Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Climbers Cave

By Steven Tucker - 18 February 2014

Thanks to Gerrie and Andre re-establishing contact with the owners of Climber's Cave both SEC and PPH were able to visit the cave early in February. This was probably the first time that the cave had been visited in almost 10 years!

Getting to the cave was almost more difficult than the cave itself. Rain had made the roads muddy and slippery and it felt like we were ice skating across the mud. Only one car got stuck and the Land Rover had to go and help the poor Toyota. ;)

There was some initial uncertainty about whether we were at Climber's Cave or rather Wondergat op Goedgedacht, but we later determined that the two caves are one and the same caves. We soon realized that the newer name, Climber's Cave, is very appropriate. There are at least six or seven long climbs. Most can be climbed without ladders, but with all the rain in the last couple of weeks the climbs were slippery and most opted to use ladders on all the climbs. Getting right to the bottom would require nine ladders! We only had three...

So a ladder was put in place, people climbed down, the ladder was removed and then the last person would negotiate the climb without the ladder. It was possible for most climbs until we got to a long climb that required two ladders. The bottom ladder was only two meters of the floor so we salvaged it for the next drop we might encounter, however a new obstacle lay in our paths.

We had a long crawl ahead of us which showed clear signs of flooding after heavy rains. When we had entered the cave it had looked like rain. Beyond were large open areas, so whilst heavy rains would block our exit, we would be safe, albeit cold and wet. Half the group chose to push on through the crawl and the other half remained on the safer side of the crawl.

Beyond the crawl there were various areas with small pools of water. No one wanted to get wet so some spider-man tactics were employed to try and stick to the walls and out of the water. We arrived at a next drop, which required two ladders. Fortunately we had salvaged that ladder, so we were able to go down the climb. This brought us down to 87 meters below the surface, still 17 meters from the bottom! Unfortunately the final climb down to the sump required an additional two ladders which we did not have.

On the way back I imagined what a stunning site it would be to see water streaming down some of the climbs in beautiful waterfalls, but I actually don't want to be down there to see it. After a torturous climb out of the cave we were greeted by sunny skies and a braai and a few very welcome beers soon followed.

Thanks Andre and Gerrie for organizing the trip, thanks Johan for letting us visit your cave and hopefully there will be more combined trips with PPH!

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