Monday 12th January – Brendan Sloan, Rob Eavis

Almost three months since the last Crusader trip showed how much time has been spent recently resurveying the Giants/Oxlow system. And with much more still to get on the survey, we’re going to be busy for some time still!

Today’s trip was to be Brendan’s last before his temporary emigration to Canada, so I wanted to make it memorably miserable. What better way than to get the Poisoned Chalice survey done and dusted!?! We started from where me and Henry had finished last time and made good progress. It is quite a nice passage, but it would just really benefit from being 50cm higher and wider. After roughly 30m we entered the “miserable” bit and Brendan humbly allowed me to go on alone. 23m of slithering and spluttering got the survey to the end choke, and with the disto now in my mouth I spent 5 minutes hopelessly trying to dig it one handed. Needless to say nothing was budging and with the cold setting in I left the choke, very unsure about whether anyone will ever return! Back at Brendan the disto streamed the data to the PDA and we ourselves quickly steamed back to Night Templar in an attempt to warm up.

So roughly 6 months after discovery, the Crusader line survey has now been completed, giving us 319m in total, 106m of which is Poisoned Chalice.

The second plan for the night was to attempt to enter the scary hole of doom in the floor of Nights Templar. Chemical persuasion of the chock stone, assisted then by Brendan’s arsenal of boulders, encouraged the floor (roof?) to give way opening up the hole in true fashion. Teetering over the edge, whilst clipped onto a rope, enabled us to see down roughly 5m in the continuation of the rift to a floor of boulders, but the unstable nature of the remaining boulders helped us to decide not to venture down. It's doesn't look good, with no obvious way on visible.

Interestingly with the current high water levels, three different waters converge at this new big hole including some from a previously unknown passage in the western wall of the big hole, directly opposite Poisoned Chalice. We couldn’t see into this passage, but it may be something to do with the conjectured passage parallel to the second half of Crusader, to the north. Certainly no water was seen in Crusader, so there’s something else lurking about. If it is an upstream formation of Poisoned Chalice it may be passable…

To get down the big hole will require some bolts on the eastern wall above PC, and this may provide a good traverse route to re-access the rope up to The Priory, at the top of Nights Templar, and Poisoned Chalice.

All in all, a nice trip to send Brendan off, at the surface by 01:30.

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