entrance to a cave.

A small descent of about 2-3m brings you to the first pitch - a completely vertical drop of about 50m, which is followed immediately by another smaller drop of about 20 odd. Next, though a small hole, and more drops down to about -140 or -160, where there are some horizontal sections (on the rope, with large drops below), followed by the 80m pitch.

I stopped before the horizontal section and let the others continue. The boys sat it out at the top of the final pitch, while Eri went on down to check for rubbish and bring up the rope. We then started the way up and came out not too knackered about eight to hours after going in, with five sacks full of rope, some of it wet and heavier than it would be otherwise.

The pot itself is not too interesting, being basically almost totally straight down and requiring that we were on the ropes for most of it.

There were some good invertebrates in there - one I had not seen before and dammit, I just realized I could have figured out what it was had I taken more time to study the things. I’ve managed to learn a lot of the questions off an invertebrate dichotomous key, but this was totally not on my mind when I found myself opposite the critter in question. The other thing of note was what I assume is meant by cave coral - these little blobby guys made of stalactite material.

All in all a fun and successful day’s outing.

25 November 2004

Chelidorea / Helidorea

Well, it's going to be a tough weekend. Helidorea is up at 1,000m mark, with a very nice view across the gulf of Corinth to Delphi, etc. It has two 50m pitches in quick succession with some little pitches here and there too, followed by a horizontal section (on rope) and an 80m pitch.

At least there is no water, and not much mud.

23 November 2004

De-Rigging Chelidorea (Helidorea)

So they called and asked whether or not I am free on Friday to do de-rig the pot they had used for the cave rescue excercise.

Chuffed to be asked to go help out, I checked what the weeked plans are and will tell the gang tonight that I am in, but not to expect too much of me for obvious reasons.

So we can all look forward to more stories next week of pulled and sore muscles and what have you. I don't know - as long as there's some sort of fatty meat soup at the end of it, I'm game for almost anything.

Here's a random image of OA's prop jet which does the IST-ATH flight in the evening - don't take too much carry on!

25 October 2004

Sore, tired, but loving it

So there was no slow-mo flailing or falling from the rope or anything else disasterous.

What did happen, though was good and fun, and I've got the bruises to prove it! I am feeling a little tender, I can hardly move without being in pain, but I made it to the second sump down at -160m. I even made it to just after the pitch at the emptied first sump without getting wet, so much better than any time before. I didn't come out of there too dry, but who cares?

Good to be back underground - good to be so sore.

22 October 2004

First real pitch at Dersios

Photo by Nikos Mitsakis, processing by me


So they had a guy from SPELEO talking about the Caver's fears last week at the Panhellenic Meeting, and I think the end result was basically that we fear the unknown, which is essentially saying that we fear fear itsef.

Truth is, I've overcome a number of fears since starting out with the caving - mainly the tight places one and a little bit the whole heights thing.

Which brings us to this weekend. I'm going back to the pothole with which I am most familiar, and in which I have spent more hours than any other this weekend, and for weeks, I have been seeing myslef losing grip off edges and falling in slow motion, arms flailing. I never see myself get hurt, hit the bottom, reestablish balance or composure - just flailing in slowmo as if this is an end in and of itself.

Like K says, obviously, I just have to go there and go up and down a few times past all these places where I have seen myself fall. I haven't been underground since July at Fterolakkas, and I just feel like it's a bit of a long time to be out of the saddle.

The link is to SELAS - where I learnt the SRT...